When I first moved here in 1998, Mr A and I spent a couple of months travelling along the south and west coasts of Turkey. It was the beginning of winter. Mr A had finished his job in a restaurant at the end of the season, and it seemed the perfect opportunity for him to show me different areas where we might like to settle, and where there would be work for him, hopefully for the winter, but also for the following summer.
We eventually arrived in Gumusluk, on the Bodrum peninsular, and we rented an apartment. Our first proper home together. It was an old building set amongst olive and orange groves. But it was a summer holiday let, and unsuitable for winter. No hot water or cooker, every room leading out to an open terrace, and metal framed windows that let in the rain.
We were walking along the beach one morning and discovered a tiny ginger kitten trying desperately to eat a raw fish. We took her home and called her Kuci.
After a few months, the cold and damp apartment was just too much to cope with so we found a new apartment in Turgutreis and moved there. Kuci settled very well. She liked to go out during the day, then she would return early evening, jump onto the kitchen windowsill and scratch the window to be let in.
Unfortunately, the landlord who lived on site, objected to her being around. One evening Kuci didn't return. We sat up all night waiting. The next day we searched for her...and the next and so on. Mr A even offered a reward to the local kids if they could find her, and he spoke to the rubbish collectors, asking them to also look out for her. She never returned. To this day, I believe the landlord disposed of her, although we couldn't prove it.
A month or so later, a tiny puppy turned up at the gate. We smuggled her in and called her Maisie.Every time we took her out I would put her in a large handbag so that the landlord wouldn't see her. Eventually she started to grow and it was impossible to hide her, so we moved again.
And this is how it has been ever since. Until we moved to this house nearly 5 years ago, we moved a total of 14 times.
We had Maisie for a couple of years. My father in England was very ill and I needed to return to be with him. Mr A was coming up to the end of the season and money was tight. He could no longer pay the rent so had to move out of the apartment. The landlord and his family, who were very kind people, who had a dog of their own had always treated Maisie well, and they offered to have Maisie. Reluctantly Mr A left her with them and moved to Izmir to find work with accommodation.
In the meantime, my father died. I stayed on because my mother was ill, and she passed away a few months later. I wasn't able to return to Turkey for about six months.
During this time, Mr A discovered that Maisie had been dumped in the local shelter by the landlord and was furious. He drove all the way to Turgutreis to search for her. He found her and took her with him. He was now in Antalya, having searched for work, but found nothing. He and Maisie slept in the car, sharing whatever food he could afford to buy. A man who worked near where Mr A parked, stopped each evening and gave Mr A food for Maisie. He offered to give her a home on his farm, along with his other dogs. Mr A didn't want to let her go, but eventually he took Maisie there and she was happy. Mr A went back there to visit several times just to make sure.
There have been other cats and dogs since then. Bobby, the black and white cat, who we just could not tame and didn't want to stay in the house and eventually decided to park himself at a local hotel, where everyone loved him because he chased the dogs away!
A tiny kitten who I fed but she was too weak to survive long enough to be given a name. An emaciated black and white dog called Molly, who was so riddled with worms that she had gone blind in one eye. We had her treated by the vet, and kept her for about 6 months before re-homing her. This was now the established pattern. Landlords don't want dogs and cats in their apartments, so if we wanted to keep one we would have to keep moving.
Living in Side, 11 years ago, we found Beki dumped in the road along with 3 other pups. Although all from the same litter, Beki was clearly the runt...very tiny and only two weeks old. An Australian girl living closeby took one of them and the other two were adopted by a vet. We smuggled Beki in to our apartment. The landlord objected. We moved again, and again. I had hand-reared Beki and was determined to keep her. We did, for 10 years, until she died from cancer last year.
There was Susie,a street dog that I fed outside our apartment in Avanos, Cappodocia, until I witnessed an old lady beating her with a stick, so we took her in. The landlord had tolerated Beki but refused to allow us to keep two dogs. Even though Mr A actually built a big fenced area in the garden for her to stay in. We managed to find her a home on a farm near Kayseri, where she was happy.
Beki continued to move with us, from Cappodocia, to Selcuk, and finally to this village. This house belongs to my father-in-law but although his name is still on the tapu (deeds) it is ours. We used to get lots of visits from him and mother-in-law, but not anymore, so we can live our life now, do as we wish without the threat of being evicted by a landlord.
I took in another pup when we had been here a few months, and she lived outside in the shed. Her brother turned up a few weeks later, cold and wet, so he came in as well. By this time we had decided that because father-in-law was still on the scene, and doesn't really like dogs, that any we rescued would only be a temporary measure until we could re-home them. And after two months, the two pups, who had by this time started to grow very quickly, were found a home in another village near here. Mr A has always vetted the new owners. He has to be certain the dogs will be taken care of, and he would go back at regular intervals to check on them.
Then we took in Poppy. Father-in-law's visits became less frequent fortunately (any long term readers of my blog will know how much I detest him), and it's now 18 months since we last saw him. They are building their retirement home up near Ankara, and have no desire to come down this way again.
So we have stopped moving on. We can now enjoy our life with our rescued dogs, without the fear of having to re-home them or move elsewhere. Peace at last.