Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Real Waggy - 2nd June 2010

One of my stories, Waggy of the Mountainside, has just been published in the Cadaverine Magazine and you can read it here. So today I thought I might write a little on the real Waggy as the story is based on a street dog I adopted for a summer whilst living in Greece. I went to Athens for the summer after my first year at University. I blame my tutor for my apparent madness of travelling alone to a random European city and then living in an abandoned train carriage nursing sea turtles back to health for six weeks and for no money. She told us to have adventures while we could and I took her at her word. She spent a good proportion of her year between Costa Rica, New Zealand and Hawaii doing research so I figured she couldn't be far wrong in terms of life advice.
It was in Greece that I began to figure out that it's generally best not to worry about what other people are thinking of you. And that it can be much more fun to be the messy person with liquidized fish up their leg and a street dog following them than the person coming out of the boutique laden with shopping bags.
Waggy was fantastic, and Athens was fantastic. I'm sure it still is and I hope she still is. But the things in the story did happen and do happen. I was in Athens in the summer of 2003, just before the 2004 Olympics. The whole city was being cleaned up and improved which in a round about way caused a massive resurgence in the rat population (causing my one great phobia in life - more about that another day perhaps!). I came across a lot of people who worked long hours and turned their flats into menageries to protect the street cats and dogs that the city wanted rid of. Unfortunately I never saw the same for the street children, but perhaps I was just in the wrong circles. I hope so.

Seeing five year old children dart between traffic to knock on your car windows and ask for money is not something that you forget in a hurry. In Athens, street children have been rounded up and put into children's homes, a bit like the dogs were but they usually run away, just like the dogs usually did. Most street children in Athens come from Albania. There are some great charities working to solve the problems that cause children to end up on the streets in the first place. SOS Children’s Villages is just one of them. You can see their website here.

I don't know what happened to Waggy. The story ended for me where it did for the little boy. But I remain hopeful that someone found her who loved her as much as I did and I believe it’s entirely possible that she got her home on the mountainside. I like to think so anyway.

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