‘I’ve pretty much wanted a dog my whole life and on my 29th birthday a friend suggested I write a list of things that I wanted to experience before I hit 30! I realised that having a dog was one of those things. I’m not quite sure why I waited so long – working hours in London, the expense of doggy day care perhaps or just people saying what a huge responsibility it is (which it is!). So when my boyfriend and I decided to leave London in favour of the Mediterranean dream I knew the time had finally come to adopt a dog. Having spent countless Sundays reading the Success Stories on Wild at Heart Foundation’s website myself, I soon fell in love with Ralphie’s face and his description: ‘a young dog with a big heart’ with a ‘gentle and calm nature’. I filled in the application form straight away, and I was so excited when I found out that the timing would work for us and that Ralphie would be ours.

We had to wait a while to adopt Ralphie because he was so skinny and he needed to put on weight before he could be sent to us. The timing coincided with our move from London to Greece, which took place via France. One morning Ralphie took a flight from Cyprus all the way to Paris. Ralphie bounded merrily out of the van; he was a bundle of excitement to begin with so the first few days were about helping him settle and providing a calm environment for him. We were lucky as my boyfriend’s family home has a huge garden, which eased the transition – Ralphie couldn’t get enough of rolling in the grass and sniffing the plants all day long. Two weeks and countless holes and depotted plants later we hit the road all the way to Greece involving almost 30 hours of travel by car and boat!

Ralphie did amazingly well on our travels; he curled up patiently in a ball for the car journeys and the overnight boat stay. He has since also been on a holiday with us to a nearby island and it turns out he is quite the swimmer! Just 3 months later he has settled with us in our home in Athens. We are consulting an amazing dog behaviourist here who trains dogs for shows and she is helping us crate train him, teaching us all sorts of techniques to stop him from pulling on the lead, and even some tricks! Aside from crying for a good 10 minutes every-time we leave the house, some pulling on the lead and chewing any form of footwear at any given opportunity, he is a cuddly delight (with the silkiest skin)!

When Ralphie is ready and more mature (he’s about 1 year old now) we will be going back to the WAHF to help us find a buddy for him – they do an incredible job and we are so grateful to them!’

– Eleni Xanthis

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