Iggy the motorhome is up to his usual tricks and sitting with his bum to a beach. A very, very nice beach on the entrancingly beautiful Greek island of Zakynthos. Most of the people who follow us on Facebook will know why we’ve abandoned the Peloponnese for this island, but for those who don’t…let me tell you a story. A story about a little Greek puppy.
Back what seems a lifetime ago – but was really just last Friday – we left the town of Katakolo and headed inland to visit Ancient Olympia. The Katakolo blog post was all written and just waiting for me to add the photos. Olympia shuts at 3pm in the winter and we wanted to have plenty of time, so I would add the photos in after our visit there. I was so pleased to be up to date with everything! I hate being behind on the blog, but I just never seemed to keep up while we were in Italy.
It was with a light heart then, and a sense of happy anticipation that we set of for Olympia. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I always loved athletics when I was a girl, and the Winter Olympics too. To visit the site where it all began nearly three thousand years ago was pretty incredible stuff. I wasn’t quite singing “We’re all Going to Olympia!!” but I wasn’t far off either.
We’d found a potential stopover on “Peejay’s Greece Stopovers” ( a handy list of places on a Google Map that Susan had reminded us about the other day). It wasn’t much to look at on the map, just a big parking lot next to the main road, a mile out of town. Sadly it was even less to look at when we arrived. There was nothing terrible about it – apart from the rubbish. And there was definitely plenty of space. Especially as we were the only ones there. We think tour coaches maybe use it in the summer while they’re waiting for the tour groups to finish visiting the ruins. It was in the middle of nowhere though and surrounded by thick trees and bushes. I wouldn’t want to spend a day there, but we were only walking into town and it would be nearly dark when we got back. Okay to sit in at night with the blinds shut we decided.
While Jay sorted out some stuff to take with us I jumped out of Iggy to have a check around. My eyes scanned the rubbish drifting all around the edges of the lot. My nose wrinkled in disgust. It really wasn’t good at all. Why was it so filthy here? I scanned back over the nearest corner of muck. There was a sheet of dirty white cardboard lying on the ground in front of the bushes, more litter scattered all around it. Something about it caught my eye. I stared at it for a moment longer… And then the rubbish stared back!
For a split second time froze, as two spots of black on the white card suddenly became two button eyes staring into mine. Just underneath them a little button nose. There was that slight shimmering “shift” of perspective. A bubble pop from one reality into another. And from out of the jumbled mess of dirty, white rubbish the shape of a dirty, white puppy popped into focus in front of my startled eyes. Oh my giddy Aunt! A puppy!
“Jay!” I called out quietly. “Look! There’s a puppy in the rubbish!”
It had been warming itself on the cardboard in the sun, and must have frozen when it saw us arrive. It was totally unmoving, blending perfectly into the litter it was lying on. Oh for such a sight! It may as well have reached out a paw and just yanked our hearts right out of our chests. It was a fluffy wee ball of pitifulness sitting there soaking up the heat into it’s little, furry bones. Frozen, unmoving, eyes fastened tight to mine. Poor baby!
I walked towards it slowly, speaking softly with my hand outstretched. There was no sign of any other dogs around. The puppy stared right back at me. It’s little curly tail wagged nervously, and it dropped it’s head a little, in the way that dog’s do when they’re scared. I slowed right down, not wanting to frighten it away from it’s sunshine. Too late, slowly, cowering into itself, it turned away and crawled through a hole, deep into the surrounding bushes, until it was completely hidden from sight.
I just about stopped breathing. The poor, poor little creature! What on earth had happened to it to make it so nervous of people? Jay and I talked about what to do. Normally we pointedly ignore the strays as we know it’s cruel to encourage them and give them false hope. If we want to feed them we leave food when we move on. But this wee mite looked to be all on it’s own. We couldn’t just ignore it. What to do? We decided to put out some food and water next to the bushes and go for a walk to let it have space to come back out again.
So that’s what we did. When we returned the food and water were gone and the pup was back out on it’s bit of card. One look at us though and it shot back into the bushes. This was not going to be easy!
As it happens I have a friend who is adopting a puppy from a dog rescue charity in Zakynthos. Romie had told us about it when we first arrived in Greece and advised that if we saw any dogs in distress then Healing Paws Animal Rescue could help. So out I popped with more water and food – a little bit further away from the bushes this time. And while we watched from the window I messaged Romie about the pup.
And so we went on as the day passed by. Inch by inch I decreased the distance between me and the bedraggled one – it had one of those soft, wooly coats that everything sticks to – while Romie relayed messages to Sue Deeth from Healing Paws. Sue’s a busy lady and we hadn’t heard back yet, but Romie was telling us they would have someone come and find the pup.
It made sense to go with that. I mean we could hardly take it in the van could we? It was filthy and would be full of fleas and ticks. And all the potential illnesses they carry. It would pee everywhere. We didn’t have the money to spare to take it across to Zakynthos. And even if all those things weren’t true we didn’t have any way to get it out of those darn bushes.
And as we carried on thinking all those things we carried on putting out small pieces of food, and little drinks of water. Speaking softly to the pup from a distance. Being friendly, but giving it space at the same time. I even got out the guitar – well they say “Music soothes the savage beast.” – and sang it Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.
“The pup’s got a name now.” I told Jay as I took the guitar back inside. “It’s called Marley.”
“Okay.” laughed Jay, shaking his head at me while all the time filling up water bowls and cutting up pieces of salami.
We really should leave it to the experts, but I couldn’t see how we could just drive away from here and leave that puppy on it’s own in those bushes. Not if there was any other option. And there was another option. We’re travelling in a motorhome. As long as we don’t run out of money we can do as we please. Okay sitting in a “not-so-nice” out of the way, car park until we got this puppy rescued wasn’t really how we’d planned on spending our time. But it was a way better option than abandoning this helpless creature way out here on it’s own.
The day was getting on and the sun started it’s evening slide towards the Americas. It was forecast to be cold up here tonight, and I was thinking about blankets as I brought one last piece of salami out to the pup. But all of a sudden something had changed. The pup didn’t slink off back into the bushes this time. Instead it wriggled, submissively in place. Oh for the terrified wee thing that it was!
Calling over my shoulder to Jay for more meat I hunkered down, almost close enough to touch, and put the meat down in front of the pup. Nervously it reached out it’s muzzle and wolfed it down. The little tail was beating a nervous tattoo on the ground. Two frightened brown eyes flicked on and off my face.
More meat arrived and I held a piece out with one hand. As the pup took it I stroked it with the other hand. It wriggled further into the dirt. Frightened, not knowing whether to stay or run, but wanting the meat. Wanting the meat, and the water, and the petting hand. Wanting warmth and safety and love. It’s soft brown eyes looked deep into mine. Pleading. Hoping. Courageously choosing to trust me.
“Come on baby.” said I. “Come on Marley. It’s okay. You’re safe now.” And so saying I picked her up and carried her back to Jay, waiting for us at the door into Iggy.
And I will tell you the rest tomorrow.