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

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!

Bespoke trips for Max and Luka; Molly; Barney, Rowan and Tish; and news of another Luka and Poppy

When Alison and Victor relocated to the Dutch city of The Hague from the very top of Scotland, near Thurso, they asked Animalcouriers to help move Max and Luka, their two German Short-haired Pointers. We took the dogs to kennels initially, where they stayed for a few days until the family arrived in The Hague, at which point we delivered Max and Luka to a huge welcome.

In the midst of all the packing and general hubbub of the move, the two dogs simply spooned and slept

In the midst of all the packing and general hubbub of the move, the two dogs simply spooned and slept

Max and Luka at their new home in the Netherlands

Max and Luka at their new home in the Netherlands

Not all airlines will transport pets and, even when they do, it can be quite an expensive business, what with travel boxes, cargo charges and so on. As a result, we’re getting more and more enquiries from pet-owners in Europe for bespoke trips, that fit precisely with their own travel plans.

Little Molly travelled with us in this way from Madrid to Scotland. Owner Tom wrote to say:

“Molly has settled in very well. She has had lots of walks and is happy to be back with her original pack. I want to thank you and all the team for the fantastic service you provided. From the first moment I spoke to you on the phone I felt reassured and, at such a stressful time for me, you put me at ease and made me realise that bringing Molly back was not an insurmountable task. Everyone in the office was incredibly helpful and couriers Rickie and Dave were so nice — it’s clear Molly had got on really with them.”

There was a tearful reunion when Molly was delivered to Tom. It's at times like this when we know a road trip is a good way for dogs to travel. Molly jumped all over Tom and dashed about — her and Tom's happiness was very catching.

There was a tearful reunion when Molly was delivered to Tom. It’s at times like this when we know a road trip is a good way for dogs to travel. Molly jumped all over Tom and dashed about — her and Tom’s happiness was very catching.

Tom sent us this lovely photo of Molly in Glasgow Green park

Tom sent us this lovely photo of Molly in Glasgow Green park

Barney, Rowan and Tish, three yellow Labs, travelled with us from Hexham in Northumberland to their new retirement home in the Limoges area of France.

Looks like these three lovelies have a wonderful garden to play in

Looks like these three lovelies have a wonderful garden to play in

It was a lovely sunny day in the Limousin when we delivered them

It was a lovely sunny day in the Limousin when we delivered them

Gorgeous cat Luka travelled with us last month from the south of France, and his owner Blaithin has sent us news about how he’s getting on:

“I want to thank you once again for looking after my little darling and for your constant reassurance on how he was doing. Luka hid for two weeks when we arrived but we just left him and loved him everyday, fed and watered him also. He was drinking but eating little. Now he is back to normal and is going out by himself and loving the garden as it is very large. He will use the trees as a scratching post and loves to climb them. Already he is sniffing out a nest of mice in the garden. He has found out that English mice run faster than French mice, hee hee!”

And finally, news and stunning photos of pocket-sized Staffie Poppy, who travelled from France to Portugal with us last month. Carol wrote to say:

“Thank you and your team so much for taking Poppy, she is with her dad and very happy.”

Poppy loves the beach

Poppy loves the beach

Poppy with her dad

Poppy with her dad

Young ospreys travel from Scotland to Spain and Switzerland

In 2013 and 2014 Animalcouriers helped to organise the transfer of osprey chicks from Scotland to Spain. This year we were very pleased to be asked to help again with this important and interesting osprey conservation project.

In July, Roy Dennis of the Highland Foundation for Wildlife in Scotland, and Dr Aitor Galarza of Urdabai Bird Center near Bilbao, organised the transfer of 13 osprey chicks to the centre. The birds flew with BA from Aberdeen to Madrid via London Heathrow.

Roy is also involved in a new project to reintroduce ospreys to Switzerland, about 100 years after the last breeding osprey was seen there. Ospreys continue being seen regularly (though in very small quantity) passing through Switzerland during their migration, but the last actual breeding pair of the species was back in 1914. Roy worked with Wendy Strahm from Projet Balbuzard/Nos Oiseaux to mastermind the move of six ospreys from Aberdeen to Geneva. Animalcouriers arranged the flights with BA from Aberdeen to Geneva via London Heathrow. The six young birds spent the night at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre before continuing their journey to Switzerland.

A mountain of paperwork was involved. Because Switzerland isn’t part of the EU, CITES export and import certificates were needed. Roy also had to arrange special licences to capture the birds from the wild. As with all CITES movements in and out of the EU, special customs clearance was also needed, but this couldn’t be done until after the birds were checked in at Aberdeen, so it was all rather nailbiting as the period between checking the birds in and loading them was quite short. Then we had to stop biting our nails and instead cross our fingers that there wouldn’t be any computer glitches to interfere with the HMRC centre at Salford granting the OK. Thankfully all went well and the birds went on their way without delay.

One of the young birds in the aviary shortly after arriving (photo © Denis Landenbergue from the Projet Balbuzard website: http://www.balbuzards.ch/en/

One of the young birds in the aviary shortly after arriving (photo © Denis Landenbergue from the Projet Balbuzard website: www.balbuzards.ch/en/

Swiss TV coverage (in French) of the birds’ arrival. Their aviary was built at at Swiss prison surrounded by 350 hectares of agricultural land which is inaccessible to the general public. This ensures the birds will have all the peace and quiet they need to settle in once they’re released from the aviary.

Reunions for Jules, Stephen, Kirsty, Vienna, Ianto, Boris and Killibrae Kit

Our first stop yesterday in France was to deliver handsome puss Jules to his family waiting in Nantes. Austin and Alyssia, were extremely excited to see him. Jules said that he’d enjoyed his trip but was very pleased to be back with his family.

Then it was on to the Creuse region to deliver Sam’s dog, cat and geese. First out were the geese, Stephen and Kirsty. We were pleased to see how chilled they were after their trip, which had lasted more than two days. The geese have a wonderful new home, and Sam told us it was the bird space which persuaded her to buy the house — there’s a paddock, running water and a fabulous shelter. Sam’s Elkhound, Moleskine, who accompanied Sam on her leisurely journey from the UK, welcomed the geese first, then Vienna the cat and finally Bull Terrier Ianto. She was delighted to have the rest of her family around her! Sam soon wrote to say:

“Thank you so much. Ianto & Moleskine are playing rough & tumble in the grass. Vienna is asleep upstairs. The geese can’t believe their new surroundings.”

We then continued on to Cahors to deliver Waterdog Boris to his family. He knew as we walked up the drive that he was home.

After spending the night in Narbonne, we cross the border into Spain and made our way to Barcelona where we reunited cats Conan and Gypsy with Victor. Then it was on to the airport to meet Xanthe, who had flown in from Majorca to collect Border Collie pup Killibrae Kit. Little Kit will be travelling with her in the cabin to Palma. Xanthe already has Kit’s aunt and great aunt, so there will be quite a reception committee waiting at home.

Alyssia and Austin (with a little help from courier M) greeting Jules on his arrival in Nantes

Alyssia and Austin (with a little help from courier M) greeting Jules on his arrival in Nantes

Alyssia very excited to have Jules at home

Alyssia very excited to have Jules at home

Courier M and Sam with Stephen and Kirsty

Courier M and Sam with Stephen and Kirsty

The geese headed straight for the purpose-built new home

The geese headed straight for the purpose-built new home

Almost a skip for joy as they try out their new environment, nibble at the grass and feel the wind in their feathers

Almost a skip for joy as they try out their new environment, nibble at the grass and feel the wind in their feathers

Stephen and Kirsty are in complete agreement — they love their new home!

Stephen and Kirsty are in complete agreement — they love their new home!

Sam's Elkhound Moleskine, who didn't travel with us, was quick to hop in and inspect our van

Sam’s Elkhound Moleskine, who didn’t travel with us, was quick to hop in and inspect our van

Boris was such a happy boy to be home, and the feeling was shared with the entire household

Boris was such a happy boy to be home, and the feeling was shared with the entire household

In Narbonne, resident Cocker Spaniel George strikes a pose.

In Narbonne, resident Cocker Spaniel George strikes a pose.

Sunglasses off, a closer look at the wineglass! George is a past passenger of ours and knows all about Animalcouriers. He regularly welcomes us to his home, and quite likes to have a chat with our passengers and reassure them about travelling.

Sunglasses off, a closer look at the wineglass! George is a past passenger of ours and knows all about Animalcouriers. He regularly welcomes us to his home, and quite likes to have a chat with our passengers and reassure them about travelling.

Nearly home! Conan and Gypsy supervise courier M as he prepares their travel boxes for transferring them from our van to their owner Victor

Nearly home! Conan and Gypsy supervise courier M as he prepares their travel boxes for transferring them from our van to their owner Victor

Conan very excited, knowing he's almost home

Conan very excited, knowing he’s almost home

Such a happy Kit in Xanthe's arms

Such a happy Kit in Xanthe’s arms

Wispa on the lookout, curious as ever

Wispa on the lookout, curious as ever

Dave gets up close and personal — it's a challenge to photograph this handsome tabby as all he wants is a neck and chin rub. We have to try and snap him as he weaves back and forth.

Dave gets up close and personal — it’s a challenge to photograph this handsome tabby as all he wants is a neck and chin rub. We have to try and snap him as he weaves back and forth.

Fifi strides towards us, while Lulu stays comfy at the back

Fifi strides towards us, while Lulu stays comfy at the back

Beau listens intently as we explain that she'll be back with Moe very soon

Beau listens intently as we explain that she’ll be back with Moe very soon

Leaving the UK with eight cats, six dogs — and a pair of geese!

Two Animalcouriers vans left Portsmouth this afternoon, heading to France. We were a bit disappointed we had to take a daytime ferry, but what with the holiday season being in full swing, and the conditions at Calais being so difficult, the overnight sailings from Portsmouth are all booked up weeks ahead. So we felt fortunate to get a crossing, and relieved that we didn’t have to brave Calais.

On board we have a fantastic set of passengers who are on their way to rejoin their families all over France and Spain.

Glamorous cat Jules was delivered to us by Fraser and his daughter. The family has relocated to France, and we expect to catch up with them tomorrow in Nantes, where they will be very pleased to be reunited with Jules.

Bull Terrier Ianto is travelling with Vienna the cat and brother-and-sister geese Stephen and Kirsty. Courier Joe was a little surprised on arriving to collect them to discover his role included catching the geese first! An hour later, with Stephen and Kirsty secure in a carrier, everyone was on their way. These four well loved pets are all off to join Sam and her family in the Creuse region in central France. It’s the first time Brittany Ferries has been asked to transport pet geese. It was a bit touch and go at first but, in the end, the special permission we needed was granted.

Waterdog Boris has been a regular passenger over the past few years, as he splits his time between London and the Cahors region of France. He’s starting to show a few white whiskers around his muzzle now, but is as exuberant a character as ever.

Feline chums Conan and Gypsy have also travelled with us before — we transported them from Barcelona to the UK a little over a year ago, and now they’re on their way back to Barcelona. Owner Victor has gone on ahead and is very much looking forward to their arrival. Conan and Gypsy were due to stay at a cattery for three weeks until the start of this trip. But when we checked their documents, we discovered their inoculations had run out. Fortunately courier R had space for them in his study. They kept him great company, practising Spanish with him and Googling tortilla recipes on his computer.

Cute Border Collie pup Killibrae Kit is also on board. She’s off to live in Palma, Majorca, with Xanthe, who’s planning to fly into Barcelona where we’ll meet up and hand Kit over. Xanthe and Kit will then travel the rest of the way to Palma together.

Jackadoodle Bailey’s journey started in the Scottish Highlands and will take him all the way to Javea in Spain. He told us he’ll miss Aviemore and the ski season, but is looking forward to enjoying the sun, sea and sand. He’ll spend a day at Casa Antigua kennels and cattery in Denia until Simon and the rest of the family arrive.

Lulu, Fifi and Dave, a fine trio of cats, are travelling with us from Wolverhampton. They’re on their way to join Linda and family who’ve relocated to Alhaurin in the Malaga area of Spain.

Gorgeous Beagle Beau hails from Peebles in Scotland and is on her way to Marbella to join Moe. Beau and Moe travel back and forth between their two homes, so we won’t be surprised to see them again soon!

Character cat Wispa belongs to Philip and family. They’ve moved from Sheffield to Albufeira and now Wispa is on the way to join them in their new home.

Glamorous Golden Retriever Lula is travelling from London to the Haute Savoie region of France in one of our smaller vans with courier H. Not only does her owner Jane not want to be parted from her for a moment longer than necessary; it also saves the rest of us a detour eastward and so avoids compromising the length of the journey for the other pets we have on board.

Jules is a real stunner with a beautiful colour coat

Jules is a real stunner with a beautiful colour coat

Vienna takes to travelling like a pro

Vienna takes to travelling like a pro

Ianto making out he's a bit shy about having his photo taken

Ianto making out he’s a bit shy about having his photo taken

Stephen and Kirsty are a very bonded pair

Stephen and Kirsty are a very bonded pair

Boris the Waterdog — sorry it's not a great photo, we'll try again soon!

Boris the Waterdog — sorry it’s not a great photo, we’ll try again soon!

Fluffball Conan and black-and-white Gypsy — we did enjoy having these two to stay

Fluffball Conan and black-and-white Gypsy — we did enjoy having these two to stay

Lovely young Border Collie Killibrae Kit — who could resist those puppy dog eyes!

Lovely young Border Collie Killibrae Kit — who could resist those puppy dog eyes!

A winsome look from Jackadoodle Bailey

A winsome look from Jackadoodle Bailey

Black beauty Fifi, travelling with…

Black beauty Fifi, travelling with…

…gorgeous floofy Lulu and

…gorgeous floofy Lulu and

… handsome Dave — here he is telling courier J all about what Fifi and Lulu get up to

… handsome Dave — here he is telling courier J all about what Fifi and Lulu get up to

Ooh, that moment when you just have to have a chin rub!

Ooh, that moment when you just have to have a chin rub!

Beau is an exceptionally pretty Beagle

Beau is an exceptionally pretty Beagle

Wispa is a very charming character cat

Wispa is a very charming character cat

Lovely Lula who'll soon be reunited with Jane

Lovely Lula who’ll soon be reunited with Jane

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

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Lovely Lino shows us his fine profile

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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

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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

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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

Reaching the Greek mainland and collecting Neo, Lino, Zavia, Willow, Gulliver and Judi

Our ferry took us from Lesvos island to the Athenian port of Piraeus. Once breakfast had been served to our five passengers from Lesvos, and they had been walked, we were ready to meet up with the next set of passengers for our UK-bound trip.

First up was Neo, a mixed breed dog who belongs to Christos and family. They’ve moved to Kent, and now Neo is off to join them. He’s been looked after by Giannis, a dog behaviourist, who wanted to check us out before allowing Neo to leave with us. We were flattered to get a big thumbs up from him!

Sarah brought us her Cocker Spaniel, Lino. Sarah and family are also relocating to Kent, where they’ll be near Sarah’s mum. The family is leaving Athens shortly and will soon be reunited with Lino.

We were pleased to catch up with our friend Cordelia, who’s been looking after tortoiseshell cat Zavia on behalf of her owner. Zavia is travelling all the way to Scotland from Athens. We also met Elena, who brought us young cats Willow and Gulliver whose owner has already left for the UK.

We then headed to our usual meeting place near Thessaloniki to collect Judi from Maria and her Mum in temperatures approaching 100F. The tarmac was somewhat toasty under Judi’s toes, so it was a quick photo op before she gladly stepped into the Animalcouriers van. Maria will be in England in time to receive Judi from us.

The area at Piraeus port where boats from the islands dock, bringing swathes of homeless people looking for a way to make the next stage of their journey

The area at Piraeus port where boats from the islands dock, bringing swathes of homeless people looking for a way to make the next stage of their journey

Giannis with Neo

Giannis with Neo

Lino waiting his turn for a walk…

Lino waiting his turn for a walk…

…getting quite excited at this point!

…getting quite excited at this point!

Cordelia chatting with courier M

Cordelia chatting with courier M

Zavia is a very shy, very pretty tortoiseshell girl — we hope to get a better photo of her as we become closer friends

Zavia is a very shy, very pretty tortoiseshell girl — we hope to get a better photo of her as we become closer friends

Super cute cats Willow in front, and Gulliver behind

Super cute cats Willow in front, and Gulliver behind

Maria and her mum with German Shepherd Judi

Maria and her mum with German Shepherd Judi

Sammie all eagerly alert

Sammie all eagerly alert

We love Harvey's hairy ears

We love Harvey’s hairy ears

Hector seems to prefer being called Hector, rather than Ben, so we've let Jonathan know!

Hector seems to prefer being called Hector, rather than Ben, so we’ve let Jonathan know!

Demetris perched on the front seat for a few minutes, watching other dogs being walked

Demetris perched on the front seat for a few minutes, watching other dogs being walked

Randall looking up at him, with Hector behind

Randall looking up at him, with Hector behind

Rips travels from Norway to Scotland; and Ben is on his way to the UK

Rips, a very glamorous black-and-white puss, became a transport veteran in a single 24-hour period, travelling by car, plane, bus, van and train.

Her journey started in Bergen in Norway; from there she flew to Amsterdam with her owner. Animalcouriers drove to Amsterdam to meet Rips from the plane, while her owner flew on to Aberdeen.

By 9am yesterday Rips and courier S were on their way to Calais to catch the Eurotunnel but, about 25 miles from the terminal, the motorway traffic ground to a halt. Eurotunnel was closed, owing to trespassers setting fire to tyres on the track. Not only that, the ferries were also on strike. It was a jolly hot day to be stranded, but many of the lorry drivers who were also stuck on the motorway kindly shared their cold water and soft drinks with the rest of us.

When the French police allowed cars and vans to move off the motorway, we headed off and found a hotel for the night, close to the tunnel. We also detoured to the Landrons kennels and cattery to collect slinky black cat Ben, saving courier J a separate trip. Ben travelled with Animalcouriers from Spain a couple of weeks ago, but his passport has only just become valid for entry into the UK.

We managed to book on a 7.00am train this morning which left on time. So by 7.30am we were in the UK and heading to the Animalcouriers base in Surrey.

Lorries and cars stopped on the motorway to Calais

Lorries and cars stopped on the motorway to Calais

Lorry drivers sharing their cold drinks with everyone

Lorry drivers sharing their cold drinks with everyone

Aircon on and the windscreen shaded by a towel — kept our van lovely and cool!

Aircon on and the windscreen shaded by a towel — kept our van lovely and cool!

Rips (named for a Norwegian berry) is one cool character, taking everything in her stride, giving just the occasional dark brown stare that cats have perfected over the generations

Rips (named for a Norwegian berry) is one cool character, taking everything in her stride, giving just the occasional dark brown stare that cats have perfected over the generations

Handsome, golden-eyed Ben, who'll soon be reunited with Margaret in Burnley

Handsome, golden-eyed Ben, who’ll soon be reunited with Margaret in Burnley

UK reunions for Napoleao, Cuca, Kathy, Neska, Charlie, Galatzo and Melody; and news of Danae

Couriers J and M had quite a time of it when they reached the northern French port of Calais. Fencing was being erected and there was a strong police presence to hold back a flow of migrants, reminding us about all the unhappy places in the world people are fleeing from. Then, on checking in, we discovered there was a strike at the port, so it was a three-hour wait before we could set sail.

Eventually we made it back to our Surrey base, where a delighted Teresa was waiting to collect her cats Napoleao and Cuca who had travelled from Porto. “We would have waited all night!” they told us. So wonderful how much people care about their pets, and what a lovely contrast to the rather trying time we’d had at Calais.

The following day there were more ecstatic scenes when Ana and George arrived to collect their dogs Kathy and Neska, who travelled with us from Granada. The whole family is moving to Bristol.

Meanwhile courier M headed north to deliver more pets to their waiting owners. Along with African Grey Charlie and young wolfdog Galatzo who travelled with us from Spain, he also had Melody on board. This lovely black-and-white Pointer was flown to the UK by the Friends of Filozoikos, who support the Filozoikos shelter in Athens which does such a great job with stray and abandoned dogs. Melody was fostered by Gabby, who brought her to us in Surrey ready to travel up to Ayrshire in Scotland to her new home with Sheila.

We also recently received news of another Filozoikos rescue — Danae, who had an eye operation and was then adopted by Erica and Hans in the Netherlands. Erica wrote to Martha at Filozoikos to tell her how well Danae is getting on:

“We are so happy we have Danae. She is listening very good, she likes to be cuddled (can sit beside us for minutes long to be cuddled). And she very much likes to play with other dogs. That is, she likes other dogs to run after her — there are only a few dogs who can run as fast as she can. We want to thank you and Kiki again for giving us Danae, we enjoy every day with her.”

Teresa and her friend were waiting patiently for cats Napoleao and Cuca at our Surrey base

Teresa and her friend were waiting patiently for cats Napoleao and Cuca at our Surrey base

More sheer delight — Kathy (L) and Neska (R) have kisses and cuddles with Ana

More sheer delight — Kathy (L) and Neska (R) have kisses and cuddles with Ana

Charlie arrives in sunny Stokenchurch where he and Nick were delighted to be reunited

Charlie arrives in sunny Stokenchurch where he and Nick were delighted to be reunited

Galatzo with Casey. Casey visited Spain to choose a puppy from the wolfdog breeder, and spent two weeks bonding with Galatzo — who clearly hadn't forgotten him! Courier M was barely on his way before Casey was off for a walk with Galatzo to show him around the leafy Glasgow suburb that is now his home.

Galatzo with Casey. Casey visited Spain to choose a puppy from the wolfdog breeder, and spent two weeks bonding with Galatzo — who clearly hadn’t forgotten him! Courier M was barely on his way before Casey was off for a walk with Galatzo to show him around the leafy Glasgow suburb that is now his home.

Sheila cuddling Melody

Sheila cuddling Melody

Melody gets a reassuring stroke from Sheila

Melody gets a reassuring stroke from Sheila

Beautiful Danae enjoying her life in the Netherlands

Beautiful Danae enjoying her life in the Netherlands