Paws for thought! How a delighted Chichester couple found joy by adopting a rescue dog from Greece


When Chichester woman Monica La Marfa and her husband Rob wanted to offer a new life in a loving home to a rescue dog they turned to an organisation helping pooches in Greece. Here, she tells the heartwarming story of how Athos came into their lives…

Nearly a year and a half ago, I found the Desperate Greekies (DG) charity whilst searching for a dog to adopt. The decision to pick a charity that rescued animals abroad was based on the fact that even though there are so many in rescue shelters in the UK, in several European countries there is no such thing as animal welfare law, so needless to say that the conditions of the shelters are not anywhere near the British standard.

So I came across DG and decided to contact them about a few dogs that were ready to be adopted on their website.  The process was very simple with a home visit, payment of an adoption fee (this covers the pet passport, blood tests, vaccines, spaying or neutering and travel) and a discussion about a particular dog (to make sure that his needs would be met and that he would fit into our lifestyle). And that was it!

Two weeks later, on a warm Saturday in August, my husband Rob and I picked up Athos, our newest family member, after his very long journey from Greece. He was full of energy and wanted to play and investigate everything straight away; and as soon as we got him in our car, he cuddled up to me in the back seat and I was smitten!

Athos Cute

The next two weeks were quiet and gentle, so he could get accustomed to his new life, with the comforts of a nice soft bed, food, toys and loads of love from his new “parents”. In return, he offered us his heart by being most cuddly and gentle soul we have ever met (regardless of how much he was abused in his previous life)…

Nowadays he’s the king of the sofa, still plays like a loon and he’s at his happiest when he’s chasing a tennis ball in the park. He is without a shadow of a doubt, the best gift one could hope for!

If you’re interested in having a furry bundle of joy in your life and want to give a rescue dog, a second chance at a happy life to, the DG charity is here to help!

The shelter is in Halkida (Chalkida), on the island of Evia, about an hour’s drive from Athens. Currently conditions are harsh, especially during winter. The dogs live in concrete pens or on chains with a kennel. They crave human contact and just want to be loved.

Athos Out

DG is the only regular daily source of food for the 160-plus dogs at the shelter.  Around 40 bags of food are used every week, but that is just enough for basic rations. Alongside feeding, the other main priority is sterilising. Donations also help with medicines, treatments, surgeries, not to mention the ongoing task of mending gates, fences, clearing rubbish etc.

Thanks to the supporters, DG has managed to run yearly sterilising campaigns which has meant the prevention of countless innocent babies being born and left to suffer and die. Twice a year, worm treatments are administered to the dogs and cats at the shelter.

This is another big but necessary expense. And during the visits made by the volunteer supporters, the dogs are walked, cuddled, given haircuts, have their nails trimmed, etc; anything to make their lives a little bit more comfortable.

And all of this work is done with the support of volunteers, fundraising events and donations. Throughout the year, there are many fundraisers — The Balcombe Walk, The Nutley Fair, Cream Tea events, Fundays, Yearly Quizzes and a Christmas Fayre. There are also Facebook auctions, competitions and raffles. Over the years hundreds of dogs have been brought to a new life in the UK by the DG charity.

So if you would like to help at one of our fundraisers please let us know. We are always looking for new ideas and volunteers too. You can help by setting up a monthly standing order so that the hard work can continue. The details for this can be found below.

Or you can help by adopting a new furry member into your family, that without a doubt will be the best gift you can give this Christmas. He or she will reward you with unconditional love and I can guarantee that the sound of him or her sleeping soundly on a comfy bed, will bring you the biggest smile you have ever had!

Dogs waiting for a loving family at present, include: Trixie, Nicky, Pepper and Sadie. For mroe details on these dogs call Juliet on 01342 842 683.

About the Author

Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge is a hugely experienced journalist who has worked on local and national newspapers, magazines and written for websites over the past 30 years. He lives in Bognor Regis with his wife and son. And he is a life-long Arsenal fan.