Tag: Luna

A story of a loving rescue

A stray dog rescue story, from a beach in Greece to home in the United Kingdom.

So many times this world of blogging creates special connections.

Just a few days ago there was an email, automatically generated by WordPress, to inform me that there had been a new subscriber, or follower, of Learning from Dogs. As I always do if that new subscriber has, in turn, their own blog-site, I go across to their place and leave a ‘thank you’ note.

In this recent case the blog-site that I went to was one under the title of Loving Luna. If you go to that home page you will read this:

Hey! My name is Charlotte Hargreaves.

On 11th June 2018, my partner Oliver and I arrived in Halkidiki, Greece for our third holiday together.

With Oliver recently starting a new job as a Sales Executive and myself finishing University two weeks prior, we were more than ready for the ten day break!

The trip started out like any other – sand, sea, sun, tequila. However on Monday 18th June, just three days before we were scheduled to depart back home, we came across a stray who was to steal our hearts and set us off on a wild adventure to #bringLunahome.

This is her story.

Charlotte has very kindly given me permission to republish her four posts that go into the details of getting Luna back to England.

Here is her first one.

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Day One: Monday 18th June 2018

We first spotted Luna on the private beach of our hotel. Dehydrated and drained, she appeared out of nowhere and desperately tried to wriggle her body underneath the occupied sun lounger in front of us, for shade from the blistering mid-day sun. Her eyes rolled in the back of her head, half-closed and she panted heavily, her tongue lolling clumsily to one side. Oliver fetched some water and she lapped it quickly from the cup. In return, she was incredibly affectionate and offered strokes and belly rubs in between sips, her loving nature at the forefront of her character.

After a short while, she ventured to a vacant sun lounger and fell asleep underneath its accompanying parasol. When the sun lounger behind this one also became vacant, we quickly moved to observe her more closely. For a stray dog, we were taken aback by how gentle and friendly she was. She took slices of ham which we had salvaged from the all inclusive sandwiches so delicately and always with that wagging tail. Some she ate, some she buried, demonstrating that deeply engrained survival instinct. It broke our hearts. We knew we had fallen in love and never wanted her to have to plan for her next meal again.

She remained on the beach for the most part of the day before retreating up the mountain and out of sight. After speaking to some of the locals, two things became clear. Firstly, we learned that she had a wide roaming ground, from the beach to the top of the mountains, from Ouranoupolis town right down to the opposite end of the main road. In total, she most likely covered a distance of 5-10km per day, sparking a fear in us that with only three days left in Halkidiki, we might never see her again. Secondly, and most notably, we learnt that Luna was loved. Rather than scavenging dustbins, her main tactic for acquiring food seemed to be earning it from tourists through her approachability. As a result, the locals said many people across the Island knew Luna and recognised her as she her passed through.

Back home in the United Kingdom, my family has always owned and loved dogs.  At the moment, we have a Schipperke called Koko and three Lhasa Apso’s, Jussy, Lucy and Phoebe, who live with my Nan across the road. We also regularly dog-sit for two cheeky Staffie’s called Boss and Jet.

When I retold Luna’s tale to them, they were incredibly supportive and this motivated me to reach out to several charities including PAWS (Pelion Animal Welfare Society). PAWS contacted us with wonderful news – there was a lady called Olga in Thessaloniki who would take Luna in her boarding kennels, Better Dogs. Olga could assist with arranging the necessary veterinary procedures for travel including micro-chipping, anti-rabies injection, de-worming and acquiring a pet passport. After that, PAWS informed us, they had a place for Luna on their next ferry trip to the UK, scheduled to arrive in Maidstone, Kent on Saturday 14th July.                                                        Suddenly, things became very real.
Could we actually be bringing this little dog home? Could we pull this all together just three days before our departure?

We set to work like two mad men, the bed covered with scribbled notes, plans of actions, contact numbers and (premature, I know) …suggestions for names. We were attached, well and truly. But pivotally, it had become doable. This crazy idea now had structure, logisitics, possibility! We knew there would be costs, extensive planning required and still a hell of a lot of uncertainty but PAWS had made this dream transition into a reality. It was then we decided… she was coming home.

That night, England was playing their first World Cup match and the hotel bar was filled to brim. I sat amongst the crowd with my phone in hand, anxiously awaiting my first call with Olga. At 9:24pm, it rang. One of the first things she said to me was, ‘Charlotte, I am going to help you and your dog’ and the relief that we were not alone in this came flooding in. People wanted to help. My family were behind us, PAWS were behind us and now Olga was behind us. I wondered if this pup had any idea of the support she was rallying and the love she was already spreading.

It was beginning to grow dark and conscious that we hadn’t seen Luna in a few hours, our hearts began to ache for her. By this point, news had spread through the hotel of our quest and opinions of us were divided between those idiotic, soppy Brits or genuinely, good-hearted people. I like to think the latter. Suddenly, in the midst of the game and, ironically, whilst I was continuing to jot down ideas for names, a lady hurried through the crowd towards us, gesturing and calling ‘She’s here! She’s in the hotel!’. Oliver and I darted from our seats but unfortunately when we came to the place where she had been spotted, she had vanished. Her coat acting as a perfect camouflage against the night. Disheartened, and with a feeling that she was somehow mocking us, we returned to the game.

The employees of the hotel had told us that she was often seen at the very top of the complex, close to the employee housing and so I felt more hopeful when the whistle blew and we headed up the hill, desperate to catch another glimpse of her. By some stroke of luck, we turned the corner and saw a young couple petting a small, black silhouette. We dashed over, probably giving them a fright as we fell about the floor, stroking her and telling her how beautiful she was and how we’d missed her. To avoid coming off as completely crazy, we explained the story to the couple who seemed amazed and it began to sink in that what we were doing was something very out of the ordinary but something very special. All the while, she lay on her back in the undergrowth, letting Oliver rub her belly, play with her ears, and scratch her nose, content to be part of the action-filled plot.

We attempted to lure her to our apartment with leftover takeaway, wanting her to be comfortable and familiar with the surroundings. If we were to transport her to Olga’s, she would need to spend the night in the apartment for we couldn’t risk not being able to track her on the day of the trip. She was as playful as ever but metres from the front door, her skittishness took a hold of her and uncertain, she trotted away into the darkness. An old adage rang in my head that you should never chase a stray and so we retreated to our apartment balcony and talked about how we were going to make it work, how badly we wanted her and to psychologically assess ourselves…just to confirm that we were not actually just a pair of idiotic, soppy Brits.

An hour or so passed when all of a sudden, as if she had overheard, a little black shadow appeared below our balcony with its signature head tilt and inquisitive ears. Like two rabbits caught in the headlights, we were dared not breathe, partly to avoid scaring her off and also to discourage unwanted attention. ‘Where’ve you been girl?’, we began to call to her in hushed tones. Her tail began to wag continuously until pitifully, she began to cry, unable to work out how she could reach us. Like a bullet, Oliver was out the door, round to the front and straight into her affections. A few minutes later, she climbed the mounted verge directly underneath our balcony, out of sight and laid down for the night. We wished her goodnight and returned to the apartment. Knowing that she recognised our voices in the darkness, that she was excited to see us and that she felt safe enough to sleep directly below us filled our hearts with hope and we felt positive about what the next day would bring.

On a side note, we would like to thank everyone who may appear in this article unnamed. Whether you alerted us to her whereabouts or told us we weren’t crazy….we three are so grateful for your time, support and belief in us.

*I will be writing a separate blog on both Better Dogs and PAWS and the incredible work they do. For more information in the meantime you can visit their websites below:

https://m.facebook.com/betterdogshotel/

http://www.paws-peliongreece.com

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The second episode will be republished tomorrow!

Life with Luna

Time and time again we see what dogs mean to us.

Not that long ago I received an email out-of-the-blue from Linley Achtenhagen. Linley wanted to tell me, and all of you, what having a dog had meant to her.

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How It All Started

by Linley Achtenhagen

Before I start talking about all of the things I have learned from having a dog, I should probably tell the story of how this crazy journey started.

My sophomore year of college was probably one of the most difficult years I’ve had. I was struggling with anxiety issues and I had just quit basketball, which was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Why? Well, I had been playing basketball from the time I could walk and the day that I decided I was done was a very difficult, yet relieving day.

Me playing basketball had become unhealthy for me and caused me so much stress and anxiety that it was hurting me more than it was helping me, but that’s a different story.

Anyways, once I was done playing college basketball I felt relieved, but also empty. All I had really ever known was basketball, so now I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my life other than going to school and studying things that I didn’t care about. I knew that something was missing!

I have always been an animal lover. Growing up we had everything from cats, to dogs, to horses and even a pet bird. Dogs were my favorite though (sorry cat lovers) and I thought, “why not see if there’s a dog that needs a home”.

So I went online and of course, I found, literally, thousands of dogs that needed homes. After months of searching and convincing my parents that I could do this, I adopted Luna.

Luna came from a high-kill shelter in Missouri, meaning that if she wasn’t adopted in a certain time frame she was going to be put to sleep. Lucky for me, Tiny Paws Small Dog Rescue in Milwaukee, Wi transported her and about 10 other dogs from the shelter up to Wisconsin.

Luna was about 15 pounds underweight and for a 40-pound dog that’s dangerously skinny. When I would pet her I could feel every single bone on her body. She was skinny, shy, and had patches of fur missing, yet the trust this animal gave me right from the start was amazing. This animal had gone through only God knows what, and trusted me immediately. It was an eye-opening thing to watch.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that it was all butterflies and rainbows when I adopted Luna. The first few days I was panicked and thought, “what on earth did I get myself into”. But I knew that I had made a commitment to this dog and I couldn’t give her away. I have always hated change, in fact, it is one of the things that gives me pretty bad anxiety, and I knew that giving Luna back would be the easy way out. Sure enough, in about a week, this dog became my best friend and it’s like we had a mutual understanding that we were in this together.

Since getting Luna I went from not knowing what I wanted to do with my life to declaring my major as entrepreneurship and knowing that one day I want to open my own pet supply store.

I want to share all of the knowledge that I have gained about dogs from having Luna with other pet and dog lovers. I have found that big, franchise pet stores just don’t have the same knowledge that small, local pet stores do. I am also not saying that I know everything there is to know about dogs because I still learn new things every single day. But I want to share everything I have learned with dog owners and help them give their pet the best life possible. I also hope to learn new things from all the people that (hopefully) come in and out of my store every day.

In the posts to come, I will share everything I have learned about life, love, animals, and everything in between from my life with Luna.

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If only all decisions in life were as easy as me wanting to publish Linley’s account of her meeting Luna!

All we now need is a photograph of the happy couple!

Luna being loved by Linley.

May everything go well for you, Linley!

Puppy Love!

Friday the 13th!

We are on course for a warm, sunny day. We were starting to wonder what they felt like!

But there’s never any question what the love of a dog feels like!

1070310989-222362-puppy_love_quotes___I am now going to follow this image up with a video made in England by Sophie Hannah Richardson recording her experience of welcoming to her home a new puppy.

Enjoy (and please read my footnote!).

Say hello to Luna the french bulldog everyone! How cute is she?!

We’ve had our little Luna just over a month now and we absolutely adore her. She’s playful, loving and very sociable! And she’s slowly learning to love the camera!

Follow Luna’s adventure right here: https://www.instagram.com/luna_thefrenchbulldog/

 

Footnote: In the last couple of days the number of good people who are following this blog has gone over 2,000. I am truly lost for words and will just leave it like this: Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

TIMOTHY BULLARD/Daily CourierPaul Handover with Pharaoh, a 12year-old German Shepard that he uses on the cover of his new book about man's best friend.
TIMOTHY BULLARD/Daily Courier Paul Handover with Pharaoh, a 12year-old German Shepard that he uses on the cover of his new book about man’s best friend.

Our incredible dogs.

Dog lost at sea is found – five weeks later!

This story has been widely reported and for good reason. The source of my post is here.

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Dog presumed lost at sea shows up 5 weeks later, wagging her tail

Mary Jo DiLonardo March 17, 2016
Luna likely survived on dead fish and mice, as well as fresh water that was shipped in for Navy employees. (Photo: U.S. Navy - Naval Base Coronado)
Luna likely survived on dead fish and mice, as well as fresh water that was shipped in for Navy employees. (Photo: U.S. Navy – Naval Base Coronado)

When Nick Haworth’s dog, Luna, fell off his fishing boat a couple miles off the shore of San Clemente Island in the Pacific Ocean, he thought there was a good chance she’d swim for land.

“Nick was pretty certain she would make for shore because she was a very strong swimmer,” says Sandy DeMunnik, public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy’s Naval Base Coronado, which includes the island. “He asked if he could have permission to come ashore to get her.”

San Clemente Island is a weapons training facility where they work with bombs and offshore bombardment, so they had to shut off one of the artillery ranges to look for the 1 1/2-year-old German shepherd/Husky mix. The staff helped Haworth search for her to no avail. He stayed in the area for two more days and couldn’t find her.

“After about a week, it was presumed she had never even made it to shore because they hadn’t seen a sign of her,” says DeMunnik. “They presumed she was lost at sea.”

Fast forward five weeks to March 15 when Navy staff arrived on the island for work.

“She was sitting on the side of the road just wagging her tail,” says DeMunnik. The staff members knew immediately that this was the dog they had been searching for. They opened their door, whistled and Luna jumped right in the truck.

After more than a month of being gone, Luna takes a well-deserved nap. (Photo: U.S. Navy - Naval Base Coronado)
After more than a month of being gone, Luna takes a well-deserved nap. (Photo: U.S. Navy – Naval Base Coronado)

They immediately called Haworth and let him know the happy news. Luna was examined by the island’s wildlife biologist, who said she likely wasn’t seen for five weeks because her tan-and-black coloring let her blend in with the island’s landscape. Miraculously, except for having lost a little weight, she was OK.

“Amazingly for being lost for five weeks in a very dangerous and treacherous environment, she was fine,” says DeMunnik. “During that time, there was bombardment training, weapons training … there was a lot of very loud, very dangerous training going on, and we had some very severe El Nino storms.”

Those storms probably helped keep the dog alive because fresh water was brought to the island by barge for the staff during the storm. They determined that Luna had survived by eating dead fish and rodents.

Because her owner, a commercial fisherman and student at San Diego State University, was away on a fishing trip, he sent his best friend, Conner Lamb, to meet Luna’s plane. When the plane doors opened, she leapt into Lamb’s arms and he fought back tears. On her first night home, he made her a steak for dinner.

The commanding officer of the base sent Luna home with a keepsake of her time spent on the island: her own set of military dog tags. They are engraved with her name, the dates she was missing, and “Keep the faith.”

Luna is greeting by paparazzi — but it's clear that's she's had enough media coverage for the day. (Photo: U.S. Navy - Naval Base Coronado)
Luna is greeting by paparazzi — but it’s clear that’s she’s had enough media coverage for the day. (Photo: U.S. Navy – Naval Base Coronado)

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Two more pictures to reinforce this wonderful story.

The first from US News:

Luna was found Tuesday on San Clemente Island, a Navy-owned training base 70 miles off San Diego.
Luna was found Tuesday on San Clemente Island, a Navy-owned training base 70 miles off San Diego.

And the second from Eye Witness News on abc:

Nick Hawarth and Lucky Luna.
Nick Haworth and Lucky Luna.

Well done everyone!