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Animal Welfare in Greece:

Tara is one of our most incredible success stories.

Tara is a beautiful Rottweiler mixed-breed female, originally from the sleepy coastal village of Platanias in South Pelion. We first heard of her in January 2011. There were stories of a fierce looking dog with a very gentle character that was permanently chained up in horrible conditions in an abandoned piece of land, surrounded by junk and animal bones. Our animal charity started to make enquiries to find out who the dog's owner was to see if we could somehow rescue her. At this time of the year the weather was very cold and wet and we were even more concerned when we heard reports of another 2 female puppies with her.

Fate conspired with us and in early February we heard that Tara had been abandoned on the waterfront of Platanias with her two puppies. Tanya, a taverna owner with a big heart, had been feeding them. We quickly arranged to take them off the streets. Unfortunately by then, Tara had a broken hind leg that she could not use at all. Subsequent veterinary examination revealed that she had very bad fracture of the femur. She was immediately operated upon.

Throughout her handling and rescue she was in obvious pain, yet she never showed a single sign of aggression. Rather she loved to be petted and hugged and was never more happy than when her great head was encircled by our arms.

A family from Germany heard about Tara's story and saw photos of her. They decided to adopt her and 2.5 months after being taken off the streets of Platanias she flew to Germany and was welcomed into a loving home. There she learnt the joys of playing with toys, going for walks and playing with other dogs and above all, the wonder of people who truly love her.

Unfortunately Tara's leg was not healing well and she had to be operated upon again. The costs of the operation were very high but by then her new family loved her so much that they decided to do their best for Tara. Our animal charity also contributed, along with another charity in Germany. We felt that this special dog deserved the best in life after having suffered so much.

Who could have imagined how Tara was going to repay all our efforts?

On the 15th of August we received an email from Tara's new owner, Ina. The email was titled “Tara is our hero”. In it, Ina tells us the amazing events of their Saturday morning walk in the woods: Suddenly Tara started pulling on her leash to go off the track. Ina was reluctant because it had been rainy and the ground was very muddy. However Tara was very insistent and her behaviour was so different from the norm that Ina decided to follow Tara.

 

In Ina's words: “When we were very deep in the woods (not really knowing WHERE, but not yet getting lost) I suddenly saw something very big lying on the ground. My first thought was that she found a dead deer, but moving closer I realized it was a man, lying on his belly just in the middle of nowhere... I was shocked! I called Tara back to me and kept her close - I thought he was dead!!! I called the man and he made a noise. So I got closer to him, asking if he needed help. He was all wet, lying in the mud, barely able to breath. The man was quite old, and he has fallen over a stone and wasn´t able to come up again on his own.”

Ina tried to help the old man to stand up but he was very weak and unable to do so. So she set him down again, face up this time so that he could breathe. She then called the police. All this time, Tara was sitting very calmly next to the old man, being very gentle with him. In the end, Ina and Tara were able to lead the poilice and two ambulance workers to the man where he was rescued and brought to the hospital.

They later found out that the old man had been missing from the evening before. He has Alzheimer's Disease and had somehow wandered away from his nursing home. Since he had never ventured into the woods before, the search for him had been concentrated in the town. His family were frantic and there had been search parties out all night for him.

 

Thanks to Tara, this old man was found and saved. He had begun to suffer from hypothermia from his overnight exposure to the damp and cold but fully recovered after a stay in the hospital. His son called Ina to thank her and Tara.

Somehow the news trickled out and a newspaper article was written about Tara's amazing deed. The story captured the imagination of people and the article went on to be published in a national paper. Tara also made the local TV news. Ina reports that her phone has been ringing off the hook for information about how to adopt a dog from Greece...

So from the streets of Platanias, an unloved Greek dog journeyed all the way to Germany to save a human life and become a heroine. There must be a moral in it somewhere but we are content to simply be delighted for all involved, especially for a very special dog called Tara M. Asalata.