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Finding a severely ill street dog turns life upside down

Bloody lesions on face, legs, elbows
Bloody lesions on face, legs, elbows
Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

by Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

Like a couple of pianos perched on your shoulders, a ton of responsibility weighs upon you. You’re supposed to be doing other things—not rescuing dogs. But you take one day off, just one day, and what happens? Out of nowhere pops a pooch who’s so messed up that at first you’re not even sure he is a dog. See previous article about this dog.

“Do you think he’s been hit by a car?” friend Melissa Beamish wondered as we stood there staring, trying to figure out what to do. “Or been in a fight?”

At first I felt too sick to reply. No matter how many bad things you’ve seen happen to animals, it’s still hard to see them.

Fear can lead to bites

Lots of things raced through my head: He’s barking. He might be aggressive. The body language is fearful—tail between the legs, backing away. Fear can lead to bites. The wounds look sort of patterned—around both eyes, at all the leg joints, and down to the paws, like a skin condition rather than injuries. Could it be mange? Could it be the sarcoptic type? Could it be contagious?

I kicked myself for not knowing more about mange and other skin ailments, after all these years of rescuing and writing about animals.

“Poor thing,” Melissa whispered, sounding as grief-stricken as I felt.

Praying for a no-rescue day

Melissa and I were at the end of our day trip around the Greek island of Kefalonia. I had insisted we make the little tour because she had insisted on volunteering something like ten hours a day at the local shelter Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK) for nearly 30 days straight. And that was after already having put in five previous months of volunteering elsewhere in Europe as part of her worldwide mission for animal welfare.

Melissa had allowed herself just one other day off to see the local sights, and that was only because another shelter volunteer had kindly arranged a complimentary bus tour for her. But only two days of fun in a whole month, when you’re in a place like Kefalonia, one of the world’s loveliest isles, well, that just ain’t right.

Before setting out that morning I had begged the gods of animal rescue to please not send us anybody that day. Please? Could we have one day off? Pretty please?

The day was granted. No limping dogs, no coughing kittens, no starving donkeys, and no baby goats in garbage bins disturbed our daylight hours. We enjoyed a sunset swim in the jewel-clear waters of Antisamos Beach. We parked on the bluff above it to watch a golden moon rise and lavish her glory in a shimmering swath across the Ionian Sea. Then as night fell, we found that the Fates had a different plan in mind for the remainder of our “day off.”

Grotesque apparition

When we first spotted the dog, we had just driven into the village of Troianata, only 20 minutes away from my house. Our dinner waited in the fridge. For once in my life I had planned ahead, been a little organized. My life was sort of getting on track after the chaos of the two pooch rescues I’d done in the winter and spring, rehabbing our old house on the island, and caring for elderly relatives.

I’d been treating myself to a swim every day, was even thinking about sneaking off for an hour at some point to get a haircut, treasuring the illusion that soon I’d complete my tasks in Greece and finally get to go home to my husband and our own pooches in California.

But the instant that dog’s eyes—bright red, oozing, and grotesquely rimmed in blood—appeared in the glare of my rented car’s headlights, I knew.

Honey, I informed myself with a sigh, whatever that creature is, whether it’s a dog or a demon, your party is over. Things are about to get crazy.

Bribery attempt

“Food,” I said. “I have some in the car. It was for Tula in case we found her.”

In my palm, I held some kibble out to the bloody dog. “Here pup. Come on, sweetie. Aren’t you hungry?”

But he wasn’t buying. He stayed a good twenty feet away. I tossed some of the kibble on the pavement halfway between us. He dashed a few steps forward, snatched it, then quickly retreated to resume barking.

“Great,” I muttered. “Just great.”

If there’s anything worse than finding a dog in distress, it’s finding a dog in distress who won’t let you help him. Somehow, though, we were going to have to figure out a way.

To read more about this dog and other animal issues please check this page again soon.

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