The Dogs of Greece

Mountain Dogs

This is quoted in its entirety from The Mountains of Greece by Tim Salmon:

This is a serious warning. The sheepdogs — guard dogs, not collies — are the greatest danger you are likely to encounter in the mountains. It is not the little mongrels that guard some flocks that you have to worry about, but the Molossi. They are wolf-sized, half-starved, unused to strangers and very fierce and, like the arrows of outrageous fortune, never come one at a time but in gangs. They will never let you pass without attacking. If at all possible, give them a very wide berth. Always carry poles or a stout stick and be aggressive. Keep them at pole’s length and throw rocks at them with the intention of hurting them. If you don’t, they will hurt you.”

While this startling warning has been enough to cure me of any thoughts of solo mountain running in Greece, I have to say that the dogs around here and everywhere we’ve gone across the country have been uniformly sweet to benign. Some bark like crazy, some run away, but most just keep on sleeping. I can’t think of an archeological site we’ve visited that isn’t overseen by at least one dog, such as this guy guarding an ancient marble fragment at the site of ancient Eleusis.  I’ve never seen them cause trouble unless sorely provoked by some ignoramus.

While many Greeks these days have dogs as house pets, the rule of thumb in Athens seems to be that individual apartment buildings have a dog or two communally.  The dogs live in the garden outside and one or two people provide food, water and vet care.  I think the same sort of thing applies at the archeological sites — one or two of the workers provides for the care and feeding of the resident dog.  This gives the first impression of a lot of stray dogs roaming the city but, while no one “owns” them per se, they’re not really strays.

It appears many Greek dogs have English names. Max is popular and I’ve run into a Killer, an Ivan, and an Igor.  We stayed with a family on Santorini who had a pooch named Doggie — kind of like if I named a dog Skylo (dog) or Skylaki (doggie).

Greeks love dogs and dogs love Greece, so I guess it just takes a half-wolf to guard sheep.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s