I would like to tell you a story. True story about faith, hospitality, friendship and love.
We’ve visited Greece recently for 2 weeks road trip preceded by a wedding of our friends. It’s a beautiful country, so variable but this will come in other posts later. The only thing, very difficult for us to take in, was the amount of stray animals in the streets and on the roads.
That’s how we met Genaia. It was Thursday, day before last on Pelion peninsula, day before travelling back to Athens. Weather was horrible since the previous night, so the plan was long sleep in the morning and then just driving around lovely villages with hope that the rain will stop eventually. On high mountain road covered in fog we saw small black dog lying on the side of the road. We pulled over with the aim to give him/her some food as this became our routine while in Greece. When we got out of the car, we realised black dog is a puppy. She was slightly cautious in the beginning, especially with Tom but in a bit she started running around and playing with us. She could be about 4 months guessing from her size and still milk teeth in her mouth. Most of the dogs we’ve met were unfortunately scared of people, therefore when we wanted to feed them, we had to leave in order for them to eat it. She was different. Very friendly, playful, like a normal puppy we’ve played with before. We could also see she’s quite clean, so she couldn’t have been there for long. We gave her food and after about 45 minutes we left thinking who could leave this innocent little thing behind, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, by the road, not close to any of the villages.
We arrived to the closest village, Portaria, where we found about 4 or 5 stray dogs, one of them looking particularly thin.
We fed them and bought more dog food in the small shop for later. Tom was quiet and frowning. “I don’t like it, she can’t stay there.” We sat in the cafe where they had wifi and started the sad looking quest for saving the puppy. We googled animal rescues in Pelion and Athens, trying to contact as many as possible. Nobody answered straight away as most of them had only emails or facebook accounts visible. There was one phone number though for Fazoo Farm, animal charity in Athens. So we called and spoke to Marianthi who unfortunately couldn’t help as her facility was full – 95 dogs. But she said if we wanted to adopt the little one, she could help with vaccinations and all paperwork needed. We couldn’t adopt the puppy ourselves when we thought about it and tried to be reasonable (otherwise she would be just ours). With all the planning involved for the next year’s trip, cycling with three dogs would be probably too much even for us :). But Tom came with a name of our friend who was planning to adopt a stray and we contacted her to ask if she would consider adopting a Greek doggy. To keep it short, she agreed, we jumped and danced and started putting together a plan.
In the meantime we arrived to our accommodation and tried to figure out how to get the dog into the house secretly so she doesn’t have to spend another night outside. The tiny problem appeared that the stairs to the rooms went through the main living room where the guesthouse owner, very nice lady, sat for the evening. We knew that the pets were allowed in the guesthouse but we arrived without one and suddenly it will appear? So we came up with a story that our friend in nearby village had to go to the hospital and she asked us to look after her dog. The lady was really nice and she agreed as she had her own dog too. Our only problem at that point was petrol. It was about 11pm and we didn’t have much in the car. Thankfully google maps were saying there was a petrol station open 24/7 about 20 kilometres away. So we drove to Zagora but when we passed by the presumed BP petrol station for the third time, we realised there’s not any and we were fooled by google maps and BP.
At that point the amount of fuel in the car could have been about 1-2 litres and we were stuck in Zagora just before midnight with a room booked somewhere else and a poor dog at the roadside. We saw light in the health centre and knocked on the door. Older guy came out and he spoke a bit of English. When we explained our situation, he told us what we already knew. There was NO 24/7 petrol station in Zagora and they will reopen in the morning. He even tried calling the owner of one of the petrol stations with no luck. We came up with a solution to suck out bit of petrol from another car. The guy at the health centre couldn’t help as his car had a special type of petrol tank opening. But he navigated us to the taverna and the bar to find a tall guy called Nikos who might be able to help. We arrived, saw the tall guy and ask if he was Nikos. He already knew about our problem as the other guy called him in advance. He didn’t speak a word of English but there were other people who were translating. Nikos and his friend served us beer and went away to solve our problem. In a while they came back with a plastic water can and a garden hose.
After some fussing around it was clear that we were stuck in Zagora for the night. The hose was too big for the tank of the guy’s motorbike. We finished the beer prepared to spend the night in the car. But Nikos signed us to wait and he called someone.
“What is he doing?” we asked his friend who spoke English.
“He’s arranging a room for you to sleep in.”
“Don’t worry, it’s just 50 metres away.”
In a bit we were entering an apartment house where Nikos lived and there was a small extra ensuite room where his friend was staying. He asked his friend George to stay with him for the night and we had the room for us.
“In the morning just close the door.”
We stood there with opened mouths and began laughing about the whole situation. Poor puppy unfortunately had to wait till the morning.
We didn’t sleep well as we were thinking about her. First thing in the morning we drove to the petrol station and then to get her. When we arrived at the curve where we found her, she was nowhere to see. We got off the car but still no sign of her presence. Worried looks didn’t last too long fortunately. Small ball of happiness was running directly to us. She spent the night in the ditch at the side of the road. We hugged her and cuddled, looking at each other incredibly happy. She waited for us!
I took her in my arms and got in the car. She curiously looked around, didn’t seem too surprised that we’re taking her. We put my waterproof poncho underneath in case of her being sick and started descent to Volos. In case you don’t know, the roads in Pelion are ridiculous, so many serpentines. Well she was sick, how many times she was sick! But after the first time when she vomited on the poncho, I was able to get her to vomit into the plastic bag. That dog was unbelievable! Such a little puppy and incredibly clever.
In Volos we went to the pet shop and bought her harness, leash and some food and at the vet’s we got her the anti-tick and flea treatment. He also confirmed our guess she’s about 4 months old. There was a 3 hour trip to Athens ahead of us where she will live with foster carer till all her vaccinations are completed and she can travel to UK. She was sleeping at my feet all the way through, no more vomiting, only millions of fleas falling off dead.
We named her Genaia – meaning brave in Greek. Brave little girl waiting in the ditch for us to come, alone at night. We can’t wait to welcome you in the UK!