Day 59: Corfu. Dogs on chains, goats on ropes and me in a muddle.
Cheryl took me on my first rescue mission today.
She got word that a local hotel had permanently tied up their dog by chain to a tree in the back yard. Not uncommon around here.
The hotel’s owner had agreed to give up the dog to Cheryl’s care, but only, we suspect, because tourists were complaining. The whines of a dog at night don’t help sell rooms. Some might not mind as long as the mini-bar is well stocked but most do.
‘Is it likely to have been there 24/7?’ I asked Cheryl as we drove down a dusty track.
‘Probably’ she replied with a resigned voice. We continued in silence.
I’m told the attitude to animals here is changing – but only slowly. The younger Greeks are becoming more conscious of animal welfare but they are typically brought up by their grandparents (since both parents stay at work) meaning that traditional values leapfrog a generation and take longer to fade.
We arrived to find a huge white fluffy monster of a dog tied by rusty chain to a large tree. The dog was incredibly friendly and didn’t look in bad condition with fairly good hair. Maybe it had been given a weird sort of tough love – 24 hours on a tree in exchange for regular treatment with Pantene Pro-V (I can’t think of anything worse frankly – reason enough to rescue it).
I held the chain whilst Cheryl unclipped it. Unsuprisingly on its first taste of freedom the dog pulled hard. Not being a tree myself I was dragged a few metres across the yard. When we got it back to the rescue centre I demanded that I take it for a walk. ‘If you must’ Carol said, and so I spent the next half hour being walked by him, forcibly taken around the various fields by Cheryl’s house. It’s a strange privilege to get your legs scratched as you are pulled through undergrowth by a dog that is having its first taste of freedom. It’s nice to be the person that lets a prisoner free.
Freeing angry goats
Emboldened by this experience I drive back from Cheryl’s on my hired moped and pull to a stop by the side of the road where I see a load of goats that have got their ropes tied around various trees. If I can free an untamed monster dog I can free a goat I think to myself.
It’s amazing how a little lift like saving a dog gives me a feeling of immense power and the willingness to trespass onto private land to help goats.
I know that goats don’t mind being tied up in the sun as much as dogs, but these goats can hardly move because their ropes have been wrapped so many times around undergrowth and tree trunks.
One of the goats was … what do you call those male ones with long horns? ‘Angry’ is the word I think.
As I got close he started bucking and thrusting. Hardened by a sense of moral conviction I took him by the horns and unclipped the rope from his neck. Perhaps he sensed freedom, perhaps he sensed my own vulnerability, but he then started thrusting wildly towards my groin and I had to cover both his very sharp horn-points with both my hands.
I was now in a tricky situation as I needed one hand to clip the ram back on to the rope but I needed two bollocks to make children at some point in my life. I was also aware that should the farmer come back he would see an Englishman holding a goat by both horns with it thrusting into his lap – this was not good for the national stereotype.
The goat paused for a moment, perhaps sensing the ridiculousness of the situation and I took my chance and clipped him back on.
Here is a very amateur video of the moment. I also needed a hand to control the camera so forgive me if not all the action is there. In the end I untangled all the goats in the field. It was a very small private victory but nevertheless I had relieved a little suffering in the moment.
At the end of the field, after I had untangled my last goat, I saw another dog also tied to a tree but in not such great shape as the former one. I wouldn’t have seen it had I not been drawn in by the goats.
I told Cheryl of its whereabout and she went and had a word with the owners and also gave it treatment for its wounded ear. Cheryl has told me the owners are respectable and its likely the dog will be OK but its illegal to free dogs like this if they are on private property. It’s kind of heart wrenching. Here is a video of me giving it a very small treat.