We don’t know anything about Tia’s first five months of life, and we don’t know how old Sandy is, nor do we know one shred of her past. These are the things we don’t know.

The times of knowing began during a walk in Cyprus, March 5th 2017.


We were booked to housesit for a month in the southern Cypriot village of Maroni. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we walked the six dogs entrusted to us across the sprawling, scrubby fields close by.

Five of the dogs ran off leash. Suddenly, they disappeared into a bush and started barking loudly. We followed them to see what they had found. They found a lone puppy. This puppy was Tia.

These are the first pictures we ever took of her:



When we found Tia, she was sitting under a strange looking plant on a pile of garbage, which was not visible from the path. The super noses of our dogs had done a great job.

Tia was presumably dumped in this lonely field shortly before, by a monster unknown to us. To have walked here seemed unrealistic, because she could barely move her hind legs, was limping badly, was super thin and infested with over 100 ticks. She just sat there and looked sad, scared and puzzled. She didn’t try to approach us.

We leashed all the dogs and stood in the field, a bit perplexed at first. What should we do now, in the middle of nowhere, in a foreign country, a wriggling dog leash wrapped around each finger?

Since we had not only six dogs, but also 11 cats to care for and knew about the many Mediterranean diseases in Cyprus, we first called the owner of the house for advice, who was in England at that time. She had been living in Cyprus for years, was involved in animal welfare, had already rescued many dogs from the streets and knew what we should pay attention to, in order to not endanger anyone’s health.

After a 10-minute phone call and exchange of pictures, we brought our six dogs back to the house and then drove the car back to the field to get Tia.

Tia did not follow us. When we returned, she was still sitting in the same spot. We calmly familiarized ourselves with her, stroked her a bit, carefully lifted her up and carried her to the car. During the short car ride, Tia looked out of the window and said nothing.



Since it was Sunday, we had to wait until the next day for the vets visit. We separated Tia from all the other animals for one night. Since she was very thin, we had to go slowly and carefully with food and water. So she only got small sips and morsels every hour. However, she pounced on both. Especially her thirst was impressive. If we hadn’t found her, she probably would have died of thirst.

While petting her, we felt not only her skeleton, but also countless ticks. We pulled out over 100 of these pests. After that, we offered her a soft pillow and let her sleep.

We drove to the vet the very next morning. Tia threw up several times during the one-hour drive and cried a lot. At the vet, despite her fear of strangers, she was very sweet and very calm. This has remained until today. If a stranger is allowed to touch her without protest, it is the vet.

Tia was anesthetized, x-rayed, tested for diseases, vaccinated, dewormed and treated for parasites. She stayed in the practice all day. It was not until early evening, that we were called in to pick her up. Now we learned for the first time, that she was an approximately five-month-old female. Due to her condition, we had not independently researched her sex beforehand.

She also had older and untreated fractures in her thighs, hips and tail, that had grown together by themselves. These fractures were the reason for her limping. The veterinarian speculated the origin was due to force, such as being beaten up or kicked. A collision with a car would also be possible. Not uncommon in Cyprus.

The horror stories range from puppies packed in sacks and used as children’s soccer balls, to the most severe maltreatment through beatings, burns and skinning alive, to a miserable existence as birthing machines in dark sheds and a life in chains as a more or less decorative guard object. Tia was very lucky.

As far as her fractures were concerned, we had two options:

Hope that it would somehow grow out and she would walk normally later in life, or break it again and straighten it.

We were recommended the former and that was the recommendation we went with. Time showed, that we made the right decision. Contagious infectious diseases could not be found, so we welcomed her into the pack.

Back at the house, we gave Tia a good wash, so she would feel comfortable and confident in herself, once gotten rid of the smell of dirt, urine and death.



Tia quickly befriended the females.

The very friendly, sensitive and playful Golden Retriever bitch Elli became her best friend.

We knew from day one, that we wouldn’t keep her. It was not the right time to have our own dog, as we had countless trips planned, including a year in New Zealand.

Of course, we helped with Tia’s preparation for a new life. We got her used to collar and leash, taught her first commands, worked on housetraining, and got her used to her very first name, which was chosen by the lady of the house: Elvie.

Then we were asked to take photos and video footage, so that Elvie could be included through the local placement office of the animal welfare organization D.O.G Rescue Cyprus.

Short explanation: In this video, Tia is also shown climbing, so that future owners could see, that she will definitely become an athletic dog and is not severely handicapped by her fracture, which had already healed by this time. Of course we do not recommend letting puppies climb stairs or walls on a regular basis and also Tia was not allowed to.




Shortly after our departure, a friend of the owner of the house decided to take in little Elvie and gave her the name she would bear until today: Tia.

With great certainty, she was very loved by her owner. However, due to her character traits, combined with severe childhood traumas, she did not receive the guidance she needed and so the young dog did not develop as hoped.

During walks, she ran away as soon as she saw strangers, even in the distance. When strangers visited or approached her, she panicked, growled and hid under the table.

According to my information, this behavior was tolerated by the owner and what the puppy Tia was allowed to do, the adult bitch continued to.

After Tia lived with her new owner for a year, a great misfortune happened. Tia’s owner died tragically. She was again taken into care by the lady we housesat for. However, she already had so many dogs in the house, that there was really no room for Tia. In addition, as a large shepherd, she was very active, demanded a lot of attention and exercise, and carried the consequences of her early traumatization around with her.

Hard to manage in a dog pack of seven or eight dogs. (Spoiler: One of these dogs was Sandy).

Additionally, difficult grown up Sheps do not belong to the category of dogs, that quickly find a new home. Desperation grew. In no case should the highly sensitive Tia go to a shelter.

Sandy was also an unplanned foster child, who was picked up on the street, almost at the same time as Tia moved back in. It was early summer and still pleasantly mild. However, she would hardly have survived the hot season that followed.



Sandy showed herself to be very submissive, shortly after her rescue, both to humans and dogs. She did a lot of soothing. In her description, she was called an angel, so incredibly sweet and affectionate did she present herself. She was quite emaciated when she was found, her spine was clearly protruding. She also had significantly enlarged teats, indicating a recent litter.

To this day, Sandy has remained an angel, but only when she receives consistent leadership. She rarely shows herself submissive nowadays. On the contrary, she is very confident towards dogs. She can be bossy in the pack and approaches other dogs openly, cheekily and playfully.

So, Sandy and Tia were looking for a foster home at the same time, since finding suitable final owners for Cypriot street dogs at short notice is more than unlikely.

I had been in regular contact with the lady we housesat for, since our departure from Cyprus in 2017, and was graced with photos of Tia from time to time.


Accordingly, I was shocked by Tias stroke of fate and the threat of homelessness, 15 months after we pulled the little misery out of the bush. 15 months in which we traveled around the entire world and worked constantly as housesitters.

Without thinking about it for long, I decided to single-handedly bring Tia and Sandy to Germany. My partner was not so enthusiastic about my plan.

Germany was no longer our home country. We spend about four weeks a year in Germany, just to visit family.

These four weeks started just at the time when we learned about Tia’s stroke of fate and Sandy’s existence.

We usually changed our accommodations like we changed our clothes. We flew from continent to continent, worked full time as housesitters and were as free and unbound as we could be. All that would change abruptly with dogs of our own. From one moment to the next.

Were we ready to accept so many sacrifices for two dogs we hardly knew? To turn our lives almost completely upside down?

To give up constant housesitting and thus lose our part-time job, which gave us permanent freedom from rent in amazing accommodations?

To have to work twice the time for wages, in order to be able to pay a rent we had been spared from, until then? Or would housesitting work with our own dogs? Would renting work with two dogs? Have we already traveled to all the countries we wanted to travel to, which we would not be able to travel to, with our own dogs?

Questions upon questions. Most of them with unsatisfactory answers. Answers which, in retrospect, were less weighty, because where the door to absolute freedom closed for us, the door to absolute happiness opened. Tia and Sandy brought an incredible amount of joy into our lives. We must have sensed this when, against all the unsatisfying answers to our freedom questions, we decided to bring these tragic creatures to live with us.


So, we agreed and Maroni danced a happy dance. But it took another five weeks until Tia and Sandy boarded the plane in Larnaca, heading for Düsseldorf.

Sandy had to be neutered. Even if the will to castrate dogs has changed in the meantime, this is still usual for shelter dogs and in my opinion unavoidable. Who had the whole misery once before eyes, will hardly contradict.

Both dogs had to be vaccinated and dewormed. EU passports had to be applied for. All this took time, but we also needed time to prepare for a life with dogs.

First, we rented an accommodation for five months at a time in Germany. Before moving on, the dogs needed to acclimatize. I needed time to work with them, build trust, create a daily routine and basic training and good behavior had to be reliably in place, before we started our journey.

Also, we had no equipment and were living out of a 49-liter trolley. We needed a car with a large trunk, because from now on, we would not fly from A to Y, but drive from A to B. Not to mention dog beds, bowls, leashes, collars, harnesses, dog food, car locks, tick tongs and poop bags.

Everything had to be picked out, ordered and placed. This takes time, because I didn’t want to buy just anything, but to find the best solution for each problem.

The food had to be dog-appropriate, the bowls pollutant-free, the poop bags recyclable, the collars quick-drying, and the harnesses a perfect fit. I sat for days in front of the laptop and picked out the most suitable from everything.


July 26, 2018 – Departure day.

One of the hottest days of the year. Tia and Sandy boarded the plane in Larnaca in the morning and arrived in Düsseldorf in the early afternoon.

But this day was not only the arrival day of our dogs. It was also the day of the funeral of Tia’s former owner. The air was filled with melancholy, sadness, joy and excitement. How much were we allowed to rejoice over Tia? After all, she only became part of our family, because her previous owner recently succumbed to tragedy.

We drove to the airport with pounding hearts.

It was 38 degrees outside. It was blistering hot.

We arrived at the airport and went to the arrival area of the planes from Larnaca. After the plane landed, we waited in the entrance area for over two hours, until something happened.

Animals from southern Europe are stuck in customs for ages, we were told. The reason for this is a flourishing dog trade with falsified papers and sick animals.

Also, Tia and Sandy were not the only dogs transported in the cargo. Little by little, more and more dog boxes with Cypriot passengers gathered in front of the exit. Some of them were picked up by new owners, beaming over both ears. Others were taken over in bulk by clarified animal welfare organizations.

And then it happened. I saw a sheps head with floppy ears, rolling down the aisle. Followed by a box with a small, golden, huddled something, I only knew from photos. Both dog boxes were accompanied by a customs officer. He asked if I was the final owner. I had to show my ID and answered many questions, double and triple.

The EU passports of our dogs were also double and triple checked. If there was something wrong with them, the customs officer said, the dogs would be taken to the vet and being “destroyed”. Destroyed! The original wording. This probably happens more often, because there is a lot of illegal trade with terminally ill foreign dogs. I swallowed three times.

We even personally knew the veterinarian, who issued the passport, but were still afraid that something might be wrong. Accordingly relieved, we accepted the short “OK” from the immediately on the heel turning customs officer and were from now on owners of two adult bitches, which we did not know.



First, we rolled the two huge boxes into a quiet corner of the airport. Since the dogs might panic, we wanted to put the previously purchased safety-harnesses on them, inside the building.

Sandy came out of the crate relatively quickly and buried her head in my lap, with her tail tucked and ears folded way back. We put the harness on and let her go back in her crate.

Then we opened Tia’s door. Tia didn’t want to leave the box and I feared a bite, after all I knew of her. So, I sat in front of Tia’s box for half an hour and talked to her like sugarcandy, until she set the first foot out of the box. When she was outside, i put on the harness and she fled back into her crate.



Now we were heading the parking garage.

At 40 degrees, we had to hurry to avoid a heat stroke. My partner ran ahead and set the air conditioning of the car to maximum. I shuttled the dogs towards the elevator, to get to the top floor, where we had parked.

Once at the car, we maneuvered the dogs out of their crates, not so gingerly this time, due to the intense heat. We put them in the air-conditioned trunk, as quickly as we could. They were very obedient and stood silent.

During the one-hour drive to our accommodation, Tia growled bitterly, as soon as we looked at her. This was an absolute fear growl, so I didn’t look at her and stayed very relaxed and sweet.



When the trunk opened, we leashed both dogs without a problem and walked a few feet, so they could relieve themselves, which unfortunately, they did not. They waited until we were in the apartment.

As soon as we got in, Tia suddenly started spinning around like crazy and then it just sprayed out of her rear end. The walls, the doors, the dog beds, the sofa, really everything was covered with in a brown and miserable smelling liquid manure. I had never seen or smelled anything like it before.

We were completely shocked and started laughing at the same time, because the situation was surreal. Unfortunately i didn’t take photos of it. My partner almost threw up and had to leave the apartment. The smell was not from this planet! He took the dogs for a longer walk this time, while i cleaned. I still wished i would’ve taken photos, it certainly would’ve given us some big laughs today. After everything was cleaned and the dogs had gotten rid of everything needed in the nearby forest, everybody relaxed and things went uphill very quickly.

Unfortunately, we had to put the dogbeds in the washing machine, so they placed themselves on the naked ground for a couple of hours. Obviously didn’t bother…



Tia and Sandy fell into a deep sleep.

They fell asleep as well-traveled street dogs and awoke as the newborn Vagabondogs, they are today.

How the first days, weeks and months in Germany went, will be told elsewhere.