In May of 2016 when I was in Athens I noticed the many stray dogs that roamed around Syntagma square. Some of these were much loved pets that the owners could no longer afford to feed or keep. Maybe others were less fortunate and had been abandoned by them when they realised that having a pet means costs, effort and love. I put a photo of such a dog on the blog, curled up, sleeping, and found my heart was a little torn by what I saw. What I didnt know then was how these dogs became part of the Athenian soul.
The Greek Film festival is on in Brisbane at the moment and looking through the programme I came across one called the "Dogs of Democracy". I went last night to watch it.
The director is a Greek Australian called Mary Zournazi. She visited Athens and like me she noticed the dogs - she then went on to make a short documentary film about it with a special star called "Loukanikos"- "Sausage"- a fearless handsome dog who seemed to be there with the demonstrators, protecting the most vulnerable against the onslaughts of the riot police and whose image was well known to Athenians. Loukanikos died of some of the side effects of tear gas and old age. At that point he had been lovingly taken in by Rita, a woman who clearly sees the human side of these animals. She and Spiros, a man who has been rendered homeless by the financial crisis, spend time and valuable resources, looking after the strays.They have come to represent a unifying human influence on Athenians as they come together to give them care and food when they can.
I was much moved by this short but thoughtful film. My sadness however was compacted by the fact that there were only four people in the cinema. I had attended the premiere the previous night, a full house, a chance to be seen, and free food. Sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper to get more and let me tell you it is well worth the effort.