When I learned through Eve’s @cyprusdogs Instagram account that 40+ dogs in a Cypriot shelter were in danger of being euthanised back in April, my first thought was: how much can I afford to give? As the weeks passed by and adopters and fosterers were found for many of the dogs, I found myself constantly thinking about whether we might be able to provide a home or temporary respite for one of them. When we had considered it from all angles and decided to take the plunge, everything happened necessarily fast. With fairly open minds and plenty of room, Eve suggested that we might be interested in one of the bigger shelter residents, less likely to be adopted due to their size.
The day we met Shadow, it was a bit of a shock for all of us. He was smaller than we expected, with his ribs and hip bones still sticking out, and absolutely terrified - understandably. Though the process of settling in has been slow, it has been so rewarding to earn Shadow’s trust and see his confidence building. He has the physical scars to prove that his past was rough, and the mental scars will take even longer to heal; he is still quite anxious around the house and often growls when Scott comes down the stairs, but has largely overcome his nervousness around roads and has even plucked up the courage to sit with me on the sofa!
Although some people have eagerly shared their own stories of dogs rescued from abroad, others have questioned why we would rescue a dog from Cyprus when there are homeless dogs ‘on our doorstep’. While I don’t think Shadow is any more deserving than those dogs abandoned in the UK, I absolutely don’t believe that he has any less right to a healthy, hopeful future and a long life. The first time he ran in joyous circles around us at the end of the lead after two weeks of near-constant sleeping, it was clear that it would all be worth it - it was wonderful to see him expressing his gladness at being alive. The fact that he’ll now cuddle up to me when 4 months ago he would go into a semi-catatonic state if you tried to touch him is amazing.
By no means has it been an easy ride. On the first night, Shadow ignored the huge plush bed we bought for him and slept on the dining table. It took putting the bed on the dining table for him to get used to it, and then placing chairs to stop him getting on the table for him to sleep on the bed! Shadow has stolen pizza, raided the dustbin (on more than one occasion), and chewed phone chargers, knitting projects, remote controls, and every single coaster he’s able to lay teeth on, but he has also transformed our lives positively beyond measure.
At first we thought the new member of our family got his name because he was scared of his own Shadow; then everybody reminded us of his Golden Retriever namesake in Homeward Bound; but now I know that it’s because we’re closer than pages that stick in a book.