We had two German Shepherds in the family for many years. They were bought, as there were no strays, no abandoned animals back then. The first one was euthanized early, but the second lived to a ripe old age for her breed, well-lived and happy until she couldn’t hang on anymore.

I gave the family a year to recover. One year and then I started my research. I told myself that I would opt in for a large dog, a dog that is difficult to get chosen for adoption. I made a conscious choice for an adult dog, both for my comfort (I’m not good with puppy training) as well as because a large and adult dog probably had zero chances to get adopted.

I sent a lot of messages and knocked on a lot of doors. I also got rejected a lot. Until I started going to SPAZ’s adoption days. There, I met the girls, the volunteers and some of the dogs. I explained my situation, they understood me and arranged an appointment to meet the first candidate for adoption. I was very impressed by how well they knew the dogs, how well they highlighted their qualities as well as their challenges and how insightful they were as to whether we would be a good match. I was even more impressed when, after seeing my house and learning about my lifestyle, they suggested another dog. And that’s how I met Marilyn.

Marilyn, a sheepdog that lived in a stable, with her ears cut and abused. As soon as she saw me, she sat in front of me, looked me in the eyes and that was the end of the story. The SPAZ girls had already done a great job while she was in their care and Marilyn, a deeply distressed dog, could now go for walks, get along with other dogs and cats and at the same time be protective of her people.
Today, 4 years later, it’s like yesterday that Marilyn came to us and at the same time as if she has been with us for a lifetime since she was a puppy. With the support of the SPAZ girls, with phone calls and messages going back and forth, all sorts of difficulties were overcome. With Areti’s help, the trainer they recommended to me, I learned that it was me the one who should be trained first and foremost! To this day I keep seeing new things being revealed in Marilyn’s character, even at 8 years old. She likes very specific things, she is independent, she gets frustrated by humidity, loud voices and commotion, she is not particularly fond of people, she likes to sleep, and she reserves her energy for when she decides she needs it. She doesn’t like having her picture taken, she is stubborn and although she is afraid of any kind of noise, she will not hesitate to protect her home. She takes after me in almost everything!

After Marilyn’s adoption and how the whole process was handled SPAZ gained another volunteer. I may not be able to spare countless hours, but I volunteer as many as I can. The Adoption days in particular are very emotional for me as they bring to mind our first acquaintance and the warmth I felt, while also bringing out my desire to help others feel the same. Do I – like a typical “dog mom” – love to talk about my own shepherd dog all the time? Yes, but I equally want to give others the opportunity to be able to do the same, to have a new center in their world, a new member in their family who will love them more than themselves.

Eleni Revekka Staiou

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