The skinny figure of an abandoned dog on Grammeno Beach was often present during the winter of 2018-2019. He was being fed by a number of customers who had taken pity on him. He showed scars on his head and his body and he was very timid and submissive. Occasionally, he’d be chased off the beach or the Promontory by other dogs only to return later.
The winter of 2018-2019 was not very cold but it was however very wet. Life for Skinny must have been difficult at times.
I would occasionally see him by the roadside as I ran in the mornings and we’d spend time together whilst I petted him. He didn’t seem to have any friends although he was friendly enough once he understood that he was not going to be chased away.
Skinny would often come to the camping in the morning or evening. He would wander around always on the lookout for the next person who might chase him off. Dog-loving customers might leave a bowl of food for him but his life was dependent on the goodwill of anyone who cared enough.
I’d been asked if I would take him but knew that my dogs, of which there were seven until the end of January, are not willing to welcome any newcomers. Indeed, they had often chased Skinny the length of the Promontory if he was unlucky enough to be found out during our daily walks. It didn’t seem as though he had much going for him.
There are fewer customers during the winter and the beach gates to the camping are often closed so it’s possible to prevent unwanted visitors. As spring arrived there would soon come a time when the gates would be left open and the number of customers on the camping would increase. Many of those who stayed during the winter didn’t mind having a stray dog around, especially one as gentle and friendly as Skinny.
I knew that I’d be going back to UK for a few days in April/May so didn’t wish to make any commitment which I was unable to keep due to my absence. I decided that, if Skinny was still around when I returned from UK, I’d give him a try.
Earlier in the year, I’d taken him in one evening and given him food and a dry house to sleep in. My other dogs were not at all welcoming so poor Skinny spent his time cowering in the run as they barked from the other side of the wire. I didn’t hold out much hope of integrating him especially as I’d not had a good experience with another dog the previous year.
When I went to look for him in the following morning, Skinny had taken his leave. The run was empty and the food untouched. He’d probably jumped onto one of the other houses then over the wire fence to the outside. None of my other dogs is interested in escaping so security is not my number one concern.
Once back from my visit, Skinny was still hanging around the camping and I could see that I might have to make good the promise I’d made to take him, even though I had reservations. My concern was that he would not be accepted by the other dogs and things would end badly for him. Skinny was very submissive so would always turn and run rather than stand up for himself. This was my greatest concern. I resolved to take as much time as necessary to ensure he had the best chance of being integrated successfully. I’d put him in a run with a tall fence so he wouldn’t jump over it to run away also so that he’d have somewhere to go where he could feel safe.
I collected him from the camping and took him to my compound having made sure the other dogs were locked in another run. I’d already moved a house in for him and made sure he had everything he’d need. There was the usual barking from my dogs but this was to be expected. I made sure they did not bother him and quietened them down each time they decided to bark at him. At first, I did not even try to walk them all together but left Skinny in his run. I’d take him out later with one of the other dogs to see how they got on. This involved extra work but I felt it would be worth the effort.
Very early in our relationship, I took Skinny on a walk up Anydri Gorge with some friends, Steffi and Sascha and their dog Zora. The two dogs were transported in the back of the car although Zora didn’t seem too impressed at having her space invaded by a large, bouncy, white dog. When we arrived at the foot of the gorge, Skinny jumped straight out of the car door and disappeared. No entreaties would entice him to come back so we set off without him. I reckoned that any hunting dog worth his salt would be able to find us easily enough. It was not long before he came streaking past and a little while later he simply appeared at my side as if to say: “I’ve had a good run on my own so I’m ready to walk with you now”. That day was not without incident so Skinny had plenty of walking!
Some days later, customers at the camping saw Skinny one morning and were lavishing compliments upon him. It transpired that they owned three Cretan Hounds and that Skinny was a fine example of one. They offered to take pictures of him to promote him on their club website in case he had an owner and had been lost. Or to discover if any member of that club would wish to take him for themselves. I was waiting for an opportunity to take Skinny to see Stavros the vet in Máleme to see if he had a microchip. I would then try to find any owner before deciding what to do with him next.
We took him, together with Heidi, to Máleme to discover that he had no microchip so was officially classed as a stray. The integration process with the other dogs appeared to be going well so I’d decided I’d keep Skinny if no previous owner could be found. I was informed that, under Greek law, any stray dog without a microchip becomes the property of the new owner once a chip is inserted and the official registration procedure completed. Skinny had his new chip, his rabies vaccination and now is the owner of a brand new pet passport should he need to travel abroad. He has been formally registered with the official Greek database as one of my dogs.
Skinny is now a fulltime member of my doggy family and gets on well with the others. He returns at the end of our walks and plays nicely with the others. Even Luis, who can be quite aggressive towards dogs he doesn’t know, gets on well with Skinny. It is also great to see Oskar and Skinny playing together in the sea and on the beach. Oskar, like Luis, does not make friends that easily.
Skinny seems to enjoy being part of a family, is very keen to get regular food and is even putting on a little weight! I’m told he should always remain skinny so should not go much above 19kg.
October 2019 – Update
Skinny is now an integrated member of the family and can play and fool with the others without fear of being picked on or chased away. He has his own position in the pack hierarchy and is respected by the others. He still likes to go walkabout if the opportunity is presented to him however he nearly always returns at the end of our daily walks. He now enjoys his food which he demolishes in no time. A complete difference to last winter where he might gobble down a few biscuits whilst looking over his shoulder for any approaching danger.
He is far more confident than before and stands up for himself with the other dogs. Gone are the days of slinking off with his tail between his legs. He’s become a good guard dog as he has a strong voice even though he’s probably more likely to lick anyone to death! He’s very affectionate and comes to be petted whenever someone is around. He now goes jogging in the mornings: a quick 5km circuit towards Kountoura. He gets at least 10km of exercise each day which seems to satisfy him. He spends most of his time sleeping during the day.
He’s doing very well…
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