Tuesday, 27 January 2015

January gloom and optimism

It's a pretty gloomy month for most people.  Those who celebrate Christmas are now counting the cost.  People who work, who were probably paid early before Christmas, are now wishing the days away to January payday.

We get the worst of the weather here in January.   We had below freezing temperatures a couple of weeks ago, and we've had a good deal of rain.   And when it rains in Turkey...it buckets down.

The house is damp...very damp.  We try every year to solve the problem.  Sometimes it works, but more often than not, it doesn't.  I'm beginning to feel that the only solution would be to knock the house down and start again, but that's unlikely to happen, unless we win the lottery.

Mr A has had no work for weeks.  There is just nothing around at the moment.  There are jobs in supermarkets, but they require basic qualifications...school certificates, and thanks to his father Mr A didn't finish his education so has nothing to show.  The reason why he has worked in tourism for years, where bosses are happy to take on anyone and pay them commission only.

He spends most of his time at the teahouses, both in the village, Milas and local areas.  This is where men wait to hear about building work.  If they are lucky someone will turn up and give them work for a few days or weeks.

He has also done a fair bit of work in the garden.  The dogs' areas are now separated and safe, and yesterday he replaced the pallets in the dogs' bedroom in the old house with shelf type beds on legs. We have also moved Chas and Melek's kennels into this room as they tend to sleep with the others.  It was getting quite squashed, so even though these new "beds" take up less room, there is more sleeping space.   The dogs love it, and because it's off the floor it makes it much easier to keep the area clean.





We continue to provide sacks of food to the man at the sanayi who is feeding around 20 dogs a day.  However we are very concerned about the dogs that have recently turned up in the village.  They don't come close enough to feed.   We have contacted the council shelter in Milas and asked them to collect these dogs because they are not safe here.  We can't get a definite agreement from them but are hoping this will happen sooner rather than later.  If they don't get fed here they may move on.  If they come close enough for us to feed them, they will stay, and we then put them at risk of being shot or poisoned.  It's a real dilemma and we have no idea how to solve it at the moment.

Mr A's car has been exchanged for a motorbike.  Those who follow my blog will know that this happens every year, when he reaches the point where a car is too expensive to maintain.

But it's not all doom and gloom.   I recently had contact with an English woman, Jacky, on Facebook who is involved with the street dogs over in Tuzla.  She and her husband, Jim, feed around 40 dogs a day.  They have had a fair number of problems with the local council and neighbours (I'm sorry to say these neighbours are mostly foreigners) but they are very determined people and carry on regardless, doing as much as they can for the dogs.  They have a good deal of support from tourists during the season, and organise such events as car boot sales to fund their work.

It transpired that they had friends living not far from us, Rita and Steve, ...also involved in the welfare of the street dogs, and last Thursday I met all four of them at Rita and Steve's house.   It was a really enjoyable afternoon and we talked non-stop about dogs.   Both couples donated to my fund, for which I am extremely grateful.  Money is very tight at the moment, and this was most welcome.

They have a wealth of knowledge between them and some useful contacts, and are happy to give me support in the future.  It's wonderful to find people to turn to for advice.  It makes me feel much less isolated.

So gloomy January is almost at an end.  Once we are into February I feel a little more optimistic, with Spring just around the corner.






Thursday, 22 January 2015

Anxiety and Guilt

Since we lost Dave recently I have been on tenterhooks.  I watch the other 10 dogs constantly.  We don't really know what caused Dave's death and even though I know that it couldn't have been an infection or virus, because surely one of the others would have shown signs, it doesn't stop me worrying.

I keep wondering if there was more that I could have done to save him.  I'm not sleeping well at all, because if I hear one or more of the dogs outside barking I have to get up and check them.   If one of the four dogs in the house makes a sound or jumps off the bed, I switch the light on immediately to see if they're ok.  They are usually just getting up to drink water, or in Timmy's case going to the door to be let outside for the toilet.

I also feel guilty about having taken a couple of days off this week.  Yes, I did feel the benefit of the luxury of a hotel with a comfortable bed and a bath.  It wasn't expensive but I am so unused to spending money on myself and whenever I do, I wish later that I hadn't.  I can't change the habits of a lifetime.

The timing wasn't good.  We have had a lot of expense with vet bills just lately, and not enough in the way of donations to cover the costs.  I could have spent the Izmir trip money on the dogs.  It's what I normally would have done.  We were spending our money on dogs long before I started asking for donations, so it was unwise of me to rely on the generosity of others.

People have been so kind and generous and I am more grateful than you can imagine.  I want to keep doing what I'm doing for as long as possible for as many dogs as possible.   I have to be realistic though.  I have to accept that I can't save every dog I see wandering the streets from injury, disease or hunger.

More dogs are being dumped in our village.  I knew it would happen.  Again this makes me so anxious.  I don't know how we can protect them from being shot or poisoned like those other dogs we cared for.   I can't comprehend the ignorance and cruelty.  The mentality is beyond me.

I've had 17 years of this concern for the plight of the animals here, and those of you also involved in animal rescue and welfare will know that it never gets any easier, and how it's impossible to turn your back on an animal in need.  But none of us can do it without help from others.




Tuesday, 20 January 2015

New arrivals

For a couple of weeks we have been without dogs in the village.  This was of course due to shootings and poisonings which I talked about in previous blog posts.

We did manage to save three dogs, one who was shot and spent 5 and half weeks in our vet clinic being treated for a severe infection and then an operation to fix the bone.   He was rehomed in Oren by someone contacted by our vet.   The dog who was poisoned spent 5 days in the clinic and was then taken to the sanayi where a lovely man is looking after him.  We tried to integrate the dog we named Kahve at home with our dogs...he was the only surviving dog in the village.  It didn't work.  We had him vaccinated, wormed and flea treated and he was adopted by the sanayi man.  This man is now feeding between 15 and 20 dogs a day as long as we provide food.

We have been checking on the mum dog with the deformed legs and her two pups.  They are on the outskirts of the village so relatively safe.  They are living next to a house where the woman is feeding them with the sack of food we provided.  We need to worm the pups but the mum is still very protective and we are unable to get access to them, but will do this as soon as we can.

Thanks to donations in the past couple of months I was able to settle a large bill with the vet.  Thankyou so much to all who donated and enabled me to do this.

Two nights ago Mr A spotted new dogs in the village.  Three or four of them.  They are of course scared and won't come close, (He managed to get photos of two of them).



We will start to feed them, but Mr A really needs to work on the people of the village to encourage them to leave the dogs alone.  How easy this will be remains to be seen.  In the meantime, we will try to get them taken in by Milas shelter...but I won't hold my breath...they have been extremely uncooperative to date.  We cannot take them to the sanayi because, having already taken two there, any more will undoubtedly cause a problem.

Mr A also told me of a story he had heard last night of a suspected case of rabies in a village not far from us.  I posted a warning on some groups last night, but to be honest there is conflicting information and details are sketchy, so I deleted my posts to avoid scaremongering, until we know the facts.

It did however act as a reminder for me that some of our 10 rescued dogs are due rabies boosters.  Timmy also needed another mixed vaccine which we have given him today, and he will have his rabies shot one week later.

Tommy, Megan, Sammy, Blondie and Freddie had their boosters today.   Melek and Chas are due in June and Monty in November.

We  were also completely out of dog food, having delivered the last sack to the sanayi on Saturday, so we also collected 6 x 15kg sacks today from our vet.

This means that I am now in debt to my vet for the vaccines and the food, and for Dave's treatment last week before he died,  and I would be most grateful for donations at this time.  Any amount, no matter how small, is very welcome.    Without the help of all of you kind people, we wouldn't be able to continue to care for as many dogs as possible.  

If you would like to donate you will find the Paypal button at the top of this page).    Thankyou xx

Sunday, 18 January 2015

And back to reality again

I thoroughly enjoyed my short break in Izmir and was so glad I made the decision to do it.

Maxine arrived at my hotel after 9am yesterday and we had breakfast together.  This is the first time we have met in person, and we hit it off immediately.  I thank the power of the internet for this new type of friendship.  It's great to have conversations over a period of time online, which saves most of the preliminary "getting to know you" when you eventually meet.

We headed off towards the sea and enjoyed a stroll along the promenade, stopping for coffee and cay.  We encountered a number of dogs on the way, all looking healthy.  I took my leftover pizza which had I handed to the dogs in our area would have been gobbled up immediately.  Not the case here.  These dogs are so well fed that they just sniffed the pizza and turned their noses up at it.


We then walked in the opposite direction past the clock tower, and sat in glorious sunshine and chatted some more.   The day passed very quickly, and after a stop for more coffee and tea, we ended up back at my hotel, where we parted company, promising to do this again sometime.

Maxine kindly brought some Cadburys chocolate for me and chewsticks for the dogs.  She also got me some lovely bubble bath, which I used on my return to the hotel.  I have managed to squeeze in 5 baths during my stay...making the most of what is a real luxury for me.

After a good night's sleep and breakfast, I checked out, set off for the otogar and the return bus journey to Milas where Mr A was waiting for me.

We called in at the industrial estate on the way back to the village to drop off our last bag of dog food.  The man who took on responsibility for Kahve and the dog who was poisoned is now feeding around 15 to 20 dogs a day, with the food we provide.

Thanks to recent donations, I have managed to pay the hefty vet bills that were recently accumulated, but we do need to stock up on more food, so of course more donations would be very gratefully received.

Home to an enthusiastic welcome at the gate from Monty, Tommy, Fistik and Timmy, and from Melek, Chas, Megan, Sammy, Blondie and Freddie in the dogs area behind the house.  All very happy to receive chewsticks...thanks Maxine xx

Tommy's ear infection has cleared up and he is very much back to his normal self.  Timmy is still tiny but has put on quite a lot of weight since we brought him home. He's quite podgy now.   The house training continues, and we only have the odd accident now so we're getting there.  After recent events, it's great to see all the dogs looking happy and healthy.

This break was a real treat for me. It has reduced my stress levels and recharged my batteries but I missed the dogs and am happy to be home....even without a bathtub!

Friday, 16 January 2015

A break from reality

OK so I've been boring everyone on Facebook with my trip to Izmir.

How times change.  In my former life in the UK I stayed in hotels...very nice hotels...quite often.  In different countries as well as in England, when I had to regularly travel to area meetings with my job.

Those were the days when I wore business suits, and not fleece pyjamas I wear now to fit in with the village dress code.  I lived in a house with central heating, a bath, a shower, and every other mod con imaginable.

I don't miss my former life except for basics like hot water...well water hot or cold as we're often without both.  I love this country, in spite of it's problems, and it has enabled me to do as much as I can for the street animals, and that far outweighs material things.

But it's probably getting on for almost 20 years since I stayed in a decent hotel.  This past few weeks has been very stressful and there have been a lot of tears shed, both by me and Mr A.  He can take himself off to the teahouse to relieve his stress, but there is nowhere for me to go.

By coincidence my friend Maxine who lives in the UK was making a short trip to Izmir this week, and would be free today.  We have been internet friends for a while, and we are both admin on a Facebook group.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to meet.

I had doubts about booking buses and hotels, because I thought I just wouldn't be able to afford it.  I guess I was still thinking about the costs of travel and hotels in the UK, which would be way beyond my reach.

However, I was pleasantly surprised with the results of my search.  For any of you thinking about travelling to Turkey, you might want to consider getting just your flights, travel around and book hotels direct, or as I did, with a company called Booking.com.

The  trip to Izmir from Milas by bus takes two and a half hours.  You are served hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, and there is wifi on board.  The cost of the return trip is 50 lira (just over £14)  and this includes a free service bus from the bus station to your chosen area in the city.

The hotel I booked is a 4 star.  It is exceptionally clean and the service is very good.  The room was spacious, comfortable double bed with lots of soft pillows, and a BATHTUB which I really needed.  Also toiletries, bathrobe, slippers, and free wifi (which incidentally was far better than the reception I get at home).





I booked in around 2pm Thursday, for two nights, and check out is up to 1200 midday on Saturday.  The total price for this was 269 lira (just short of £77) and this includes breakfast.  Shortly after I checked in, a waiter knocked on the door to deliver a big dish of fruit and biscuits.

I can recall the days of room service in the UK, when my company were paying the bill, and the ridiculously high prices just for a sandwich.  Because I needed to relax I checked the room service menu and ordered 2 glasses of wine (ok I thought they would be small so I'd need two, but they were large...slight headache this morning), and a pizza.  This was enormous and I only managed to eat half of it.  I have saved the remainder to feed any street dogs I might see today.   The total price for the wine and pizza 33 lira (£9.50).

And talking of street dogs.  I took a short stroll around the area, which seems to consist mostly of wedding shops, and I noticed three dogs being fed by different people, and also this one, outside a wedding shop, where a carpet had been placed for him, along with food and water.
 

It fills me with joy to see how well the dogs are cared for in Izmir.  If only it were the case everywhere else.

This morning, Maxine will come to my hotel and we will have breakfast together, then spend the day together.  The weather forecast looks good.  Perfect for a stroll by the sea, stopping for cay and coffee, and a good old chat.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Difficult times

It's been a difficult week all round really, see my earlier post HERE.   A week with all kinds of problems, and daily trips to the vet.

Those of you on Facebook have followed Dave's progress and the status I posted early yesterday morning, with a copy on this blog, informed you that Dave had died.  I am still in shock that we could lose this lovely, healthy boy, almost a year old.  We rescued him, as most of you will know, along with his sister Melek,. and brother Chas, when they were just four weeks old.

So it's particularly distressing to watch them grow, and then to lose one of them.  He was the greediest of the three pups.  All my dogs have two big meals a day, but this often wasn 't enough for Dave.  He would insist on eating anything he could find, including bits of chewed blankets and towels.   During his daily trips to the vet he was given serum, thorough examinations, his temperature was normal and there was no sign of infection so it was assumed that something he had eaten needed to be moved.  He was given medicine to aid this, and it started to work.

He showed signs of improving, then went downhill...then up.  I was so sure he would get better, but it wasn't to be.  I am just so very very sad.

The vet visits haven't stopped.  It was Tommy's turn this morning.  I did mention last week that he had vomited white foam and he was checked out at the vet, assuming it was a stomach upset.  He had medicine and started to eat again.  Last night he started shaking his head and this continued all night, so off to the vet again this morning.   He has an ear infection and has been given antibiotics and eardrops.  The vomiting days ago was probably the start of the infection, and with all that was going on with Dave, we didn't notice Tommy's condition.

The last thing I want to do today is talk about money, but we have had a lot of vet bills recently, as well as expenditure on food, so I'm afraid the money box is pretty much empty now, so any donations at this time would be so gratefully received.

Fingers crossed for Tommy please.

And to my darling Dave....rest in peace lovely boy

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Just a few words....

...for those of you who don't follow me on Facebook.  This was my update this ,morning:

Dave died in the early hours of this morning. When we checked around 1.30am he was sleeping. At 4.00am he was gone. I don't know why. We did everything we could. I want to blame someone, or something or myself. It won't bring him back, whatever it was. I am devastated.

I needed to let you know, because some of you have followed Dave's progress.  Please forgive me if I don't respond to any comments just at the moment.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Icy weather and vet visits

It is bitterly cold here at the moment.  Temperatures in minus figures and we are doing our utmost to keep warm.  I am constantly checking on the dogs outside, day and night, to make sure they are warm enough.   There are extra blankets in the room in the old house where Megan, Sammy, Blondie and Freddie sleep and they are fine.

Chas, Dave and Melek's kennels in their area are sheltered and they don't seem bothered by the cold weather at all.  But they are young and they have kangal blood in them which I am sure gives them some natural protection.

On Sunday little Timmy was as usual jumping and grabbing the sofa, trying to jump up and he caught one of his nails and it ripped.   Blood everywhere and a great deal of screaming.  Once it had stopped bleeding I put some antibacterial powder on it and a bandage.

On Monday morning we took him to the vet who gave him an antibiotic injection and said to leave it open and the nail would drop off...which it did several hours later.  He is now absolutely fine.

Early on Tuesday morning Tommy started to vomit.  I took him outside and he continued to vomit white foam.  This can be caused by many different things, and being paranoid about poisoning these days, we didn't want to take any chances so off to the vets again.  Nothing serious.  Probably just a stomach upset.  He was put on serum as he was dehydrated.  He was very quiet for the rest of the day and we were told not to feed him.  Very late in the evening he seemed a lot brighter...and hungry...so I gave him a little food.  A  bit of a mistake on my part as he later brought this back.   Yesterday he was much better and is now eating and back to his normal self (errr...not quite...see further down)

When we went out to feed the dogs early yesterday morning, the usually greedy Dave didn't come out of his kennel.   On closer inspection I could see that he had been sick both inside and outside of his kennel.  Again I made a silly mistake the night before...putting blankets in the kennels for extra warmth.  These three dogs like to chew blankets and drag them around the garden.  Dave, however, takes it one step further and swallows lumps of chewed blanket.  I was pretty sure this is what had made him sick.   Anyway he didn 't want to eat his food, so we watched him carefully for the rest of the day, and he seemed his usual self.

When it came to feeding time around 4pm yesterday he still did not want to eat, so Mr A took him off to see the vet, who reported nothing serious, and most likely something he had eaten which would work its way through his system.    He had some treatment, including calcium magnesium powder which should hopefully shift what's in his stomach.

We also paid a visit to the sanayi yesterday to drop off another sack of food. Kahve is doing well with the man who adopted him, as is also the dog who was poisoned.  The man says there are between 12 and 20 dogs on the estate at the moment, and he is feeding all those who turn up at his door,

Up at 4.45 this morning and again Dave  refused to eat, so he will be given more calcium magnesium and we will see what, if anything comes out the other end.  After a very cold night, the water bowls were frozen over, but none of the 7 outside dogs seem at all bothered by the cold.

...................pause.................... to be continued

Around 5 am Mr A received a frantic call from a friend in the village whose 18 month old daughter was having difficulty breathing.  This friend doesn't have transport so Mr A set off to take them to the hospital.  The child has been admitted and things are under control.

While he was gone, Tommy, who seemed so well yesterday, started vomiting again.  Apart from this he doesn't appear unwell.  He has also had calcium magnesium so it may well be that this is cleaning out his stomach.

So Tommy and Dave will be under careful scrutiny today and if necessary another vet visit will be on the cards.

In the meantime, the water tank on the roof is frozen.  We've been waiting for the men who installed it originally to come and put in non-toxic antifreeze, but understandably they are busy at the moment with this cold weather.  Hopefully they will be here today.

And my washing machine is playing up.  I've noticed that we still have one month left on the guarantee so we need to get an engineer out pretty soon.

Blankets and towels that I washed last night were put on the line this morning...within 5 minutes they were frozen solid, like cardboard.

....and life in paradise continues!



Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Winter hibernation

I'm always grateful that this old village house is cool during the hottest summer months, but I dread winter.   We get so much rain which seeps through the walls, no matter what we do to protect them, and it's cold and damp.

I would like to actually hibernate for a few months...snuggled up in bed with my electric blanket...which is where you will find me whenever I have a spare moment.  It's simply the cheapest way of keeping warm.

We have aircon in our sitting room, which hasn't worked for a couple of years.  Not that I mind because I don't like it anyway.  We bought a secondhand UFO (heater on a stand) which we have in the sitting room now, and use in the morning between 5 and 6am to thaw and dry out after we've fed the dogs.

Mr A looks like a tramp in winter.  He doesn't shave.  I think he believes the beard will keep him warm.  I'm not much better.  I spend day and night in fleece pyjamas.  A look which fits in quite well with what other women in the village wear.  It's difficult to get washing dry, and fleece dries much faster than anything else, as well as being warm and comfortable.

I normally like to shower every day but have to own up to going two or three days without a shower during winter because the bathroom is cold.  Mr A is the same, and I guess it doesn't matter if we both smell at the same time.  We're not as bad as most village folk who, judging by the pungent aroma on the dolmus, probably go through the entire winter without a shower.

In any case we have had an excuse for the past week.  Our electric shower stopped producing hot water.  Mr A took it apart and then bought a replacement part to fix it.  It then managed to emit luke warm water rather than cold.

Two days ago he brought a friend home (supposedly an electrician, but I have my doubts) who firstly took the aircon apart.  He couldn't fix it.  Put it back together, leaving several parts lying about.

He then dismantled the shower. fiddled about, and said it needed another part.  He put it back together again and it didn't work at all...not even luke warm water.  In fact...nothing.

Mr A remembered my mentioning that my washing machine was making a noise on the spin cycle and was just about to let his friend look at it...but I managed to stop him just in time.  Knowing the man doesn't speak English, and keeping a smile on my face, I told Mr A that anything else electrical in this house would be touched by his friend over my dead body.

So yesterday I washed my hair and my body in water boiled with the kettle, put on clothes rather than more fleece pyjamas and we set off to buy a new shower, which Mr A will attempt to fit today...fingers crossed.

On our way out of the village we went along a different road leading through the back roads to the main road, and discovered a female dog with two pups.  We decided to return by the same route and check on them.  They weren't in the same place, but were quite near a house.  We had a new sack of dog food in the back of the car, so put some food down for the mum.

This poor dog has badly deformed front legs.  This is something I have seen quite a lot in street dogs here.  It can be a genetic defect, but more often than not it is due to malnutrition and lack of vitamins and minerals.  If pups are rescued early enough it can be rectified, but this dog is a few years old.

There are operations that can be performed on dogs which involved breaking and resetting/pinning the bones, followed by weeks of recovery and then physiotherapy.   This is very unlikely to be an option for a street dog here.

This procedure is often done with dogs who are part of a family for cosmetic reasons.  My honest opinion is that if the dog is in no pain because of the deformity and has no problems walking, then best left alone.  Incidentally my dog Monty has deformed front legs...a bit like Queen Anne legs with his little feet pointing outwards.  It doesn't bother him, and I love him all the more for not being "perfect",  I have never been one to strive for perfection when it comes to looks anyway.

So we fed the Mum dog, and had a word with the woman living in the house.  It turned out that Mr A knows her husband.  We left her the sack of food and she has agreed to feed the dog.  She had already been feeding scraps, and pointed to a makeshift shelter that her husband had provided for the dog and her pups.

The mum dog is fiercely protective of her pups so we cannot get near her at the moment.  The woman in the house steers clear and just throws scraps out of the window.  We will try to gain her confidence over the coming weeks and then give her and the pups worm tablets and flea treatments.  It would be good to eventually get the mum spayed too.

I am of course worried about dogs being in this village, but this one is on the outskirts and far enough out of the village to be safe at the moment......we hope.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A new year...a new week

We enter 2015 trying to be optimistic about the plight of the street animals here, but it's difficult.

There are now no dogs roaming the village.  They have been shot, or poisoned, or maybe just fled in fear.  One positive is that we at least managed to save three of them.

Bob who was shot and spent more than 5 weeks in the vet clinic, being treated for a severe infection, followed  by an operation, has now been re-homed.

The dog who was poisoned who we managed to get to the vet's in time to save him is now at the sanayi (industrial estate).  His condition was touch and go for a while, but he has now fully recovered.

He is being fed by the man who adopted Kahve (who is very happy) along with the other strays at the sanayi.   We are providing food.

Mr A has been up each day since we took the dogs there, to make sure that the man is looking after them, and that they have settled.  They are fine, but we will continue to monitor them.   Mr A is also on high alert for any other dogs that may turn up in the village.

For the last few days Mr A noticed a kitten hanging around the teahouse.  There was no mother in sight, but he hoped she might turn up to reclaim her baby.  It didn't happen. 


 Yesterday Mr A brought the kitten home.  He was confident the small dogs would be ok with it.  I knew they wouldn't.  Apart from Fistik who is used to cats, the others went berserk.  They chased and cornered the poor little mite, so this was not going to work.

He asked our neighbour Dursune if she would take care of the kitten and we would provide  food etc.  She wouldn't.  He asked our other neighbour, Sevke, and it came as no surprise to me that she said no too.

We made a bed out of a cardboard box, and a blanket, and Mr A returned to the teahouse, where the owner agreed to let the kitten stay in a sheltered spot at the side of the building.


Last night the teahouse man told Mr A that he already had two kittens in his garden and that he would take our little orphan to join them.  We have agreed to provide food for all three.  Mr A gave the kitten a worm tablet and two more tablets were given for the other two kittens.   Today we will collect flea treatments from the vet for all three.  

If finances permit, we will try to get them vaccinated, and eventually neutered, but at the moment our priority is feeding them and the dogs at the sanayi.

But for now, we are happy that at least they are safe.

If you would like to help us continue to care for the strays here, we would welcome your donations, no matter how small.  It all helps.  You will find the Paypal button at the top of this page.   Thankyou.