Postcards to Lemnos – Aris

For a very long time I lived in the same place high up on a hillside where I don’t think anyone really knew we were there.

A strange place that was cold and hard in the winter, sometimes I had to cower right at the back of my little space just to keep warm and away from the icy winds that blew. The howling of the wind and the lashing rain when the storms came really frightened me and I just wanted some company to keep me warm and make me feel things would be ok. In the summers it got really hot and sweaty and sometimes the sun was so bright I had to stay away from the bars so I couldn’t get to look out and imagine that out there somewhere maybe there was a family for me, someone to love and cuddle me, play with me, maybe a doggy brother or sister and they would be mine, all my very own. 

Many, many days I stayed there, so many I could not count them and so many all the same and soooo very long. I had two brothers when I came but they went away after just a little while because they were braver than me, I think they got families of their own. 

I could hear the other dogs were there too but I couldn’t see many of them. Ginger and Karma were my friends and I wish they could be in here with me, but I just got to have a quick play with them sometimes when our cage doors got open.

 Not so many humans came very often just a horrible, scary man that came to clean out my mess and throw food in. He would barge into my space and he had a loud voice that I didn’t like, and I backed away as far as I could out of his way until he had gone.

Then some days, they were always far apart, but I managed to wait for them if I remembered how good they were, the soft, gentle humans that came. Usually two of them always the same, they had names that made my heart feel warm and safe when I heard them – Fotini and Vaggelio. 

Sometimes they brought other gentle humans too who opened our doors and asked us to come out for a while. The horrible man made me afraid, and I didn’t see the others so often so I wasn’t sure what to do around them. I wanted to feel safe, but just to make sure, I would just roll over and lie alongside them and not get up so they didn’t shout and tell me off like the man. I didn’t really know what else to do or how to play or what happiness felt like. Just a little taste of it when the angel humans came.

One Summer, another angel human came, and we made friends. Her name was Maria. She had a soft voice too and her hands were gentle and kind and I learned she was safe to be around. Every time she saw me, she whispered to me that somewhere out there, there was a family just for me who would understand me and love me even if I was a bit shy and unsure. She told me that if she helped me learn some things, Fotini and Vaggelio could send a message to lots of people so my new family could find me and take me home.

Maria couldn’t stay and I missed her, but I tried really hard to remember everything she told me and I was as brave as I could be. Remembering to walk on the lead with the angel humans and listen to what they told me, then one day all my dreams came true, they told me they had found my family – one just for me, they wanted me! 

Oh wow – just what I wanted, but at the same time a bit scary because I didn’t know who they were and where I would have to go. What about my angel humans, I would miss then and Ginger and Karma too.Me and ten of the other dogs were all getting new homes, so Ithought it would be ok if so many of us were doing it.

We all had a bath, we saw the vet who gave us medicine and checked we were ok then we went in the car with Fotini and Vaggelio who told us all the way that it would be ok and this was the start of our new lives they would miss us but never forget us.It took a long time, on a boat that was really wobbly and then in a big van for what seemed like a really long time. Glenn was my friend though – he gave me ham and he had a gentle hand a kind voice too.

It was Tuesday, June 23rd the day I got my new family. I will never forget it. Glenn opened the door and I saw my human for the first time. I hoped it was her because she had a kind voice like my angel humans at the shelter.

Boy it was scary though, I was so bewildered, it was noisy and everything smelt different! I couldn’t see anything I remembered, Karma and Ginger weren’t there either. I felt alone and at first, I just wanted to run back home. I looked for the way, for escape routes. I thought might be to go back home, I thought I had changed my mind, everything was so different, I couldn’t understand anything they were saying only my name and they didn’t get that quite right!

I went into this place they call a house and I saw another dog. She was smaller than me but she was quiet and gentle and she let me in to share her space so I wasn’t on my own. I’m glad she was there. 

I learned my new human was called Jo, she was really gentle and patient with me and let me look around in my own time, sniffing around so I could try and understand this new place. She offered me food and water but it wasn’t what we used to have and I was a bit too scared to eat, I had to keep a look out checking everything in case something scary came, maybe the horrible man.I couldn’t really understand her, I could see her mouth moving and hear sounds but they weren’t like my angel humans at the shelter.I liked the sound of her voice though it made me feel safe, she wasn’t scary at all.

We went out for a walk and I had to have lots of things to wear so I didn’t run away. I was afraid and felt a bit restricted but I stayed with my new human and my new dog sister – her name was Ruby.

It seems a long time since that first day I arrived when I wasn’t so sure I wanted to stay but since then so much has changed – I’m loving it here. It took me a long time to really start to settle in – but I had my own bed, lovely and soft and warm not like the shelter, sometimes, me and Ruby even swapped beds and I got to try hers too.

 I missed the other dogs but I liked that Ruby was my new sister – I knew we were going to become great friends and she always told me not to worry, that it was great here, that I would be safe, we got cuddles and good food and that she would help me though everything even show me all the great places to play out with the wonderful friends my new human had.

I’ve been here 9 months now – wow that has gone so fast! I’m so happy, I love it, I wish my other friends from the shelter could come too and I wish I could tell Fotini and Vaggelio a huge thank you for my new family that I always wanted.

I get to go all around the house, even on the beds! I’ve watched TV with my Jo, we got on lots of walks, we’ve played in the snow, I have my own grandma and grandad too who I go to play with when mummy goes to work.

Mummy’s friends are lots of fun too – some of them have dogs I like and big gardens to run around in. Mummy even took me and Ruby on holidays – we go in something she calls a camper van – I love it because we all get to sleep together all cosy and I get to be with mummy and Ruby all day everyday when we go. That’s my most favourite thing.

We have been to beaches – I love running around on the soft sand. We go on lovely long walks up big hills and across huge fields – the smells are out of this world! Mummy has taught me new things too – I know when she is doing this because she says the same words over and over again! I don’t quite understand at first, but I see Ruby do it too – she shows me. When I get it right, I get some good snacks from mummy’s special little bag – my favourite is ham (like Glenn gave me), chicken and cheese!

Mummy got me a really long lead so I can run lots further and nearly go as far as Ruby does – she gets to go and play all by herself. Sometimes things look and smell so exciting I forget about my long lead and then whoomph I reach the end me and mummy both get a bit of a shock when this happens!

Me and mummy did some practicing without my lead at all and she lets me do it more times when I am good at going back to her when she shouts me. I get chicken and cheese! I don’t get to do this all the time yet like Ruby, because mummy says in some places, I get so excited to see and smell everything I forget to listen to her. She has something she puts on my collar called a Tracker so she can find me if I really do get carried away and she is worried I will get lost and go too far from her. This must mean she loves me a lot!I don’t want to run away from her and Ruby because I love them too but its such fun and I love it – I didn’t ever get to do this before.

I was so lucky to find my forever family, I hope all my other friends from the shelter get one too. We have lots of cuddles, playtime, good sleeps where I dream nice things and we have tasty treats and it always feel warm and safe. I love to always see my Jo and Ruby every morning when I wake up, it make my little tail all waggy – I wasn’t sure at first, but I know now they will never leave me and I will never leave them.  This is the best life I could have imagined.

Thank you Fotini & Vaggelio, Maria and the Starlight Barking humans – you have saved me and made my dreams come true. I hope together, we can save all the other shelter dogs. Love from Arisxx