March 29, 2011

0 Greece: Cats and Dogs of Greece

Greece is covered in cats and dogs.  Literally.  There are stray dogs running wild through both country and city areas, and cats mewling around any spot they might find food. According to Wikipedia, the dogs are called "free-ranging urban dogs" and are rampant across most cities in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Asia.  A biologist in Russia, Andrei Poyarkov, has studied Moscow's strays for the majority of his life.  I could have spent our entire trip photographing these animals, but since Paul preferred to see the sites I had to make do with quick shots here and there.

These cats were in the car park of the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron.  They meowed for food constantly, one even trying to climb in our van.

These cats were actually IN the monastery (there were others as well, near the cellars).

Someone put some food down for the clowder of cats.  

This site was all too common around Athens- a large dog, sunning in the middle of anywhere.

See?  Completely unfazed by the traffic.

Syntagma Square had several canine residents.  Probably feline, too, but they generally darted around out of sight until dusk.

This dog got himself locked into one of the ruins sites.  Hopefully he'd had his fill of dropped gyros and roasted lamb.

This dog was in Nafplio- he was alive, I watched him breath.  While Sloan does sleep like this on our bed at home, I am amazed that this dog is comfortable enough on the busy pedestrian roads to sleep this way.  It is his home, though, and maybe this spot of grass is his favorite bed. 

Most of the pet dogs we saw walking around were tiny little things, Yorkies or other small terriers.  The only large dogs we saw attached to humans were the working herding dogs in Larisa.  I watched this little boy and his puppy walk down the street near us and cross the square we were in, and it was no different than any other little boy and his puppy, so obviously there are large dogs as pets, too.  It was refreshing to see the affection this puppy received, after my heart breaking for all the other heads that rarely got more than a perfunctory pat or quick scratch.
This lounger was on the steps on the Acropolis leading up to the Parthenon.  Most of the dogs in Athens were definitely NOT starving.  In fact, obesity was rampant among these tourist-restaurant scavengers.  Gyros and and saganaki may be delicious, but a diet made up primarily of scraps of fried cheese and dropped french fries?  Not the most healthy.

This handsome old man was at the entry to the Temple of Zeus.  I gave him a good few minutes of head/ear scratching (don't worry, germophobes, I quickly found a sink with soap).

You weren't expecting this guy, were you?!  He and his buddy below were hanging out in the courtyard at the National Archaeological Museum.

So it's not all cats and dogs!

Seriously, though, these animals, while well (overly) fed, don't get any consistent, full-on-affection or attention, and only a few lucky ones (they wear ID tags) get bare-bones medical care (basic vaccines and neutering- I'm still not sure what they do about fleas!).  So if you go to Athens, take some glucosamine (I can't tell you how many hip/knee issues we recognized- thanks, Max!), maybe some lowfat biscuits, and some wet wipes/antibacterial.  Cause they're mostly friendly, and all willing to be loved.

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