Saturday, 20 June 2015

Clare's stay in Greece - part four

My friend, Sarah, came and went.  Although only here for 4 days, we had some great times together.  All low key and little effort required, we took the dogs out in the mornings, usually to the beach, chatted over coffee and breakfast in local cafes, sunbathed, chatted and of course, ate lots of the delicious Greek food!!  We both said how lovely it was to relax and not to have to rush off somewhere. 

The dogs went crazy when she first arrived at the house, as they know her so well and she has such a soft spot for them both.  On day two of her stay, she actually got them both swimming in the sea.  What a moment in history for us all!  Dexter looking relaxed and calm and Poppy skimming through the waters looking like a little otter.  I posted a video on Facebook of Poppy swimming in the sea, but not so the Dexter video, as my over-the-top excitement at this historic moment would not do my street cred any good!  So for my blog here, just a picture or two to capture the moment.

Clare and Dexter in the beautiful sea!
A short while ago my friend Hayley texted me to say she couldn’t meet me for a walk, as she was taking care of a small dog she’d found wandering around the local village.  The dog clearly had some sort of illness or disease as its skin was encrusted quite badly and she was taking it to the vet in Argostoli, the capital, to try to find out what was wrong with it.  At this stage Hayley didn’t know whether it belonged to anyone and if so, whether it had been abandoned so she decided the most important thing to do whilst making enquiries was to look after the little thing.  The vet sadly confirmed that the dog had leishmaniasis, a common disease in Greece and other southern European countries, where the dog is infected by being bitten by an infected sandfly.  I had read up on it before arriving here, giving Poppy the course of injections to guard against it (but not Dexter, as he is terrified of the vet and I decided not to put him through the stress of three separate injections which is what is required) and put special collars on both dogs, which impregnate the animal to act as a repellent against the sandfly. 

Pericles when Hayley found him
But the good news is that the dog was diagnosed with cutaneous leischmaniasis (of the skin) and if treated, should not spread to the vital organs.  She got the medication he needed and had the vet trim his toenails, then took him back to her apartment where she bathed him, removed his ticks, gave him a flea treatment and bathed his sore eyes in camomile. 

In the meantime, Hayley heard that the dog did indeed belong to a local family and it had simply got out of the garden.  She took Pericles (as she had called him after the influential Greek Statesman of the Golden Age) to the owners and discovered that they had had his condition misdiagnosed by means of a photograph sent by email to a vet.  So they had been treating him for something completely different!  She explained everything to the family and handed over his medication and all the details they needed to continue to look after him.  Whilst many people on social media claimed that she shouldn’t be sending the dog back to owners who they thought didn’t seem to care, Hayley felt strongly that they did care but that the cultural differences and to an extent lack of knowledge meant that they didn’t show their love in the way we would expect them to.  For example, although they planned to put him back on a chain in the garden, they also fed him well and he had his own kennel to live in.  Over time, with Hayley’s help and encouragement, the family have made changes to the way they look after him and now he’s not even being kept on a chain!  I think this goes to show that in many cases, it is better to work with people, giving them guidance and support, rather than take other more drastic measures which may result in a less favourable outcome. 

Pericles back at home and on the road to recovery
One day whilst taking the dogs for a stroll up the lane, I was stunned to see what looked like a small pig emerging from the foliage at the side of the road.  At first I thought it must be a garden ornament of some sort, belonging to the house nearby.  When I saw a slight movement I realised that it was indeed a real live pig, or should I say piglet, measuring only about 18” from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail.  It spotted us and in its panic, fled towards us rather than away from us, skirting around the dogs at the last minute and squeezing itself through a 6” by 6” hole in the wire fence into a neighbouring field.  I asked around but no-one seemed to know who the pig might belong to and as it had disappeared there was nothing more I could do other than hope it found its way back to its owner.  It crossed my mind that if a pig was spotted loose on the road in the UK it would probably end up on the front cover of the local paper, but not here, just a normal day to day occurrence.  I still wonder every time I walk up the lane, how fear of me and my dogs clearly got him through that tiny hole in the fence!

So, no more animal stories for now but feel sure there will be something else of interest happening over the forthcoming days, in time for my blog next week.  In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my time with Poppy and Dexter, getting them in the sea whenever I can, enjoying the local food and wine and trying not to think about the inevitable, the day I have to leave this wonderful place.  Still, it’s a while away, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

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