Thur 12 Nov, Oroklini, Larnaca: I’m up at 5.30 and on the road to Larnaca district at 6, leaving from my Airbnb in Limassol old town. I turn straight down onto the coast road, past the tourist hotels, restaurants and bars, and head east for the hour’s drive.
Jeanette, a Swedish woman, and her team of (mainly British) volunteers visit the Oroklini pound each day at 7 and stay until 9.30 to clean, feed and walk the dogs, then leave and return in the afternoon to repeat the routine. It is a municipal pound, but because this small group of non-paid volunteers have run it so efficiently over the last few years, the authorities are happy to allow them to continue, whilst providing food and basic building materials and rent for the land. It’s the smallest pound I’ve visited; only around 8 dogs; Jeanette tells me they aren’t inundated with huge numbers, but also that her trusted team (which she’s built up over the last few years) are very active and successful in re-homing, mainly to the UK, but occasionally Holland and Germany, and so very few dogs are in the pound for very long.
They have been based at this site for only a few months, originally being located in a built up area of Oroklini and then moving to the outskirts and then moving again after a neighbour complained about the noise. It’s a pleasant and tranquil spot, with plenty of space to walk the dogs and allow them to run off lead. Jeanette is pleased that it’s out of the way, so that surrounding areas which are less successful in homing their dogs, do not dump them here. They are successful because they don’t take on more than they can cope with. The municipality have promised to move the rubbish that’s strewn around, which the dogs enjoy investigating, but which poses potential dangers.
A couple of days before my visit a black dog, they name Blaze, arrives at the pound frightened and unwilling to walk on a lead (and so must be carried to the car when he’s taken to the vet’s for blood tests). He’s making good progress; is beginning to trust humans and other dogs and starting to sniff them and show an interest, which are the first signs of recovery. Although he is rather introverted (but with a tail that constantly wags), Blaze’s placid nature is obvious and he draws us all (humans and other dogs) to his presence. Most of the dogs that arrive are young, between a year and a year and a half, and Jeanette believes this is just past the puppy age when families get tired of them and can no longer be bothered to care for them. With such small numbers at Oroklini, the dogs receive one to one attention; affection, exercise and training. And those that are sick or very young are fostered. The atmosphere is cheerful and friendly; once the volunteers return the dogs to their enclosures and leave, the place is quiet again. We stay til 10 and then Jeanette and Lizzie load up their own dogs and the fosters in their cars and I follow them back to Oroklini’s main street and from their onto the motorway to Nicosia.