Friday, 3 May 2013

The law of unintended consequences

Oh dear! Sometimes you think you're doing the right thing and then it all goes horribly wrong. That, on top of my natural indolence, is why I haven't posted anything on this blog for quite a while.

Let me explain. Late Sunday evening I'm out in the olive grove with Bonnie giving her a last chance to sniff at things etc before bedtime when I spot a shadowy white shape and two bright eyes down by one corner of the small church that sits in the olive grove. Bonnie whizzes down there and the shadowy white shape transforms in to a dog that is clearly in a bad way. There is no aggression between the two dogs and the white dog shambles up the path behind me on to the terrace.

In better light I can see that the dog is the sort used for hunting on Skopelos. Quite long in the leg and a bit whippet/lurcher in appearance. But this one is stick thin with very prominent ribs and backbone. She, for it is a she who has clearly raised at least one litter of puppies, cringes horribly as she gets closer. This is a dog who has not had the happiest of lives.

So I put down a small bowl of dog food and a dish of water and she tucks in. All the while I'm trying to complete the head v heart equation with them both coming out about equal. I can't ignore a dog in such a condition, but I really don't need another dog. So as she would undoubtedly have lived outdoors (see an earlier posting about dogs in Greece) I have no qualms (all right I have some qualms) about leaving her outside and I would be lying if I said I didn't secretly hope she would move on overnight.

Such hopes are dashed on Monday morning when it turns out she is still here and - this is the bit where the law of unintended consequences kicks in - she has attacked our pet cockerel, Eileen. Yes, it is a girl's name, but it seemed the right name for him from the time when he first went on the run from the other cockerels who had bullied him. I check out Eileen, but it is clear that he is injured beyond all hope of recovery and so it falls to me to put our handsome and somewhat eccentric cockerel out of his misery - a job I do with a heavy heart.

By this time the dog, which I resolutely have not even given a temporary name in order to avoid any more attachment than I already feel, has reappeared near the house and displays a very friendly disposition and remarkable obedience. Understandably this carries little weight with our landlord who is concerned for his chickens and he takes the dog away. The hope is that moving her away will lead to her settling elsewhere. If this raises questions about looking after animals in Greece I understand and I am afraid I probably have no answers to those questions. I have been told the dog is being fed and watered to encourage her to stay where she is.

So this week I have been feeling upset about poor Eileen, whose demise I feel I inadvertently precipitated, and an anonymous dog, who I keep feeling deserves a better life than the one she has.

Yesterday I told someone who has lived here a lot longer than I have about our poor cockerel and the dog and she said that much as you would like to, it was not possible to help out every animal in a bad situation. In my head I know this true, and in my heart I feel sad because of that.

Eileen the cockerel tapping at our kitchen door.


  1. What a sad story. So many times, when I lived in the mountains in Xoletria, Pafos, I saw hunting dogs in this condition, starved to the point of death, abandoned by the hunters. In the Greek Orthodox church of course, animals "have no soul", hence the lack of conscience within many of those who keep animals (usually in cages) for this purpose. I can tell you some worse stories than the above.

    Blame these people for poor Eileen's demise. Not yourself.

  2. Thank you for your kind words. We really miss Eileen pottering around outside our house. I suppose if he hadn't made a break for it from the henhouse last year he might well have gone in the pot by now anyway and he did well to live at liberty for as long as he did. Pine Martens, or Stone Martens depending on who is telling you, are known predators for chickens and other birds here on Skopelos.

  3. Oh I never saw one of those in all my time in Cyprus. They're pretty nasty little rogues from what I recall about them. Your blogs are very interesting, do post more.


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