Kalimnos / Kalymnos

I liked Kalimnos. I like all Greek islands when I am there. But the traffic, oh the traffic. The main town on Kalimnos is one of the worst places I have come across for traffic. Chios was just as busy and noisy. The pavements are so narrow, and the tarffic so fast. A pity, as there seemed to be some nice old-fashioned shops in the back lanes of the town. But it was too dangerous to linger.

Doggy Paddle

The drama unfolded before my eyes as I sat on the hotel balcony.

In late November there were few tourists on the Greek island of Kalymnos. The lucky few that remained were enjoying the sunny weather. We did need to shelter from the wind, though. Storms were forecast and already the sea in the bay looked choppy.

I heard voices and shouts and looked up from my book to see what was happening. A crowd had gathered on the promenade running around the harbour. They were looking at the sea. Something was bobbing round in the sea. Something with a sleek looking black head. At first I thought it was a seal. I went for my binoculars and watched the rest of the drama through them.

I soon realised that what I could see was not a seal but a dog. A large black dog. The animal was only a few feet out from the edge of the harbour. However there was a steep drop down into the water. I did not see how the dog got into the water; it certainly would not be able to climb that edge without help.

There was plenty of help on hand. By now the dog was swimming out into the bay, but still only a few feet off the boats moored alongside a jetty that jutted out into the bay. One person thrust an oar towards the dog, another a large fishing net (though nowhere near large enough to contain the dog, even if the netting had been strong enough to hold the dog's weight). One man kept dashing onto whichever boat the dog was nearest too and thrusting an even longer pole at the dog. Yet another hung a short ladder over the edge of a boat. The dog nosed towards each of these offers of help. I could almost hear the sighs of relief from the crowd each time the dog swam towards one of the rescuers; and the groans as the dog backed off and swam out of reach.

The dog seemed to be strong and not in any sort of distress. It came tantalisingly close to these rescue devices on many occasions, but each time a rescue seemed imminent it swam away. Before long the dog was swimming further and further out to sea. Occasionally it approached the end of the jetty, and spurned a number of rescue attempts. Yet after each approach the dog swam back into the bay. At times I almost thought that the dog was teasing the rescuers with its frustrating approaches. But no, that could not be. Soon the dog was far out at sea. I could no longer see it with my naked eye. Through my binoculars I saw the head bobbing above the water, so far out that there seemed no possible hope of rescue.

Poor old mutt, I thought.

I had been in the town for a few days and had noticed a motley group of dogs, all mongrels, playing by the water's edge. The dogs all appeared to be strays. It was touching to see that the local people were prepared to put so much effort into saving a stray dog. There were a few small tan coloured dogs, a larger dark coloured dog with a pronounced limp, and a large black dog. From what I could see it was this black dog that was now swimming out to sea, to a lonely watery grave. I tried not to think of the suffering the poor dog must be going through at that very minute. The next time I saw the group of canines frolicking along the promenade one would be missing. I was sorry I had not given it a pat when I had walked near it earlier in the day. Tears came into my eyes as I thought of the dog out at sea. It could not possibly swim for much longer. Surely it must soon drown. If it had not already drowned. I had put my binoculars down. I did not want to see the sad end of the tale.

Then I noticed another flurry of movement on the harbour side. The local heroes had not yet given up. A group of men, including the man with the extra long pole, was setting off into the bay in a small boat. I looked through my binoculars again. The dog was several hundred feet out. The boat approached the dog many times, but each time the dog backed away. I soon saw what the rescuers were trying to do. The bay was large, and on the far side there was a beach. Gradually the rescuers edged the dog towards the beach. He sloped ashore, and shook himself down. I saw him bound off and disappear from my view behind some parked cars. He seemed none the worse for his adventures.

Later that day I saw the usual pack of mongrels, including the black dog, playing on the harbour front as usual. I saw the wicked looking gleam in the black dog's eye as it romped past me. And I wondered if the dog had ever been in distress at all. It may have just gone for a swim!