On a routine journey in an old neighborhood about 100 miles from Athens, animal rescuer Valia Orfanidou was accompanied by her dog for an evening walk by the sea. On one such outing, a stray dog approached them, her tail wagging in friendly greeting. “She had spotted us from afar, and being desperate for companionship, she attempted to integrate herself into our little group,” Valia explained.
“I froze,” Valia, founder of The Stray Pet, admitted on YouTube. “When you are an animal lover living in Greece, you tend to become accustomed to the sight of lonely stray dogs wandering everywhere, and you make it your mission to rescue those who can’t survive on the streets: the ill, emaciated, injured ones, the puppies, and the pregnant females.” Valia adds, “Stray dogs are probably in the millions in Greece, and given that the attitude here isn’t changing anytime soon, we can expect millions more in the near future.” A dedicated volunteer for various rescue organizations and shelters in Greece, Valia shared her quandary, “[B]eing on vacation in the countryside isn’t easy – you either have to turn a blind eye or end up returning home with a dozen rescue dogs.”
However, the dog Valia named Blue wasn’t in the critical state that usually triggers her rescue instincts. Approximately 7 months old and in decent physical health, Blue was ostensibly not in immediate danger. But there was something about the amiable dog that struck a chord in Valia. It was apparent to her that Blue was craving companionship and longing for a family to call her own. “She spent a summer pursuing people and trailing behind the cars of anyone she encountered on that beach, wagging her tail and pleading for something,” Valia described.
Sleep eluded Valia for two nights as she wrestled with the decision of whether to take Blue off that beach. In a move that was somewhat of a departure from her normal rescue criteria, she chose to save Blue. As it turned out, her decision was a remarkable one, for the amiable stray with the gentle spirit is now on her way to becoming a therapy dog in Holland! Looking back on her encounter with Blue at the beach, Valia reflects, “Maybe she wasn’t begging for help, perhaps she was offering it, to people who had no idea about the treasure they were neglecting day after day.”