the guard dogs

guard dogs 1
Pezi guard

I’ve been working on this ongoing project for a while now and although it hasn’t finished exactly the way I expected I feel I have something decent enough to show and describe.

The curious thing about dogs on Ikaria is that a lot, if not most of them, end up tied to about 2m of rope, in the middle of nowhere. Quite often without water and food. They last, for as long as they do, roasting in the sun with minimal shade and get replaced by another poor canine soul.

guard dogs 2
Pezi guard

The purpose of all this nonsense (to the common outsider) is supposedly to keep the goats away from roads and villages. Whether a dog can effectively do this, tied down as it is, is something I’ll let everyone decide for themselves.

guard dog 3
Ag. Isidoros guard

I have talked to one of the shepherds about this practice, specifically I wondered why they refuse to use dogs proactively for guarding, herding, driving and other similar duties that resulted in such wonderful breeds as appenzellers, collies, kelpies and other sheep/cattle dogs. (see dogbreedinfo > flock guardians & herding dogs). I didn’t get a definitive answer but I did manage to raise some interest and ended up describing how dogs work with animals elsewhere. So maybe there’s hope. Maybe it’s not just a case of lack of interest, time and energy but more a case of lack of information.

KalamosKalamos guard

Whatever it is, it constantly amazes me how incredibly friendly all these dogs are, despite their miserable existence and ultimate fate. They will greet you enthusiastically and most will assume a submissive position if you approach, then start playing if you feel so inclined. Quite unlike what I’d expect…

guard dogs 4Ag. Dimitrios guard

2 Comments so far

  1. Nana @ July 7th, 2008

    I think that your photos are great and your observations are very correct.
    Are you able to read Greek yet? Go to my
    I have the same opinion as you, plus a few more observations. There is so much confusion. You have done the right thing to talk to that shepherd. Like dogs that look fierce but actually they are not, the same it is with their masters. They seem fierce and stubborn and as if they would never listen but in fact very often they do.

  2. Carol @ October 7th, 2009

    I work for an animal welfare society in Greece. We are determined to put an end to the inhumane practice of keeping dogs chained up at the side of the roads on Ikaria. Please contact me ( if you want to help with this important campaign.

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