A stray aristocratic-looking husky bitch that Sophia and I dubbed the Ice Queen showed up last week at the Cuz's supermarket/cafe at the end of the road. In itself, that is not a problem – except that she's in heat. And that, like a magnet, draws all the stray male dogs in the area – and our Sputnik.
And that is a problem.
They trash the gardens, they pullout the garbage, and they create a hazard on the main road – which is dangerous enough where we are. They also run the risk of catching a bullet from one or another of the armed characters up here including my husband and his brother.
So four days ago, along with Stelios who was working for me for the day, Sophia and I set out to capture the Queen and her Main Acolyte, a young chestnut brown labrador-pointer cross with a sweet face, and take them to the shelter. The husky may well be chipped as they are quite valuable here. The Acolyte was a dog no-one wanted: beautiful but whip thin and shy as a fawn. I'm sure that he had been beaten by the way that he cringed when anyone turned in his direction or attempted to approach.
I had seen Sputnik, the Acolyte, and the Queen in the dirt lot behind the cafe, so – armed with leads and some leftover hamburger – we piled into the Landrover. The dogs were there, and Sputnik ran to us with a smile: “See my new friends?” The Queen immediately went to Stelios, and we were about to get her into the car when the waitress from the cafe came out. “Where are you taking that dog?” she asked in broken Greek.
“To the shelter,” I said. “And this one, if we can catch him”
“Are they yours?” she asked.
Turns out that Cuz had claimed the Ice Queen.
“That dog is so not his,” Sophia said to me in an aside. “He just wants her because she's pretty and valuable!”
Cuz muttered something about a friend of his coming to take her and I said, with emphasis: “Cuz, she's female, and unless you keep her tied up, she's making a problem for all of us up here. I'm not going to shoot her, but Bill or Best Beloved might. Keep her on your place.”
On the way back to our house, I found the Acolyte – alone for the moment as Cuz had taken the Queen. I tried to make friends with him with a view to catching him and taking him to the shelter, but though he ate some chunks of burger from my hand, I couldn't touch him, let alone get him into the car, and I had no time to construct a trap and lure him in to safety. I had to trust that Cuz would take the husky home and that the problem would be solved.
Of course he didn't, and of course more dogs kept arriving. Then it was Bill's turn. “If it's your dog, Cuz, keep it off my place and away from my dogs. I keep finding piles of crap on my lawn...” Cuz gave him a different story about the dog's ownership, but Bill cut him short. "Just keep her under control."
Then last night: “Bill shot the Acolyte,” announced BB. Sophia and I exchanged pained and guilty looks. “And you'd better keep an eye on Sputnik because if Cuz doesn't keep the Husky under control, she might be next, and good shot though he is, Bill might miss. Among milling dogs, it's easy to hit the wrong one.”
Sophia immediately went to find Sputnik. “He's covered in blood!” she said.
“Well, he was close. As I said, keep an eye on him.”
This morning, Sophia went to find Sputnik to wash and feed him. He was at the cafe, sleeping curled up next to the Ice Queen. She prised them apart and carried him home: “He was crying his eyes out all the way,” she said. “The Queen was tied, and she was yipping and crying at the end of her chain, she would have followed if she could. I couldn't get all the blood off, Sputnik wouldn't eat, and as soon as he could he went back to the cafe.”
They're fine at the cafe, as long as the husky is tied or confined. She'll be out of season soon and the problem will end – for the moment. But if she is allowed to be loose and another swarm of dogs gathers, Bill is sure to shoot more of them. Strays are a real problem here, and although I do my best to take the ones that I find and can catch to a shelter – I've taken at least eight in the last year – there is no sign of a let-up.
Above pictures are not mine. They were found on the Internet.