Be careful what you wish for because you just never know if you will get it. I, for instance, have been the traveling friend of both tame and untamed cats and dogs. I have always enjoyed Greece and Turkey for this very reason because sooner or later I know I will have a few personal pets from animals that hang out near where I live.
In Aegina, just now, I befriend the dog next door which I name Kildare. I name him this because he dares cars to kill him when he's out with me. But that comes later. In the beginning, Kildare did not like me and only growled and barked at me from his side of the fence inside his yard. It was over a few days when his owner had contact with me and the dog saw him regularly coming over to my place that the dog softened up and slowly came to accept me.
Kildare is an adolescent mutt with some kind of hunting dog as part of his mixed breed. As I said, he has never learned his new name but he responds to my whistle. This is the very same whistle I used on the beach dogs I befriended last year in Bitez,Turkey. According to Professor Rupert Seldrake, dogs, birds and other animals share information via "morphic resonance", so I figure this is what has happened. And anytime I feel the need to pet him, I just whistle and this lively puppy/dog comes running to the wall and stands tall on his hind legs to reach the top of his fence and receive friendly affection from me, which is just great because I enjoy the contact very much.
Secretly I was training him to be my companion when roaming the hills looking for something. Looking for what, you might be wondering, but I do not know either. It's just that Zeus and his other gods have been here for many thousands of years. I just know that there has to be something undiscovered somewhere, much like the mosaics I found in Bitez.
Then the dog's owner, my neighbor Ilia who is from Albania had to go home for a week and the dog suddenly found himself with lots of food laid out for him but otherwise unattended, with myself his only human friend, albeit still somewhat guarded.
I happen to also be making friends with Spot, a cat from down the street. She is all white except for black ears & tail and a pure-black spot on her rump. Spot has been coy with me, but today she actually came down the alley to me looking for food and I decided to give her a few scraps of chicken that I was saving for Kildare.
The dog, peering over the wall standing on his hind legs, went ballistic at this cat getting food from me. In a fit of jealousy he jumped over the wall. I don't think he had ever done that before, because he never had a reason to even think of leaving the vast yard.
That's when everything changed. The dog instantly became Superdog, able to leap the wall in a single bound. It quickly chased the cat away and then raced up and down the road discovering it could run at a very fast speed. He did this for almost an hour. Racing here and there as if to say: "Look at me… I can do just about anything. I am not just a little puppy stuck in the yard growling at passers by. I am Superdog and watch me go!"
Now, I am concerned for I know not what to do when I look at what I have unleashed. A dog loose, imagining he is super-dog and unused to traffic, yikes! We could have a canine fatality on our hands, and I regret I have given him cause to leave his confines, even as I enjoy him walking beside me/just ahead of me, tail zipping back and forth in obvious glee.
His capricious nature puts him in jeopardy as he follows me everywhere. Even while I'm waiting for the bus to go into Aegina I see him almost get run over a dozen times. He doesn't respond to my warnings and is so curious with everything. He loves sniffing just about everyone and because he is cute people leave him alone. But then the bus comes and I have to leave him to his own devices. He has no collar so I figure he will be dead by the time I return from Aegina on the next bus four hours from now.
I feel horrible and quite displeased with myself. This dog is going to die and it is all my fault. When I do get back home I am pleased to see he is not only alive but waiting at the bus stop where I Ieft him. Now he stays in my yard dancing around me, licking my hand and getting hugs from me, I'm so happy he has not killed himself yet.
The next day, I walk into to the beach town of Souvala where I am staying. The dog is all over the place. Cars coming to a halt here and there. Kildare is not coming to me so I could put my belt around his neck and take him home. He runs like the wind...freedom and discovery are fun for him and he seems to be having a life changing experience. And this is when I name him. He dares to be killed, but he is Superdog and will survive.
At the harbor waves are crashing on the beach, fun things to deal with if you've never seen them before. I shrug and give up and slip inside the door that leads up to a restaurant that has wifi. I am still concerned about Kildare and after checking my email I look out over the balcony for him. He is still running around the fishing village, making friends with other dogs and the local people. I see an old fisherman kick a half loaf of bread towards him. Everyone knows there is no such thing as a stray dog on these islands so I am pleased. The dog grabs the bread in his mouth and makes a run towards home up the hill about a kilometer away.
Ilia returns to great dismay and puts a collar on Kildare and chains him up in the yard. Kildare howls and moans for hours during the day and I dare not show my face till night time when I sneak over in the cover of dark to give him some lamb bones.
I don't think the dog has ever know attention like what I have given him but then again, nor has he ever before been chained to a post on a rather short leash. He is resourceful, however. Ilia leaves again to go to Athens and take care of business, and Kildare learns to undo his chains and come over to my yard.
Next day I decide to walk the four kilometres to the ancient capital of the island, Palià Chora. It is deserted now with only a handful of buildings remaining from once over 365 churches and many homes. I have heard that somewhere up here is a cave that goes underground some five kilometers to the shoreline for people to escape from the village if they are attacked by the likes of Barbarosa the Pirate. I never find the cave but meet an old man who says he knows where it is….and points that the exit to it is just over the mountain there and then disappears on me.
And just as I'm about to turn back and go home, I notice Kildare. He has been following me all day, but has been too shy to reveal himself. I give him a huge hug and the remainder of the sandwich I had brought along as a snack. We walk back happy in each other's company. I've gotten my wish of a walking companion and he has just gone on the biggest adventure of his life.
photos by Algis Kemezys (c)