Day 62: Corfu. Heading south to see Marjorie Pandi
I’m on my 125cc scooter and heading down the coast to the south of the island to see another dog sanctuary, this one run by an American woman called Marjorie Pandi.
She has almost a hundred fully grown dogs in her care. That doesn’t sound much but try putting that lot in your back yard and cleaning up the mess. There’s more energy in there than in a small explosion.
What help can I offer the dogs I wonder?
As I drive along the winding roads, towards the midday sun and with no helmet on, the beauty of this island tricks me – as it does almost every day. The wind that comes in from the rolling sea beneath the rich blue skies tells me that all is OK, comfort is close. I find it so easy to forget that things can be shit for others when things are so good for yourself.
If Marjorie has some rescues to undertake (and she never knows from day to day what will happen) then I’ll lend a hand, if she doesn’t then I’ll take pictures of her dogs to help the adoption process. I’ve recently read that a good photo can double the chances of a dog finding a new home. Well, that’s something. At least I won’t be standing around like a lump. Some of Marjories dogs have been with her for years upon years and in the dust and heat they can probably do with some nice lighting and photoshop.
The mystery at the centre of the island
Hopefully Marjorie will also give me information about the whereabouts of an infamous government sponsored ‘dog sanctuary’ which rumour says is not a happy place at all. No one seems to know exactly where it is – which is making me both very suspicious and also nervous. One person I spoke to said that when they approached rocks were thrown at her, another said they have guns. Hmmm.
Kavos – a town from hell.
Marjorie’s office is not where her sanctuary is but rather at a small hotel by the beach in a town called Kavos. She runs this place with her family. Marjorie has thick curly brown hair, large glasses and a broad smile.
‘Kavos is a bloody awful place’ she says, ‘ I loathe it. But you have to make money’
I don’t blame her for disliking Kavos. It has been mande infamous by a TV show called ‘Party Paramedics’, a documentary about local doctors that fix up british teenagers after they’ve been drinking vodka shots till 7am. The town – or ‘strip’ as its called by tourists because at it’s heart is one main street with endless bars on it – wakes up at 9pm (yes, PM) when many of the British youth dress up in school uniforms and start their night of evil binge drinking which ends at about 9am when many of them can be found face down on the beach with their pants half way down their ankles.
This is totally incongruous to the idea of the sanctuary but still….
At the sanctuary…meeting the dogs..
I arrive at Kavos late and stay the night at Marjorie’s with 5 cats and two industrial sized earplugs that I stuffed into my ears like freshly rolled pizza dough. At 6:30am, when we drove out of the hotel to the sanctuary two still-drunk girls with vomit stains down their front demanded a lift from us. As we drove past them as quickly as we could they tried to knock off the wing mirror and Marjorie cries out ‘Damn them! Damn them! Bloody tourists!’
But she softens when we get to the dog sanctuary which lies a few miles out of Kavos. It is a large, semi wild enclosure where many dogs run free and others are kept in well maintained large enclosures. This is Marjorie’s natural home – not Kavos – helping animals who need it most. She is efficient, practical but caring – a new dog has just been dumped by the door and she swiftly rearranges all the enclosures to make sure no dogs fight. Dogs are barking continuously.
I spend my time getting to know all the dogs, taking pictures of them. Some of their stories are heartbreaking, but most of them, thanks to Marjorie will find a new home as long as they are not too sick.
Perhaps what I found hardest to take – more than seeing emaciated dogs or those that were badly injured – was seeing dogs that were so emotionally wounded they were unable to trust human touch. One of the dogs, called NipNip,is beautiful large dog but won’t let Marjorie close.
‘She was thrown over the fence at 4 months old’ Marjorie said to me. ‘Now three years later she still won’t trust us. We feed her, we look after, we treat her but it doesn’t make a difference. She wants to be close to us but she can’t do it. If you sit down in the enclosure and turn away from her you hear her come close and then feel her breath on your leg. But turn back and she is off. She needs a home but she needs a LOT of love’.
For some stupid reason I spent twenty minutes trying to get close to NipNip. Talking to her, sitting down and ignoring her, offering her treats. Unsurpirsingly she wouldn’t let me. I was just another horrible human I suppose. I felt like apologising.
IF YOU ARE ANYONE YOU KNOW IS INTERESTED IN ADOPTING ONE OF THESE BEAUTIFUL DOGS PLEASE GET IN TOUCH: MARTIN@YEARTOHELP.COM