In March 2016 I received an email from Jordan Blakesly (of Symi Friends) re: horses in an emaciated condition over in Nimborio... I told him I would go and investigate, as I had an idea of who they belonged to. It would not be the first time that SAW has been informed of equines in poor condition on this island. Quite simply, the owners do not feed them enough, they often have several working animals and I know, from previous experience, they do not welcome our intervention at all!
However, since I became the team leader of SAW, I have tried to take an interest in all the island's animals, and my first equine case involved a very emaciated 6 yr old mare, Niki, (a horse who had the misfortune to be sold to verý ignorant owners) and at my insistence they did call in the vet to see her, and her owners hopefully are now better informed about equine feed, care and well being.
The horses I saw that day in Nimborio were two mares and two colts. The mares were very thin, I knew the owner, so could speak to him about the animals and he told me the two mares were for sale, for a cheap price, so I had a good look at the young chestnut mare, about 13.2 hands, and decided I could give her a better home.
The rest of the deal I left to my husband, and a few days later Tara arrived at our farm in the mountains and started her new life with us where she would have all the hay and feed she needed, a stable for the winter and a large enclosure just to walk around in. The other mare, a 9 yr old grey, was sold to a farmer who has a working team of mules and ponies, her foal went with her.
As for Tara, eight months later, she is in good condition, has a shiny winter coat now, enjoys being groomed, comes to me when I call her, is quite vocal and is being trained to be a riding horse (with a western saddle) to trot along the mountain trails of Symi and hopefully she is happy with her new home on the farm!
We love all our animals, they are our life ....
Suzan Rashid, Filimonas farm , Ayios Dimitrios, Symi.
During the summer months, a few mobile catering vans appeared on the island, these soon became an alternative feeding station for the more adventurous cats or, as is so sadly the case, the ones who are dumped out of town. If an animal isn’t perfect, becomes no longer useful, or if they simply get into the back of a truck for an unexpected relocation, then a fair number of cats end up ‘in the middle of no-where’! We are not exactly certain as to how a young tabby with a useless front leg arrived at the Panorama catering wagon overlooking Panormitis monastery, earlier in the summer? Despite her handicap, she managed to survive by eating scraps given to her by tourist customers; we received a few messages from these customers, extremely concerned by what at first appeared to be a broken front leg. On one occasion, someone tried to catch her to bring her down to the harbour for attention, but she escaped despite their good intentions. A French tourist even sent photos of the pretty little girlie once she returned home after their vacation.
At the end of October 2013, an Italian couple who own a summer house on the island, came to us for a cat-box and managed to tempt this sweetie into it, she was taken to a vet immediately for examination – she is appx 5months old, her lower jaw, gum & teeth had been damaged on the same side as the injured leg, so had possibly been hit by a vehicle or even born with the abnormalities? The limb was completely paralysed, so amputation would be the best option, but post-op aftercare was essential.
The Italian couple were leaving the island a few days later so could only look after the kitten briefly, they were desperate to find her a loving home and quickly too. This is how this brave little girlie came to be part of our animal-family, 4 more cats + Loulou the dog sensed immediately that she wasn’t 100% well, so left her alone to recover. We’ve named her Treeah (the Greek word for 3 is tria) and she seems to like our choice. She is unbelievably agile, climbing stairs, jumping onto the sofa and charging around generally, the other cats watch on in amazement at her antics inside the house. After missing out for the first 5 months of her life, she can’t get enough cuddles and affection!
Snowy’s Mum was discovered on some waste ground near the windmills in June 2006. She had been abandoned, pregnant, tied to a bumper bar of a disused Land Rover, and 6 pups were born to her there. An English lady living nearby found them and started to feed Mum on a regular basis. As the pups grew, she contacted the kennels in Rhodes to see if they would take the pups for re-homing. Unfortunately at this time the kennels had a Parvo virus and were unable to take them. The pups by now were taking solid food, and their “Godmother” continued to feed them all. One pup at this time was tragically run over.
Mum had a wanderlust, sometimes taking a couple of the pups off down the busy road, and sometimes, just leaving them for long periods when she would walk miles to a neighbouring bay, and then return later. Gradually “Godmother” found homes for all but one pup.
That is when she came to me one day with this little scrap in her arms asking me if I could possibly give him a home, as she feared he too would get run over. What could I say !!! The first thing I did was to bathe this filthy dirty scrap, covered in fleas and ticks, and as I did so I said, “Oh you are snowy white!” The rest is history.
Now I have a loving, companion, with a beautiful temperament. Mum, incidentally, (I named her Daisy, and the name stuck) was spayed when the English vet came to the island. We believe she now has a loving home in the UK.
Sparky the black and white kitten is now about 13 weeks old, but only looks like 6 weeks. A weakling kitten, rejected by his wild mum and his 3 siblings, they live nearby to our home in a parking area where there are rubbish bins. His brothers and sisters are all strong and healthy but when I found Sparky he was dirty, very thin and covered in seeds and burrs. He was sleeping alone, away from his feline family.
Early one morning, after noticing that he was snuffly and weazy, I decided to take him home for some TLC - a little grooming with an old soft toothbrush, cotton wool and warm water.... a feed of diluted NouNou milk and a lot of kind words, he seemed to be feeling somewhat better. Later that day he ate some cooked, mashed fish and was introduced to Kamberis the big pup - a year old Pyrenean cross, who is very gentle.
Kamberi licked his new little friend, all over, and how the kitten enjoyed it too!
In just 4 weeks, Sparky has grown so much stronger. He has such a good appetite that he often eats from the dog's bowl, fish however, is still his favourite food. He sometimes plays with his siblings in the garden, but Mum ignores him even now. He stays very close to Kamberi at all times. Like all babies, he is very affectionate and just wants to be loved.
So, the moral of this story is that it isn't always necessary to take a kitten away from its family completely, but there are times when, with combined human and animal help, a small kitten's life can be saved!
Boogie and his sister were orphaned at 3 days old after their feral mother was poisoned. Symi Animal Welfare collected the tiny kittens but, as they were so very young, weren’t too sure whether or not they could help.
Sadly, Boogie’s little ginger sister wasn’t strong enough and passed away a couple of days later.
Resembling a tiny mouse, we were so worried about him but with gentle bottle feeding every few hours he made steady progress. One eye opened and his ears unfurled, he became stronger and stronger and eventually the other eye opened. We gave him so much love and he slept on a low-heat pad, he became less and less dependent on the bottle-feeds and his eyes turned from blue into green.
He is now a handsome boy with a wonderfully sleek grey coat, he is healthy, strong and so affectionate.
In the first week of October 2011, the Symi husband of one of our volunteers spotted a tiny ginger fluffy kitten sitting on the edge of the road overlooking the sea, a very dangerous place for a little cat to be! He picked it up and took it to his home nearby. The kitten was very thin and dehydrated, it drank lots of water and ate half a tin of cat food! It looked about 6 weeks old and had probably lost it's feral mother.
However this little cat was unfortunately very ill (severe diarrhoea) and needed much TLC, including a special diet, given by our team member who took over the daily care of the kitten when she returned from Rhodes a few days later. She named him 'Fluffy', because of his long haired coat, but her Greek husband could not pronounce this so he became 'Foofi'.
He was given only the yogurt based 'glog' every morning and then two feeds of boiled mashed fish and rice and small amounts of dry cat biscuits for a whole month. He slowly gained weight and began to play like a normal kitten, he was sweet natured and very beautiful with long soft ginger fur, pale green eyes and a very fluffy tail.
In mid Nov he was taken to join the rest of the cat family who live on the farm near Ayios Dimitrios on Symi's west coast. After a few days there it was obvious he had settled in very well and made friends with all the other animals including another four young rescue cats, two large dogs and a very gentle horse.
At this time of the year there are also over 70 new kids and lambs from our flock of goats and sheep, so lots of different young animals altogether!
When we arrive at the farm, Foofi is the first cat at the gate to greet us and is growing into quite a feisty young tom, he even shows the dogs who's boss when they try to steal the cat biscuits! He plays happily with the other cats, climbs trees like a squirrel, chases lizards and butterflies and hunts for mice in the hay barn...
We like to think that our all our young rescue cats have been very lucky as they now live in a place where there is no danger, they are completely free and enjoy being part of our farm family...... We think they must be some of the happiest cats on Symi!
This winter the situation in the harbour is pretty much the same as last winter, a lot of furry friends looking forward to their two-legged pals' visits. The cats hanging around the town hall bins are still pretty much the same ones we used to see last winter with the addition of a few kittens. The mascot of the group is a fluffy tortoise shell, quite scruffy but ever so friendly in summer as well as in winter (she seems to know who her mates are!). This winter the colony seems to appreciate pasta more than dry food, maybe because they are used to left overs left all year round by locals.
The bins near Gaby's house (I hope nobody will mind me referring to them this way, for me it is a way to remember her every time I go there, bless her good heart...) are not very busy, just a few cats, some looking very healthy and one I particularly am fond of. A ginger male, very scruffy and tough looking, we've seen him there since we (my mum and I) started helping out with the winter feeding program. He's a toughie, not a fortunate one but still he keeps his dignity intact, might live in the rubbish bins but still a Cat (and I am sure you know what I mean!).
In the parking lot near the kindergarten (on the way to the Opera House) we seem to have less and more scared "customers". Still, even if from far away, they appreciate the food we leave for them.
Yesterday evening we rescued a little sparrow literally from the mouth of one of the cats and placed it in a cardboard box in the shed for safety. At 3am last night we were woken by some squeaking/squawking noises only to see this little fella surrounded by a group of 5 curious cats. I say curious as they appeared more interested than hungry!! Still we housed him overnight together with the baby sparrow and after a photocall this morning they were both successfully returned to a high branch in the tree next door!!
Previously we have 'rescued' a baby chick and baby rabbits but I must admit we are not in so much of a hurry in the case of rodents!!!
Ah such is life down here--keeps us occupied when we are cut off from the rest of the island!!!
SAW isn't only for cats and dogs!!
We are very sad to announce the passing of a very special dog. His name was Kamberis, he was our farm dog, he had been trained to work with sheep and goats, tireless and obedient, always ready and listening for that one whistle to call him into action. He knew every goat that belonged on the farm and would drive away any huge male "foreign" goats if they invaded his territory.
He was our best help on the farm and only those who own working dogs can understand how lost we feel without him. He was so gentle and caring with all the small and vulnerable, from tiny kittens to baby orphan lambs and goats and best friend to our 6 farm cats. He was our guardian and loyal friend, he is irreplaceable on our farm and in our hearts, Sadly, he died from poisoning from an unknown source. Despite veterinary advice and medicine we could not save him. His grave is on the farm, under the pine trees overlooking the Aegean Sea. He would have been 7 years old in August.
He was the best dog that we could ever own, taken from us so suddenly. We will remember him forever.
Suzan Rashid and Filimonas Tsakkiris, Filimonas' Farm, Ayios Dimitrios, Symi island, Greece.