Monday, 24 November 2008


Last week there was one day when I was very angry. A few days later, there were people mad at me.

The previous column, in which I talked about wild boars that were released by a bunch of hunters and in which I went on to say that I was disappointed because the butcher here is not permitted to sell boar meat in his shop, made a number of people angry. They thought that with this story I promoted hunting on Lesvos.

A correction is inappropriate, because I write what I want and I will not change my already published words, even if that is a possibility on the Internet. And I'm not suddenly going to deny that I love eating game, because it's true that I used to be very happy going to the Ardennes in order to eat a deer steak or a boar fillet.

It made me very sad that people perceived my column as a plea for the hunt on Lesvos, because that was not what I intended. I am against senseless hunting. So I do not understand anything about the hunting of birds, which is rather popular here on the island. But so saying, I still can enjoy a dinner of game, which I used to eat in a country where they hunt in order to protect that same game from overpopulation. This is called game conservation and I'll agree with anybody who says that Greeks don't have much notion of game or forest conservation (although the chestnut forest near Agiasos is neatly maintained, and here I mean the trees and not the wild boar), let alone that there is more than one Greek who doesn't have any respect at all for animals.

Because here comes the second issue of this column: it really is a sad coincidence, but one night last week a hunting dog arrived at our house, very frightened and hungry. She wanted to join our pack of dogs (only 2) and was looking for a place to eat, drink, sleep and live.

Now I don't want any more misunderstandings: I HAVE NO ANIMAL SHELTER! Even though for the winter I took in ten cats from the neighbouring hotel, so that the cat population around our house counts now more than twenty cats, and even if we decided to take in the new friend of our winter dog Albino, the black Labrador Black Jack (also known by tourists as Vodka, but what a name! You want to promote alcoholism?!), I HAVE NO ANIMAL SHELTER!

An animal shelter is very easy to start here on the island. In October or November you just take a stroll around the village and your shelter will be filled with abandoned dogs and cats. You will find sad mewling fluffy creatures that are seeing their first winter and have no idea how to survive and you will find heaps of sad looking dogs, already hardened by a first winter, who try to survive and will wait impatiently for the tourists to reappear.

In the winter animal lovers can only go around with a heart of stone. Because you cannot rescue every animal you come across. Unless you actually want to start an animal shelter.

So last week I was very angry. With the Greeks who so easily neglect animals, with the tourists who are not here all year round to feed and pamper the animals, so that in the winter I get stuck with a bunch of spoiled cats that all climb on your lap, all want a place inside my house and all prefer the most expensive cat food.

And now I'm stuck with the third dog that found our house this autumn. The first one was taken to Holland by friends who found a home there for her. It was very hard on me, but the second I refused to feed for three days and then he got the message and took off to I know not where. The third was this hunting dog, who was so skinny and scared that I didn't have the heart to chase her. So I gave her some food, and gave her food...

Now I have a real problem, because in addition to the care of 20 or more cats and 2 dogs I also have a husband, and we fully agreed that no more animals were to be taken in. He's right: we didn't come to Greece to start an animal shelter. So I'm looking for an animal lover who wants to take this dog, because when this thin creature has regained some strength, she can no longer stay in the Smitaki home. And maybe you think I am a cruel person, but I value my marriage above this beastly mess, which is the current situation around our house.

Greece, where animals easily die from bullets or poison, is a very cruel country for animal lovers. But while I learn to harden my heart, the Greeks learn more and more to respect animals. And let there be no more misunderstanding, because I now have to try and place a hunting dog!

Copyright © Smitaki 2008

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