UK reunions for Honey from Italy; and Buddy and Lucy from Greece

Before we set off on our next trip to southern Europe, we thought we’d share some happy UK reunion stories.

Honey travelled with Animalcouriers from Italy, where she lived with Julia, to her new home in Nottingham with Julia’s friends Pauline and Steve, and their dog Rollo. Pauline wrote to tell us how it’s going:

“Honey has settled in well with Rollo, who has accepted her with good grace (I think Honey might just be very slightly ‘top dog’). She and Rollo walk well together, and have met up with some of our other doggy friends! They haven’t fallen out and Honey loves the bone box, taking 6 bones to her bed yesterday. Rollo doesn’t bother with bones normally, but they are having a great game pinching bones from each other! We think she is a Staffie/Terrier cross, whereas Rollo is a Staffie/Lab cross — both being the same colour. Honey actually reminds me of Rollo when he was a pup!

We just wanted to thank you all at Animalcouriers for the great job you did in transporting her to England. I spoke to Julia in Italy yesterday and she is delighted Honey has settled in well and so soon — the best move for us all. I shall certainly recommend you to anyone who in the future might need your services, and will continue to watch your blogs with interest.”

Honey in her bed

Honey in her bed

Honey with her new friend Rollo

Honey with her new friend Rollo

Honey loves a fuss

Honey loves a fuss

Buddy travelled with us from Greece, where this stray pup had the good fortune to be adopted by Amy, who had gone to help with the refugee crisis on Lesvos. Making Buddy’s trip to the UK happen so swiftly was down to many people: Amy doing all her paperwork quickly and efficiently; the ‘can do’ attitude of Rebecca from Lesvos Stray Dog and Cat Adoptions and her vet; and Christine from Chris’s Animal Hotel in Athens, who boarded Buddy the night before his flight and helped courier J at the airport.

In what must be record time, by the time courier J boarded her easyJet flight to Athens, everything was perfectly in place for Buddy to travel. Amy wrote to say:

“Just wanted to say a huge thank you for everything you guys did to get Buddy back to me in amazing time! You have no idea how happy me and my son are!”

Buddy with Amy's son (the new dog bed is obviously very comfy!)

Buddy with Amy’s son (the new dog bed is obviously very comfy!)

Lucy also travelled with us from Lesvos, on our most recent road trip from Greece. This lovely girl’s new home had fallen through, but thanks to our friend Jenny Fox, an animal behaviourist, who publicised Lucy’s story via her Facebook page, Lucy now has a lovely new home on Guernsey with Michelle, Tony and Sophie.

Courier J was due to accompany Lucy to Guernsey last weekend, but stormy seas meant the trip had to be postponed. Condor kindly transported Lucy’s travel box from Guernsey for free and looked after it until Lucy could travel. Yesterday was the big day. Courier J and Lucy travelled by Condor Seacat and were met by Michelle and her daughter Sophie, and Jayne, an old friend of Animalcouriers.

Lucy waiting patiently for the crossing

Lucy waiting patiently for the crossing

Being greeted by (L to R) Michelle, Sophie and Jayne

Being greeted by (L to R) Michelle, Sophie and Jayne

Lucy making sure she explores her new home thoroughly

Lucy making sure she explores her new home thoroughly

Michelle asking Lucy what she thinks of it all

Michelle asking Lucy what she thinks of it all

Lucy with Tony

Lucy with Tony

Lucy looking very relaxed

Lucy looking very relaxed

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!

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

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

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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!)