Loukanikos, the emblematic sandy-colored mutt that became a symbol of Greek resistance to austerity, has died, leftist daily Avgi reported on Thursday.
The man who first found him as a puppy roaming the streets of central Athens named him Nikiforos, or the bringer of victory. Others called him Kanellos in tribute to another famous riot dog who died in 2008. Among the throngs of Greece's anti-austerity protesters though, he was known as Loukanikos, or Sausage, an enduring moniker for the feisty dog that made headlines around the world for being at the front line of almost every protest rally great and small in the Greek capital over the past few years.
Greek social media was ablaze with posts for Loukanikos on Thursday after news of his demise became public: "RIP Loukanikos," "A farewell to Loukanikos," "Loukanikos, Greece's riot dog, breathes his last."
According to Avgi, the mixed-breed dog's health had been failing for the past two years since he was last seen barking at riot police and facing the tear gas in front of Parliament on Syntagma Square. His age was estimated at around 10.
His presence at numerous rallies and his often vicious attacks on riot police beating back crowds of protesters made Loukanikos a symbol of Greek resistance to austerity measures imposed the country's international creditors. He became the subject of reports by the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and other international media outlets covering the Greek crisis. In 2011 he made it onto Time magazine's 100 Personalities of the Year list and is the subject of a song and video posted on YouTube in 2011 to express solidarity with the Greeks. Loukanikos even has his own Facebook page with nearly 45,000 "Likes."
The man that has been taking care of the stray since he was a puppy and who wished to remain anonymous, told Avgi that Loukanikos passed away at his home. The exact date of his death was unclear. The vet who had been monitoring him said that exposure to chemicals used by anti-riot police to disperse protesters played an instrumental role in his decline, Avgi said.