A Story of Love (in English)
In summer 06, I did something crazy. Maria and I had picked up during the spring 11 dogs, puppies and young dogs abandoned all around the village.
So in July when I had to go to Slovenia to work, I decided to take all of them with me. So as to not see them poisoned in Greece.
I had been in Slovenia the previous winter and had brought already 3 dogs to the local refuge, where the manager had told me, that it was no problem at all, that they had plenty of space and that people wanted dogs.
I rebuilt my minibus to have a big bed at medium height inside and a big space for all the dogs below. Luckily they had learned to coop together and where fine in this small space. I didn’t had the money to have all of them chipped and vaccinated, so I decided to smuggle them through the Italian and Slovenian border.
What I had not planned is that the boat to Venice (closer to the Slovenian border) didn’t have a camping deck like the one going to Ancona, that Maria and I normally take. So I was unable to park on an open deck and walk the dogs. I had to carry the 11 of them in my arms from the lower deck (number 1) to the top deck (number 6) where was the kennel!
It took me about 2 hours, and the boat staffs were mad at me, because I was attaching them anywhere on my way and coming to pick them up latter.
So when we arrive at Venice, I had already organize myself 2 hours before –with the help of a young German girl, I had started to bring all the dogs to the reception, which was the way the crew had told us to use to reach our car.
The problem is that the reception desk was packed with people waiting to go to their cars to. The reception manager order me to go away with all my dogs (imagine 11 dogs moving around on the carpet of a reception desk with 100 customers waiting) But I fought for it and eventually I asked loudly to all the customers (which where mostly foreigners and that many knew what I was doing with these dogs) “DOES ANYBODY HAVE PROBLEMS WITH MY DOGS BEING HERE? And all of them answer loudly “NO.”
When they opened the car decks, I walked down with 2 dogs in my arms while the German girl waited with the others at the reception; my minibus was on the lower deck. You could reach the second car deck by the inside of the boat, but for some reason, for the lower one you had to go out of the boat , walk along it, and then go inside again to pick up your car.
When I walk toward the exit I saw four customs officers and turned back immediately. I thought that was the end of me!
I walked back and remembered that during the trip I had asked to go to my car and that an officer had accompanied me using a lift!
I went back to the reception and we took all the dogs to the lift area. A crewman told us that it was not working but then a customer arrived in a wheel chair and they had to get it working, we pile up all the dogs with the German lady and the guy in his wheel chair and went down. Then two by two I brought them to the van.
I drove out of the boat in the harbor and arrived in front of the customs.
5 police /custom officers were standing there.
They had seen my French number. The same day France was playing football against Germany and the day before Italy had won against England.
Instead of asking me my paper, they ask me “Are you going to win tonight?”
I reply: “Questo no le so, pero para hier Viva Italia (This I don’t know, but for yesterday Bravo Italia)” They reply “Viva Francia, endiamo” –Go.
I drove away thinking about the 11 dogs just one meter from the custom guys, none of them had barked –and that if my hair hadn’t turned white yet, it would probably never do!
Luckily the Slovenian border was easier.
I had a half-day swimming with the dogs in a river before I brought them to the refuge. That’s was very difficult because I loved all of them, but I had no choice.
I just decided to keep with me one female who was pregnant and an other female who was older, to try to find somebody for them.
The pregnant one gave birth the very next day and we found places for all of them within the next 2 month.
But I don’t think I do this again, at least not illegally.
I forget to mention that all these dogs had been with us for at least 3 month and been seen by a veterinary before this trip.
One of my old friend Nickos told me “I heard about people smuggling dope, but never about people smuggling dogs, especially for free”
I am altogether a quiet lazy guy who doesn’t want a too complicated a life I find my way of life easy, although my friends judge it to be extremely difficult.
My point is that some people will give incredible effort for something that motivates them (climb Himalayas, etc), when you will never get them to do a similar effort just for money. And I think it’s a great quality in human being.
I am proud of what I did, but that’s not why I did it.
There are things in life that you do for the others or for your ego.
But there are few things that you do, which go beyond that and you do just because YOU HAVE TO! It’s on your way. You felt that you didn’t even have the choice!
That’s what I feel sometimes about what I do to help animals.