I went to Athens to forget about my dog. Of course, I know that's impossible, but I didn't expect so many four-legged reminders of my recent and painful loss.
I had read that Athens had a problem with stray dogs, but it wasn't until we headed up from the hotel to the Acropolis that I encountered so many friendly, and seemingly homeless, strays. I say seemingly, because they actually seem to have made the Acropolis and the surrounding area their home.
It turns out the dogs are rounded up periodically by the City of Athens and given veterinary care, sterilized, and microchipped. They're also given a collar saying as such, which explains why so many dogs had collars. They also, without exception, looked well fed. Some, including the old white dog who slept on the rug outside our hotel entrance, were even overweight.
Still, my heart went out to every dog I met, especially the lovely dog at Hadrian's Library, who seemed to be something of a mascot to the preservationists working on the site. They don't pay entrance fees to any of the sites, and despite signs warning that dogs aren't allowed, they enter without being stopped, curling up on marble paths warmed by the sun.
Near the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, we saw a gang of dogs suddenly rush out into the street to bark at a moped. They surrounded the rider, barking, ignoring the other traffic. When the traffic started moving, our hearts lurched as they made their way between cars and buses back to the park. This was the only nuisance behavior I noticed.
Later, I watched a dog wait patiently at a crosswalk, only to cross the street with the humans who crossed when the light turned green. They've obviously learned coping skills, living on the streets.
But still, living on the streets is no life for a dog. They deserve a home, with humans to call their own.
I couldn't decide on one or two photos, so I posted most of the photos, below, that we took of the street dogs of Athens. If you see one you want, contact the City of Athens. Or your local shelter probably has one just like him.
Outside the Acropolis, this dog had places to go, people to see.
Welcome to Athens!
This one just wanted to sleep.
These dogs greeted us near the entrance to the Acropolis.
This dog, who seemed young and spry, still wanted to nap more than anything.
This dog was at the Aeropagus, the viewing point at the Acropolis.
Another shot of the gorgeous dog at Hadrian's Library. I finally got to pet him, as we waited to cross while the workers moved some scaffolding. He was a sweetheart. The workers there were obviously fond of him too.