Annie's Story

Published in About Animals

Sometime in early November 2018, a bitch was dumped by the roadside above Jelsa, not far from the Medical Services Clinic, with her five puppies.

Annie with daughter Mrka, 22nd July 2020. Annie with daughter Mrka, 22nd July 2020. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The mother was a German Shepherd-type cross, although her ears were aligned horizontally rather than being up and vertical. As she was not micro-chipped, there was no telling where the family came from, who the previous owner was, or who dumped them.

Abandoned, Annie and her puppies when found, 10th November 2018.

The puppies were big enough to have been weaned, but having no other source of food, they were still feeding from their mother. Fortunately for them, on November 10th, some kind animal-loving ladies noticed the little family, and provided them with food and water. Tanja and Marija lived nearby, and quickly became concerned that the dogs might come to harm, whether on the road or through human malevolence. They contacted Eco Hvar for help in removing them to a place of safety. Hvar does not have an animal shelter, so needy animals have to be given sanctuary privately. It was a chilly evening on November 12th when the family arrived in Pitve. The puppies were rounded up and transported without any problem. The mother, probably fearing another dumping - or worse - ran off. Her two rescuers ran after her for quite some time before she became too tired to resist capture. She was very suspicious of her new surroundings when she arrived in Pitve, but quickly cheered up when a good meal was provided for her and the puppies, although the puppies, probably through force of habit, still had a feed from her after they had finished.

First days, still suckling. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

I immediately named the mother Annie, because for some reason she called to mind the feisty heroine of the 1950 musical film 'Annie get your gun'. It only took a couple of days for Annie and the puppies to realise that there was plenty enough for them all to eat on a regular basis, so Annie put a firm stop to their suckling, and the puppies didn't protest.

The puppies at play, 13th November 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Annie and her puppies showed from the start that they were sweet-natured. The next couple of weeks passed, and the puppies grew in stature and confidence. Annie settled in, but still wore a worried look on her furrowed brow. It was obvious that she had been badly traumatized by the dumping.

Annie had a worried look at first. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

For several years, unwanted homeless dogs were being brought to me in Pitve: the numbers multiplied alarmingly, which led to Eco Hvar being founded in 2013. The situation did not change immediately. It was a true blessing when I discovered that the Animalis Centrum shelter, which is now in Kaštel Sućurac, was able to take them in and give them the chance of finding new homes. Eco Hvar started collaborating with Animalis Centrum in 2016. When the time seemed right to transfer the dogs to the animal shelter, the decision was taken to keep Annie in Pitve until she regained confidence in the world around her.

Their last day together, 21st November 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

On 21st November 2018, the puppies went to Kaštela, where they were instant stars.

The puppies arrive at the Animalis Centrum Shelter. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

As with all newcomers, they were made very welcome by Dr. Filipović and her staff, so they adapted quickly to their new surroundings. They were slightly bemused by having to pose for photographs, but took it all in their stride. Unsurprisingly, their appeal was strong, and they found good homes in a fairly short time, some around Split, some in Germany.

The photo-call. Photos: Vivian Grisogono

Annie took the departure of her puppies in her stride, indeed she seemed relieved not to have to keep calling them to order when their play got too boisterous. She gradually gained confidence. On November 30th, Annie accepted a collar for the first time, a major step forward in her emotional rehabilitation.

Annie's new collar, 30th November 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

She learned very quickly that she was not allowed to go to the other dogs' bowls until they had finished their meal. There were many basic lessons for her to master, and she showed that she was intelligent and willing. The only thing she hated was the lead, and it took many months of patient practice to persuade her that lead-walking was not something to be feared.

Training sessions: kindness, rewards, firmness and repetition.

It was not difficult to see why being dumped had been such a shock to her. She had obviously had a stable home: she was fully house-trained, and never once made a mess indoors; and she knew how to open doors, even the tricky ones which opened inwards and had vertical handles.

Annie relaxed and playful. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The furrowed brow relaxed, bit by bit, and she started to enjoy playing, especially with a ball. Educational games were sent to her from England by kind animal-lovers Julie and Nick: she got to grips with those in a trice, instantly working out how to uncover the little compartments to get at the treats inside.

Puzzling for some dogs, child's play for Annie! Photo: Vivian Grisogono

She was also very sociable with other dogs, both male and female. Apart from the dogs who were sharing the premises in Pitve, there were frequent visitors, such as hunting dog Asi, the handsome Malibu, and the little scamp Špiro.

Annie sharing her bed with Asi, 1st January 2019. Photo: Vivian Grisogono
Annie with Malibu. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Špiro was abandoned in Jelsa when young in June 2019, and was brought to Pitve for safe keeping. He was due to go to the Animalis Centrum shelter shortly after that. However, a charmer by nature, he endeared himself to all around him, and quickly found himself a new home in Jelsa with Antica, two other dogs and a cat, all of whom became his best friends. On occasion he stayed in Pitve, where he and Annie played endlessly. Whenever Špiro showed an interest in sex, which he did at a disgracefully young age, Annie would toss him aside and tell him off. Until she didn't.

Špiro trying it on (unsuccessfully!), 30th July 2019. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

One fine day in October 2019, her hormones got the better of her, and she let Špiro have his wicked way when no-one was looking. Two shocks for the helpless humans, who were taken by surprise: one, that Annie was on heat, which hadn't been obvious, and two, that Špiro was capable of doing the deed, despite being very small compared to his paramour.

Annie feeding her new-born puppies. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

On January 5th 2020, Annie's new puppies were born, and she looked after them diligently. They were an interesting mix of colours and characters. One of the males, whom we named Jaran, was cream-coloured, just as two had been in the previous litter. Who knows where that came from? Of the others, three were mainly black like their father: two males (Bačva and Milo) and one female, Mrka. Only one female, Žuja, had the brown colouring of her mother, but they all inherited her sweet-naturedness, intelligence and loyalty. 

Žuja, 17th June 2020. Bright, intelligent, fun, fairly dominant. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The puppies thrived. When they progressed to proper puppy food, it was a free-for-all at first, when they all shared from the same plate. Bačva led the charge, and made sure he got the lion's share. Consequently he grew the fastest, and this earned him his name (which means 'barrel').

Bačva, 17th June 2020. Gentle, easy-going, eager to please, but knows his own mind! Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Annie clearly enjoyed looking after her young through the early stages of their lives. She played with them, but could also be quite rough if they stepped out of line. She was particularly tough with Milo and Žuja, who were the most boisterous in the group.

Annie playing with Milo and Bačva, 6th March 2020. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Meanwhile, we humans also played our part in teaching the young ones how to behave. Feeding in orderly fashion was a priority, not just for the sake of good manners, but also to ensure that all the puppies had a fair share of food. The first step was for each puppy to wear a collar, and to practise lead-walking. Jaran revealed that he was both fearful and determined, refusing point-blank to accept a collar. 

Extra rations: Jaran scrumping early figs, 12th April 2020. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

At feeding time, the four obedient puppies, Bačva, Milo, Žuja and Mrka, were each tethered at a distance from each other, until they learned to respect each other's bowls, while Jaran was fed separately in the entrance to the compound. The system worked well, and they soon reached the stage when it was no longer necessary to tether them. Having used this system with groups of dogs over some years, we have found that they quickly appreciate the advantage of having their own bowl without competition.

Annie and four of the puppies, 16th April 2020. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The puppies' basic training progressed, and Jaran joined in all the exercises, although he still refused to accept a collar, much less a lead. Over the next few months the puppies developed well, so the time came for them to move on. 

Milo, 17th June 2020. Alert, lively, playful, very intelligent, quite dominant. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The decision was taken that Annie would go with them, as had been planned when she first arrived. That was a bit of a wrench, but it was definitely in her best interests to have the chance of a good individual home, rather than living in the fluctuating community in Pitve. She is extremely loyal, intelligent and sensitive. She is also strong-willed, but eager to please, so she responds well to the gentle training methods based on communication and reward, without force or physical punishment. Annie, Žuja, Bačva and Milo were transferred in early August 2020 to the Animalis Centrum No-Kill animal shelter, now also known as the Beštie Animal Protective Foundation, Split. Mrka and Jaran have remained on Hvar, at least for the time being.

Annie and her 'room-mate', 17th August 2020. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

I visited the Animal Shelter on August 17th, and was delighted, but not surprised, to see that all 12 dogs which we had transferred there in recent weeks were looking healthy and well-cared for, with no hint of distress or discontent. Some of them were already promised good homes (which are checked on by the Shelter staff), while interest has been shown for most of the others. Some had been joining in the weekly swimming sessions which are organized at the local dog-friendly beach. They were all amply supplied with care, affection, exercise and pleasurable activities, besides the basic necessities of shelter, medical care, food and water.

Annie eagerly awaits her ideal home, 17th August 2020. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

At the time of writing, Annie has been sterilized, ready for her new life. She and her three puppies are probably going to Germany under the care of a German animal charity with long-standing ties to Animalis Centrum. We are confident that they will find homes to suit their needs. They have a good chance of a happy future, and we are glad we were able to contribute to giving them that chance.

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon), August 2020.

You are here: Home about animals Annie's Story

Eco Environment News feeds

  • In 201o, politicians pledged to halt devastation of Earth’s wildlife. Since then, no progress has been made. And despite glimmers of hope, prospects look grim for next month’s top-level meeting in Canada

    In 2010, politicians and scientists made a pledge to halt the devastating reductions in wildlife numbers that had been denuding the planet of its animals and sea creatures for the previous century. At that time, wild animal populations were declining by about 2.5% a year on average as habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease ravaged habitats and lives. Such losses must end within a decade, it was agreed.

    Next month, conservationists and politicians will meet in Montreal for this year’s biodiversity summit where they will judge what progress has been made over the past 12 years. “It will be an easy assessment to make,” said Andrew Terry, the director of conservation at ZSL, the Zoological Society of London. “Absolutely no progress has been made. Populations have continued to decline at a rate of around 2.5% a year. We haven’t slowed the destruction in the slightest. Our planet’s biodiversity is now in desperate peril as a result.”

    Continue reading...

  • The climate emergency is prompting some scientists to suggest extreme measures. But whether you call it geoengineering or biomimicry, others feel interfering with nature will have too high a cost

    Like the apocryphal frog that doesn’t notice the rising water temperature until it’s boiled alive, we as a global society are still struggling to recognise that anthropic global warming is hastening us towards irreversible environmental and ecological catastrophe. While there is consensus among climate scientists about the urgency of the situation, and widespread political acknowledgment that the use of carbon fuels must be reduced, targets have not been met and as the UK’s Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, said, the lack of progress at this month’s Cop27 demonstrates the 1.5C limit is on “life support” and there is growing evidence that we are further along the road to a tipping point than previously thought.

    So advanced is this process that some scientists are beginning to argue that merely cutting carbon is not enough and an emergency measure involving what is known as geoengineering is called for. There have been a number of plans suggested, some more outlandish than others. They range from building giant mirrors in space to reflect away sunlight to painting the roofs of buildings white to help counteract heatwaves in cities.

    Continue reading...

  • Tory MP becomes latest member of party to get behind push to drop moratorium with reports Michael Gove also supports move

    The president of the Cop26 climate summit Alok Sharma has become the latest Conservative party MP to support lifting the ban on new onshore windfarms.

    Sharma has joined his former boss Boris Johnson, who nominated him for a peerage, in backing an amendment to government legislation in an attempt to drop the moratorium on onshore wind.

    Continue reading...

  • Former prime minister says US and Europe will pay biggest share of loss and damage fund, but China must too

    China must pay into a new fund for poor countries stricken by climate-driven disaster on the basis of its high greenhouse gas emissions and large economy, the former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has said.

    “America and Europe will have to provide most, but China will have to contribute more too,” he told the Guardian.

    Continue reading...

  • Cites treaty, adopted in 1963, protects more than 500 species, many exploited by unsustainable or illegal trade

    An international wildlife conference has moved to enact some of the most significant protections for sharks, songbirds and scores of turtles, lizards and frogs.

    The meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) ended on Friday in Panama. Along with protections for more than 500 species, delegates at the UN wildlife conference rejected a proposal to reopen the ivory trade. An ivory ban was enacted in 1989.

    Continue reading...

  • Under-fire water firms, criticised for their part in the scandal, have pointed the finger at the authorities in newly revealed letters

    Water company bosses have blamed UK government inaction for a lack of progress in stopping sewage pollution, newly revealed letters show.

    According to data from the Environment Agency, sewage has been dumped into the seas and rivers around the UK more than 770,000 times over the course of 2020 and 2021 – the equivalent of almost 6m hours.

    Continue reading...

  • ‘Participatory budgets’ such as one project in east London are revitalising areas and improving accessibility

    Children of all ages hang out at the seating area. One group of teenagers from a local school call the sunny bench between two planters their “chill spot”. One family sits out on a shady seat with the baby on warm evenings. People eat their lunch on the benches. Chosen and installed by the local community, the planters are a tiny but thrilling example of what can be done with a quietly radical policy that is being tried by a few councils.

    When Newham council first proposed the idea of a “participatory budget”, a fund for which local people could propose ideas, and receive funding as long as other residents approved, it seemed impossible to imagine what might emerge.

    Continue reading...

  • The story of the damage done to the world’s biodiversity is a tale of decline spanning thousands of years. Can the world seize its chance to change the narrative?

    The story of the biodiversity crisis starts with a cold-case murder mystery that is tens of thousands of years old. When humans started spreading across the globe they discovered a world full of huge, mythical-sounding mammals called “megafauna”, but by the end of the Pleistocene, one by one, these large animals had disappeared. There is no smoking gun and evidence from ancient crime scenes is – unsurprisingly – patchy. But what investigators have learned suggests a prime suspect: humans.

    Take the case of Genyornis, one of the world’s heaviest birds, which was more than 2 metres tall and weighed in excess of 200kg. It lived in Australia until, along with many other megafauna, it went extinct 50,000 years ago. In North America, giant beavers weighing the same as a fridge and an armadillo-like creature called a glyptodon, which was the size of a small car, existed until about 12,000 years ago, when they, too, went extinct. In all, more than 178 species of the world’s largest mammals are estimated to have been driven to extinction between 52,000 and 9,000BC.

    Continue reading...

  • Conservationist says if world leaders do not go to the summit a strong deal to halt and reverse nature loss is at risk

    Chris Packham is urging the British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to attend a key nature summit to protect the planet for the sake of his great-grandchildren because we are “very close to the point of no return”.

    The Cop15 biodiversity summit being held in Montreal from 7-19 December is the nature equivalent of the recent Cop27 climate summit in Egypt, with governments from all over the world expected to agree targets to halt the destruction of the natural world. But world leaders are not expected to attend the once-in-a-decade meeting where the next 10 years of targets will be agreed.

    Continue reading...

  • Kendal, Cumbria: Here in the river we do our best to remove the waste that is at least visible to the naked eye

    On a bright autumn morning, a colourful gathering is taking place on the banks of the River Kent. A team of local river guardians, campaigners and attenders at the Kendal Mountain festival has assembled to help with a regular river clean. We spend a cheery hour clearing the water and the banks of packaging, poo bags, broken hardware, stray underpants and diverse industrial debris.

    Some of what we find has started to erode, corrode or decay, and I’m struck by how fragments of pot, bone, tumbled glass and natural fibre, and even some metals, feel almost wholesome in this context. Not so the plastics. The durability that makes these laboratory-created materials so useful has no match in nature. Most don’t break down in the environment, they just fragment, resulting in a distribution inversely proportional to their size. Hence 95% of microplastics in waterways measure less than 40 microns, too small to be filtered out, and most are wholly invisible. Those smaller than 5 microns are tiny enough to be absorbed into animal and plant tissues though gut walls or roots. We now find them everywhere we look, in blood and flesh, in sap and fruit, in milk and the bodies of the unborn.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds