Happy reunions in the UK, and Lucy finds her forever home

As soon as Animalcouriers reached Dover, the pets who had travelled from Greece started heading off to rejoin their families in various parts of the UK.

Courier Dave took Sugar, Jack and Berti in to London; while Courier Rickie set off northwards, taking Dexter to Chester, Lilly to Newcastle, Niko to Livingstone, and Souki and Diego to Edinburgh.

Dexter’s owner Ian wrote to say:

“Dexter and Pat and I are now tired! What an eventful first 12 hours. Our two girls (Nell and Honor) have their noses slightly out of joint but they’ll get there! Dexter just came in, made himself at home and has bonded immediately — he’s my shadow!”

Lilly’s owner, Jacqui, was also quick to get in touch:

“Lilly arrived at my daughter’s safely last night and as you can see has settled in her favourite scruffy bed!!! Thank you to you all for taking such good care of her throughout her journey — you are absolute stars!!! We can’t wait to see her next week and finally settle her into her new home. Thank you all once again — you have been great.”

We forgot to hand over Lilly’s travel box, but Jacqui very kindly asked us to donate it to Nine Lives Greece next time we go to Athens.

Maria and Angelo let us know how pleased they were to be reunited with their dogs, Souki and Diego:

“We want to thank you for delivering our dogs secure and healthy. We don’t have many things to say, just a big fat Greek thank you! Bless everyone of you!!”

Couriers J and M delivered Phantom and Gismo at Thurrock Services on the M25, then continued on to Peterborough to deliver the puppies, Bear, Bella, Zeus and Hercules, to their foster home with Wendy, along with Lucy.

Animalcouriers sponsored Lucy’s trip from Lesvos. She so nearly had a new home, which fell through, not once but twice. We couldn’t leave her behind — after all, there was a bedroom in our van with her name on the door — so she joined the trip. And thanks to our good friend Jenny Fox of Naughty Pets, who posted Lucy’s story on facebook, Lucy now has a new home in Guernsey! Courier J will have the pleasure of escorting Lucy to Guernsey next weekend.

Courier Rickie with Niko, just before setting off

Courier Rickie with Niko, just before setting off

Dexter making himself at home

Dexter making himself at home

Dexter throwing up a few zeds

Dexter throwing up a few zeds

Niko gets a very warm welcome at his new home

Niko gets a very warm welcome at his new home

What a fuzzy fellow he is!

What a fuzzy fellow he is!

Niko all tuckered out

Niko all tuckered out

Lilly on her favourite bed

Lilly on her favourite bed

Lilly exploring her temporary home

Lilly exploring her temporary home

We met Liana at Thurrock Services, who was very excited to receive Phantom

We met Liana at Thurrock Services, who was very excited to receive Phantom

Sophia had been very anxious about Gismo, and was delighted to have him back in her arms

Sophia had been very anxious about Gismo, and was delighted to have him back in her arms

Jack surveying his new kingdom after a long walk in the park, where he's already made some new friends

Jack surveying his new kingdom after a long walk in the park, where he’s already made some new friends

The pups at Wendy's home — this is Zeus…

The pups at Wendy’s home — this is Zeus…

… and here's Bella

… and here’s Bella

And here's Wendy with Bear and Hercules

And here’s Wendy with Bear and Hercules

Lucy with a new friend at Wendy's house

Lucy with a new friend at Wendy’s house

Heading through autumnal Swiss landscapes as we make for the UK

Animalcouriers continued north towards the UK, stopping off at Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, which is a super place to walk dogs. As well as lots of new smells to enjoy, there were plenty of waterbird cries to attract their attention.

We then continued on through France, and spent four hours getting through all the layers of security at the port before we could board our ferry to Dover. Once we reach the UK, our passengers will head off in different directions with various couriers, to be reunited with their families.

It’s been quite a challenging trip in some ways, especially at the Greek end. Greece was already being torn apart by its own financial and social issues, and the situation is now compounded by the humanitarian crisis that sees thousands of refugees arriving on Lesvos and nearby islands every day. Reeling under the pressure of it all, Greek ferry and transport workers stage 24-hour flash strikes, which add to the chaos.

As we left Athens on Saturday, crowds of people were picketing the toll booths. When we pulled up to pay, a scared-looking attendant just waved us through. At Igoumenitsa port, it was peaceful, but we later heard that the long delay to our boat was caused by an intensive search for suspected stowaways. We never felt personally threatened — the crowds were generally quiet and orderly, and we always have the tightest security around our van at all times.

Lake Lucerne, where the dogs enjoyed autumnal walks

Lake Lucerne, where the dogs enjoyed autumnal walks

These sheep came to greet us as we walked dogs by the side of Lake Lucerne. As you probably know, they provide the blue milk which is traditionally used to create the blue veins in various types of Swiss blue cheese. They're also shorn annually to provide the knitting wool for smurf hats.

These sheep came to greet us as we walked dogs by the side of Lake Lucerne. As you probably know, they provide the blue milk which is traditionally used to create the blue veins in various types of Swiss blue cheese. They’re also shorn annually to provide the knitting wool for smurf hats.

What's that? wonders Jacq, as he catches sight of the blue sheep…

What’s that? wonders Jacq, as he catches sight of the blue sheep…

…and wanders towards them for a better look

…and wanders towards them for a better look

Niko went up close and personal…

Niko went up close and personal…

…then got distracted by waterbirds flying overhead

…then got distracted by waterbirds flying overhead

Sugar poses in the autumn leaves

Sugar poses in the autumn leaves

Dexter looks for yet more love from courier M

Dexter looks for yet more love from courier M

Look into my eyes, says Lucy. Willingly! say we.

Look into my eyes, says Lucy. Willingly! say we.

Souki and Diego, a very relaxed pair, exchange friendly greetings with Berti

Souki and Diego, a very relaxed pair, exchange friendly greetings with Berti

 

Pretty Carrie, one of Carol's cats, is a rather shy girl, but she showed her face at teatime!

Pretty Carrie, one of Carol’s cats, is a rather shy girl, but she showed her face at teatime!

Leaving late from Greece, and receiving a warm welcome at our hotel in Italy

After collecting our final Greek passenger, Niko, Animalcouriers headed to Igoumenitsa port to make the crossing to Italy. It’s always a nail-biting time, checking in with the port authorities, but it all went off politely and we were nodded through to the port.

Our ferry was due to leave at 23.30. It eventually turned up at 05.00, and we were finally moving by 05.45. It’s a long crossing to Italy, so the engineers put up with courier J’s demands to see the dogs and cats, so she could check they were cool and keep them fed and watered. There’s a new airflow system in our van that works off an ancillary battery which lasts 26 hours, which is the length of the crossing.

When we reached Ancona, we headed to one of our favourite hotels, A3PAssi, owned by Antonella and her father Antonio. It’s an agricultural hotel (agriturismo) with private parking, endless olive groves, and lovely lanes for dog-walking.

We arrived so late the restaurant and hotel were shut, but a tray of bread and cold cuts, yogurt, apricot tart, and a bottle of house wine had been left out for us. What’s more, the car park and lane lights were on, there was water in the standpipe, and a key in the door. An amazing welcome despite no-one being around!

From over 11,000 olive trees of different varieties, the family produces a range of award-winning oils. Antonio maintains that the quality of the oil is down to the processes they use from the growing, to the picking, pressing and processing, through to bottling.

Their restaurant, La Tavola, offers traditional local cuisine made from fresh, top quality, organic ingredients, cooked with a lot of passion and a pinch of creativity.

We sampled (and bought) bottles of Antonio’s World No 1 Ascolana oil, a rare and valuable oil that has a strong fruity flavour with a hint of tomato leaves. Antonio gave us instructions on how to gently heat and consume this wonderful elixir.

A crate of A3Passi's award-winning olives

A crate of A3Passi’s award-winning olives

A closer look at the fruit

Olives waiting in line for the extraction process

Olives waiting in line for the extraction process

Organic produce from the farm, just crying out to be sampled

Organic produce from the farm, just crying out to be sampled

 As we went back and forth with the dogs, our paths crossed with farm trailers coming and going at what is a very busy harvest time

As we went back and forth with the dogs, our paths crossed with farm trailers coming and going at what is a very busy harvest time

Some olives are left to ripen further, and will be bottled with garlic and herbs

Some olives are left to ripen further, and will be bottled with garlic and herbs

Banks of bright chrysanthemums are interspersed with the crops

Banks of bright chrysanthemums are interspersed with the crops

Antonio always comes over to say hello — here he is checking that we'd enjoyed last night's picnic supper

Antonio always comes over to say hello — here he is checking that we’d enjoyed last night’s picnic supper

The lanes around the farm and the lush grassy slopes around the olive trees are a perfect environment for excellent dog walks.

Diego

Diego

Souki

Souki

Niko

Niko

Berti

Berti

Maya

Maya

Lucy

Lucy

Sugar

Sugar

Jacq

Jacq

Dexter

Dexter

Phantom, so-called because of her masked face

Phantom, so-called because of her masked face

Arizona, who's always ready to play

Arizona, who’s always ready to play

Lily enjoying watching all the comings and goings

Lily enjoying watching all the comings and goings

Gismo looking very demure

Gismo looking very demure

Two pups

Two pups

Two more pups

Two more pups

The puppies are travelling in pairs, in side-by-side compartments. They need cleaning out at least twice a day, so we pop all four in together while we do one compartment, then repeat the process for the second compartment. Here they are all having a big drink together.

The puppies are travelling in pairs, in side-by-side compartments. They need cleaning out at least twice a day, so we pop all four in together while we do one compartment, then repeat the process for the second compartment. Here they are all having a big drink together.

Ziggy, Honey, Raj and Islay join our trip to the UK

When couriers M and Mike turned up for their ferry crossing from Italy to Greece, strike action meant a 24-hour delay. To avoid passing that delay on to all our passengers, courier Mike turned back to start collecting UK-bound pets in Italy and France.

Gorgeous Ziggy and her owners have been apart for 10 months. Now it's time for them to be reunited, as Ziggy follows her owners from Rome to South Wales.

Gorgeous Ziggy and her owners have been apart for 10 months. Now it’s time for them to be reunited, as Ziggy follows her owners from Rome to South Wales.

Sweet Honey is relocating from Monte San Savino to Nottinghamshire. Honey was an abandoned puppy in a car park — until Julia turned up. When Julia opened her car door, clever Honey jumped straight in! That was 10 years ago, and now she and Julia are exchanging Italy for the English countryside.

Sweet Honey is relocating from Monte San Savino to Nottinghamshire. Honey was an abandoned puppy in a car park — until Julia turned up. When Julia opened her car door, clever Honey jumped straight in! That was 10 years ago, and now she and Julia are exchanging Italy for the English countryside.

Raj is a gracious older lady, who is travelling from Sabaudia to be reunited with her owner in London.

Raj is a gracious older lady, who is travelling from Sabaudia to be reunited with her owner in London.

Lovely Islay is moving from Grasse in France, and will be catching up with her owners next week in Sussex. Here she is checking out her accommodation for the journey.

Lovely Islay is moving from Grasse in France, and will be catching up with her owners next week in Sussex. Here she is checking out her accommodation for the journey.

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

Luka, Echo and North from France join our trip; and the first reunions take place in the UK

As Animalcouriers headed through France towards the UK, we stopped off to collect our final passengers. Gorgeous puss Luka is travelling from Cagnes sur Mer in Provence to Wolverhampton, where he’ll rejoin his owner who’s flown on ahead.

And near Lyon we met Laurent, who breeds beautiful Siberian Huskies. We collected two puppies from him, Echo and North, who are on their way to their owner Matthew in the north of England.

Lovely Luka

Lovely Luka

Husky pups Echo and North

Husky pups Echo and North

Neither Husky pup has ever been on a lead before…

Neither Husky pup has ever been on a lead before…

…must…get…rid…of…this…thing!

…must…get…rid…of…this…thing!

IMG_20150927_111753_edit

Handsome Corby from Crete

Tasha, Corby's companion, with courier Mike

Tasha, Corby’s companion, with courier Mike

Ringo looking like a traffic cop — turn left please!

Ringo looking like a traffic cop — turn left please!

Rex standing tall

Rex standing tall

Alfie and Scruff became great mates on the trip. Alfie is only four months old and we think he really appreciated having Scruff as a chum.

Alfie and Scruff became great mates on the trip. Alfie is only four months old and we think he really appreciated having Scruff as a chum.

Pretty Zouzou waiting her turn for a walk

Pretty Zouzou waiting her turn for a walk

Despite her deafness, Boo is an incredibly responsive dog

Despite her deafness, Boo is an incredibly responsive dog

At 15 years old, Diego is the senior member of our passenger list — but still going strong!

At 15 years old, Diego is the senior member of our passenger list — but still going strong!

Aris, keen we should catch his best side!

Aris, keen we should catch his best side!

And once we were back in the UK, the reunions began almost immediately. First up were Aris and Ioannis, and Zouzou and Maria.

Ioannis (John) with Aris — both were so pleased to see each other again

Ioannis (John) with Aris — both were so pleased to see each other again

A delighted Maria and Zouzou — they hadn't seen each other since May

A delighted Maria and Zouzou — they hadn’t seen each other since May

Collecting Nacho, Jack Sparrow, Charlie, Carmella and Zeva in Italy

The ferry from the Greek port of Igoumenitsa to Italy arrived late, and our favourite hotel in Ancona was already fully booked. We had to work quite hard to find an alternative that offered secure parking and somewhere to walk the dogs. After a couple of false starts, we lucked out with La Cantina di Ale, which ticked all the boxes. At this hotel and pizzeria, the pizzas were wonderful —thin and light with delicious toppings, and such a huge diameter that they have to order special plates to fit!

The next morning we headed to Pescara to collect Nacho, who belongs to Dana and Bruce. They’ve already moved to Scotland, where a tartan welcome mat is doubtless being laid out., So we had a rendezvous with Dana’s sister Laura at the Pescara Ikea to collect Nacho.

From there it was a short hop to Vasto to collect Guisy’s three cats, Jack Sparrow, Charlie and Carmella. Guisy is relocating to London and, of course, her beloved cats are going too. Her Dad and her brother-in-law, Federico, came to see them off.

Our next stop was Genoa to meet up with Zeva, a beautiful Bracco Italiano puppy, bred by Maurice, who was very moved at parting with her. Zeva is off to live in Morpeth with Alex, who’s been waiting more than two months for Zeva to join her.

We were hoping to reach Calais tonight but the holiday traffic in Italy means the roads are choked and everything’s moving very slowly. So we think tomorrow is a more realistic ambition!

Awards on the walls of the Cantina di Ale's breakfast room. And in the kitchen, photos of chefs past and present and all their families. A super place where simplicity and good food prevail.

Awards on the walls of the Cantina di Ale’s breakfast room. And in the kitchen, photos of chefs past and present and all their families. A super place where simplicity and good food prevail.

Our hotel was on the outskirts of Recanati, about which the guides usually say 'Recanati is art, history, culture, music, faith and nature.' This is Palazzo Bello, the summer home of one of Italy's most famous poets, Giacomo Leopardi.

Our hotel was on the outskirts of Recanati, about which the guides usually say ‘Recanati is art, history, culture, music, faith and nature.’ This is Palazzo Bello, the summer home of one of Italy’s most famous poets, Giacomo Leopardi.

A plaque showing the opening stanza of Leopardi's best known work, Zibaldone, which reads, 'Palazzo Bello, a dog's bark in the night, comes from the farmhouse, with the passing traveller... ' Very apt as the farmhouse is now the Cantina di Ale!

A plaque showing the opening stanza of Leopardi’s best known work, Zibaldone, which reads, ‘Palazzo Bello, a dog’s bark in the night, comes from the farmhouse, with the passing traveller… ‘ Very apt as the farmhouse is now the Cantina di Ale!

 

The poor old palazzo really is crumbling away, but provided us with a lovely breezy hill-top walking spot for the dogs. Just as well, as it was already 92F at 7.30am!

The poor old palazzo really is crumbling away, but provided us with a lovely breezy hill-top walking spot for the dogs. Just as well, as it was already 92F at 7.30am!

Amazing what you can get at Ikea these days! Laura and her friend bring us Dana's cat Nacho.

Amazing what you can get at Ikea these days! Laura and her friend bring us Dana’s cat Nacho.

A closer look at friendly Nacho who loves a cuddle

A closer look at friendly Nacho who loves a cuddle

Jack Sparrow and Charlie are great mates

Jack Sparrow and Charlie are great mates

Jack Sparrow has amazing markings around his eyes

Jack Sparrow has amazing markings around his eyes

Handsome ginger-and-white Charlie

Handsome ginger-and-white Charlie

Carmella looking very snuggly in her bed

Carmella looking very snuggly in her bed

Maurice saying goodbye to puppy Zeva

Maurice saying goodbye to puppy Zeva

IMG_20150718_120942_edit

Lovely Lino shows us his fine profile

IMG_20150719_090759

Hector always seems to have a smile on his face

Sammy is also a smiley fellow

Sammy is also a smiley fellow

Neo very eager for his walk…

Neo very eager for his walk…

…and relaxing in a spot in the shade

…and relaxing in a spot in the shade

IMG_20150719_090838

Randall enjoying the fresh air

A winsome look from cute kitty Willow

A winsome look from cute kitty Willow

We think Gulliver is well named — very alert, always exploring his bedroom, and doubtless ready to research his next trip!

We think Gulliver is well named — very alert, always exploring his bedroom, and doubtless ready to research his next trip!

Zavia is gaining in confidence and happy to have a little chat. We love the ginger detail on her head and nose!

Zavia is gaining in confidence and happy to have a little chat. We love the ginger detail on her head and nose!

Pretty hot out on our walk — Lino was glad to get back for a cool drink of water

Pretty hot out on our walk — Lino was glad to get back for a cool drink of water

Billie is very lively and finds it hard to stand still

Billie is very lively and finds it hard to stand still

IMG_20150719_084711_edit

Judi is also a live wire. Here she is in the beautiful shady gardens of the Palazzo Bello

Demetris has 'cute' down to a T

Demetris has ‘cute’ down to a T

Reunions for Iorek, Tubbo, Bertie and Ted; and Bumble gets on board

Having delivered cats Willow and Teddy to their owners in Brittany, and Hector to his family near Paris, Animalcouriers headed for the border with Italy. We stopped near Geneva to collect Yellow Labrador Bumble, who’s been staying with Rowena and her Golden Retriever Rusty. Bumble is travelling with us to rejoin Jude, Roger and family, who’ve gone on ahead to Athens where Roger is working in shipping.

Once across the border, we stopped in Milan to deliver Iorek to Nadia, who welcomed him on behalf of Isabella, who’s following on from Birmingham. The whole family turned out to greet him!

Then it was on to the picturesque town of Monterchi in Tuscany, to reunite bewhiskered black-and-white puss Tubbo with Ian and family. Monterchi boast the only known depiction of a pregnant Madonna — unfortunately we couldn’t stop to see it, but fortunately Wikipedia came up trumps.

This morning we drove to Naples where we reunited Beagles Bertie and Ted with their owner Robert, who’s on an attachment with NATO. These lucky dogs are just a couple of minutes from the beach, and have a nature reserve on their doorstep that contains some ancient ruins. With their noses, perhaps they’ll sniff out some antique treasures!

Rusty, Bumble's temporary host — any excuse to post a picture of a Golden Retriever!

Rusty, Bumble’s temporary host — any excuse to post a picture of a Golden Retriever!

Bumble behind, Rusty in front, Rowena in between

Bumble behind, Rusty in front, Rowena in between

Bumble enjoying an evening leg stretch

Bumble enjoying an evening leg stretch

A joyful reunion for Iorek with his owner's sister Nadia and other members of the family

A joyful reunion for Iorek with his owner’s sister Nadia and other members of the family

Man versus pizza. Courier Mike was beaten hands down!

Man versus pizza. Courier Mike was beaten hands down!

Wonderful Tuscan countryside

Wonderful Tuscan countryside

We just had to get closer to those sunflowers!

We just had to get closer to those sunflowers!

Tubbo safely delivered to Ian. You know it’s Tubbo from those magnificent whiskers!

Bertie and Ted delighted to be back with Robert

Bertie and Ted delighted to be back with Robert

We've driven round some splendid roundabouts on this trip. This one in France…

We’ve driven round some splendid roundabouts on this trip. This one in France…

…and this one in Italy

…and this one in Italy

Leaving the UK with Hector, Harvey, Macchia, Iorek, Willow, Teddy, Tubbo, Bertie, Ted and Beau

Animalcouriers set off from the UK to Greece via France and Italy with gorgeous dogs and cats on board. We were lucky enough to have a few of them staying with us for a couple of nights beforehand, too.

One of our house guests was Hector, a handsome black Cocker Spaniel from south London. He’s off to join his owners who’ve relocated to the Paris area — they’ve gone on ahead to get everything ready for his arrival. Hector has unbelievable ball skills, and managed to keep a three-year-old boy amused for hours. Hector is a real joy to have around, always bouncy and happy and waggy tailed.

Best pals Harvey and Macchia have also been staying with us. This Black Lab and Italian Pointer travelled down from Cheshire and are off to Italy where owner Sally and her husband have a second home. Both are rescue dogs: Macchia found Sally when she was on one of her trips to Italy — Macchia is very attached to humans and loves cuddles. Harvey was attacked by another dog so he’s a little anxious on the lead, but loves playing ball almost as much as Hector.

Seven-year-old Iorek, a beautiful light-coloured German Shepherd dog is traveling with us from Birmingham back to Milan. His owner Isabella is still in England, so her sister Nadia will be waiting to roll out the red carpet. Iorek is travelling really well, despite Isabella’s fears he could be travel sick.

British Blue cats Willow and Teddy are relocating with their owners Nicky and David from Surrey to Brittany. Despite their slightly haughty demeanour, they are very confident, friendly cats. We’re sure they’ll love the countryside and open spaces that will be at their back door, and that they’ll become country cats in no time.

Black-and-white Tubbo is travelling with us from southern England to Arezzo in Italy to join his family, who’re already on their way there by car with their dog. In his younger days he was inclined to portliness, which is how he acquired his name. Now, however, he’s a fine figure of a cat and sports a splendid set of whiskers‎. One of the reasons his family asked us to transport him is because he makes a lot of noise in the car. We must say, however, that we’ve barely heard a peep from him. This may well be because travelling in our van is a very different experience from the car journeys most cats are used to, which involve going to the vet in a small cat carrier, with a view of the world rushing past the window. This can be rather disconcerting for them so, next time you take your cat to the vet, try draping a cloth over the carrier to help him or her to stay calm.

Almost identical Beagles Bertie and Ted seem to operate as a single unit. They’re relocating from Cheshire to the Naples area, where they will doubtless waste no time putting their noses to the ground to show off their sniffing and snuffling skills to the locals. Owner Robert has gone on ahead and is really looking forward to being reunited with his dogs. However they’ll be very much missed by his Mum and Dad who’ve been doing a great job of dog sitting.

Little Beau is a typical friendly Staffie who loves people. We met her just hours before the trip set off and there’s little doubt we’ll be best friends with her by the time we reach Piraeus port in Athens, which is where we’re meeting up with her owners Kate and family. They’ve relocated from London to beautiful Rhodes, which will be a very different place indeed for them all to live. ‎

Hector can throw as well as catch the ball. Here he is waiting patiently for help to get the ball out from under a cupboard.

Hector can throw as well as catch the ball. Here he is waiting patiently for help to get the ball out from under a cupboard.

Hector and his three-year old friend sharpen their ball skills

Hector and his three-year old friend sharpen their ball skills

The promise of a treat enabled us to get all three of our houseguests in one shot, along with housedog Pugsley (aka Superbeast). Pugsley is at the back, then Harvey, Macchia and Hector at the front. So keen, even the balls were put down!

The promise of a treat enabled us to get all three of our houseguests in one shot, along with housedog Pugsley (aka Superbeast). Pugsley is at the back, then Harvey, Macchia and Hector at the front. So keen, even the balls were put down!

Hector enjoys a sunny walk

Hector enjoys a sunny walk

Harvey is the senior dog on this trip and likes to keep everyone in order

Harvey is the senior dog on this trip and likes to keep everyone in order

Macchia is very affectionate and loves a fuss

Macchia is very affectionate and loves a fuss

Courier Mike with handsome floofy Lorek

Courier Mike with handsome floofy Iorek

A closer look at that noble head

A closer look at that noble head

Lorek posing by the broad beans

Iorek posing by the broad beans

Gorgeous Willow, looking just a tad grumpy at being woken up for a photoshoot

Gorgeous Willow, looking just a tad grumpy at being woken up for a photoshoot

Willow decides to grin and bear it

Willow decides to grin and bear it

Willow's equally gorgeous companion, Teddy

Willow’s equally gorgeous companion, Teddy

Storm welcomes Willow and Teddy to their new home in Brittany

Storm welcomes Willow and Teddy to their new home in Brittany

Tubbo shows us his fine markings

Tubbo shows us his fine markings

Now that's what I call whiskers!

Now that’s what I call whiskers!

Cheeky chappies Bertie and Ted Beagle

Cheeky chappies Bertie and Ted Beagle

You get the impression they're constantly plotting mischief behind your back!

You get the impression they’re constantly plotting mischief behind your back!

Pretty tri-colour Staffie Beau — the sunshine brings out her lovely markings

Pretty tri-colour Staffie Beau — the sunshine brings out her lovely markings

Oversize seagull spotted by courier M on his recent travels

Oversize seagull spotted by courier M on his recent travels