Postcard to lemnos

Hollie to the rescue

Dear Fotini and Vaggelio,

Thank you so much for rescuing me and finding me such a wonderful home here in Scotland with my very own mum and dad, Carole and Arthur.

Mum showed me the pictures of you both at the shelter with even more dog being dumped every week and now I understand I was one of the lucky ones. Although I didn’t feel very lucky when I first arrived and you had to leave me in that awful place. The long timers told me that you had homes to go to and that you could only visit in your free time. And so I used to dream that one day I’d have a home to go to too!

I loved my short hours with you when you visited. You would cuddle me and Roger, my kennel friend, and take us for walks. You smelt of warmth and kindness and lots of nice things and this was our best day of the week.

The days between your visits were very grey with one enormous black cloud  who arrived to chuck pellets into a buckets. Some days he forgot us completely and our buckets would stay empty and our poos piled up but Roger and I worked it out that we needed to pee and poo as far away from our grotty floor as we could.

Then one day you arrived at the shelter with a new lady – she smelled just like you,  so Roger and I knew it must be a good thing. The lady lifted me slowly in her arms and cuddled me and whispered in my ear:

“Hollie would you like to come and live in Scotland. I have a friend whose husband is very poorly and a little doggy like you might help him feel much better. ”

Well I wasn’t sure that a little dog like me could make someone better but I thought I had to give it a try – and anyway it would be rude not to!

So I gave lots of licks and wiggled my bum and wagged my tail and the lady obviously got the message because next I knew I was going with Roger to get a passport.

My friend Perla said getting a passport for a Greek dog is like winning the lottery. We had to go through a lot of strange things to get this but you held our paws and we went to the vet and trusted you when you said we had to be brave it would be a tough 4/5 days with lots of new things to cope with but it would all be worth it when we went to our new families.

As you carefully lifted Roger and I into our kennel on this ginormous ship and you waved us off we tried hard to remember to be brave. We trusted you so much and we could see from your tears that this was as difficult for you as it was for us.

That was the last time we saw you but we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us this wonderful new life. We’ve both now written up our stories so you can share them with other dogs and their new families that you’re rescuing right now.

I will never ever forget you, our angels.
With all my love
Hollie xxx

My Rescue Mission by Hollie

To start with the journey was very frightening. We were on the ship for a very long time. Our friend, Perla, was with us – she had been the shelter mum, giving milk to dumped puppies after her own puppies had died, and now like me and Roger she had won the lottery too!

Eventually our kennel stopped moving. There was a lot of noise and then a man opened our door. We backed into the corner but Perla soothed us saying he was different to the men who shouted and booted us. He was what’s called an animal courier.

Clever Perla, she was very active on the Twilight Bark, and knew so much about the world outside the shelter. And she was right. These men not only smelled different, they acted differently too. They put us in a lovely clean kennel all laid out with nice paper towels to sit on and off we went on the most incredible journey.

By now there were 12 of us in the van and Perla was just loving being mother hen and listening to many sad stories and assuring everyone, especially the 2 pups who’d been thrown out with the trash, that our new lives were going to be just fantastic.

Perla  was getting very excited because she was being adopted by a lady called Vicky who liked to run. I thought that it all sounded a bit hectic and hoped my lady, Carole, would prefer I just snuggled up on her lap.

Roger agreed but added that he’d  asked Fotini if he she could please find him a family with a small boy, like Fotini’s Victor, so he could chase footballs for the rest of his days.

I don’t think I like children. I might – but I think for now I’d like to give them a miss. I’ve seen them throw stones at the bigger dogs and I’m not sure they’re all as kind as Victor.

The journey was long but made interesting by lots of walks with the lovely animal couriers. Perla decided that only posh dogs got animal couriers so we must be going to live in castles or mansions.

I didn’t like to show my ignorance or question her, as long as Carole would love me that’s all I worried about. Roger and I still honked of the shelter. We’d not been there as long as our friends but the sour smell of stale pee and poo was in every fibre of our matted coats. Say Carole didn’t love me? Say I was back on the streets?

Perla must have read my mind: “Don’t worry little Hollie. Fotini works with Fiona to only find kind people who understand that us rescued dogs might need a bit of a pamper and some training?”
“Training” I asked?
“Yes like where to pee and poo and where you can and can’t sit and stuff like that. It’s just all about learning to have good manners and trusting your human. “

This was all starting to sound very complicated but too late to back out now as the smells had changed from salt and heat to something new and strange.  Roger and I couldn’t figure it out and were afraid to ask Perla yet again as she was in a deep sleep exhausted by our constant questions.

As the light was fading we stopped again for a scrummy meal in our kennels  Our lovely couriers kept apologising that they couldn’t give us bigger portions but small or not this was what Perla called “haute doggie cuisine” and tasted so different because it actually tasted!

We then got to our night time walk before being tucked up in bed  for the evening. As we all got down from our van even Perla for once stood silent until she got the scent, which even she didn’t recognise. She regally sniffed the air and barked and in the distance back came her reply.

I love Perla but I do hope all this adoration isn’t going to her head as she reeled off to her captive audience all the new smells of chamois and marmots and foxes and boar messaged to her by a whole lot of barking. Anyway, Roger and I weren’t particularly impressed by Perla’s latest revelation, as we’d found our favourite scent ever and we started to dig!

Turned out were in a place called the Alps, besides the gorgeous scents it also smelled very clean but we weren’t going to be staying long – we still had a very long way to go.

Eventually we got to our foster home and that’s when it became so exciting and even Perla couldn’t contain herself as she told us a foster home isn’t a forever home. A foster home is something in between Heaven and Hell, but mostly Heaven.

Looking back Roger and I would say that it’s definitely closer to Heaven. You get great food, kind people come and say “ooh and ahh aren’t they cute – can’t believe someone would’ve dumped him,“  even the men are kind. The scents are out of this world, but the best bit is, in our foster home we discovered our old friends from Lemnos Shelter! Joy, Mila and Sunny had all been this way before and left us a message to tell us to be brave and that everything would all be fine.

You don’t need to be brave in a foster home, the first day is a bit strange but we had Perla with us so we knew we’d be fine. Except quick as a flash she left us. Although we weren’t upset, we knew she couldn’t hang around – when you’re a rescue dog you seize the moment.

Vicky and her lovely bubbly family came to take Perla home, and because Roger and I were being brave we were also allowed to meet them and wow we got a taste of what life was going to be like as we all played in the garden. The shelter was starting to feel a million miles away – although Perla corrected us and said it was only 2000 miles away.

That morning was the last time we saw Perla but we still hear from her regularly now on the Twilight Bark, since we’ve learned how to tune in!  She’s now winning races and dog shows, has made many videos , written her story and is encouraging all the rest of us to do the same to show that rescue dogs make great dogs and make humans very happy…

And that’s what I was supposed to be doing……but there was a problem. My foster mum, she’s called Wendy by the way, was on the phone to my new mum and apparently my new dad was poorly and unable to drive all the way down from Scotland so my mum was going to come down on the train to pick me up. I could feel Wendy didn’t feel comfortable letting Carole go through this, so she looked at me and said: “Hollie do you fancy another adventure?”

Wendy I learned later on the Twilight Bark is a bit scatty and known for acting with her heart but not always her head and relies heavily on her friend Fiona, who also has a big heart but is far more sensible. But on this occasion, thankfully, she pulled it off…

As Fiona drove Wendy and me to the station I heard Fiona say: “ If you pull this one off it will be a miracle! And please remember you’re getting off at Edinburgh, not Newcastle as you keep saying!” At this point I panicked and threw up my breakfast into my nice new soft crate, bought specially for the journey and so easy-peasy to escape from had I so wished.

But I’m far from stupid and, once at the station, despite these huge noisy metal wagons rushing by me I remembered Fotini’s words again. This was my chance and I wasn’t going to blow it by acting scared. And I was confident that our end journey was  Edinburgh, not Newcastle as Fiona had reminded Wendy that many times.

Thanks to little old me, Wendy made lots of new friends for Lemnos Dog Shelter. This is Emma who helped when I got a bit over excited over the buffet trolley and she is now a sponsor!

The journey was actually first class of course! And as soon as it was safe to do so I popped out of my crate and stayed as calm as can be and wooed everyone until the buffet trolley came around and that was just too much. But by then I had already amassed a lot of fans and was almost starting to be as cool as Perla.

We arrived in Edinburgh station and another nice man helped Wendy off the train. Wendy had bathed me and Fiona had clipped out all my matted bits and although I say it myself I knew I was looking good but what if my mum didn’t love me? Perhaps I could just be a foster dog forever because I’m not sure I could survive on these streets.

Wendy walked out of the station with me still in my crate and met mum who couldn’t quite see me but I could see her through the gaps in the mesh and it was love at first sight. She looked so kind and had the most loveliest sweet smell and I knew at last I’d found love.

Mum drove Wendy and I to her home. I couldn’t contain my excitement. As she lifted me out of the crate I knew all my dreams had come true as her smile lit up her face and I knew were going to be soul sisters.

Mum gently invited me into the living room. My new dad was sitting in his arm chair looking very sad. The lovely smells around me were so intense that I just wanted to explore but I hadn’t forgotten, I had a job to do to help someone get better.

My instincts told me I just had to be a dog and make my dad feel happy. He was a kind and clever man and knew all about my sad past. So I figured seeing me explore and making myself at home would make him smile again. So I did just that, the garden, the patio, the kitchen, the lounge, I got a bit braver and started on the sofas too.

I was lost having a wild ten minutes carefully approaching dad neither wanting to scare him or him scare me… was a difficult balancing act but with mum’s help we eventually all made it around the kitchen table with mum showing dad my lottery ticket. When dad cried happy tears, like Fotini and Vaggelio had done, that’s when I knew I had cracked it. I now not only had a lovely home, I now had a mission.

Post script from Wendy

Thanks to all our sponsors we were able to prepare Hollie ready to travel to the UK with her magic lottery ticket! She was a very special girl and must admit that had her home ever fallen through I could have adopted her in a heart beat.

But the day we went to Edinburgh was a turning point for this soft foster mum, seeing Arthur’s face when Hollie walked through his front door made me truly understand what rescue was all about.

Hollie remained a constant source of support to Arthur in his last 2 years and is still Carole’s pride, joy and best buddy.

Sadly, Arthur died in October 2020 and his friends kindly made donations in his memory to Lemnos Dog Shelter. This has laid the foundation stone for our neutering campaign – for every dog we can neuter we are saving the lives of over 9,000 unwanted puppies.

Thank you to Carole and Arthur’s friends and family for supporting us and for helping launch an incredible initiative in Arthur’s memory.