‘Have you seen how they treat the dogs here?’ The woman – definitely a tourist – sounds really upset. ‘I can’t believe it! Someone should do something about it. Don’t they have Animal Welfare here?’

She’s sitting a few tables away from me in the taverna where I sometimes come to chat with the owner. The people around her – from their casual clothing I gather they are tourists as well – are nodding vehemently. Yes, yes, they’ve noticed it too! And what about all those stray dogs in the mountains? Quite a nuisance when you want to have a nice, quiet walk through nature. ‘It’s a shame,’ the woman goes on. ‘This morning when I was jogging through the olive grove I passed several houses with chain dogs! Everybody knows it’s not human to keep dogs on chains!’

She’s right of course. It is a shame. It’s not human to keep dogs on chains. And about those stray dogs… Well, I better not tell her about the poison that the municipality itself provides every Spring in order to get the villages ‘clean’ for the tourists. Half starved and neglected animals are not what people want to see when they spend their holiday money on our nice authentic Greek peninsula’s beaches. But in a country where people are dying because there is no money for National Health Care anymore, the welfare and wellbeing of animals is not the most important thing on the Government’s agenda. Destroying stray dogs in the night is the cheapest way. Of course nobody shall admit this cruel thing is being done. But we all know. That’s the way it goes here.

I suppose I could tell this woman about all the nice people who are feeding the cats and dogs of the village. I suppose I could tell her about the doggy bags people take home after their meal in a tavern to give to the animals on the streets. And I could also tell her about the chain dogs we set loose in the first years we lived here, although we’ve stopped to do that. They were back on their chain within the hour, because they didn’t know what to do with their freedom.

Or maybe… maybe I should tell her about my neighbours. The three boys who came from Albania to work in this country several years ago. They live in a one room shed on a sand road that’s totally impassable after a rain shower. Three beds have been put in a space of barely ten square metres. The toilet is outside, and they take a daily bath, in the sea. When nobody is looking, of course, because they are really nice and very decent guys. They do all the work nobody else want to do, for wages nobody else want to work for. I suppose I also could point out to her the many other sheds and half collapsed houses where now more and more families are living under circumstances I wouldn’t even allow my dog to live in, but I don’t. I know it’s no use. I just wonder, like I do every summer, why I never hear tourists talking about that. They must be blind.

Or maybe… they just want to have a nice holiday.

©WH. 05/2012