Thursday, 28 May 2015

Clare's stay in Greece - part one

Clare is one of our fabulous UK office volunteers and when she told us about her plans for an extended stay in Greece, we thought our supporters might enjoy reading about her experiences. Here, in her first post, she tells us about her arrival in Greece and a very worrying but sadly still common case of poisoning...

As an occasional and very willing volunteer helping GAWF with their mission to help the animals, I decided to write a blog about my stay in Greece as I felt sure I would experience some animal welfare issues during my time but also to let people know what a beautiful country it is, too.

The idea of spending a good length of time in an idyllic spot in Greece came to me well over a year ago and from that moment it was full on to find the right spot.  I wanted to be in a village amongst the locals, in a village house maybe, with a garden that was enclosed for the dogs.  It needed to be somewhere with a community, a bit of a buzz but not commercialised!  I scoured my guide books from front to back and researched on the internet for months and months.  I drew up lists of places with pros and cons and eventually came up with a short list. 

I even went and checked out two of the places, Kyparissi in the Peloponnese and the island of Serifos.  Kyprarissi was beautiful but too remote (and hard for friends to visit) and Serifos had fantastic scenery and beaches but I didn’t like the town which seemed to be stuck in a 70s time warp.  I came home from that trip in September last year and finally had a lightbulb moment when I decided to go to Kefalonia, an island I’d been to several times and loved, and found a house within minutes of looking on the internet – a detached converted olive mill with a pool and no Greek neighbours to speak of (not where you could have an ‘over the fence’ interaction, at least).  So not what I had in mind a year ago!  But it felt right and the decision was made.

I made the four day drive through France, Switzerland and Italy to the port of Ancona, over on the ferry to Igoumenitsa in Greece (17 hours) and then a short drive down to the very small port of Astakos where I took the ferry over to Kefalonia.  Dexter, my rescue dog from Greece and Poppy didn’t complain once and the whole experience of looking after them during the journey was bonding, to say the least.

I collected the tickets for the ferry from the ticket booth in Astakos and whilst taking the dogs along the promenade to stretch their legs, I was approached by a German woman who explained that she lived there with her husband, that she could see I cared for my dogs, and to warn me that three days ago around 20 dogs were found poisoned around the town.  Someone had put down some powder which the local stray dogs had sniffed and then died.  I was grateful for her telling me but sat there in the queue for the ferry scouring my mind as to whether I’d seen Poppy (the more ‘food-focussed’ of my two dogs) sniffing at anything along the sea front.  It would be hard to know as she sniffs at almost everything when we’re out walking so I was very anxious to say the least. 

On board the ferry from Italy to Greece
I knew that if she had been poisoned we would be on the boat and with no vet to help the outcome would be inevitable.  I kept telling myself that surely any poisoned powder put down three days ago would have blown away by now….unless it had rained and then it might still be there?  I kept my eye on both the dogs constantly terrified of seeing the signs of poisoning (which I know tends to be shaking, dribbling, vomiting and diarrhoea).  As time went by and nothing happened, I felt safer with every passing minute and when we got to an hour since our walk on the sea front, I felt more confident that everything was going to be alright.  Suffice to say, everything WAS alright and we arrived in Sami on Kefalonia safe and sound.  But this was my first experience on arriving in Greece and it left a nasty and slightly paranoid taste in the mouth.
Dexter was very anxious on board the ferry but Poppy kept guard

I am looking forward to my first few days on Kefalonia and hope to report happier events than this one!

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