2006-09-01 / Travel

The dog days of Athens

By Charly Montgomery

The Acropolis in Athens, GreeceThe Acropolis in Athens, Greece Editor's note: Charly Montgomery is a senior at The College of Charleston studying French and English. She studied abroad during spring semester in LaRochelle, France.

Greece was beautiful. It was definitely one of my favorite places in Europe. The people were friendly and, mercifully, everyone we encountered spoke English, and the dogs were unbelievably entertaining.

I've never in my life encountered dogs so well behaved and jovial as were the strays of Athens.

On more than one occasion, a stray dog with a ratty collar around its scruffy little neck followed Courtney and me back to our hotel. It was the most adorable thing. We were sorry we couldn't invite the poor thing inside. We were not sure whether the pup had fleas, and we were not afraid it would tear the furniture or mess on the carpet.

I'm quite sure these dogs were potty trained, for while in France, one must keep a constant and watchful eye on the sidewalk for doggie droppings, even from those lucky dogs with owners. Not once in Athens did Courtney or I have to scrape our shoes clean.

Once we had a whole pack of dogs follow us from the metro to the grocery store where we purchased cereal boxes with familiar logos. They stayed with us when we stumbled upon a bearded lady while picking out fruit.

When one mutt would trail off to follow a more interesting character, another would join our little group. We felt something like Dr. Doolittle meets Annie.

As we walked around the city, we'd encounter dogs taking advantage of shady corners and cool alleys sleeping away the hot daylight hours. At night it was a different story. The dogs would shake off their drowsiness to survey the Athens night life and make friends with all who were available and willing.

The most amazing thing was that they never jay walked. When they had the notion to cross the street, they trotted to the nearest crosswalk, looked both ways, and when the way was safe, they made their way to the other side and continued down the sidewalk until it was necessary to cross traffic once again.

They never barked or growled or fought, and while they were all skinny, their eyes held none of that hang dog sadness that most cast- out pets acquire. I'm not sure why Athenians care so little for their canine friends, but I would have gladly adopted any one of those dogs had I been able to fly it back to the states.

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