Safely back from Lesvos, and meeting more UK-bound passengers in Athens

Courier J and her seven charges from Lesvos arrived safely in Piraeus Port where they were met by Akis, who runs a pet taxi service. Akis has become a firm friend of ours, and happily obliges all our requests, however outlandish they may seem! True to form, he was a complete hero and disembarked all the dogs into his taxi. He had already met up with Aphrodite and her Rottweiler, Maya, who’d arrived at the port on the morning ferry from Crete.

Because of a general strike in Greece, there were no ferries for 24 hours. So the eight dogs went to stay with Christine for a couple of nights. She has kennels on the outskirts of Athens, Chris’s Animal Hotel, and has helped us out before.

Courier M arrived from Italy, having also been delayed by the strike, and drove over from Patras port to meet up with the rest of our passengers who are winging their way from various islands and other parts of the Greece. Because of the delay, we decided that courier Mike should turn back and start collecting our Italian passengers.

Martina’s Jack Russell Terrier, Jack, arrived from Poros on the high-speed hydrofoil, where he was met by Akis and whisked over to us. A lot of rapid activity for a little chap, but he’s been very stoical about it all!

Another Martina, from PetSociety  kennels, brought us lovely Lab Sugar, who’s been staying at the kennels for a little while. Owner Anastasia went on ahead to London and is very excited that Sugar can now join her.

It wouldn’t be a proper Greek trip if we didn’t meet up with Cordelia. She’s been looking after Tony’s cat, Arizona, until we could transport her to the UK. Cordelia and her husband brought Arizona to us at the port.

Sophia has moved to Nottingham and now her cat Gismo is joining her. Sophia’s parents Toula and Zisis, along with their French Bulldog, Zoe, brought Gismo to join the trip. Toula wondered if we needed any help on the journey — she was keen to hop on board and travel with us so she could visit Sophia!

Maria has relocated to Scotland for work reasons, and left her dogs Diego and Souki in the temporary care of her cousin Anastasia. Now it’s time for this sweet brother and sister to rejoin Maria.

Sonia, Ellena and Sophia from local cat welfare charity Nine Lives Greece brought us Carol’s cats Carrie and Olive. The charity, which does brilliant work with stray cats in Athens, is holding a fund-raising bazaar today. They hope to raise around €2,000, but admit that will probably only meet one vet bill.

John and Jacqui are returning to the UK from Athens. Their cat Lilly is naturally going to join them at their home in London.

We met Niko under the massive Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge near Patras. He’s such a cool hound, he has his own Facebook page! Niko came to Anne as a stray puppy about two years ago. Anne has a stables on the hillside overlooking the bridge, where she gives riding lessons to people with and without disabilities, and organises hacking and other activities. Plenty of stray and rescued dogs and cats find a home here. Recently, Elizabeth from Livingstone met Niko and completely fell in love with him. Anne very wisely allowed Elizabeth to adopt Niko, knowing he’s going to a super home, and that she’ll have room for another local stray.

Akis took control of disembarking the seven dogs from Lesvos. Here he is collecting the puppies, telling them to be good for him.

Akis took control of disembarking the seven dogs from Lesvos. Here he is collecting the puppies, telling them to be good for him.

Lovely Maya in a photo sent by Aphrodite. "Just thought you'd better know that sometimes I talk too much and I can't get my tongue to fit back in my mouth..."

Lovely Maya in a photo sent by Aphrodite. “Just thought you’d better know that sometimes I talk too much and I can’t get my tongue to fit back in my mouth…”

Maya in her bedroom in our van — her tongue still hanging out!

Maya in her bedroom in our van — her tongue still hanging out!

Handsome Jack from Poros

Handsome Jack from Poros

Anastasia's dog Sugar, with Martina, at whose kennels Sugar has been staying

Anastasia’s dog Sugar, with Martina, at whose kennels Sugar has been staying

Cordelia and Paul brought us gifts — and Tony's cat Arizona!

Cordelia and Paul brought us gifts — and Tony’s cat Arizona!

Arizona is a rather striking looking tortie puss

Arizona is a rather striking looking tortie puss

Toula and Zisis with their dog Zoe — in the cat box is Gismo, who belongs to their daughter Sophia

Toula and Zisis with their dog Zoe — in the cat box is Gismo, who belongs to their daughter Sophia

Lovely fluffy Gismo

Lovely fluffy Gismo

Souki and Diego with Anastasia and her mum

Souki and Diego with Anastasia and her mum

Glamorous Souki and Diego settle in for the trip

Glamorous Souki and Diego settle in for the trip

Sophia, Ellena and Sonia, volunteers from Nine Lives Greece, brought us Carrie and Olive, who belong to Carol

Sophia, Ellena and Sonia, volunteers from Nine Lives Greece, brought us Carrie and Olive, who belong to Carol

One of Carol's cats

One of Carol’s cats

John and Jacqui with their cat Lilly

John and Jacqui with their cat Lilly

Lilly is a rather gorgeous creature

Lilly is a rather gorgeous creature

Fuzzy hound Niko

Fuzzy hound Niko

Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge

Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge

Anne (L) and Panagiota (R) arranged for Niko to travel to join new owner Elizabeth in Scotland

Anne (L) and Panagiota (R) arranged for Niko to travel to join new owner Elizabeth in Scotland

Lucy from Lesvos is a calm and friendly girl

Lucy from Lesvos is a calm and friendly girl

Dexter always has an eager look on his face

Dexter always has an eager look on his face

Berti is taking the journey in his stride

Berti is taking the journey in his stride

The Lesvos pups look like they're in a police line-up!

The Lesvos pups look like they’re in a police line-up!

Setting off for Greece, and delivering Rosalina and Nox in Italy on the way

Animalcouriers has set off on what may be the most complex trip we’ve ever undertaken from a logistical point of view. This is just the start…

Couriers M and Mike left the UK on Sunday with Rosalina and Nox on board, bound for Italy. These two very beautiful and regal cats belong to Francesca. After working in London for a few years, she’s returned to her native Italy, and we had the pleasure of transporting her beloved pets.

Gorgeous Rosalina

Gorgeous Rosalina

Moustachioed Nox

Moustachioed Nox

Francesca delighted to be reunited with her cats

Francesca delighted to be reunited with her cats

The lovely landscape where Francesca and her cats will be living

The lovely landscape where Francesca and her cats will be living

An Italian village cemetery filled with flowers to mark All Saints' Day, which is taken very seriously in continental Europe (Hallowe'en being a very recent import)

An Italian village cemetery filled with flowers to mark All Saints’ Day, which is taken very seriously in continental Europe (Hallowe’en being a very recent import)

While couriers M and Mike wend their way by road towards the Greek capital, Athens, courier J flew to the same destination. Her hold luggage consisted of a big box containing seven slip leads, lots of newspaper, plenty of dog biscuits, and several bicycle chains and padlocks. Not some weird and wonderful bondage equipment, but everything she needed to escort seven dogs from Lesvos back to the mainland by boat!

Last night courier J met up with lovely Christos from Hellas Ferries, an Athenian travel agent. He regards Animalcouriers as personal friends, and the warmth and passion he shows us are what make Greek people very special to us. Christos organised courier J onto a Hellenic Seaways boat at Piraeus port for the crossing to Lesvos and back. They enjoyed a drink on the boat, swapping life stories, before it was time to set off.

Today courier J met Rebecca from Lesvos Stray Dogs and Cat Adoptions. In between looking after stray dogs and cats, Rebecca’s been on the beaches helping migrants from the water as their little boats reach the shore — just one element of a massive humanitarian aid operation that’s underway.

Rebecca handed over the seven dogs who are travelling to homes and owners the UK:

  • Bella, Zeus, Hercules and Bear are four puppies whose journey to Cambridgeshire has been sponsored by Wendy — all four have homes with friends and a vet
  • Another puppy, Berti, for Wild at Heart
  • Ian’s dog, Dexter, a holiday romance — Rebecca arranged a foster home for Dexter while he waited for us, as he just missed our last trip. We know Ian is very excited about Dexter’s imminent arrival, after quite some time apart.
  • Lucy, the dog we blogged about earlier in the week, who’ll be fostered by Wendy on arrival before moving to her forever home
Mike, a member of the ferry crew, kindly lending a hand at the onboard kennels. All the crew were really helpful, and let courier J prepare the cages on the outbound trip so they would be ready to house the dogs on the way back to Piraeus.

Mike, a member of the ferry crew, kindly lending a hand at the onboard kennels. All the crew were really helpful, and let courier J prepare the cages on the outbound trip so they would be ready to house the dogs on the way back to Piraeus.

The cages all kitted out

The cages all kitted out

Keys to the padlocks, for security

Keys to the padlocks, for security

The route to Lesvos took us past the spot where our van was impounded on arrival from Turkey a few years ago — what memories!

The route to Lesvos took us past the spot where our van was impounded on arrival from Turkey a few years ago — what memories!

One of the many homeless dogs on Lesvos…

One of the many homeless dogs on Lesvos…

…and a microcosm of the homeless people who've arrived there

…and a microcosm of the homeless people who’ve arrived there

Impounded boats on Lesvos

Impounded boats on Lesvos

The dogs settling in for the ferry crossing

The dogs settling in for the ferry crossing

Rebecca saying goodbye

Rebecca saying goodbye

A heap of wriggly puppies

A heap of wriggly puppies

There's always one, isn't there?!

There’s always one, isn’t there?!

Super cute Dexter

Super cute Dexter

Lucy accepted a treat so graciously and nibbled it so gently, she should have been offered a napkin!

Lucy accepted a treat so graciously and nibbled it so gently, she should have been offered a napkin!

Berti makes an early bid for longest (and waggiest) tongue

Berti makes an early bid for longest (and waggiest) tongue

Collecting a family of dogs, cats and rabbits in Normandy; and heading to Jersey in convoy

While couriers J and M set off with Mal’s big family of cats and birds, courier Mike was in the Normandy area collecting a slightly smaller family of pets.

Gill and her family have lived on a farm near Calvados for many years, and are now heading back to the UK. They’re moving to Dorchester, so not a million miles from their old French haunts! The family’s three dogs, four cats and two rabbits are travelling with us. Rosie Pomme is a lovely big German Shepherd Dog, and Dolly is a Burmese Mountain Dog. Completing the canine contingent is little Gracie Mai, a cheeky miniature Schnauzer. The cats are Ginger, Madge, Suzanne and Minou.

The two Animalcouriers vans met up in Saint Malo to take the Condor crossing to Jersey. All the pets from both families behaved beautifully at check-in — except Mal’s cat Soda, who gave the Condor man a run for his money and a few scratches to boot!

Couriers J and M have been in regular contact with Mal, who is naturally missing her big family. Mal shared her thoughts with us, saying:

“You are so lovely, my babies couldn’t be in better hands. Everybody says the house is quiet and empty without the cats, and I feel like a big bit of me is missing. I could hear courier M talking to the cats in the van which put my mind at rest. I also know with courier J they will do as they are told — you are in control! I know they are safe with you two.”

Darling Dolly

Darling Dolly

Lovely Rosie Pomme

Lovely Rosie Pomme

Cute Gracie Mai

Cute Gracie Mai

Gorgeous Suzanne with one of her tabby sisters

Gorgeous Suzanne with one of her tabby sisters

Well-named handsome Ginger

Well-named handsome Ginger

Beautiful tabby cat

Beautiful tabby cat

The rabbits are a good-looking pair

The rabbits are a good-looking pair

Where's Alice when you need her?

Where’s Alice when you need her?

Gracie Mai and Rosie Pomme enjoying a walk on the beach near St Helier on Jersey

Gracie Mai and Rosie Pomme enjoying a walk on the beach near St Helier on Jersey

Dolly just back from the beach

Dolly just back from the beach

We couldn't resist another photo from Mal's family — handsome Mischief! Mal says he's very loving — his mother was feral and had her kittens in Mal and Mike's garage, but he came straight up to her. His sister Jezabelle also stayed with Mal and Mike, and is travelling with us.

We couldn’t resist another photo from Mal’s family — handsome Mischief! Mal says he’s very loving — his mother was feral and had her kittens in Mal and Mike’s garage, but he came straight up to her. His sister Jezabelle also stayed with Mal and Mike, and is travelling with us.

We leave the UK with three cats; and start our trip back from Greece with 11 dogs, 11 cats, a Macaw and a Chinchilla on board

Couriers M and Mike recently set off on what will be our biggest-ever trip from Greece back to the UK. Luckily we have two vans, each with air conditioning, electrical airflow and comfy compartments for all the pets travelling with us.

A few pets travelled out with us from the UK. Gorgeous Gaia and Lulu, a pair of cats who are almost impossible to tell apart, are moving with Eric to Italy. We dropped them at a cattery in Verona for Eric to collect on his arrival.

Gaia gives us a wink

Gaia gives us a wink

Lulu has a fine 'milk moustache'

Lulu has a fine ‘milk moustache’

Black-and white cat Gizmo is relocating to Skiathos, the island where ‘Mamma Mia’ was shot. Because owner Diana and family won’t get there until after we’ve dropped off Gizmo, we managed to find a very hospitable vet in Volos on the Greek mainland to look after Gizmo. As soon as Diana reaches Greece, she’ll hop onto the Seacat to fetch Gizmo. She told us she’d never had a night apart from Gizmo, so we can only imagine how much they are missing each other.

Wide-eyed Gizmo

Wide-eyed Gizmo

Courier J flew to Athens to join us for the journey back to the UK. The first passenger to get on board in Greece was Tardu, a 16-year-old blue-and-gold macaw. This colourful bird belonged to Chryssa’s dad, who sadly passed away recently. Unfortunately, Chryssa can’t take Tardu on herself, but has found a wonderful new home for her dad’s beloved companion with Nikos and Linda in Scotland. Animalcouriers already know Nikos and Linda, as we’ve transported a number of dogs they’ve adopted from the Filozoikos Shelter in Athens. Such a small world!

We hear that Tardu, who is missing a wing, is more like a dog than a parrot, and likes to walk around on the floor. He settled into his travel compartment very quickly and started preening — a good sign that he is relaxed and happy. We’ve made him a playground with all his toys, his steps to climb up and down, and a cat carrier to perch on and watch all the comings and goings.

Tardu was driven to our hotel to meet us. We reckon he probably did a spot of back-seat driving!

Tardu was driven to our hotel to meet us. We reckon he probably did a spot of back-seat driving!

Tardu making the move from car to van

Tardu making the move from car to van

Tardu settles in nicely

Tardu settles in nicely

Tardu enjoying a piece of breakfast banana

Tardu enjoying a piece of breakfast banana

Phil and Vivian have been living on the island of Samos for the past eight years, where they were volunteers for Greek Cat Rescue and also cared for a number of cats around their home. They’re now on their way back to the West Country, and are taking five cats with them — Bumper, Captain Flint, Jalfraizi, Oscar and Jacob.

Handsome ginger tabby Jalfraizi. He's been very unwell and everyone was concerned about him, but the good news is that he's fit to travel. He has a compartment to himself and antibiotics to keep him going.

Handsome ginger tabby Jalfraizi. He’s been very unwell and everyone was concerned about him, but the good news is that he’s fit to travel. He has a compartment to himself and antibiotics to keep him going.

Captain Flint — so called because he likes to sit on your shoulder like a parrot

Captain Flint — so called because he likes to sit on your shoulder like a parrot

A winsome look from Oscar

A winsome look from Oscar

Although Bumper has only one eye, he doesn't miss a trick

Although Bumper has only one eye, he doesn’t miss a trick

IMG_20150925_001018_edit

Phil and Vivian and their cats arrived with Akis in his pet taxi — a great service for people and their pets. We saw Akis again the next day with Petra, Scruff and Alfie.

Akis arrives in his pet taxi with Scruff, Petra and Alfie

Akis arrives in his pet taxi with Scruff, Petra and Alfie

When Kat from Birmingham went on holiday to Lesvos, she was adopted by a tortoiseshell cat called Petra. Kat decided to take Petra to the UK, so Rebecca of Lesvos Dog and Cat Adoptions helped out. Petra was initially fostered by one of the group’s volunteers, then Deb (owner of Scruff) offered to take Petra under her wing. Petra and Scruff were then looked after by Christine for about a week, as Deb had to return to the UK.

Gorgeous Petra — such a sweet and calm little girl

Gorgeous Petra — such a sweet and calm little girl

Playful Scruff

Playful Scruff

Alfie belongs to Tom and Laura, who adopted him while on holiday in Lesvos. Once again, Rebecca of Lesvos Dog and Cat Adoptions helped out, collecting Alfie from his foster mum, sorting his passport, arranging a travel box and popping him onto a late-night flight. And Christine stepped in again, collecting him at Athens airport and putting him in Akis’s taxi with Scruff and Petra.

Alfie, when Tom and Laura first found him

Alfie, when Tom and Laura first found him

Alfie with Laura

Alfie with Laura

Tiffany, her husband and children have moved to the Manchester area, and now Lucky and Kitten are joining them. The children were devastated when they heard that the family couldn’t afford to fly the cats to England. But then they found our website and learned about the more affordable option of a road trip. So they got in touch and we agreed a price, and a very happy family is looking forward to welcoming their beloved pets to the UK.

Pretty Kitten and stunning jet-black Lucky

Pretty Kitten and stunning jet-black Lucky

When Lesley left Crete we transported two of her dogs for her to Northumberland. Now it’s time for the other two to follow on. At Piraeus Port we met Joe with Tasha and Corby, a very friendly pair of dogs.

Jo with Lesley's dogs, Tasha and Corby

Jo with Lesley’s dogs, Tasha and Corby

Labrador Aris arrived with an enormous grin on his face and a very waggy tail, willing to be friends with everyone. Ioannis (John) and his family have already relocated to the UK and are really missing Aris. Not long now til everyone’s back together.

The very friendly Aris

The very friendly Aris

Rex and Ringo, a pair of German Shepherd Dogs, are travelling with us to stay at a kennels in Calais for a little while. They’ll then hop on board when we pass by on our next trip to Portugal, towards the end of next month. The dogs were originally adopted from the Filozoikos Shelter, but when their owners moved to Portugal, they couldn’t afford to take the dogs immediately. So Filozoikos, being very responsible, stepped in and offered to look after the dogs until they could start their journey.

Martha, courier M, courier Mike and Kiki with Rex and Ringo

Martha, courier M, courier Mike and Kiki with Rex and Ringo

A closer look at handsome Rex…

A closer look at handsome Rex…

…and the equally handsome Ringo

…and the equally handsome Ringo

Lovely little Zouzou arrived looking a bit worried, so we spent a bit of time chatting and making a fuss of her, which helped to calm her down. Her owner Maria has already relocated to England and Zouzou, who’s been in the care of a relative, is the last member of the family to travel.

Super-cute Zouzou

Super-cute Zouzou

English Setter Boo belongs to George and Flora, who’ve relocated to Edinburgh from Athens. Now Boo, who has been staying with George’s parents in Athens, is off to join them. Boo is completely deaf, but apparently understands everything you say to her. Flora and George say they miss her very much, so it will be happy time when they are reunited.

Lovely Boo, who is on her way to Scotland

Lovely Boo, who is on her way to Scotland

Cordelia, an old friend of ours, brought us three cats whose owners have moved back from Athens to Ireland. Little Paw and Michael belong to Paula; and Dexter is owned by Linda. We’re expecting some Irish folk singing (or perhaps dancing) from this trio en route!

Cordelia (R) and friend bring us cats belonging to Paula and Linda

Cordelia (R) and friend bring us cats belonging to Paula and Linda

Snowy white Michael

Snowy white Michael

Tuxedo cat Little Paw

Tuxedo cat Little Paw

These two chums got settled in quickly

These two chums got settled in quickly

Diego is a Griffon cross whose owner Dora has moved to Tunbridge Wells. Diego has been staying with a relative and is now ready to travel to join her.

Another fluffy white dog — Diego

Another fluffy white dog — Diego

We met Angeliki and her son with Max the dog at Igoumenitsa. They had travelled from Corfu on the local ferry to catch us just as we were leaving Greece.

Angeliki and her son with Max

Angeliki and her son with Max

 

Max shows us his fine profile

Max shows us his fine profile

Chinchilla Ollie is one of our smallest and most frequent travellers — this is his third trip with us. Owner Napoleana has now had a baby so their family gets bigger. Nela the dog is flying with the family via Paris Charles De Gaulle, but that isn’t an option for Ollie, so he’s on the road with Animalcouriers.

Cute Chinchilla Ollie, who's quite familiar with the routine of our trips

Cute Chinchilla Ollie, who’s quite familiar with the routine of our trips

Here's a road sign you don't see every day!

Here’s a road sign you don’t see every day!

Man versus food — man (Courier Mike) won this time (well, he managed all the ribs, anyway!)

Man versus food — man (Courier Mike) won this time (well, he managed all the ribs, anyway!)

Collecting Billie, Sammy, Demetri, Randall and Hector on Lesvos

To collect the first passengers for our UK-bound trip, Animalcouriers took the ferry to the island of Lesvos, where we had a very interesting visit to the Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production in Agia Paraskevi.

The museum was originally a cooperative oil mill set up in 1911, under communitarian principles, to help small olive oil producers. The olives were pressed and the oil handed back to the growers, who could then go to market and could compete with the big boys and get a fair price for their small amount of oil. The mill was eventually closed down in 1967 by a right-wing dictatorship who arrested and exiled the community leaders, and left the small producers unable to get their oil to market.

In the afternoon we made our way to Mytilini port to await our passengers. The winds were high as we watched the refugees, who’d made their way to the island on inflatable boats, try and hang on to their little tents pitched along the shoreline. It’s a sight that makes us very aware of the humanitarian crisis Europe (and the world) is facing.

Soon Rebecca arrived with five gorgeous dogs who are on their way to wonderful new homes in the UK. Their families are very excited and have been in regular contact with us. Rebecca and her volunteer colleagues at Lesvos animal friends look after and rehome many unwanted dogs and cats on Lesvos. They’ve teamed up with Wild at Heart to organise the rehoming of five dogs between them. Each dog is travelling on a separate Traces certificate as each is going to a separate address.

From the Lesvos team:

Billie is a mixed breed dog, who has been with the Lesvos rehoming group for a while. She’s on her way to Joanne in Sheffield.

Sammy is another mixed breed whose new home is the Brighton Rocks Restaurant and Bar in Brighton, with Jane and her family. En route, we’ll be teaching Sammy how to take orders and how to make a Brighton Rock Sundae!

Demetri is off to live with Jules and Kate in Northampton, who say: “We are very excited about getting Demetri finally ‘home’ It’s been a while since we saw him in Lesvos — hope he hasn’t grown too big!!!”

And from Wild at Heart:

Randall is going to Ali and her husband who, like all good owners, wanted to know how the journey works and are looking forward to seeing photos of Randall along the way.

Hector (to be renamed Ben) is on his way to Jonathan in Reigate, just a few miles from courier J, so maybe we’ll meet out walking!

You can see photos of Randall and Hector, and other lovely dogs looking for new homes, on the Wild at Heart adoption page — these two are at the foot of the page.

After a slight concern that we wouldn’t get kennels for the dogs on the ferry to the mainland, we were finally allowed on board and were allocated three big kennels. With Rebecca’s help, we got all the dogs organised and then we were ready for the off.

Christos negotiating with the freight department to get a good rate for our van on the ferry to Lesvos. We rely on Christos and Panos of Hellas Ferries to help with all our ferry needs between Italy and Greece, and around the Greek islands.

Christos negotiating with the freight department to get a good rate for our van on the ferry to Lesvos. We rely on Christos and Panos of Hellas Ferries to help with all our ferry needs between Italy and Greece, and around the Greek islands.

The former olive oil mill, now a beautifully restored working museum of oil production on Lesvos

The former olive oil mill, now a beautifully restored working museum of oil production on Lesvos

Olives are roughly crushed in the mill, and the resulting pulp is sewn into sacks and taken to the press

Olives are roughly crushed in the mill, and the resulting pulp is sewn into sacks and taken to the press

The sacks of pulp are pressed…

The sacks of pulp are pressed…

…and the resulting oil drains into the settlement tanks, the sediment sinking to the bottom

…and the resulting oil drains into the settlement tanks, the sediment sinking to the bottom

The oil is then put through the centrifuge for final clarification

The oil is then put through the centrifuge for final clarification

Storage facilities at the oil mill

Storage facilities at the oil mill

Courier J heads into an interesting-looking shop — she came out bearing olive oil, Lesvos honey and olive oil soap

Courier J heads into an interesting-looking shop — she came out bearing olive oil, Lesvos honey and olive oil soap

Refugees' tents at Mytilini

Refugees’ tents at Mytilini

Some of the boats they arrived in

Some of the boats they arrived in

Rebecca with Randall and Hector

Rebecca with Randall and Hector

Rebecca puts name tags on Billie and Demetri

Rebecca puts name tags on Billie and Demetri

Medallions to be attached to the dogs' collars, said to ward off the evil eye

Medallions to be attached to the dogs’ collars, said to ward off the evil eye

Our van driving up the gangplank

Our van driving up the gangplank

Courier M and Rebecca getting our charges settled in for the crossing, including topping up water bowls

Courier M and Rebecca getting our charges settled in for the crossing, including topping up water bowls

Randall and Hector sharing a room

Randall and Hector sharing a room

A cute look from Demetri

A cute look from Demetri

Arriving in Greece with Beau and Bumble; and meeting some of the locals

Animalcouriers reached the Greek port of Igoumenitsa by ferry from Italy and motored straight on down to Athens to reunite Beau and Bumble with their owners.

Meanwhile, courier J flew in to Athens to take over from courier Mike for the remainder of the trip. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at a taverna overlooking the water before waving him off.

Not long now before we meet the first of the cats and dogs who’re joining us for the trip back to the UK.

We got a shady, airy spot on the ferry for our van, which meant the dogs could comfortably stay in their travel compartments, rather than moving to the on-board kennels.

We got a shady, airy spot on the ferry for our van, which meant the dogs could comfortably stay in their travel compartments, rather than moving to the on-board kennels.

Staffie Beau steps out into the Greek sunshine

Staffie Beau steps out into the Greek sunshine

Like Beau, Labrador Bumble found the Greek temperatures quite high — both dogs were pleased to get back into our air-conditioned van!

Like Beau, Labrador Bumble found the Greek temperatures quite high — both dogs were pleased to get back into our air-conditioned van!

At Athens airport courier J found that all bus tickets were free of charge — no surprise then that it was standing room only!

At Athens airport courier J found that all bus tickets were free of charge — no surprise then that it was standing room only!

‎Happy little Beau is even happier now he has rejoined his owner Katie. We met her in Pireus port as the reunited pair are travelling on to the beautiful island of Rhodes.

‎Happy little Beau is even happier now he has rejoined his owner Katie. We met her in Pireus port as the reunited pair are travelling on to the beautiful island of Rhodes.

‎Bumble is a girl who knows what she wants so when she has an itch she gets it scratched.

‎Bumble is a girl who knows what she wants so when she has an itch she gets it scratched.

Last, but by no means least, miss Bumble was greeted by an enthusiastic family in Athens. Bumble, by the way, is eating a chew and not smoking a cigar.

Last, but by no means least, miss Bumble was greeted by an enthusiastic family in Athens. Bumble, by the way, is eating a chew and not smoking a cigar.

A last evening meal in the sun by the beach for courier Mike before heading back to the colder climes of Yorkshire

A last evening meal in the sun by the beach for courier Mike before heading back to the colder climes of Yorkshire

Fresh local prawns, what a treat

Fresh local prawns, what a treat

It wasn't long before we were joined by some of the locals

It wasn’t long before we were joined by some of the locals

A closer look at this pretty tortie-and-white girl

A closer look at this pretty tortie-and-white girl

One ginger fellow was more daring than the others…

One ginger fellow was more daring than the others…

… got up on his hind legs and tapped courier M on the arm to remind him he was there!

… got up on his hind legs and tapped courier M on the arm to remind him he was there!

Delivering Jasper, Daisy, Milly and Booby in Greece; and Monte, Scotty, Atlas, Baloo and Vali get on board for the UK

When Animalcouriers arrived in Greece we were disappointed to find the car ferry timetable for our proposed route to Skiathos, to deliver Daisy and Jasper, had been changed! So with a bit of quick thinking, we decided that courier Mike could take the two cats on the Flying Dolphin seacat, while courier J stayed behind in charge of the van. Quite an adventure for these two curious cats, but they took it all in their stride and were delivered safely to their owners Siobhan and Stu.

When we delivered little Yorkie Milly to Bruno and his wife, it took her only a few seconds to realise she was back in her owners’ arms. Her trip started out in South America so it’s been a while since the family have seen each other. Milly was wriggling and squealing so excitedly at being reunited, her owners could barely hold on to her!

We met Freya in Piraeus Port to deliver her dog Booby to her and it was hard to say which of them was more excited. Freya and Booby then boarded the ferry to Crete for their summer holidays, helped by courier Mike who carried their luggage. Freya managed to book a pet-friendly cabin for the overnight crossing with a bed each for her and Booby.

Last night we met up with Cordelia and her husband Pavlos who brought us Monte and Scotty. These two cats are relocating to England to join their owner Caroline, and Cordelia has been looking after them as Caroline has already moved back. Monte has a chronic condition which means he always has a runny nose! So we have a special box of tissues handy. Amazingly, he’s quite happy to sit still and have his nose wiped! We’re really looking forward to sharing the antics of these character cats.

Before leaving Athens this morning we collected Bull Terrier Atlas. His owner Stelios got married last Saturday and has relocated from Athens with his bride to Exeter. As you can imagine, it’s all been a bit hectic for Stelios, organising a wedding as well as getting Atlas ready to travel. Fortunately his mum and brother could step in and take care of Atlas until we arrived.

While in Glyfada we also met up with beautiful Golden Retriever Baloo, who’s been looked after by her grandparents since her owner Irene relocated to England for work. Baloo has already shown us her sociable, friendly personality ‎which we know is a typical Golden trait.

En route to Igoumenitsa port, we diverted to a garage/coffee to rendez-vous with super fluffy Vali. She’s off to join her owner Christos who’s working in London. His family are very proud of him — something to do with Google, Olaf said.

Mike boarding the seacat with his precious feline cargo

Mike boarding the seacat with his precious feline cargo

Siobhan making sure there's no risk of handing Daisy and Jasper over to the wrong person!

Siobhan making sure there’s no risk of handing Daisy and Jasper over to the wrong person!

Stu and Siobhan with their cats safely delivered

Stu and Siobhan with their cats safely delivered

Daisy saying goodbye to courier Mike, with Jasper behind

Daisy saying goodbye to courier Mike, with Jasper behind

Siobhan and Stu have already sent photos of how well the cats are settling in — here's Daisy looking pretty chilled out…

Siobhan and Stu have already sent photos of how well the cats are settling in — here’s Daisy looking pretty chilled out…

…and Jasper practising monorail snoozing

…and Jasper practising monorail snoozing

The happiest of reunions for Milly and her owners who've been apart for a while

The happiest of reunions for Milly and her owners who’ve been apart for a while

Milly makes a late entry for the 'longest tongue' competition (in between all the hugs and kisses)

Milly makes a late entry for the ‘longest tongue’ competition (in between all the hugs and kisses)

Booby overjoyed to be back with Freya and looking forward to their summer in Crete

Booby overjoyed to be back with Freya and looking forward to their summer in Crete

Heading towards the ferry to Crete, courier Mike helps with the luggage while Booby clamours for Freya's attention

Heading towards the ferry to Crete, courier Mike helps with the luggage while Booby clamours for Freya’s attention

Pavlos and Cordelia bringing Monte and Scotty, with the help of courier Mike

Pavlos and Cordelia bringing Monte and Scotty, with the help of courier Mike

Monte (L) and Scotty (R) very keen to know what's going on around them

Monte (L) and Scotty (R) very keen to know what’s going on around them

Handsome and confident, Scotty soon settles in for the ride

Handsome and confident, Scotty soon settles in for the ride

Monte with his tissue box handy!

Monte with his tissue box handy!

Bull Terrier Atlas with his uncle and grandma

Bull Terrier Atlas with his uncle and grandma

A closer look at handsome Atlas

A closer look at handsome Atlas

Baloo with her doting grandparents

Baloo with her doting grandparents

What a pretty girl she is!

What a pretty girl she is!

Spyros with beautiful Vali (short for Valentine)

Spyros with beautiful Vali (short for Valentine)

Olaf with Vali

Olaf with Vali

Renaming our van ‘the Argo’ as we leave Athens with Jason, Hector, Ririkos, Bilia, Boxoh, Dusty, Zarly and Pouca on board

Kiki, Martha, Marguerita and other dear friends, we miss you! The Greek government has placed a halt on the movement of rescued pets out of Greece. So six dogs and cats who were due to travel with us to wonderful new homes in the UK now have to wait — or may never even be allowed to travel.

TRACES certificates are a legal and reliable way of recording the movement of rescued and rehomed dogs and cats from one EU member state to another. But sadly for many dogs and cats, Greece has withdrawn TRACES certificates. We (and many others) are hoping it’s just a temporary measure and that the certificates will soon be available again. After all, they are an EU directive and all member states should fall in line, including Greece.

As always, however, we have pets joining our trip who are travelling to rejoin their owners. Yesterday we collected Pouca, whose odyssey took her from Chios via a number of other islands to meet us in Athens.

Hector — all 55kg of him — is named after the Trojan prince and mighty warrior who features in the Iliad. Hector is all those things and handsome too! He’s travelling with Jason, named after the Greek hero who made an epic voyage on his ship, the Argo, to rescue the Golden Fleece. Owner Elias named him Jason because he was originally a street dog and a wanderer. Their feline companion, Ririkos, was a street cat who adopted Elias and his family many years ago.

Frances brought us Boxoh, a Chihuahua, and Bilia, who has a Griffon look. The two dogs belong to Ioannis who’s moving with his wife to Basingstoke, to be with their daughter Lila. The trip has been planned for months, and now at last the day has come for the dogs to travel, so Ioannis can fly out to join his wife and daughter.

Next on board was cat Dusty, who moved with her owner Lisa to Athens about a year ago. Now the time has come for them both to return to the UK.

Last but not least we have Poodle Zarly, who belongs to Stelios and his family. They’ve been keeping an eye on our blog and our trip timetable, waiting for an opportunity to send for little Zarly.

Elias with Hector (L) and Jason (R). Jason looks to be planning his next trip. Left towards the ocean, or right towards the railway?

Elias with Hector (L) and Jason (R). Jason looks to be planning his next trip. Left towards the ocean, or right towards the railway?

A closer look at gentle giant Hector

A closer look at gentle giant Hector

Ririkos, feline friend to Hector and Jason

Ririkos, feline friend to Hector and Jason

Courier M (L) with Bizou, and Frances (R) holding little

Courier M (L) with Bilia, and Frances (R) holding little Boxoh

Bizou is a lovely friendly fellow

Bilia is a lovely friendly hound

Little Bilia was quivering so much her holdall was rattling!

Little Boxoh was quivering so much her holdall was rattling!

But with lots of cuddles, Bilia was finally persuaded to emerge, looking very waggy tailed. Oh, it's not so bad, she seems to be saying — and I have Bizou to look after me.

But with lots of cuddles, Boxoh was finally persuaded to emerge, looking very waggy tailed. Oh, it’s not so bad, she seems to be saying — and I have Bilia to look after me.

Lisa brings us her cat Dusty for the journey

Lisa brings us her cat Dusty for the journey

Wonder what's caught Dusty's attention?

Wonder what’s caught Dusty’s attention?

Nick and Eutuheia bring us Mini Poodle Zarly

Nick and Eutuheia bring us Mini Poodle Zarly

Pretty Zarly is looking forward to being reunited with her family

Pretty Zarly is looking forward to being reunited with her family

Limpet joins us in Nice; Snoopy, Billy and Charlie get on board in Toulouse

As Animalcouriers headed through Italy from Ancona towards Genoa, we found ourselves passing lots of heavy snow deposits. Concerned at the amount of snow around, we decided to keep going until we’d got past it all to avoid any holdups. So it was into the wee small hours when we reached the southern French city of Nice, and found our hotel next to the airport. The hotel kindly ‘impounded’ our van in their secure staff car park while we and our passengers got some well deserved rest.

We woke to a cool but beautiful morning and, once walks and breakfasts were done, we went to meet Graham in Nice. His fantastically named cat Limpet has joined us for his journey to Elgin in Scotland, where Graham’s brother is looking forward to welcoming him.

From Nice we continued west to the Narbonne area where we spent the night with friends. This morning saw us in Toulouse where we collected handsome Dalmation Snoopy and his feline companions Billy and Charlie. These three firm friends are relocating to Bristol, where their owners’ work with Airbus has taken them.

Snowy scenes in Italy persuaded us to keep motoring

Snowy scenes in Italy persuaded us to keep motoring

View over Nice airport yesterday morning

View over Nice airport yesterday morning

Graham brings us Limpet

Graham brings us Limpet

Limpet having a good look around

Limpet having a good look around

Poppi and Philomena are taking travelling in their stride

Poppi and Philomena are taking travelling in their stride

Narla is such an affectionate, fubsy cat — a female ginger which is quite a rarity

Narla is such an affectionate, fubsy cat — a female ginger which is quite a rarity

We stopped at the Eco'park in Mougins where we spent a very pleasant time walking the dogs. Robbie seemed particularly taken with the congenial surroundings.

We stopped at the Eco’park in Mougins where we spent a very pleasant time walking the dogs. Robbie seemed particularly taken with the congenial surroundings.

Silva is a soft, bouncy and cuddly girl

Silva is a soft, bouncy and cuddly girl

Daisy loves to feel the grass between her toes

Daisy loves to feel the grass between her toes

Pretty Minou is a very dainty girl

Pretty Minou is a very dainty girl

Now that Louis has had a chance to get used to us, he's keen to show us how much he likes playing

Now that Louis has had a chance to get used to us, he’s keen to show us how much he likes playing

Peabody, know by his family as 'Boy', is another very playful character. In his case, it's mainly footie with his water bowl. We can hear banging and thumping as he scores heroic goals!

Peabody, know by his family as ‘Boy’, is another very playful character. In his case, it’s mainly footie with his water bowl. We can hear banging and thumping as he scores heroic goals!

Lady having the sort of bad hair day that Cockers sometimes do

Lady having the sort of bad hair day that Cockers sometimes do

Lady was a little nervous out walking on the first day, but now it's all 'come on, Fidel, I'll show you the way!'

Lady was a little nervous out walking on the first day, but now it’s all ‘come on, Fidel, I’ll show you the way!’

And Fidel is happy to oblige

And Fidel is happy to oblige

Billie checking us out on our arrival in Toulouse

Billie checking us out on our arrival in Toulouse

Snoopy with Nic, who handed him and the cats to us on behalf of Alison

Snoopy with Nic, who handed him and the cats to us on behalf of Alison

Snoopy shows us his best camera pose

Snoopy shows us his best camera pose

Charlie is a very chilled-out girl who settled in like a pro

Charlie is a very chilled-out girl who settled in like a pro

Meet Peabody, Fidel, Lady, Milou, Poppi, Philomena, Daisy, Robbie, Narla, Silva and Louis from Greece

Animalcouriers travelled from Italy to Greece and arrived to the unusual sight of snow in Patras. We drove on to Athens, where the first passenger to get on board was Champion Mini Bull Terrier Peabody. He’s off to England in time for Crufts, and we wish him lots of luck. John and Clare breed and show these lovely dogs.

Next up were Fidel and Lady, a lively pair of Spaniels who belong to Dimitri. He’s gone on ahead to England, leaving his dogs in the care of his parents, who brought them to us at the Palace Hotel.

Stavros brought us his cute dog Milou, as they and Anni are off to live and work in Scotland. Stavros’s sister Angeliki is already there — her dog Suzana travelled with us last October.

Cordelia and Anya came to our hotel with two gorgeous cats, Poppi and Philomena. Anya has been fostering them and was sad to see them go, but is pleased to think they have lovely new homes to go to. And finally, Marta and Kiki from the Filozoikos Shelter arrived with lovely black-and-white dog Daisy, who has a new home waiting for her in the UK.

From Athens we headed to Volos Port to meet Andrea and Tom, their dog Robbie and cat Narla. They’ve spent five wonderful years on Skiathos, but now the time has come to go back to the UK. Then it was off to Thessaloniki — an earlier accident on the motorway held us up, but we finally caught up with Ilias and his dog Silva, a cuddly brown and black terrier. There was just time for a quick hug before Ilias  had to dash off to catch his plane to Newcastle, where Afroditi is waiting for Ilias and Silva to join her.

The last passenger to board was Louis, a Boxer cross, who was lucky enough to be adopted by Tracy while she was living and working in Greece. Now on their way to the UK, Louis is travelling with us while Tracy takes the plane.

Patras in the snow

Patras in the snow

Goodbye hugs for Peabody from John's mum

Goodbye hugs for Peabody from John’s mum

Fidel and Lady get a great send-off

Fidel and Lady get a great send-off

Pretty Milou shows us her fine profile

Pretty Milou shows us her fine profile

Milou gets a big goodbye cuddle

Milou gets a big goodbye cuddle

Cordelia and Anya with Poppi and Philomena, the cats Anya has been fostering

Cordelia and Anya with Poppi and Philomena, the cats Anya has been fostering

Cordelia shared this lovely photo of Poppi (L) and Philomena (R) relaxing at Anya and Alesa's home

Cordelia shared this lovely photo of Poppi (L) and Philomena (R) relaxing at Anya and Alesa’s home

Martha with Daisy. Not sure which is more luminous — Martha's shoes or Daisy's collar!

Martha with Daisy. Not sure which is more luminous — Martha’s shoes or Daisy’s collar!

Lovely Daisy sports a signature Filozoikos hand-made collar

Lovely Daisy sports a signature Filozoikos hand-made collar

Kiki and Cordelia having a chat about TRACES

Kiki and Cordelia having a chat about TRACES

Tom trying to persuade Robbie to sit and smile for the camera

Tom trying to persuade Robbie to sit and smile for the camera

Success this time around!

Success this time around!

Narla watching the whole performance

Narla watching the whole performance

Narla calmly settled in for the journey

Narla calmly settled in for the journey

Ilias cuddling Silva

Ilias cuddling Silva

Tracy saying goodbye to Louis

Tracy saying goodbye to Louis

We left Greece from the port of Igoumenitsa, where we were cheered to be reminded of how the street dogs are tolerated — and even looked after — by the port authorities. Everyone had to step around this sleeping hound to get their tickets!

We left Greece from the port of Igoumenitsa, where we were cheered to be reminded of how the street dogs are tolerated — and even looked after — by the port authorities. Everyone had to step around this sleeping hound to get their tickets!

We arrived at the Italian port of Ancona and, when we stopped nearby to walk the dogs, the heavens opened! Milou jumped straight back into the van and into the driver's seat!

We arrived at the Italian port of Ancona and, when we stopped nearby to walk the dogs, the heavens opened! Milou jumped straight back into the van and into the driver’s seat!

Heading towards Genoa to try and avoid the snow in Italy, we felt quite peckish. Fortunately we had those lovely biscuits from Kiki and Marta to hand...

Heading towards Genoa to try and avoid the snow in Italy, we felt quite peckish. Fortunately we had those lovely biscuits from Kiki and Marta to hand…