In 2008, I stumbled across a small dog at work in the outskirts of Athens. This sweet little thing would meet me every morning as I got off the bus. Her eyes would flitter in recognition and love, and she knew that I knew who she was and that we were friends. And I would bring her food and clean water and she would show her gratitude. Eventually, I came to call her Penny.
Looking back, there were many times in which my heart sank at the sight of an abandoned dog and cat on an Athenian street. There were many times I turned a blind eye. There was nothing I could do, I would say to myself. But Penny was the one that stole my heart. She was special to me. No one but me.
One day Penny was not waiting for me at the bus stop. A security guard at the gate gestured towards a corpse lying in the gutter on the side of the road. She had probably been hit by a car and left there for the council’s cleaning trucks to dispose of when they got around to it.
We buried Penny at a spot near my old office. I named this marathon in her honour. I will forever feel an enormous sense of guilt for not having provided Penny with a safe home, and now live life as a person who has learned from that mistake.
There are no pictures of Penny. But my friend and illustrator, Panayiotis Lyris, has come up with this image based on my memories of her (she’s the one at left). This image will feature in a book we hope to create together, in which Penny learns to navigate the streets of Athens with the help of her new stray friends.
Founder, Penny Marathon, Eleftheria Prodromou