The People's Dog

Posted by Pia

Recent news stories about the protests in Athens have showcased a particular canine whose special brand of loyalty has taken the form of political activism. I'm talking, of course, about "Riot Dog." Those of us who have had the good fortune to reap the rewards of some canine or feline loyalty might not find the following story as surprising as others seem to.

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Kanellos, a stray dog in Athens Greece, has reportedly been spotted at mutiple union riots over the course of the last 3 years.

1 Kanellos, a stray dog in Athens Greece, has reportedly been spotted at mutiple union riots over the course of the last 3 years.

And his loyalty seems to liewith the Greek unions who are protesting salary/pension cuts. Or perhaps he is taking a stand in support of the 'Go Vegan' message seen here on the wall behind him.

2 And his loyalty seems to liewith the Greek unions who are protesting salary/pension cuts. Or perhaps he is taking a stand in support of the 'Go Vegan' message seen here on the wall behind him.

There is debate as to whether this is the same dog at all protests of perhaps a combination of a dog named Kanellos and one named Louknikos.

3 There is debate as to whether this is the same dog at all protests of perhaps a combination of a dog named Kanellos and one named Louknikos.

But either way, there is little doubt as to who this dog (or dogs) consider to be his pack.

4 But either way, there is little doubt as to who this dog (or dogs) consider to be his pack.

It is heartening to see the fearless efforts of a 4-legger who is clearly willing to take a stand for the sake of his pack.

5 It is heartening to see the fearless efforts of a 4-legger who is clearly willing to take a stand for the sake of his pack.

We've heard of activists who take up for the rights of animals, but here is an animal who takes up for the people's rights!

6 We've heard of activists who take up for the rights of animals, but here is an animal who takes up for the people's rights!

And his loyalty endures in the face of water cannons...

7 And his loyalty endures in the face of water cannons...

...tear gas...

8 ...tear gas...

...and whatever else his human comrades are willing to endure for their beliefs.

9 ...and whatever else his human comrades are willing to endure for their beliefs.

He also seems to be a fan of peaceful protest tactics.

10 He also seems to be a fan of peaceful protest tactics.

And he is often seen on the front lines...

11 And he is often seen on the front lines...

...or attempting to broker a peaceful negotiation.

12 ...or attempting to broker a peaceful negotiation.

Some have fittingly referred to him as a

13 Some have fittingly referred to him as a "Rebel with paws."

Whether this canine protester is one dog or many, he is  a symbol for many a mixed breed stray who....

14 Whether this canine protester is one dog or many, he is a symbol for many a mixed breed stray who....

...has likely had to endure his own challenges to secure shelter, remain fed...

15 ...has likely had to endure his own challenges to secure shelter, remain fed...

...and dodge dangerous circumstances.

16 ...and dodge dangerous circumstances.

Yet none of this dog's own struggles to survive have chipped away at his capacity to sense the needs of others....

17 Yet none of this dog's own struggles to survive have chipped away at his capacity to sense the needs of others....

...and to exhibit unwavering support and loyalty!

18 ...and to exhibit unwavering support and loyalty!

One might even argue that  enduring his own daily challenges, has cultivated an innate proclivity to sense danger and come to the aid of  those in need.

19 One might even argue that enduring his own daily challenges, has cultivated an innate proclivity to sense danger and come to the aid of those in need.

Many who have adopted formerly abandoned or stray dogs strongly believe that, once safe in a forever home, these guys understand that they have been helped and exhibit gratitude to their compassionate humans.

20 Many who have adopted formerly abandoned or stray dogs strongly believe that, once safe in a forever home, these guys understand that they have been helped and exhibit gratitude to their compassionate humans.

There is so very much we humans do not yet understand about the myriad capacities that reside in all of the creatures with whom we share this world. But because we are the ones making the rules and definitions, we too often limit ourselves by assuming we know all there is to know. Somehow we as a species seem to believe we have cornered the market on "higher-order" abilities such as choices and empathy.

I believe this not only does a disservice to our fellow creatures -- whether they are the dogs and cats who reside in our homes, or the birds, elephants and mice in the wild -- but we also do a disservice to ourselves. We are one species among many, and it's high time we focus on our connection to others rather than on what we have been taught to believe makes us somehow superior.

Whatever you make of the Riot Dog, the fact that we are drawn to his story demonstrates some powerful things. Clearly we humans celebrate, and perhaps crave, a connection to other species. While Riot Dog (or dogs) is clearly a special dog in his own right, with a penchant for political activism, he really brings home the point that every animal is special. Animals do not need special breeding or a particular kind of training to exhibit smarts, loyalty and the capacity to make good decisions.

Our nations shelters are filled to capacity with such wondrous potential best friends, all waiting to provide companionship, loyalty -- and perhaps some 4-legged activism of their own -- if given the chance. I encourage anyone considering adding a canine to their family to go adopt a "riot dog" of their very own.

What a tribute that would be to Athens' very own canine leader and activist for change!

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Comments (7)

  • great story Dr.Pia...very well said!

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    Now that’s some kind of a dog; always where the action is. I don’t think that I would be able to do that with the noise of those “things” going off. Sort of sounds like thunder. There is an Army Base near where I live and they fire cannons at times. I think it is thunder and round up mommy and daddy. I’m not satisfied until they turn on the TV and the weather channel. I have learned what those “red” spots are all about. The only problem I’m having is that I don’t read the map too well and think that every “red” spot is right outside my door. Daddy says I need a lesson on map reading.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Whether Riot Dog(s) is a political activist or "just" a dog who relishes crowd activity is indeed an interesting subject. A disturbing subject is the auther's overtone of lauding the human protesters. Please especially note the picture (I think it's #14) in which an individual "protecting his rights" is attacking a police officer with a club. Please also note the forebearance demonstrated by the riot police in that none of them have injured the dog(s), even when being charged. With all the chaos and confusion, both sides seem to making a conscious effort to skirt Riot Dog and protect him from harm.

    The riots in Greece stem from the austerity decisions made by their government in response to the severe economic collapse currently taking place. This is a devasting situation for all involved, people and animals.

  • Kerry-

    Thank you so very much for your feedback. I did not mean to condone violence of any sort or to take a position regarding the political climate in Athens. And I will alter that photo caption to remove any confusion- for which I apologize.

    My intention was merely to highlight the loyalty of this dog- and really of all dogs.
    I too am heartened to see that the police are not harming the dog.
    I very much appreciate your respectful letter and thank you for taking the time to send it.
    Best,
    Dr. Pia

  • Hi Dr. Pia, What a fascinating blog. Whenever I have seen stray dogs, they always seem to be cautious about coming up to me and others. If I start talking to them and tell them how great they are, many times they will approach me and turn out to be friendly. I have found that cats are very much like that, also. I have met many wonderful dogs and cats through the years simply by being kind and respectful toward them. Right now, my part-time cat Bogie thinks he lives with me and he talks to me as much as I talk to him. He gets along very well with my dog. I always like to see love and respect toward any animals. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone felt the same way. Thanks for all you do. Jan

  • Dear Dr. Pia,
    Although I believe we humans ARE a higher species, that in no way lessens our responsibility to be kind and humane to other species. If anything, we are more accountable for our behavior, given our higher reasoning capacity.
    I cannot imagine life without my furry companions. In fact, I am in the midst of a battle to keep my three (indoor only)cats and still be able to purchase a condo in my neighborhood. The management has only recently allowed one cat per unit and refuses to even allow dogs to step paws on the property. Certainly, maintaining a lovely landscape is somewhat important, but without animals the place will soon become barren. Also, from what I'm observing, it is the carelessness of humans that is the chief cause of property damage. You can bet I will endeavor to change the rules if I become a resident. "Riot dog" I could use your help!

  • Hi Dr. Salk,
    I was moved by this post to write a post on my blog about it. I provided the link and a bit about you and what you do. I also provided a link to Adoptapet.com in the post and have added it to my website.
    Bocci's Beefs, my dog's blog, is in the process of morphing into a resource for pet adoption/rescue, and animal welfare. I also intend to promote products and services that Bocci (and his Parental Unit, that's me!) believe in and think are worthy.
    Please check us out at: http://www.boccibeefs.blogspot.com. I'd be honored to have you as an official "Follower"!
    I'd also be honored to have you as a guest blogger, as your time and contract obligations permit.
    Thanks so much for providing such great information!
    Bocci and Joan DeMartin

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