Sometimes you make a decision knowing it will cause you problems but you just have to go with it …
It happened as I was on my way home, shortly before dusk. Earlier in the day I’d discovered I had two bald tyres. I hadn’t had time to do anything about them so I was driving more cautiously than normal.
On the other side of the road I saw a small black dog walking towards me. As I was going slowly I had plenty of time to see that it was very young and limping badly, with one rear leg held up and dangling.
My first instinct was to stop, but taking on another dog was the last thing I needed! We already have three dogs and two cats, which is several more animals than planned. Living in a country with lots of strays you have to learn to ignore the cute kitten or dog at the side of the road or you’d end up with dozens of pets.
I drove on.
But this dog was obviously injured – maybe it had a broken leg. It needed medical treatment and, if I didn’t take it to the vet, probably nobody would. I wondered how long it would survive.
There was something about it that stuck in my mind – the mixture of pathos and courage as it limped along, going goodness knows where. Our first dog was a wonderful black cross-Labrador from a rescue shelter and something about this puppy reminded me of her.
I pulled in to think. We couldn’t keep another dog but I reckoned I could at least take it to the vet. I turned my car around.
Night comes quickly here in Greece and, in the short time that had elapsed, it had got much darker. Perhaps I wouldn’t be able to see the dog? Maybe it had already turned off the road? I also realised that, if it was a stray, it may well not let me get near even if I found it. Still, I’d feel better knowing that I tried.
In fact I was lucky to see it. A movement next to a parked car caught my eye and there was the puppy, possibly seeking a bit of shelter as night fell.
I stopped the car, got out, and approached it with my hand held out. Would it just shy away?
No, it limped towards me wagging a thin tail. I patted its head and felt down its back. No collar. Quite thin.
I picked it up carefully, avoiding the injured leg, and put it on the back seat of my car. Luckily I had a dog blanket already there.
Although the vet would still be open I was reluctant to drive back into town with an unknown animal in the car. I didn’t know how it might react and it could cause an accident if it panicked and jumped about.
I was close to home so I called my husband, George, to explain what had happened and took the puppy there. She behaved perfectly in the car but, when he lifted her out, she was trembling with fright.
As well as being in pain she was starving and thirsty. After drinking half a litre of water and gobbling down some dog-food and scraps of chicken, she curled up in one of our dog beds and slept.
The following morning George took her to the vet, who confirmed that the leg was broken and she would need an X-ray and to have it plastered. When I picked her up later Despina, the vet, told me that she’d done her best to mend the leg but couldn’t guarantee that the puppy wouldn’t have a limp. She didn’t know what had caused the break but said it had happened within the past week.
The puppy is about four months old, a bright little thing. She’s very friendly and appears to be house-trained. She’s already looking fatter and healthier after 72 hours of care. I’d like to think she has an owner looking for her somewhere but it’s unlikely. I’ll ask in Mesagros, the nearest village to where I found her, but I don’t hold out much hope that she’ll be claimed..
She has to keep her plaster on for a month and also take a calcium supplement. We’ve given her a temporary name, Peggy, and will look after her during that time but she desperately needs a long-term home. It isn’t possible for us to keep her permanently.
So now I have to try to solve the problem caused by my stopping for her. We simply cannot keep her.
I’ve been through the options. She’d be hard to home here. Black dogs are unpopular with Greeks unless they are big, fierce, and ugly guard dogs. They prefer not to keep bitches as they don’t neuter them so have to deal with unwanted puppies. And I suspect the fact that she could be left with a limp would also make her undesirable.
I don’t want to take her and abandon her by the side of the road where I found her. I really couldn’t do that.
The local animal charity already have 237 dogs in their shelter and couldn’t take Peggy but could help with getting her vaccinated and providing the paperwork for her to go abroad. I think that’s her best chance.
So if you have room in your home and heart for a puppy please please let me know. You can also help by passing on the link to this post to anyone who may be interested, or posting it on your Facebook page.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone me on +30 22970 32265.