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Home » Uncategorized » It’s a dog’s life: on cultural attitudes towards animals in Greece, by Devyn Caldwell

It’s a dog’s life: on cultural attitudes towards animals in Greece, by Devyn Caldwell


I am a proud animal lover and I have been around dogs my entire life. When I came to Greece I was surprised to discover that the culture associated with dogs is quite different than at home. Many people do keep dogs as pets in the Canadian sense, but there is also a large stray population that is an accepted part of life here. In Greece strays lounge on the steps of the Parthenon and rest in the green grass of the National Gardens. I was amazed to see strays wander into establishments in the midst of the nightlife and be received with welcome. I later learned that a loyal stray is a sign of a good business in Greece.



Churchill and Panda, the shepherd dogs


When I arrived in Narthaki, our home base for the field school, it was no different. Two canines, that we named Panda and Churchill, came to be friends of the project. Though they are shy to the touch, these two pups hang about and watch us with familiarity and interest.

Outside of our small town the dogs are much the same. We ended our first day trip on the shores of the Pagasitic Gulf. While napping in the sunshine I heard my friend scream, and I opened my eyes to see an adorable little pooch sitting on her towel wagging its tail and looking at us excitedly. When my friend had attempted to lie down, she felt an unexpected furry surprise behind her. She was less than impressed, but to me, this cheerful, scraggly little beach puppy was the highlight of my day (aside from the incredible archaeological sites we had visited of course)!



At Alikes beach, near Volos


I must not forget Clyde, the dog from the taverna. He is a happy little soul always up for a cuddles and loves. He has also taken on the role of protector to the kittens that hang about the taverna. Whether he is aware of this or not it is extremely adorable to see the cats nuzzle him and fawn over him as if he were their mother.

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Clyde and one of his feline friends

I can’t resist giving affection to the dogs that cross my path and I have developed a little bit of a reputation for it. The true strays around the village are a little timid, but we’ve shared a few special moments in my time here. Though in some ways the stray dogs sadden me, they are often provided for, as Panda and Churchill are by a shepherd. It is a different dog culture here but in a way it fits perfectly with Greece, and I don’t mind the opportunity to make new canine friends, even if their primary reason for my attention might be food!

Devyn Caldwell




1 Comment

  1. sfak6 says:

    Dear Devyn, as a person that has been and studied abroad I have to agree that the way stray dogs are treated in Greece is indeed unique. In my neighbourhood we have a stray female dog called Asproula (Whitey) and we all love her as if she was our pet. After her car accident that almost caused her life I got to meet the local “Friends of Animals” group and even became an active member of it. My opinion is that although some “people” (mainly elderly ones) still hate and even poison stray dogs, the majority love and aren’t afraid of them especially now that the local council has managed to inoculate and sterile most of them .Finally, I have to admit that I now believe it’s far better for a dog to live as a stray but FREE dog (despite the dangers) rather than be chained for most part of its life. Nikos (we met at your last speech at the cultural centre of Farsala)

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