Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Loukanikos the Greek riot dog by Lucy Westmore, Head of UK Operations GAWF

Running from danger
Squaring up to the police
Times have been extremely hard in Greece during recent years and there have been riots and demonstrations aplenty. But most people wouldn’t have expected to see a stray dog marching along with protesters – in fact, Loukanikos was there showing his support at almost all the riots in Athens!

Loukanikos (which actually means sausage in Greek), can be seen in many amateur videos, silently marching alongside the demonstrators, wagging his tail along to the chants. Even the tear gas and firebombs didn’t drive this tough old
boy away, he seemed to thrive on the action.
Dodging tear gas
Battle lines

Loukanikos was raised in the alternative area of Athens, Exarchia, and this is where he hung out day to day. A group of high school students decided to make a video of him after they observed his slightly unusual pastime of joining the demonstrators and the film  went on to win the 150th Film Festival of Olympia for Children and Young People in December 2012. Here’s the film in Greek but it is easy to watch and pick up for those who don’t speak the language:

Time magazine’s editors voted Loukanikos ‘person’ of the year (2011) and the lovely photo montage here show his various appearances – the photos really capture this street dog’s determined and rebellious personality.

He also made it into to international media including the Washington Post and the BBC wrote of Loukanikos: “One committed protester was at the front line when Greek police fired teargas at protesters outside parliament on Wednesday. The dog, thought to be a stray called Loukanikos, or Sausage, has been in the centre of the action for years.”

A bar in Madrid, Spain, has even been named after him and pictures of Loukanikos at various events all over the city are hung on the walls for all to admire.

Loukanikos was adopted in 2012 and retired from his glory days. Some reports suggest that he
has since passed away while others say he is enjoying his well earned retirement and living in the lap of luxury.

Despite being out of the limelight, Loukanikos’s freedom fighting spirit lives on in Athens and he serves as an ambassador to all of the stray animals roaming the streets. Thanks to this remarkable dog, with a larger than life personality, many people have a new found respect for street animals and they appreciate that like Loukanikos, even the voiceless have rights
and can and will stand up and be counted. 

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