By Renée Rodgers
A badly injured terrier, left for dead in a garbage can in Greece, has found a loving new home in Brighton, Ontario.
Greg and Leanne Littleton, the dog’s new owners, believe it might have something to do with fate.
On April 1, the Littleton’s lost their dog of eight years, Timmy, to cancer. A few days later, Leanne received a strange email.
“It just basically said, ‘We’ve found your pet match’,” she said. “I thought, ‘I never put anything out for a pet match.’ I was quite puzzled. It was only a few days after Timmy had passed so it was kind of odd that I would have gotten that.”
Littleton clicked on the link in the email and was led to a picture and biography of the dog – called “Griffy” at the time.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, nobody’s going to want this little guy’,” she said.
Littleton called the number listed on the website to inquire about the dog’s condition. She was put in touch with Dianne Aldan, president of Tails From Greece animal rescue in Toronto.
“One thing led to another,” Littleton said. “We went down and met him and that was the end of it.”
Last February, the dog, now called Turbo, was hit by a car in Thessaloniki. The driver got out, tossed him into a nearby garbage can, and sped on. A passerby saw Turbo’s wounded, bloodied body among the refuse and rescued the dog who was still alive, but just barely.
The finder took the dog, who was in a coma, to a rescue mission in Greece where his injuries were treated. The rescue mission then contacted Aldan. They explained the situation and asked her if she could find a home for the dog. Aldan said she’d be glad to help.
Her rescue mission, which became a registered charity in 2009, has helped bring more than 210 stray dogs and cats from Greece to Ontario.
Aldan first learned of the stray animal problem in Greece on a honeymoon trip in 1984. She was shocked to see the excessive number of homeless cats and dogs wandering the streets. With barely enough food to go around, the animals, she recalled, looked malnourished and uncared for.
“We kept going back to Greece because we really like it there, but I recognized there was a problem with strays,” she said. “I was always walking around with food under my arms, feeding every little creature I came across.”
A few years later, Aldan took helping a step further. While working at the Toronto Humane Society, she started a charity which would raise money to help match stray animals in Greece with loving owners in Canada. Since stray cats and dogs tend to be looked upon as undesirable in Greece, finding someone there to adopt one is next to impossible.
“Strays in Greece don’t stand a chance,” Aldan said.
Turbo, it seemed, was no exception. Aldan said there was no way someone in Greece would have adopted him, especially in his condition.
Turbo arrived in Toronto April 9 via plane – a trip organized by the Greek rescue mission. Aldan was able to find him a temporary foster parent, Keiley Abbat, who owns a pet supply store in Toronto. Abbat supports several animal rescue organizations through her store. She frequently receives emails from Aldan about cats and dogs that need help.
“I decided we could probably foster the little guy,” Abbat said. “With all my connections we could probably get him a dog cart really quickly and easily and the store would be a great place for him to learn to use it.”
It didn’t take long before Turbo mastered his new wheels. Full of energy, the dog was soon running up and down the aisles of the store.
In fact, that’s how the dog got the name Turbo.
“As soon as he got in the wheels he just took off like a Turbo jet,” said Littleton. “He really took to them,” she said.
Since his arrival in Canada, Turbo has been treated frequently at a canine therapy centre in Toronto with hydrotherapy, laser therapy and acupuncture.
Only two of these facilities exist in all of Toronto, Abbat said. But strangely enough, there is a canine therapy centre located near the Littleton’s home, a lucky coincidence.
“It all kind of fell into place for this little guy,” said Abbat.
While Turbo is still using his cart to get around, Abbat said the general consensus is the dog will walk again. He has a strong will to thrive.
Littleton said the dog’s tenacity inspires her every day.
“He had such determination to survive,” said Littleton. “We just couldn’t turn away from that kind of spirit.”