Collecting Pedro, Flash, Chiqui, Panda, Fizzy, Tina and Romero as we head north through Spain

Animalcouriers spent the night at a delightful farmhouse B&B to the north of Valencia, then headed off to Casa Antigua kennels and cattery to meet two cats, Pedro and Flash. They travelled by ferry from Ibiza to Denia, where Mel from Casa Antigua met them, then put them up for the night.

Our B&B outside Valencia — the citrus fruit season is in full swing in Spain

Our B&B outside Valencia — the citrus fruit season is in full swing in Spain

Darling Pedro is on his way to join his owner in Berkshire

Darling Pedro is on his way to join his owner in Berkshire

Young Flash is well named — no way is he standing still for a second to have his photo taken! He's on his way to Lancashire.

Young Flash is well named — no way is he standing still for a second to have his photo taken! He’s on his way to Lancashire.

Jackie and her family have moved back to Cumbria from Gandesa, and left their four pets — Chiqui, Panda, Tina and Fizzy — in the temporary care of old friends of Animalcouriers, Les and Bill.

Les was away at a Christmas market, so it was left to Bill to demonstrate his dog-wrangling skills

Les was away at a Christmas market, so it was left to Bill to demonstrate his dog-wrangling skills

Gorgeous Chiqui

Gorgeous Chiqui

A faraway look in Panda's eyes

A faraway look in Panda’s eyes

Fizzy (seen here) and Tina decided to take a tour of our van

Fizzy (seen here) and Tina decided to take a tour of our van

Tina quite sure she can signal while Fizzy puts a paw on the pedal

Tina quite sure she can signal while Fizzy puts a paw on the pedal

Fizzy and Tina safely ensconced in their bedroom!

Fizzy and Tina safely ensconced in their bedroom!

Handsome Romero is eight years old and has spent six of those years at the dog pound in Tossa de Mar, near Gerona. The dog pounds in many Spanish towns and cities are always full of dogs who’ve been rounded up off the streets. They’re often in out-of-the-way places, because of the space needed and the noise of the dogs. But that makes rehoming hard, as potential adopters don’t simply pass by. The problem is compounded by the fact that the people running the pounds rarely have the time or resources to run rehoming campaigns.

Romero's luck finally changed when Kate went looking for a dog to adopt and fell for Romero. He's now on his way to join her in Essex.

Romero’s luck finally changed when Kate went looking for a dog to adopt and fell for Romero. He’s now on his way to join her in Essex.

Romero is quite a tall fellow!

Romero is quite a tall fellow!

After collecting Romero we headed over the border into France and spent the night in Narbonne. Our next stop was in Bourges, further north in the Cher, where we woke to a chilly, frosty morning. Bearded dragon Jon Jon is tucked up with extra heat pads!

The fallen leaves looked beautiful in the frost

The fallen leaves looked beautiful in the frost

Fizzy and Tina dashed about, enjoying new smells and the crunchy leaves under their feet

Fizzy and Tina dashed about, enjoying new smells and the crunchy leaves under their feet

Babi wisely stayed cosy in bed

Babi wisely stayed cosy in bed

Pedro fancied a chin tickle…

Pedro fancied a chin tickle…

…as did Panda…

…as did Panda…

…and Floyd

…and Floyd

Panda doing acrobatics

Chiqui doing acrobatics

Lolita is a lovely gentle girl on her walks

Lolita is a lovely gentle girl on her walks

If courier M doesn't hurry up, Romero reckons he'll have to try jumping out!

If courier M doesn’t hurry up, Romero reckons he’ll have to try jumping out!

He's actually very sedate for a big chap

He’s actually very sedate for a big chap

Pretty blonde Rubia patiently waiting her turn

Pretty blonde Rubia patiently waiting her turn

Plenty of festive spirit at the Ibis hotel in Calais, and the usual warm welcome from Greg, who always asks after the pets travelling with us

Plenty of festive spirit at the Ibis hotel in Calais, and the usual warm welcome from Greg, who always asks after the pets travelling with us

 

Babi, Jon Jon, Allen, Floyd and Rubia get on board in Portugal and Spain; and Mia is reunited

Animalcouriers stayed the night in Alcacer do Sal in Portugal, where we were lucky enough to get a bargain rate at the local pousada. Portuguese pousadas are similar to Spain’s paradors and, like the paradors, many are ancient buildings which have been sympathetically restored.

Our accommodation in Alcacer do Sal — a 15th century former monastery

Our accommodation in Alcacer do Sal — a 15th century former monastery

Two characters wondering if there was room in our van!

Two characters wondering if there was room in our van!

A very seasonal image on the side of the chapel

A very seasonal image on the side of the chapel

Santa on his rounds

Santa on his rounds

We collected lovely black cat Babi from Ana’s mum, who’s been looking after Babi since Ana relocated to the UK. Now that Ana has found a home and settled in, it’s time for Babi to join her.

Ana's sweet black cat Babi

Ana’s sweet black cat Babi

In the Algarve we met up with Sam, his neighbour Charlie, and Sam’s bearded dragon Jon Jon. Sam and Jon Jon are heading home to Essex for Christmas, and will then travel back to Portugal in March, in time for the start of the surfing season.

Sam (L) and his neighbour Charlie

Sam (L) and his neighbour Charlie

Handsome Jon Jon is very low maintenance — his favourite foods are worms and rocket

Handsome Jon Jon is very low maintenance — his favourite foods are worms and rocket

We stopped for elevenses and couldn't resist a traditional Portuguese custard tart

We stopped for elevenses and couldn’t resist a traditional Portuguese custard tart

Next stop was to reunite gorgeous cat Mia with Angela and her husband in the Cadiz area.

Mia started meowing with pleasure as soon as she heard familiar voices

Mia started meowing with pleasure as soon as she heard familiar voices

Such a happy reunion

Such a happy reunion

We have double luck on this trip as we now have two black cats on board! In Malaga we met up with Allen who’s travelling with us to Brentwood.

Slinky Allen, getting nicely settled in

Slinky Allen, getting nicely settled in

Gorgeous hound Rubia is travelling to the UK with feline chum Floyd, who is devoted to Rubia.

Floyd would like to have shared a bedroom with Rubia

Floyd would like to have shared a bedroom with Rubia

Rubia enjoying an early walk in the morning sunshine

Rubia enjoying an early walk in the morning sunshine

Even Jon Jon got to enjoy the sun — we left the van door open while dog walking, so that he could feel the warmth on his face

Even Jon Jon got to enjoy the sun — we left the van door open while dog walking, so that he could feel the warmth on his face

We couldn't drive past Nerja without popping in to see Oscar (and John and Margaret). Oscar was so excited, bouncing and running around. We were glad to see him in such good form, as he's just got over a nasty time with a tumour in his paw.

We couldn’t drive past Nerja without popping in to see Oscar (and John and Margaret). Oscar was so excited, bouncing and running around. We were glad to see him in such good form, as he’s just got over a nasty time with a tumour in his paw.

We met New Zealanders Mike and Joy with their lovely young dog Lolita in La Herradura. With family and grandchildren beckoning, they’re heading back to their homeland. Lolita is going to board at partner kennels near us until early February, so that we  can oversee the preliminary tests and treatments required for dogs to enter New Zealand. Mike and Joy are taking advantage of a dog-free time to visit places in Europe they want to see, before they fly off.

Joy, Lolita and Mike on a wonderfully sunny beach near their Spanish home

Joy, Lolita and Mike on a wonderfully sunny beach near their Spanish home

Rubia also enjoyed that sunny beach

Rubia also enjoyed that sunny beach

Reunions in Spain for Cloud, Dory and Kurco, and we enjoy a night on the Camino de Santiago

Animalcouriers spent the night just outside the southern French town of Narbonne, where the dogs enjoyed countryside walks.

Cloud enjoying a morning walk in Narbonne

Cloud enjoying a morning walk in Narbonne

Dory also enjoyed a morning walk alongside a vineyard

Dory also enjoyed a morning walk alongside a vineyard

Misty gets a cuddle from courier M

Misty gets a cuddle from courier M

Here's Kurco with an exceptionally waggy tail!

Here’s Kurco with an exceptionally waggy tail!

After walks and breakfast, we set off for the north-western Spanish city of Santander, to reunite little Westie Cloud with Jose.

A very happy Cloud, with an equally happy Jose

A very happy Cloud, with an equally happy Jose

We then headed to Vigo, where Patrick and Saehee very kindly met us at the airport, which made delivering Dory a much quicker and easier experience for us. Patrick is very interested in this part of Spain and is here to write thrillers. We’re sure he’ll have plenty of stimulating moments as he explores the area.

Saehee and Patrick delighted to have Dory back with them

Saehee and Patrick delighted to have Dory back with them

Special neck nuzzles for Saehee

Special neck nuzzles for Saehee

We spent the night at Allariz in Galicia, where we enjoyed a magnificent view and found ourselves close to the end of the Camino de Santiago — the pilgrimage route from France to the shrine of St James the Great, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

A castle poking its head out of the mist

A castle poking its head out of the mist

In the distance, the Vilanova bridge, which has carried pilgrims since it was built in the 12th century. We walked a little way along it and discovered a way stone, piles of other stones with icons etched into them, a magnificent flagged pathway and the parish church. No doubt a welcome resting place for tired feet, as pilgrims will have walked 128,930 kms by this point!

In the distance, the Vilanova bridge, which has carried pilgrims since it was built in the 12th century. We walked a little way along it and discovered a way stone, piles of other stones with icons etched into them, a magnificent flagged pathway and the parish church. No doubt a welcome resting place for tired feet, as pilgrims will have walked 128,930 kms by this point!

The Vilanova bridge crosses the Arnoia river, and the parish church is just behind

The Vilanova bridge crosses the Arnoia river, and the parish church is just behind

You can just make out the steps up to the top of the bell tower of the church for whoever has to ring the bell

You can just make out the steps up to the top of the bell tower of the church for whoever has to ring the bell

The pilgrim trail heading down to the river

The pilgrim trail heading down to the river

An elevated food store, designed to protect the contents from rodents feasting on winter supplies

An elevated food store, designed to protect the contents from rodents feasting on winter supplies

All in all, a perfect spot for dog walking — here's courier M with Kurco

All in all, a perfect spot for dog walking — here’s courier M with Kurco

A reminder about clearing up after your dog

A reminder about clearing up after your dog

Today we continued on to Plasencia in Extremadura, a province in western Spain, to deliver Kurco to his grandma. Now it’s full steam ahead to Almada in Portugal.

Kurco and his abuela were over the moon at seeing each other

Kurco and his abuela were over the moon at seeing each other

Heading through France with Rikki, Cloud, Misty, Kurco, Dory, Mia and Tigger

Animalcouriers has set off on a pre-Christmas trip to southern Europe. We left the UK with seven well loved pets on board: four dogs and three cats.

Tabby cat Rikki is a suave fellow from Wales, who's heading to the Carcassonne area in south-west France to join Mark.

Tabby cat Rikki is a suave fellow from Wales, who’s heading to the Carcassonne area in south-west France to join Mark.

Cute Westie Cloud belongs to Aurora and Jose. The whole family is returning from the UK to Santander on the north-west coast of Spain.

Cute Westie Cloud belongs to Aurora and Jose. The whole family is returning from the UK to Santander on the north-west coast of Spain.

Black Cockerpoo Misty was bred in Colchester and has an excited new owner waiting in the Spanish city of Elche. (Sorry about the photo, it's so hard to do justice to black pets against dark backgrounds!)

Black Cockerpoo Misty was bred in Colchester and has an excited new owner waiting in the Spanish city of Elche. (Sorry about the photo, it’s so hard to do justice to black pets against dark backgrounds!)

Courier Mike collected lovely Kurco in Preston and he homeboarded with courier J for a few nights before we set off. Kurco travelled from Spain to the UK with us in December 2012, and now it's time for him, along with his owners Immaculada and Jose, to head back to Plasencia.

Courier Mike collected lovely Kurco in Preston and he homeboarded with courier J for a few nights before we set off. Kurco travelled from Spain to the UK with us in December 2012, and now it’s time for him, along with his owners Immaculada and Jose, to head back to Plasencia.

Fluffy little Dory is travelling from Dorset to join Patrick in Vigo. Patrick, an author, is looking forward to being inspired by Spain.

Fluffy little Dory is travelling from Dorset to join Patrick in Vigo. Patrick, an author, is looking forward to being inspired by Spain.

Mia is travelling from the Dorset area to Chiclana de la Frontera in the province of Cadiz. Here are Angela (and her husband) wishing Mia a good trip — they'll be waiting for her in Spain.

Mia is travelling from the Dorset area to Chiclana de la Frontera in the province of Cadiz. Here are Angela (and her husband) wishing Mia a good trip — they’ll be waiting for her in Spain.

A closer look at gorgeous Mia

A closer look at gorgeous Mia

Like Kurco, handsome ginger tabby Tigger homeboarded with Animalcouriers for a few days, as his owner went on ahead to Alicante. He'll be waiting for Tigger with his favourite nosh, as Tigger isn't too keen on eating while we travel. We're doing our best to tempt him with Spanish sardines, so who knows!

Like Kurco, handsome ginger tabby Tigger homeboarded with Animalcouriers for a few days, as his owner went on ahead to Alicante. He’ll be waiting for Tigger with his favourite nosh, as Tigger isn’t too keen on eating while we travel. We’re doing our best to tempt him with Spanish sardines, so who knows!

Fred and Betty swap Zurich for Chiswick

While courier J flew to Athens to meet Milou and Buddy, courier M drove to Switzerland to collect Yana and Stefano’s beloved (big) dogs.

Fred is a Dogue de Bordeaux and Betty Boop is a Great Dane. Both are very friendly and love people, as courier M discovered when he received a rapturous greeting!

The dogs originally moved with their owners from Italy to Switzerland, and now work is taking them to the UK.

Betty has a fine head

Betty has a fine head

Fred has wonderful wrinkles

Fred has wonderful wrinkles

Betty enjoys a walk…

Betty enjoys a walk…

…as does Fred

…as does Fred

Fred considering a 'longest tongue' bid

Fred considering a ‘longest tongue’ bid

Buddy and Milou head to the UK from Greece

Courier J is in Greece to accompany two rescue dogs, Buddy and Milou, who’re travelling to their families in the UK. They’re taking the plane from Athens to Paris Charles de Gaulle, and will travel the last leg of the journey by road.

Buddy hails from Lesvos, where he was adopted by Amy who’d gone to help with the refugee crisis. Amy tells us:

“I flew to Lesvos from the UK to volunteer with the Syrian refugee crisis there. The Greek islands like Lesvos in particular hold many tragic stories; the families travel there by boat across the Aegean Sea, many do not make it at all. This year alone 700 children have died crossing the Aegean, it is truly heartbreaking. My volunteering there has changed me forever…

On our second day we met Buddy while driving through from the port to one of the camps where we volunteered. He was one of many stray dogs — Lesvos has a huge stray problem. Every day we saw Buddy in the same spot, he was different to the other dogs. He craved attention, was very affectionate. Soon we started taking him on volunteer trips with us. I know that sometimes animals can be therapeutic, so we took Buddy one day to Pikpa camp for bereaved families who’ve lost children, parents, siblings, who tragically drowned getting to the island. It’s a very special but sad camp.

Well, this puppy played with the children there all day, putting smiles and laughter into their day. I knew then just how special he was, I felt like it was destiny to meet him. I have a little boy back home and I knew Buddy would light up his life. That’s when I decided to adopt him… and the rest is history!”

Courier J met up with our old friends Kiki and Martha from the Filozoikos Shelter in Athens, who brought Milou to the airport to catch his flight. Snoopy, another Filozoikos dog, was also due to travel, but was diagnosed with leishmaniosis, a sandfly-borne blood disorder that’s common around the Mediterranean. Although it can be well controlled, it stays with a dog for life. His prospective family thought it over carefully but felt unable to take on a dog with a chronic illness.

Buddy with Amy and Amy's brother in law, Matt, who flew from Los Angeles to volunteer on Lesvos. Matt has two rescue dogs of his own at home.

Buddy with Amy and Amy’s brother in law, Matt, who flew from Los Angeles to volunteer on Lesvos. Matt has two rescue dogs of his own at home.

Big hugs for Buddy

Big hugs for Buddy

Martha and Kiki, smiling and laughing as always, with Milou and his travel box

Martha and Kiki, smiling and laughing as always, with Milou and his travel box

Milou sports one of Martha’s lovingly handmade farewell collars

Christine, who runs Chris's Animal Hotel met courier J at Athens airport to help her check Buddy and Milou in for the flight

Christine, who runs Chris’s Animal Hotel met courier J at Athens airport to help her check Buddy and Milou in for the flight

Buddy in his travel box, ready to board

Buddy in his travel box, ready to board

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.

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!