The Big Storm

May 27, 2007

We had lived in our house on Crete for 5 months when our dog showed up in our garden on Christmas day, 2005.


Up to that point she wasn’t our dog, she was ‘little barky dog’ and she lived next door. She never left her driveway and spent the majority of her time barking at the road.

We didn’t know then was that she was homeless. We naturally assumed that she belonged to our neighbors, as that was where she lived. The story came about much later: She was originally owned by a German but when she was about three, began to spend increasing time with her second family who eventually took her on full time when the German left the island.

She was with them for about 4 years when they had their first child. At the same time, they moved across the village to a new house they’d built. The combination of having children and a new house proved too much for this 1/4 Greek family and Geena found herself living outdoors (in a very nicely built dog house/garden.) Her previously cushy life of sleeping on the couch and watching TV became a distant tantalizing memory. But the final straw was that the new house was near to a hotel which hosted parties all summer. These parties were loud, with music, fireworks, and gunfire. Geena went home – to her previous address.

Her family came and picked her up, but she repeated the trip over and over until they got the message. A neighbor offered to look out for her, and she was allowed to sleep in ‘her’ garage. At this point she was still spunky and adventurous, though afraid of loud noises. She often took herself 2 kilometers up the hill to participate in the milking of a local farmer’s sheep and enjoy the archaeological site.

This footloose and fancy free existence came to an end in the summer of 2004, when she was attacked and nearly died of her injuries by a crazy neighbor’s crazy dog (nickname: Bad Dog). After recovery, she refused to leave the safety of her driveway – Bad Dog was allowed to roam free despite being a danger because the owner was crazy enough to cause trouble for anyone (and everyone) who would oppose her.

Holidays and celebrations on Crete are loud and usually involve loud music, gunfire, and sometimes fireworks or at least firecrackers. Christmas 2005 was no exception. During a break in the gunfire we stepped onto our patio. There she was, little barky dog who never left her driveway, laying in our garden quivering.

We brought her in the house where she politely curled up on our doormat and shook until the gunfire stopped a few hours later. When she had calmed down, I opened the door and she went home.

The next morning, I was sipping my first morning coffee and surfing the web when I heard a ‘woof’ outside the kitchen door. Not barking, just one single woof. I pulled back the curtain and there was little barky dog, sitting confidently in expectation. I opened the door and she pranced in as though she’d always visited us. After a short visit, I opened the door and she went home.

The next morning was the same. The third day I was going shopping so I went out the door with her. I opened the car door and turned to talk to a neighbor. When I turned back, she was sitting in the passenger seat and wouldn’t budge. From that point forward she’s lived with us. By the next day, the neighborhood was abuzz with the news and my fears of having stolen someone’s pet were assuaged (she was no one’s pet, everyone was glad we’d adopted her.)

The point I’m slowly getting to is that we’ve known since day one about her fear of loud noises, so when she quivered at thunder and lightning, we weren’t surprised. If we had a thunderstorm, I’d build her a cave and we’d sit in there until the storm passed. On Crete, most thunderstorms pass very quickly, in perhaps an hour. One particularly bad one last fall lasted nearly 4 hours and I feared for her life. Sustained terror is difficult, but our girl managed to quiver and pant for the entire storm. I got some doggie Valium after that.

Which brings us to now.

Our landlord stopped by Thursday to pick up a misrouted piece of mail and mentioned that there would be a ‘beaut’ of a thunderstorm on Saturday. I dug out my doggie Valium, but because I don’t like what the pills do to her, I waited to see how bad the storm would be and how she’d react. The storm came Friday night and lasted into Saturday afternoon, and a beaut it was. Thunder & lightning – the works.


And she didn’t raise an eyebrow.

I think France might be good for us.


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