Riot dog

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"Riot dog" is a term used by English-speaking media denoting any of the stray dogs that accompanied street protesters in Athens, Greece, in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, when the country was plunged into a severe recession by the Greek government-debt crisis.[1] It has been observed that a number of these dogs remained among the protesters even when violent rioting breaks out.[2][3] Greece's Riot Dogs acquired a large following of fans around the world via the media of the internet as a symbol of the protests of the everyman against an oligarchic government state.[4][5][6]

The dogs[edit]

Kanellos (Greek: Κανέλλος: cinnamon), a distinct blonde, male, mixed-breed canine,[7] was arguably the first incarnation of the Greek Riot Dog. His maiden appearance was in photographs taken at a general assembly of students in the occupied National Technical University of Athens. Kanellos became famous in the 2008 Greek riots, when Greek photographers and cameramen started to notice a dog that kept appearing in their footage.[1] The stray seemed to always walk amongst and side with the protesters.[8]

According to reports by witnesses, Kanellos, in his final years, suffered from arthritis, which motivated a group of college students to collect money and purchase him a dog's wheelchair. This allowed him to live indoors, among the students, until he died.[9]

Thodoris (Θοδωρής) is a Kanellos look-alike, believed to be one of Kanellos' pups. Thodoris is a light golden-colored, mixed breed dog, who, despite being a stray, has seemingly been provided with all the necessary medical shots, as evidenced by his blue collar.[6][10]

Loukanikos (Λουκάνικος: the sausage loukaniko) or more commonly Louk (Λουκ), sometimes confused by the media for Kanellos,[11] has been present at nearly every recent protest in Athens in the past few years.[11] This stray has ostensibly become the symbol of Greek protests against the IMF- and ECB-prompted austerity measures.[12] There's uncertainty about the claim that Loukanikos and Thodoris may, in fact, be the same dog[13] however this was later confirmed false after Loukanikos died due to ingestion of tear gas, due to constant protesting.

In September 2011, on the occasion of a striking policemen's union marching in the centre of Athens,[14] Loukanikos, according to eyewitnesses,[13] was "initially confused" between two opposite sides both of uniformed policemen but, when the riot police contingent attacked their striking colleagues, the dog sided with "those who were being attacked."

Loukanikos' health was "severely burdened" by the inhaling of tear gas and other chemicals during the many riots in which he participated[15] but lived until approximately ten years of age, dying peacefully on 9 October 2014 at the home of a person who cared for him.[15]

Other dogs[edit]

A graffiti of Negro Matapacos, a symbol that has been getting more and more popular during the last protest in Chile that started in October 2019

In Chile, in the 2010s, a stray dog accompanied student protests. Protesters named him "Negro Matapacos" (from Spanish matar, to kill, and paco, which is Chilean slang for "policeman"; his full nickname therefore translates to "Black Cop-killer"), or refer to him simply as "El Negro".[16] Matapacos died on 26 August 2017 of old age with a veterinarian and other people by his side.[17]

During the Chilean protests of 2019–2020, other dogs were seen alongside protesters. Such is the case of Pepe Matapacos (shortened as "Pepe") in Concepción and Vaquita ("little cow" because of his white and black-dotted fur) in Antofagasta.

In culture[edit]

In 2011, American singer/songwriter David Rovics released a song entitled "The Riot Dog".[18]

Loukanikos appears as a non-playable character in the video game Tonight We Riot, in which he assists the player in a left-wing revolution.[19]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Riot Dog fans",, Australia, 11 May 2010
  2. ^ "Greece's front-line riot dog", BBC News, 17 June 2011
  3. ^ "With Dog on Your Side" by Jon Queally, Common Dreams, 5 July 2010
  4. ^ "Grekisk rebellhund hyllas på nätet" ("Greek rebel dog is hailed on the web"), Dagliga Nyheter, 5 August 2010 (in Swedish)
  5. ^ "Ein griechischer Held" ("A Greek Hero"), KampfLieder, 11 October 2011 (in German)
  6. ^ a b "Amid the turmoil of the Greece financial crisis, photos and videos of street protests have turned up a kind of canine "Where's Waldo" figure: a mutt that....clearly has a strong interest in civic disorder": From "Mysterious 'Rebel Dog' of Greek riots becoming latest Web icon" by Brett Dykes, Yahoo News, 7 May 2010
  7. ^ "Kanellos the Greek protest dog makes another appearance" WINK-TV, CBS affiliate, 7 May 2010
  8. ^ "The hound always seems to side with the protesters, whatever the dispute." From "Kanellos the Greek protest dog", The Guardian, 6 May 2010
  9. ^ "OK! let’s clear this out" RebelDog website
  10. ^ "Mange Against the Machine" Archived 20 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine, by Paul Katie, Newsweek, May 2010
  11. ^ a b "Loukanikos, the Greek anarchist dog" LibCom, 8 May 2010
  12. ^ "Activist hounding Greek cabinet", The Australian, 20 June 2011
  13. ^ a b "Kanellos and Thodoris Loukanikos" by 'Karlo Krystaller', Black Capitalism, 25 December 2011 (in Greek)
  14. ^ "Police protest low salaries", Kathimerini, 27 September 2011
  15. ^ a b "Ena Adio Ston Loukaniko" ("A Goodbye to Loukanikos"), Avgi, 9 October 2014 (in Greek)
  16. ^ Documental Matapaco (2013) (in Spanish)
  17. ^ Murió el legendario Negro Matapacos (in Spanish)
  18. ^ "Η μικρή ιστορία του 'Lucky Λουκ'" ("The short story of Lucky 'Louk' "), in Dimokratia, 24 June 2011 (in Greek)
  19. ^ Walker, Ian. "Tonight We Riot Devs Wanted To Make An 'Unapologetically Leftist' Game". Kotaku. G/O Media, Inc. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.

External links[edit]

Video footage[edit]