Our Zorba the greek
A big dog with a big heart
People often ask how Titch and I met and started doing all of this. Well, that’s where Zorba comes in.
Titch and I began rescuing dogs from Greece in 2001. I had decided I wanted to get more hands on in terms of rescue work and so I volunteered through the charity Greek Animal Rescue to go and work at a dog shelter out there. I stayed at the shelter for almost a year helping look after around 100 dogs. The first dog I sent for adoption from the shelter was a dog named Zorba. I had no idea at the time how big a part he would play in our lives.
Titch had just been on holiday to Greece and was very distressed at seeing so many stray dogs and cats on the streets. There was one dog in particular who latched onto Titch, and it was this encounter that prompted her to contact Greek Animal Rescue to find how she could go about saving this girl. Unfortunately we soon discovered that the dog who had latched on to her was a mum feeding pups, which meant there was no way that she could be rescued without risking the lives of the puppies. Upset at the thought of not being able to help her, Titch decided to return a month later to look for the dog but she never found her. We cannot be certain what happened to her but the most likely explanation is that she starved to death trying to feed her pups; sadly not an uncommon occurrence. It was then that Titch was contacted by Greek Animal Rescue who explained they had just flown a dog over from Greece to the UK who was looking for a home.
The dog’s name was Zorba. I had worked with Zorba at the shelter and I asked Titch if she could please let me know how he was doing, and subsequently we starting writing to each other. Despite spending so many hours with so many dogs at the shelter every day, I found it could be quite an isolating experience as there was very little human contact, so I really enjoyed the friendship we were building. However my period of isolation was about to change as we were told the shelter had to close down. We were suddenly faced with needing to rehome all the dogs; no mean feat. I was lucky enough to accompany 65 dogs back to the UK on three subsequent trips. On my final return to the UK, Titch and I got together, and this was how our rescuing of Greek dogs came about. I like to think that we have Zorba to thank for finding each other.
Years later, while living happily with Titch and me, Zorba was sadly diagnosed with Lymphoma. We were told that without treatment he wouldn’t last longer than six weeks, but if we decided to go with the treatment and he responded, we could get 10 to 12 months. Desperate not to lose our boy so soon we decided to try him on chemotherapy, and Zorba became like a new dog; we shared another very happy 24 months together until he sadly lost his fight for life. During this time we became very close with our local vets in Worthing, and upon hearing the continuing plight of the Greek animals we decided to send two teams a year over to Greece to perform free sterilisations for the dogs in the towns and villages. We are firm believers that prevention is far better than cure. It is impossible to rehome all the strays but it is possible, through education and sterilisation campaigns, to alleviate the suffering of future strays by ensuring they aren’t born in the first place.
In the book Zorba the Greek, the story’s narrator learns a great deal about humanity from the character Zorba that he otherwise would not have known or experienced. This is how Titch and I feel about our Zorba the Greek; his legacy lives on in every action we take.