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Paros Life - September 2005
by Claire Kalemkeris, September 2005

Something I have come to realize as one of the current PAWS volunteers is that although I am always crazy busy with my own work, getting involved matters. By helping make sure that a creature who has been abandoned and experienced the hazards and neglect of the street finally finds someone who truly loves them and will have the grace of a secure home is a truly rewarding and gratifying experience.

A kind of wonderful way of looking at this is that you become a matchmaker in a lot of unusual love stories. From the beginning of this year there have been thirty-five dogs and some cats that have found homes here and abroad. That's a lot of love stories.

Today I am going to focus on one about an absolutely brilliant dog now named Zippo who I saw wandering around the Marpissa area a couple of months ago with some other strays. One minute the dog was in the middle of a busy section of the road and then he quickly disappeared into the woods. At the time I thought "what a great dog", but since it was still springtime the very real possibility was if someone didn't step in he could well be shot, poisoned or have his life come to an abrupt end in some other way. Fast forward to two months later... he reappeared looking not quite so terrific and clearly in need of help.

Frankly I was surprised to see him alive. My neighbours Katerina Probona and Heineka were with me and, though we all agreed something needed to be done, before the process could begin he needed a place to go that very night. Unfortunately we all had dogs and no safe place to put him, so I started making phone calls and found him a place for his first night at Nehama Weininger's.

We did a lot more research to make sure he wasn't just a lost dog but had been abandoned. (Just an aside: if you lose your pet, please contact us as he or she can be listed on the PAWS website for found/missing pets.) Back to the story... we photographed Zippo for the website and then he went to Barbara Burki who had offered to foster care him for about three weeks until he could be re-homed. Barbara has done some extraordinary work in coordinating the re-homing effort over the years.

And that is where the kismet or old black magic, or that thing called love happened. A wonderful young woman named Biggie had chosen to volunteer her summer holiday here in Greece to help with stray animals that were being re-homed. She volunteers regularly at an animal shelter in Germany and thought she could help out while on holiday. Biggie was spending time training and socializing a number of dogs so they would be ready to leave confident and unafraid, which is not always the case when there's not enough love, time and attention. The more Biggie worked with Zippo, the tighter their bond became and it became impossible to think about not staying together. It is a very moving thing to watch a beautiful relationship grow, and to watch how love can transform both the dog and the person. I relate all this because it continually amazes me to notice how dogs "go where the love is". At least ten people were involved in helping make Zippo's deliverance happen by doing a part of the work - sometimes a couple of hours, sometimes one night, sometimes a couple of weeks - until somebody was found to give him a permanent loving home. The point is that just contributing a little bit of time once in a while can make a big difference even if you are crazy busy.

Soon Biggie, Zippo, Buttercup (one of the dogs pictured in June's Paros Life), as well as a lovely griffin, a beautiful cat and I, left for Santorini. Some fantastic ladies from the Santorini animal welfare organization helped Biggie get to the airport and continue the journey to Germany where she was met again by other animal welfare people who helped deliver the animals to their new homes. So this story is about all the love and care that goes into these journeys - quite extraordinary. Zippo, of course, went home with Biggie.

Please contact us and be part of a lot of happy endings.