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We’re a dog shelter in Greece saving street dogs from risk of abuse, starvation and death.
We run entirely on donations.
With hundreds of dogs to care for we regularly run out of food, medical supplies and space.
We’re reliant on the generosity and support of animal loving people like you to help us save as many as possible.
Read Miranda's Story...
Miranda Holder is a Fashion & Beauty Editor, Celebrity Stylist, Lecturer, TV Presenter and animal lover. She already has two Labradors, three Cats and two Guinea Pigs!
Miranda is known for her daily style and beauty tips on Social Media; her regular ‘Greek Week’ campaigns have raised awareness and funds for DASH while facilitating adoptions amongst her followers.
Miranda can be found on Instagram at @MirandaHolderLDN and on Facebook at @MirandaHolderLDN her website is www.mirandaholder.london
My Story… why I became a DASH ambassador!
I never intended to become involved with a dog charity when we went on holiday.
I arrived at the Neilson Messini resort, fully committed to improving my Windsurfing as well as my tan, but from the very first evening my plans started to go awry.
We were eating our supper at the pool bar when I spotted a Labrador weaving between the tables.
The more I watched, the more I realised with a sinking feeling, that she had recently had puppies, was injured, and was extremely hungry!
She patrolled the tables the whole evening, darting to gobble up any crumbs that may have been dropped, and getting shooed away by disgruntled guests. No one wants to see a suffering animal on their holidays.
I learned she was living in the windsurfing shed on the beach. So, the next morning, I brazenly plated up several extra sausages, and marched out of the restaurant to find her and give her a good meal.
I called her Daisy, there was no sign of the puppies, and though timid, she was starving, and gratefully wolfed down my offerings. I spent that day at the hotel beach, and later discovered that Daisy was one of a pack of stray dogs that lived there, surviving on scavenged food from the hotel staff and guests.
As the days wore on, I met the rest of the stray pack. There was Charlie, the one-eyed sheepdog who liked nothing better than accompanying the hotels cyclists on their 20km excursions. If ever they changed route, Charlie would patiently wait for them on the usual path, until they returned.
There was Jimmy, who ‘belonged’ to the beach staff. A young black and tan puppy who would whine at the shore whenever the staff left it and greeted them enthusiastically upon their safe return to dry land.
There was Nelly, another new Mum who was incredibly calm and sweet-natured, it made me think she must have once been someone’s pet.
Lastly there was Frankie ‘the volleyball puppy’ who was infamous for disrupting all Volleyball games by digging holes in the pitch and running off with the ball, delighting in being chased by the players!
Stray dogs on the property had been a regular problem for the hotel.
We heard that earlier in the season, several dogs had been rounded up and released along the coast in an attempt to reduce the numbers.
We were asked not to feed the dogs by the hotel as it would only encourage more to come, and I began to feel increasingly uneasy, with the foreboding sense that I was uncovering a problem on a much larger scale.
Unable to ignore the hotels’ ‘advice’ not to feed the dogs, I continued my daily trips to the beach from the breakfast buffet and was heartened to bump into several other guests doing the same. There was a lot of concern for the welfare of these animals and I was worried about what would happen to them after I had left.
Who would continue to feed them and what was to happen to them the tourist season was over in the cold winter?!
One evening, a dead puppy was found on the beach. I rushed to check on the pack and was greeted by Nelly (the Labrador), and wondered if it might have been one of her pups?
It was then that I saw another little Puppy who was about to change my life as I knew it.
I called the puppy ‘Tess’. Tess was so scared her whole body was shaking. She was unbearably thin and covered with very advanced mange. It was clear that she was dying and needed urgent help to survive.
Tess wouldn’t leave to Nellys’ side. When I tried to feed her, she yelped and ran away. She was clearly very afraid and would never have been brave enough to come into the hotel grounds for food, it was little wonder she was so thin.
That night I hardly slept, as I couldn’t get this terrified, poorly pup with her soulful brown eyes out of my mind.
I had to save Tess!
I spent days dedicated to Tess, seeking her out and trying to feed her, but she was just so frightened. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to her to make her this way. Then, one morning a miracle happened…
I awoke to find Nelly and Tess asleep on the chairs outside our hotel room.
Not only had Tess braved the hotel grounds but she had spent the night just a few feet away from us. It felt like her mother Nelly had come to ask for help, and I resolved to do everything in my power to give these poor dogs a chance.
I had been told there was a dog shelter called ‘DASH’ not 10 minute’s drive from the hotel, so I contacted the UK coordinator Julie.
DASH happened to be the largest Dog Shelter in Greece. It was a non-kill shelter, meaning they didn’t euthanize any animal unless it was critically ill without a chance of recovery.
Julie explained that housing the pack of dogs from the beach was impossible, as they were already very overcrowded, but agreed to take in Tess, as she needed treatment.
And so, it was arranged that I would give Tess some tranquillizing medicine, hidden in a sausage – we hoped that it would relax her enough to be caught – so I drove to collect it.
Unfortunately, things had somehow been lost in translation, and while I was collecting the medicine, a volunteer returned with Nelly (Tess’s mum).
They had tried to catch Tess, but she was of course far too terrified and ran away, so now the poor Puppy was not only traumatized from this rescue attempt but without her Mum to look after her!
The next morning, I went down to the beach really early before the hotel was awake, armed with my sedative sausages.
Mercifully, I spied Tess along the beach, she was trembling and whimpering, but whenever I got close to her, she would run further away.
It took 4 hours, lying on my stomach, singing nursery rhymes (like a mad-woman!) in an attempt to calm her before I even got close.
My two children were standing on guard either side, redirecting holiday makers. I knew that if I made a lunge for her and didn’t catch her, I would blow my chance of catching her for good.
Eventually, Tess ate the sausage with sedative to relax her (so that I could try to catch her) but her anxiety overrode the sedative, and although she was evidently feeling sleepy, she didn’t close her eyes once!
Every time I would get closer, she would move away; I began to give up hope.
Then a ‘miracle’…
Totally out of the blue Nelly walked up to us, trailing a lead behind her before collapsing! Nelly had somehow escaped from the shelter and walked the 18km back to be with her baby.
It was her pure motherly love for her puppy Tess – I could not believe my eyes!
Tess was delighted to see her Mum, Nelly and instantly curled up next to her, finally feeling safe enough to give in to the sedative.
It was at this moment that I made my move and got a lead around her neck. Nelly stayed with us too exhausted to move away and we finally got them both to safety.
So, it was little Tess, haunting me with those sad eyes who introduced me to DASH and the wonderful work they do.
I later visited the shelter properly – checking on all the dogs from the hotel that we had eventually managed to ‘sponsor’ into the shelter, including Daisy, Jimmy and Charlie and all were doing just brilliantly!
I met DASH founder Katerina, who gave me a tour and explained the severity of the situation in Greece.
I was moved that this one wonderful woman had dedicated her whole life to rescuing hundreds and hundreds of dogs, even giving up her own home – and her own bed – to house some of the very poorly ones.
Katerina literally wore rags, as no clothes lasted more than a day, and despite being covered in mud when we met her, we were struck by her humility and eloquence.
Life at DASH is a daily struggle.
DASH survive purely on public donations and volunteers. Due to no other funding than the giving of strangers and volunteers, it is not unusual for DASH to be without food or even water.
Animals are brought in daily, many in a terrible state having suffered unimaginable torture. Due to DASH being so full but with so little to go around at times there is a lack of shelter for the dogs which can cause suffering in the height of Summer and depths of Winter, and there are many animals needing veterinary attention but no funds to facilitate it.
Despite all this, DASH remains a place of hope, and although life can be tough, the animals seem to know they are being helped.
Tess turned my regular holiday into an unforgettable journey for my whole family.
Moved by the dedication of DASH and Katerina’s incredible plight, we simply could not walk away.
Fast forward on today and we’ve been back to the shelter regularly to visit and help and we now have adopted three DASH dogs of our own!
Our first adoption was Molly, I fell in love with her as soon as I laid eyes on her.
It was during our initial DASH tour with Katerina, and Molly and her sister Mia, were barking at us having climbed a tree. We had already decided to take a dog back home with us, and when I held Molly and she covered my face in doggie kisses and sat happily in my arms for the rest of the tour, I knew Molly was the one.
Molly rules the roost at home, and we have since had her DNA tested via the brilliant ‘Wisdom Health’ and hilariously discovered that she is part Miniature Daschund, part German Shepherd and part Chihuahua! Molly’s sister Mia has come back to the UK too and is now living with a friend.
Our next adoptee was ‘Lady’
I met Lady in a local village that was known for regularly poisoning and killing off the strays. This is a brutal method of population control that not only kills stray dogs, but pets and other wildlife, usually taking 3 agonizing days for the animals to die.
Lady had apparently been dumped there a few weeks before. She was different to the other dogs and literally ran up to us wagging her tail and then laid down on her back, paws in the air in a submissive ‘please don’t hurt me’ pose.
Leaving Lady in the village known for its poisoning of stray dogs would have only been a matter of time before she came to a horrible end.
We gave Molly some food and she began begging us not to leave her – and the rest is history. I flew Lady back to the UK myself. She has had some anxiety issues, and still hates being on her own, but is a wonderful pet and absolutely adores children.
And then there was Tess (the puppy from the beach!)
How could we not adopt this special little girl after all she had been through?! Tess came to us still very timid and wouldn’t come out of her cage for the first few days, but gradually she has gained her confidence and is now a happy, bouncy, affectionate little girl.
Although three new rescue dogs at once is definitely hard work, ‘The Greeks’ as we call them give us so much pleasure, and it is so rewarding to watch them relax and adjust to their new life of luxury here in the UK.
Our three adoptee dogs seem to have a special wisdom and just seem to know what you are doing for them. I look forward to my waggy-tailed greetings every morning and as they each come and look deep into my eyes, I’m sure they are saying thank you.
If you’re considering Adopting a DASH dog, my advice is; DO IT.
It’s been one of the best decisions my family and I have ever made!