Home is Where we Hook-up

August 13, 2007

Leader of the Pack

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Europe — Heligypsy @ 1:19 am

Every Sunday morning at 11 am there is an elaborate ceremony, the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier in front of the Parliament building in Athens. The duo of Presidential Guard are relieved every hour on the hour, every day of the week, but the Sunday change is a big to do, and I wanted to see it.

I talked Keith into what fun the ceremony would be, and we headed into the city. Having arrived well ahead of 11 am, we sat at an outside cafe drinking cappuccinos (mostly so we could use the W.C. without feeling the need to sneak…water closets are for customers only). A large crowd appeared out of nowhere, a tour looking group, heading for the stairway leading to the Parliament building. What caught my attention about them, beside the sheer volume of the group, was they seemed to be following behind a “tour guide” that just so happened to be a stray dog. I kid you not, this dog walked a good 30 feet ahead of the crowd, every few moments it would turn to look at them, turn again and continue forward. So frequent was the dogs review of the group, I couldn’t shake the feeling that they really were being guided to the event by this very “in the know” looking canine. Boy was I in for a great surprise.

Once up on street level, we immediately saw the mistake in lounging around over coffee. A huge crowd had amassed and we were going to be stuck behind several rows of onlookers (the tallest people in all of Greece, of course). This coupled with the fact that it was a sweltering 105+ degrees…and well, I’m not telling to many secrets if I say that crowds are not Keiths favorite thing – an ideal start this was not.

Then the band started up. We could hear them long before we could see them. They marched along side the Parliament building, turned and marched along the front, closing off two very major intersections in the downtown. Just seconds ahead of catching my first glimpse of the band itself, I saw the lead dog. The very same dog leading the original group of tourists to the correct location, was now leading the band as they marched along the front of Parliament, turned and walked into the square where the ceremony would be held.


As any good canine companion, this pooch quietly laid in the shade while the men in funny outfits kicked their legs high into the air with very deliberate steps, as the 11 o’clock Guard came onto shift.


When all the pomp and circumstance was complete, the dog raised up and led the band back to the street, along the side of the building and disappeared with his crew.


I’m fairly certain when I go back on another Sunday (when it cools a bit) that I will once again see this same dog leading the humans through their rituals, behaving (and being treated) every bit as important as anyone else involved.

This is one stray who’s not only dialed into freedom in the city, but has been handed a key.



  1. I hope we get that “tour guide” too!
    Great pictures.

    Comment by Debbe — August 13, 2007 @ 12:54 pm | Reply

  2. Very interesting! As always~~~GREAT to hear from you!

    Comment by Bonnie ;-) — August 15, 2007 @ 12:20 am | Reply

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