When Valia Orfanidou first caught sight of Alma, she initially believed the dog was lifeless. Animal rescuers had arrived at the public pound in Sparta, Greece and were met with a horrifying scene. Four hundred dogs were living in appalling conditions.
Valia, from The Orphan Pet, was accompanying Save A Greek Stray to document and assist the dogs in what she referred to as a “concentration camp” for dogs. They sprang into action to save the most critically ill dogs in February 2022 and managed to rescue 44 of them, including Alma.
Alma was chained in the yard near a “kennel” and appeared motionless. Valia initially assumed Alma was deceased, but another rescuer pointed out that the dog was still breathing, albeit barely.
Valia approached Alma, who was resting in the dog house. Unlike the other dogs who barked with excitement upon seeing the rescuers, Alma remained indifferent to her surroundings. Valia couldn’t decipher the stoic demeanor of the dog.
Even after Alma was taken into the caring hands of Save A Greek Stray, she remained guarded. However, her captivating and soulful eyes were a distinct feature that caught attention.
Although it wasn’t immediately apparent, Alma had a massive tumor beneath her neck. The tumor was twice the size of her head and was revealed to be a massive abscess surrounding a broken tooth! The tooth had likely become lodged in her neck years ago from an untreated dog bite, and the tumor was slowly deteriorating her health. Additionally, Alma had untreated mange that was gradually weakening her strength and well-being.
However, as Alma underwent treatment and began to heal, Valia discovered that she wasn’t as fragile or damaged as she had initially assumed.
Valia discovered that Alma was actually a composed, stable, and mild-mannered dog. Another growth was discovered beneath her armpit, which was revealed to be another tooth that had become embedded. However, Alma successfully recovered from this health scare as well. As her mange was treated, Alma’s soft, long fur regrew.
Valia made the decision to foster Alma a few months after rescuing her, and the two of them embarked on a gradual journey of building trust. Valia learned that Alma had once been a contented street dog before ending up at the dreadful shelter. Despite her circumstances, Alma had not lost her affection for people.
Alma is a unique dog. She doesn’t expend her energy unnecessarily. She internalizes it all. Valia observes that this demeanor is what helped Alma stay alive and thrive. She embodies what one YouTube viewer described as “a dog with genuine sincerity, displaying composed dignity and grace in any circumstance.”
Having been rescued a year ago, Valia states that she will likely keep Alma as a permanent member of her pack. “Technically, she is still available for adoption, but I don’t think I can let her go. (And it’s not like there are people clamoring to adopt her anyway),” Valia writes.
Moreover, since Alma has chosen Valia as her human, it is truly heartwarming.
Valia further shares details about the shelter where Alma was discovered and sheds light on the harsh reality faced by dogs that end up in shelters in Greece. While they may be safe from the streets, these stray dogs often endure a slow demise.
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