Tue 10 Nov, Lania, Troodos Mountains: At 9.30 in the morning I leave Nicosia. Yesterday’s feelings of dejection at only two confirmed appointments for the week subside when two further rescues agree to my visits, and I am optimistic, eager for the new experiences ahead. I drive first West and then due South on the Troodos road, where the flatness of the land gradually gives way to gentle hills and later to soaring ascents and deep ravines of parched Ophiolite rock, causing the road to curl and twist.
After two hours (that should have been one) I arrive in the pretty village of Lania, with its clear air and stunning views, and after a phone call, introduce myself to Tina and her husband, an English couple from the Midlands, who drive here to direct me to their home. Tina’s life is devoted to rescuing dogs; currently they share their home with 13, but they have had as many as 16. Her husband remembers agreeing to 6.
It has been this way for nine years since moving to Cyprus from the UK, and discovering their first dog, Iggy, running in the road. The majority are ‘fosters’, prepared for adoption, mainly in the UK, and sometimes in Holland (a flight in a few days to Amsterdam was leaving at 3am). The emotional cost of parting is high, but, as Tina says, it is more than a full time job, with vet visits, airport runs, cleaning, feeding, walking and petting, it is ‘a calling’.
The majority of her ‘charges’ are small (and cute), which she insists upon as they are easy to rehome. Perhaps there is some truth in the belief that black dogs are harder to rehome. Larger ‘non-descript’ dogs certainly are, and two of her current long-term residents fit this description.
Sometimes she takes on small puppies, with their constant need for care and attention, and sometimes, dogs with medical problems. Dhillon was found a few days earlier in ‘private kennels’ (a basic enclosure funded by the municipality to keep dogs off the streets) and Tina believes he was picked up by his hind legs (a practice observed by hunters) and thrown, hitting his head; the only explanation she could think of for his concussion and inability to walk. She nursed him back to health and he had ‘come back’ to life, a sweet boy, but with severe hip dysplasia (a corrective operation will cost around 300 euros).
The dogs have their daily patterns; lively in the morning, sleepy early in the afternoon and then lively again until bedtime (when both humans and dogs lay down beside one another). They play together and with the numerous toys and bones (and furniture) strewn around the house. I leave as the sun turns the slopes a vivid orange hue, as the dogs begin their boisterous antics once more, and head south towards Limassol, arriving at my Airbnb apartment in darkness.