Written by Paul Taylor and Robert Leitch
The story of Elpida and Hara our two Creten puppies. On Saturday the first of June we decided to go for a day out taking in Vai beach, Palekastro, and Zakros Cape we left Elounda around 9 am with our friends son seventeen year old Scott Campbell who has lived in Elounda since he was a small child and speaks fluent Greek. We stopped of at the View Point Restaurant with amazing views of the Gulf of Merabello and Aghios Nikolaos around 11.20 am for a late breakfast , we then carried on our journey we stopped just the other side of Sitia town centre on a bridge across from the beach by Sitia bay, my Sciatica was playing me up and I was just about to get out of the car when my Partner Robert spotted a dirt lay-by at the end of a dirt track lane so he thought it would be a much safer spot to stop this was around 12.30 lunchtime. We got out the car and lit up a cigarette and walked to the back of the car when something shot between Roberts legs he thought it was a cat but when he looked down it was a cute little golden puppy looking up at him with the most beautiful eyes, I immediately told Robert to pick it up and put it in the car as we were next to the main highway I was terrified incase it got ran over. We saw a Taverna just a little further down the road so young Scott and I decided to take the puppy down and ask if it belonged to someone in the area, the owner made a few phone calls and told us that it was a stray and it had been seen running along the road and adjacent lane with other puppies, but they did not know how many there were. We took the wee puppy back to the car and Scott sat with it in the back of the car while Robert and I discussed what we were going to do, we decided to wait a little while longer to see if anymore puppies turned up after half an hour we decided the best thing to do was carry on to Vai as we could get parked up in the car park and try and sort things out from there, just has I was about to get in the car I heard a whimpering sound coming from underneath a large wheelie bin at the side of the lay-by I looked underneath and there was a black puppy underneath it was terrified and would not come out I don’t know if it had been there all the time we were there or if it had just crawled there from the land behind anyway I had to lay on my belly and drag it out the poor thing was shaking, but once she was in the back of the car with Scott and her sister she soon fell asleep she looked a lot weaker than her sister. We made our way to Vai and arrived around 14.30.
Before I carry on with my story I would like to state that we had a Patterdale terrier Tess at home she will be 13 years old in February 2020 , she was thrown out of a car doing 70 mph at Morpeth Northumberland And sustained terrible injuries when she was 18 months old, we adopted her shortly afterwards she was so nervous but showers with our love she eventually learnt to trust people again and she is such a sweet and loving little girl. we had no intention of having any more dog’s after Tess. On our last visit to Elounda in October 2018 we found out from Scotts mother Tracy about another shelter in lerapetra, (which i will not name as i do not want to cause problems for sitia animal rescue, so i will refer to them as X) as we only had a couple of days left of our holiday it was to late to organise a visit to the shelter so we said we would make arrangements to visit on our next holiday to Elounda in may this year 2019 the day before we found the puppies in Sitia. Between our holiday in October 2018 and our holiday in May 2019 I followed The ‘X’ shelter Facebook page and a few months before our visit in may of this year I made a donation to ‘X’ of €90 for an operation on a beagle that had sustained horrific injuries by other dog’s, I also collected several donations from my friends and we rounded it up to €150 which I took out and gave to ‘X’ on our visit to his shelter on the 31st of may we saw lots of beautiful dog’s there, but we still stuck to the fact we did not want to adopt another dog, I was very disappointed with our visit to the ‘X’ shelter as after about one hour we were locked in a compound with a family from America while ‘X’ went back into Sitia to collect two women, when he got back instead of letting us out he went off showing the women around the shelter on there own and then in full view of us brought some puppies and sat playing with them on the grass outside the compound we were locked in we were stuck in the compound for well over two hours in 30 plus temperatures eventual he let us out showed us one more compound then told us it was time to leave, I asked him if I could see the dog that I had given the donation to for its operation and also Black another dog I had been following but I never got to see them I was not a very happy bunny.
Once at Vai beach I contacted Scott’s mother Tracy to see if she knew of any local animal shelters around Elounda or Agios Nikolaos area she only new of two Amber’s hope and Hector’s House in Ag Nig, so I left Robert in the carpark with the puppies to try and contact them whilst I and Scott went for a swim, when Scott and I got back to the car Robert said he could not get an answer from either Amber’s hope or Hector’s House so all he could do was leave a message with Them. I decided to give ‘X’ a call to see if he could take the puppies for a couple of days until we could get them into another shelter I told him that I was going home on the the 4th of June but I was prepared to stay in Elounda till something could be sorted out.
I was going to add here the text messages from mr X, but i decided against it, basically he told me that he could not help me and the dogs, as he was trying to sleep, but would he could do to hep was create fake papers so that the dogs would be able to fly out with us in 2 days time. We told him that we are talking to a very helpful lady from Ambers hope, and we would sort it out the correct and legal way… These 2 puppies were very young, and living on the street, so we had no idea what sort of disease’s they could be carrying. It was not a pleasant conversation, and he became quite rude with me, and i have since shared my experience on his page, and received hate mail about it.
Whilst we were in the carpark at Vai and I started my conversations with ‘X’ Tracee Walton sent a text to say that Amber’s hope was full, but if we could find someone to look after them for a few days she would try and arrange to foster the puppies, I said in my texts to ‘X’ that Tracee would try to help I then contacted a lady who I had become friends with through following The ‘X’ shelter Facebook Page, she lived near Chania and had adopted a dog from ‘X’ several weeks before , she got angry with me on the phone and said that ‘X’ could not take in every dog not even for people who had donated, she said we need to harden ourselves up and take the puppies back to where we found them and abandoned them to there fate.
We tried to give them food and water at the carpark but they would not touch either we did not have anything to tie around them to let them have a wee walk to relive them selves a man in a café gave us some plastic tubing but that did not work.
It was now time to start thinking of heading home, we new we could not take the puppies back to our apartment complex in Elounda so we had to come to the very difficult decision to take the puppies back to where we found them and leave them there
We got back to where we found them, but instead of leaving them at the lay-by we decided to drive up the dirt track lane alongside the river there where a few homes up the top of the lane we turned the car around and put the puppies in the grass verge next to the river whilst they were both reliving themselves we got in the car and drove off I tried not to look back but I could not help myself, I saw both of them chasing after the car I also noticed that Robert had seen them too and we were all in tears I said to Robert I can’t do this and he said the same, I told him not to stop suddenly incase the puppies went under the wheels I told him to drive back to the lay-by we then got out and ran up the lane we saw the puppies and called to them the both picked up speed the black and gold one jumped into Roberts lap and the gold one into my lap, we new from that moment that these two puppies were staying with us even if we had to sleep in the car that night and camp out with them until we could sort this out, we had them for the best part of the day and that bond was now unshakable we were in love with them
As we set off back to Elounda we passed through Sitia town centre and Robert noticed a police station, so we parked across the road this was around 17.30 Robert and our friend Scott went to the police station whilst I stayed with the puppies in the car young Scott spoke to the young policeman on the desk in Greek, the young policeman spoke back in English and asked why did we stop and why did we pick them up he said we should have just left them where we found them he was quite angry and said we should not come on holiday and interfere in matter’s that don’t concern us and with that he walked off and went upstairs, there was an older policeman sitting at a desk at the back of the office, so Scott shouted over to him in Greek to say that we would like to adopt the puppies if someone could help us he came over and was very pleasant compared to the young officer he said give me a few minutes and I will make a phone call, he came back and said that the local animal welfare officer would meet us at our car.
The welfare officer arrived ten minutes later he looked at the puppies and said they are beautiful and that what we had done was a fantastic think he said he was going to phone his wife and get her to explain thing to me as she was fluent in English, his wife was Despina Kounelaki and she worked for Filozoikos Syllogos Sitias animal rescue center, wich is now Sitia animal rescue. After a brief conversation with Despina her husband drove me to there family ran supermarket in Sitia where he transferred the puppies to his van then Despina explained what would happen, she told us that the puppies would be housed with others puppies of a similar age group as she thought our puppies were around 6 weeks old and far to young I told her that ‘X’ wanted to get papers from a vet he knew in Ierapetra so they could fly home with us on Tuesday the Fourth of June three day’s away, she told us that was breaking the law and we would have never have got them out of the country they would have been confiscated and we would have ended up in very serious trouble.
Despina told us that they would get inoculations in the coming days and would be treated for there flea’s, ticks and any other problems, then in about another six weeks there would get there final inoculations and would be then free to travel to the UK, they would deal with everything included obtaining passports for them all we had to do was organise the flights to Glasgow or an airport in Europe, I asked if they needed any money towards there keep but Despina said it was okay, she said they were just thankful that we had saved the puppies I had a fifty euro note in my wallet so I made Despina take this as a donation to the centre I also said I wish I had not given ‘X’ the €150 yesterday as I could have donated that too.
Despina asked if we had thought about name’s for the puppies, we said we would like to give them Greek names but we did not know any so she said she would have a thought on it and get back to us, it was heartbreaking to be leaving the puppies behinds but at least we knew they were now in safe hands so we said our very emotional goodbyes and headed back to Elounda
We Got back to Elounda around 20.30 and instead of going back to our apartment’s to shower and change for dinner which were halfway between Elounda and Plaka, we parked the car in the square so the rental company could pick it up in the morning and we went out to dinner , we met up with Scott’s parents for a drink after they finished work we told Scot’s mother Tracy that we wanted to give the dog’s Greek names, we told her that the black and brown one had slept most of the time and we thought that she was the weaker of the two so she suggested Elpitha pronounced Elpida meaning Hope, we told her that the golden one was a cheeky little scamp and a rascal, so she suggested that we call her Caps pronounced Hara meaning Joy so now the puppies had there names. The following morning Sunday the 2nd of June we handed back the keys to our hire car and then met up with Scott and we took him to Cyprianas for breakfast while we were having our Breakfast there was two couples sitting at the next table to us one of the ladies got up and went up to the bar with a charity box and handed it over to Maria the owner of the restaurant, so after Breakfast I went to the toilet passing the bar where I noticed that the charity box was for Amber’s hope animal rescue centre, so I asked Maria who the lady that handed it over was, Maria told me that the couple sitting with there back’s to our table where John and Tracy Walton the founders of Amber’s hope so I went over and introduced myself to Tracee. I told her that we were the two guys who had messaged and spoke to her about the two puppies we had found in Sitia she said that she would come over and talk to us before they left. We told Tracee Walton that we had managed to get the puppies into Filozoikos Syllogos Sitias animal rescue center in Sitia I also told her what ‘X’ told us, she said she was sorry we experienced this, but was happy we had found a solution. She said for us to keep in touch and let us know when the puppies were ready to fly and she would try and arrange the flights she told us to go home and not to worry about the puppies as they were in safe hands now. With a heavy heart we flew back to Glasgow on the 4th of June.
Before we left Crete I let Despina know the names we wanted the puppies to be called by and she thought they were good name’s for them.
We tried to get back to a normal life and get work here and at our holiday home in Berwick upon Tweed in fact we had the a new kitchen designed for there but ended up putting it in hold till next year as we could not concentrate on anything but the puppies we did manage to get some outside work done at home but another thing that started to worry us what’s how was our little baby girl Tess who is twelve years old going to react to two bounding puppies especially two bitches we were worried incase she did not accept them or attacked them as she was not that great with other dog’s that visited and stayed occasionally.
Despina sent us some photos on the 21st of June of Elpida and Hara in the kennels at Filozoikos Syllogos Sitias with several other puppies well although it was lovely to see the photos of them it also made us sad for the other puppies we wished we could have taken them all they all looked so sweet
We had an extra holiday booked to Turkey with friends that had to be cancelled a couple of years before due to a death in there family on the 21st of July till the 4th of August and this tied in with the time that Elpida and Hara would be ready to travel so this meant that we could not organise there travel to Glasgow till we got back home ,we had a great holiday but the puppies were never far from our thoughts and unfortunately I took ill and was ill for several weeks after returning so this made it much harder for me to organise the puppies travel to Glasgow, but with the amazing help of Despina Kounelaki of Filozoikos Syllogos Sitias now Sitia animal rescue we got there in the end.
Tracee Walton of Amber’s hope Crete who was now working at a animal sanctuary in Athens organised the flight to Glasgow on the 10th of September a lady called Alexis Noon was traveling to Crete for a weeks holiday to adopt a dog from Amber’s Hope and traveling back on the 8th of September registered the flight for her dog and our two in her name so that they could travel to Glasgow on the 10th.
Despina, Tracee Walton myself, my partner Robert and Alexis Noon all kept in touch with each other by messenger.
Tracee Walton forwarded Alexis Moon’s information so that Despina could arrange to have Elpida and Hara’s micro chip’s put into her name and Despina arranged the passports, then Tracee Walton’s husband John Walton arrange to meet up with Despina at Iraklion airport on the morning of the 10th of September to see Elpida and Hara, and Alexis’s dog safely boarded onto the flight to Glasgow.
For two weeks before the flight to Glasgow and although I was very weak and had Lost over two stone in weight we went shopping for goodies for Elpida Hara and our old rescue girl Tess, we bought three new beds new harnesses leads also extendable lead’s new dog bowls, hundreds of treats blankets and a basket of Toy’s, which by the way have now all been chewed till there is nothing left of them
Back to the 10th of September the flight was due to land at 17.20 UK time so we arranged to me Alexis her husband John and there grandson William at the animal holding center at Glasgow airport around 18pm, they went in to the reception first while we waited with Tess it was only
15 minutes before Alexis came out and told us we could go in before the dog’s were released, but it seemed like hours.
Once in the reception the lady who was in charge of them came through with there paper work she said they had been checked over by the airport vet walked and washed and dried she had also cleaned out there traveling crate’s too I cannot thank the staff at the holding centre enough and the young woman in charge was marvellous.
Then the time came to be reunited with Elpida and Hara they came in with Alexis’s dog she let them off there lead’s they were so excited running between us and Alexis’s family to get fussed it was a very joy-full moment, eventually we left and said a emotional goodbye to Alexis and her family promising to keep in touch. There were a couple of accidents in the car on the way home and they found it hard to settle in the car and it took a few days before they would settle at home before the realised the could actually go on the couches, there were a few accidents in the house but within a few days they were completely house trained and we have only had a couple of mishaps since.
As we knew we would be only be able to spend three weeks with them after there arrival has we were going to Turkey for 4 weeks on the 27th of September and could not cancel the holiday as it had been booked and paid for before we found the pup’s, so we took them down to our holiday home for a week were they would be away from any major road’s this was great for them and got them use to the place as my best friend was going to be spending the time down there after them along with our old girl Tess while we were in Turkey.
Whilst we were on holiday in Turkey from the 27th of September to the 25th of October four weeks we did nothing but worry about Elpida and Hara I kept texting Alastair who was looking after them, but He his a man of very few words apart from telling me that Hara had chewed the leg on my new coffee table and they had chewed the corner’s of my new cushions all he said everytime was they are fine.
After ten days in Turkey Robert wanted to get a flight back home but I said that we need to stay so that Alastair can get used to coping on his own with the three dog’s or we would not be able to go away not even to get married in Elounda next year.
Eventually it was time to go back home we arrived back in Glasgow about 3am on the 26th of October we had a taxi booked and Alastair had traveled back up from the lodge the day before so Elpida and Hara were in the house when we got home, they immediately jumped all over us they were so excited , the first thing we noticed was how much the had grown in the four weeks we had been away, the second thing we noticed was how well they and our old girl Tess were getting along together, Tess had never really played with another dog since we lost our other dog Jack 9 years earlier and now he she was instigating the play fights she has got so much more energy now and is just like a puppy again.
It has been three weeks since we arrived back from Turkey and 23 weeks 5 and a half months since we found Elpida and Hara on the 31st of may this year and every day is a special day with them along with our adorable Tess, We are so looking forward to Christmas as we are spending it our lodge at Berwick upon Tweed and the reason for this is that Jennifer Chambers who also found a dog in a deserted house in Crete and went back to rescue her and named her Cresha, and Tracee Walton arranged for her to be taken to Athens and then transported to London by road and Jenifer drove down to pick her up this morning and is now safe and well at there home.
We Jennifer Chambers her husband the two boys and Cresha are traveling up on boxing day to spend a few days with us and our three dog’s it will be a very special time
We would like to say a huge thank you to the policeman at Sitia police station, Despina Kounelaki and her husband, all the staff at Sitia animal rescue center, Tracee and John Walton, Alexis Noon and her family also Sara Padermalis and all our friends for getting us through the bad times when we received hate mail for adopting dog’s from outside the UK
Below is just a few of our photographs of Elpida and Hara and of course Tess, who has been great with both of them…