Dog Blog, Nicosia Sun 8 Nov: Gradually recovering this morning from the assault on the senses that was the Nicosia City Dog Pound; the heat, glare, nauseous smells, irritating flies and intermittent bursts of barking, howling and whining where at times overwhelming.
Rafaella arrived early yesterday at NiMAC and we took a taxi to the Buffer Zone where the Pound is situated, to the West of the city, past the now-derelict Nicosia International Airport. The Pound itself is an oasis-like compound with high fences and barbed wire, surrounded by flat, empty fields of arid sand-coloured earth, bordered by distant mountains.
Alex, the sole employee, caring for, currently, 70 dogs (but often more), exudes a calmness and reassurance, making it a strangely tranquil place to pass the time. Officially it is a ‘kill shelter’, death after the statutory 15 days, but Alex doesn’t comply; consequently, the numbers rise.
Whilst we are there a scene unfolds which illustrates the dilemma. A hunter arrives to ‘adopt’ a hunting dog. He ‘tries out’, first, a striking Pointer, taking him outside the shelter on a long rope into the surrounding fields to see how keen he is to hunt (rabbits and other wildlife thrive in the Buffer Zone where human activity is restricted). The dog is young and too playful, so the hunter chooses another, older hound. This time he is satisfied and takes the dog. He appears to handle the dog well and ‘pets’ him (which I am told, is unheard of for a hunter), but as he is leaving he asks Alex to “save the other dog for me, in case I lose this one”. Because it is a city pound, Alex cannot refuse him, and he has 70 dogs to feed on a limited budget. We sit for a while after in silence feeling helpless.
I tour the pound, entering the cages; mobbed by puppies, shunned by the aging female pinscher with the long teats from her numerous litters, followed and gazed at and scratched and vied for by hordes of nervous, excited, restless, desperate creatures.
“To be dumb… is not to be lacking in language, but to have an alternate means of apprehending the other and the world.” (Weill, K Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now, 2012 p87).
We leave as the sun begins to set and the shadows lengthen. Alex drops us off at the nearest shopping area and from there Rafaella’s father drives us back into the city centre. My hire car is reserved for Monday at 9 and so will begin my tour of the island’s rescue shelters and rescuers.