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

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

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

Gorgeous Rosalina

Gorgeous Rosalina

Moustachioed Nox

Moustachioed Nox

Francesca delighted to be reunited with her cats

Francesca delighted to be reunited with her cats

The lovely landscape where Francesca and her cats will be living

The lovely landscape where Francesca and her cats will be living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cages all kitted out

The cages all kitted out

Keys to the padlocks, for security

Keys to the padlocks, for security

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

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

One of the many homeless dogs on Lesvos…

One of the many homeless dogs on Lesvos…

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

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

Impounded boats on Lesvos

Impounded boats on Lesvos

The dogs settling in for the ferry crossing

The dogs settling in for the ferry crossing

Rebecca saying goodbye

Rebecca saying goodbye

A heap of wriggly puppies

A heap of wriggly puppies

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

There’s always one, isn’t there?!

Super cute Dexter

Super cute Dexter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Lesvos team:

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

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

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

And from Wild at Heart:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sacks of pulp are pressed…

The sacks of pulp are pressed…

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

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

The oil is then put through the centrifuge for final clarification

The oil is then put through the centrifuge for final clarification

Storage facilities at the oil mill

Storage facilities at the oil mill

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

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

Refugees' tents at Mytilini

Refugees’ tents at Mytilini

Some of the boats they arrived in

Some of the boats they arrived in

Rebecca with Randall and Hector

Rebecca with Randall and Hector

Rebecca puts name tags on Billie and Demetri

Rebecca puts name tags on Billie and Demetri

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

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

Our van driving up the gangplank

Our van driving up the gangplank

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

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

Randall and Hector sharing a room

Randall and Hector sharing a room

A cute look from Demetri

A cute look from Demetri