Ever wonder what happens to those stray dogs in resort towns, the ones that show up with a playful, wagging tail at the edge of your lounge chair?
The ones who scamper at your feet, as you walk golden miles of sun-crested shoreline?
What becomes of them when the tourists head home?
During an early morning walk at a Greek island resort last month, Canadian photographer Sergio Beristain caught a glimpse of the secret life of one of those beach dogs.
And the scene was pretty much what you might expect it to be — when a tired, homeless dog finds himself with the run of the resort.
"I came across this dog who looked at me for a moment when he heard my steps on the sand," he tells MNN. "After a few seconds, he just went back to sleep. It was very sweet."
This Greek island of Santorini, nestled in the Aegean Sea, is home to countless street dogs like this one. But unlike so many vacation destinations, where cats and dogs are left to fend for themselves or live off the avails of passing tourists, these dogs get year-round care from local residents.
“There were a few packs of doggies chilling around the village and the locals take good care of street dogs and cats,” Beristain explains. “They even leave food and water on the streets for them.”
Still, there’s something achingly empty about this scene. It never seems right to find a dog seemingly so alone in the world. Even in paradise.
The secret life of a street dog seems a sad one.
Maybe that’s why so many animal rescue groups are dedicated to bringing dogs back to the U.S. and Canada from exotic locales. There are organizations like Compassion Without Borders, which helps homeless dogs in Mexico find real families and the Soi Dog Foundation, a difference-maker on the idyllic Thai island of Phuket.
Not to mention Sochi Dogs, a group that sends dogs to the West from the one-time Olympic site.
Many of the dogs they treat are in far worse straits than this Greek island lounger. But still, all the Mediterranean sunrises in the world can’t make up the brightness of having a real family.
For now, rest easy, beach dog. And maybe someday, one of those adoring visitors will pack their bags, call a cab — and book you a flight home.
Until then, it’s nice that someone leaves a light on for you.