‘Riot-Dog’: Protest pooch becomes icon of Greek solidarity

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, May 8, 2010 15:52 EDT
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Revolutionary-era Americans had the “Join or Die” snake. Iran’s green revolution rallied around the death of Neda Agha-Soltan. Ukraine’s orange revolution exploded after the poisoning of Victor Yushchenko.

In a Greece struggling amidst the throes of draconian, IMF-led budgetary cutbacks, another symbol of revolution is rising. They call him either “Riot-Dog” or “Rebel-Dog”, depending on the source.

With a national debt topping 300 billion Euros, a looming EU-IMF bailout at $140 billion or more and frequent rioting over the country’s agreement to a massive austerity plan, the pooch seems to be gaining traction among protesters as an image of solidarity.

Aris Messinis: AFP/Getty Images

The canine’s real name is Kanellos and, according to published accounts, he’s acquired quite a taste for civil unrest, having made an appearance at virtually every major Greek protest and riot over the last two years.

Kanellos has cropped up in photos taken by news agencies spanning the globe, including Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Getty Images, the Associated Press and others. Thanks to his seemingly ubiquitous presence in the streets and the images of chaos in which he’s participated, “Riot-Dog” is gaining fans quickly.

Photographer unknown: source

For one, a “Riot-Dog” fan page on Facebook was on the threshold of 10,000 friends at time of this writing. A Greek Tumblr page dedicated to “Rebel Dog” features a long series of photos showing Kanellos’ exploits in the midst of recent unrest. He was even the subject of his own photo feature in The Guardian UK.

Similar posts appeared on Democrat blog network DailyKos, BuzzFeed and This Blog Rules in recent days.

Photographer unknown: source

Then, there’s a video uploaded to YouTube on March 11, 2010 that shows Kanellos fearlessly running up to and harrying riot police atop motorcycles as they blockade a street, wagging his tail the whole way. His portion runs from 1:30 – 2:20 in the clip below.

He is also the source of several musical tributes on YouTube, featuring loads of Greek text and numerous photos of Kanellos plunging headlong into the contested streets.

“This dog has been in the streets more times than the entire ‘progressive’ movement combined,” Kos blogger RenderQT scoffed, noting his photo spread was a tribute to “the Greek Dog of Protest.”

“Can we get a little less fiscal reporting (boring) and a little more Riot Dog reporting”? BuzzFeed added.

Aris Messinis/AFP

There is some reasonable doubt about Kanellos’s identity, with some suggesting that images circulating of the “Riot-Dog” are actually two different yet similar-looking pooches with the same proclivities for protest.

“While one can’t be certain that it’s the same pooch at every protest — Athens is something of a magnet for street-savvy stray dogs — this mutt does sport a distinctive blue collar, which may indicate that, while he’s a stray, he’s also current on his shots,” noted Yahoo News contributor Brett Michael Dykes.

With the country in urgent need of nine billion euros (11 billion dollars) by May 19 to service existing debt, Greek PM George Papandreou reported with relief early Saturday that rescue funds would arrive within days.

“In the following days, Greece will receive the first tranche of the 110 billion euros from the EU and the IMF,” Papandreou said after an emergency late-night summit of euro leaders in Brussels.

“This will allow us to implement our (austerity) programme and our reforms,” he underlined.

Politics nonwithstanding, the symbol of Kanellos, the Greek dog of protest — be he one stray or two — has given an entirely new meaning to the act of “hounding” the police.

With AFP

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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