It’s twelve days now since we first got the ferry over to Zakynthos, and three more until we can leave again. Jay teases me when he sees me chomping at the bit to get off the island.
“I can’t wait to get off Zakynthos!” I moaned yesterday morning, as I counted down to departure.
“Bet you never thought you’d be saying that!” he laughed.
Very funny Jay!
Part of me feels very spoilt feeling like this, and I’m pretty sure most folk reading this on a cold February lunch break in Blighty aren’t going to have much sympathy. And it’s not like Zakynthos is a bad place to hang around for a couple of weeks. Quite the contrary! The island is a beautiful little corner of the world and I’d be more than happy to spend a couple of weeks kicking back here on a summer holiday. It’s just that the clock has started ticking for our return to Edinburgh, and this girl’s wanderlust is itching mightily. I like the island. I’m starting to feel at home here. And I really, really want to leave!
We caught the ferry here back on the 28th of January to get help from Sue Deeth of Healing Paws Animal Rescue with Marley’s Pet Passport. Sue and her fabulous English speaking vet Spyros helped rehome over 240 dogs to the UK last year alone. Amazing work and it seemed like the ideal place to get everything done for Marley. Especially as we’ve never done this before and only speak about six words of Greek between us.
It’s not cheap to get to the island with a camper though and we didn’t have anymore ferry tickets in our budget. So we had been thinking we would just need to head towards Athens and see if we could find a vet who could help us there. That’s until our readers stepped in to help!
As we told people about Marley on Facebook, time and time again they suggested we set up a Go Fund Me page so people could donate to help with the costs of bringing her home. We were so touched by the support we were getting! We were crying at every little step Marley took out of her trauma. Crying at people offering to help her. And laughing. Laughing at the crying. Laughing through the crying. Crying through the laughing. This puppy rescue thing is an emotional business and no mistake!
Touched as we were by the offers we dismissed it out of hand at first. I mean, our decision, our problem.
“We can’t expect other people to pay just because we decided to pick up a stray puppy!” said I. And Jay completely agreed.
As the offers of help continued to pour in we tried to work out costs, and time and possibilities. There were so many unknowns. Too many unknowns. Maybe we were being foolish not to accept these offers of help? What the heck! Set up the page and book the ferry to Zakynthos. If people wanted to help we could sure use it, and if we raised more than needed we could donate it to Healing Paws and Marley could help other abandoned puppies like her.
It was a crazy few days. Finding her. Trying to figure out what we needed to do. Changing our plans to bring her to Zakynthos. Dealing with her trauma. Adjusting to having an untrained puppy sharing our space. And doing a little bit of mourning for the personal freedom we had just given away in exchange for smelly, doggy kisses and puppy dogs tails. A fair exchange, but there was still a bit of a gulp in there as well. We’re not that angelic I promise you!
Within hours of Marley’s Meds – our donations page – going up, there was enough money donated to cover what we’d spent so far plus the return ferry trip to Zakynthos! I can’t begin to describe the tremendous sense of relief. We hadn’t even realised just how worried we were about it until the worry slid off a bit. We still didn’t know how much all this was going to cost over all. But our biggest concern, that we’d have to go home without her had just taken a step backwards. It took an even bigger step the next day when we met Spyros in Zakynthos.
The trip over only took an hour, and we stayed in Iggy with Marley the whole way. After a night parked up at Kalamaki beach we headed off to meet the amazing Spyros at 11 a.m. the next day. I say amazing as what a nice vet he is! He is so good with the animals that they barely know he is touching them. Marley had swallowed a worming tablet, had a microchip implanted in her neck and been given her rabies vaccination before she knew what was happening. And not a flinch or a squeak! Good girl Marley. Good vet Spyros!
Spyros had no concerns about Marley’s health and told us she must come back in two weeks for her first set of puppy vaccinations. Three weeks after that she must have the boosters, but we can travel after the two weeks and get the boosters done elsewhere.
“She is three months old.” says Spyros. Marking her birthday down as 29th October in her passport. “She will be big.” he finishes. “Big, but not huge.”
Phew! Well that’s a relief Spyros. Good to know!
We discuss what kind of a mix she might be. Possibly some labrador or golden retriever. She’s expected to be about that size. Maybe even some husky with her pointed nose and curly tail. But the Greek money is on the main mix being Mountain dog. One of the Shepherd dogs found in the mountainous regions of this part of the world. Not herders like our sheep dogs back home. These are guardian dogs. Patient, faithful, dedicated protectors.
Marley has shown some of these tendencies in her behaviour already, and we think this is probably the truth of it. Although we’ll never really know of course. She’s a good natured, friendly puppy. Incredibly quick to learn – especially if there’s a biscuit at the end of it! And very, very calm for the most part. When she sees a dog or a person approach she sits down to watch them. Just as the mountain dogs sit and watch anything approaching their flocks. Risk assessing. Friend or foe.
For the most part Marley now puts all things approaching us into the “Friend” category. Her time on the beaches of Zakynthos these past twelve days has been well spent learning to socialise. At first she was frightened of everything except Jay and I. Hiding under my skirt – literally! – at everyone who passed by. She wouldn’t move more than twenty feet from the van when out for exercise and the toilet, and had to be lifted in and out. Uncertain of the whole process, but happy with her praise and treats everytime she attempted something new and challenging.
Within days she was climbing up and down the steps herself. Tentatively to begin with, but now she bounds up and down so confidently. She loves to go out! She loves to come home! She loves to greet all the women she meets, and has quickly learned to like children. She wasn’t too sure of small people to start with, but getting the children to give her treats has worked a miracle change. She really likes the small ones now!
Men are a little different. She mostly has no problems with them – she certainly had none with Spyros or Jay. But some of them she is more cautious with. A man started talking to me about his dog yesterday and came close to me to show me a picture. Marley Dog did not like this one bit and began barking furiously at him to chase him away. She did the same thing when the vet’s assistant came into the van to see her last week when she was being sick.
“Get out of my house! Stay away from my people!”
Yes, we definitely think she is a mountain dog. A true friend and guardian through and through. We’ll never need fear for Iggy’s safety with Marley inside. Apart from her chewing him that is!
We’ve had two little health scares in our two weeks together. (It’s so hard to believe it’s only two weeks today since we found her!) The first was a few hours after we gave her the flea and tick treatment. She began panting very hard and we were worried she might have an allergic reaction. The vet’s were all shut for the weekend and the internet said to wash off whatever was left so we did that and she improved very quickly. Spyros says it would have been an allergic reaction to that treatment and has marked on her passport that she is not to get it again.
The second scare was last week when she suddenly began vomiting all over the place. Poor wee pup she just couldn’t stop! we’d never seen a dog be sick so much and took her straight to see Spyros. It took an hour before we could get there and he came back from a house call. Thankfully she was seeming better by then, and Spyros gave her an injection and some special food to eat for two days to help her stomach come back to normal. Something nasty that she has wolfed on the beach before we could stop her. Thankfully there is no harm done and she was back to normal in no time.
So now we spend our days just kicking back on Zakynthos with Marley Dog. Waiting for Monday and her next vaccinations so we can catch the ferry to the mainland and begin the long, slow journey home. While we wait our time is mostly consumed by Marley. Training, training and more training, with lots of praise and treats for this swiftly growing lump of energy. Those “no more than twenty foot from the van” excursions have evolved into long, long walks along the shore. Writing the blog has become a near impossibility as it’s far too long a process for our fluffy bundle of fun.
Slowly though we are finding a sense of normality in our new lives. I would like to have written every day of her journey, and am sorry that I’ve missed so many funny stories I could have shared with you. But I’m not sorry I gave that time to her instead. She’s sitting outside with Jay now as I finish writing this. He’s practicing his ukulele and she’s chasing twigs and inhaling the world through her clever nose.
Sometimes she just sits. Upright, alert and relaxed all at the same time. So poised. So calm. Her bright, beautiful eyes meet mine. Fearless. Full of sparks. She is so solid this Greek of ours. As much a part of the planet as the trees she is sniffing round as I watch. I think she will enjoy this wanderer life of ours. It feels like she was made for it. Made for Iggy. Made for us. We thought our merry band was complete. Just the four of us – Iggy, Jay, DM and me. But there was one last member of our troupe waiting for us. Underneath some bushes near Ancient Olympia.
Once we were four, and now we are five. Marley and We.
p.s. If you would like to donate to Marley’s fund and help her and other dog’s abandoned in Greece you can do so here.