When I started rescuing dogs from the streets I never really thought about how things would turn out.
It started in a small way of course after Beki died when I just had Poppy. We took in Megan, after feeding her outside for a few weeks. She was accompanied every day by Sammy, who at that time belonged to the shepherdess down the lane, who clearly wasn't looking after him. So we took him in as well. Then Blondie appeared, like a skeleton, and in she came. We felt we should stop, but then Freddie appeared. I tried to ignore him, but it was no use and eventually he joined the others.
Then I read about Monty on the Facebook page of one of the rescue groups and we drove down to Gokova to collect him. He was the ideal companion for Poppy, because she needed someone nearer her own size, and they got on so well. A few months later Poppy died, and Monty seemed quite lost without her. We then discovered Tommy, through another rescue group, who needed a home, and he came to join us. He and Monty spend the day squabbling, but at night when they settle down in our bedroom, they cuddle up together, the best of friends.
Six dogs should be quite enough, and the whole winter has been spent adjusting the garden and the old house, to create areas for the big dogs and a room for them to sleep in. Mr A has rebuilt walls, added chickenwire and made the garden safe for the dogs. We now have only one area at the front which is dog-free, but it's sufficient for us!
Mr A had fed a few dogs in the village for quite some time, and continued to do so throughout last winter, but a lot of them had disappeared and we learned that they had been dumped on the industrial estate out on the main road. We investigated and found more than 20 dogs there in desperate need of food. So we started to feed them every day. We also managed to give worm tablets, flea treatments and immune boosters to many of these dogs.
Then we found the mum and her litter of 12 pups in the shell of an old car on the estate. We fed her as well but added extras like yogurt, cheese and milk. Only seven of the pups survived. We found homes for four, and brought three of them, Chas & Dave and Melek, home at 4 weeks old. They are now 13 weeks old, and having purchased a kennel (which they are outgrowing at a rapid rate) we've adapted the old chicken coop as extra sleeping space. A shelter has been erected over the two kennels to protect from the recent rain, and the sun which will be here pretty soon.
The aim really was to find people who were willing to take on a bit of the responsibility for the stray dogs in this area. To a large extent, and to our pleasant surprise, we have achieved this. The café owner on the industrial estate, who adopted one of the puppies, has been feeding the estate dogs with scraps from the café, supplemented by sacks of dried food which we have supplied.
We also wormed, flea treated, and provided vaccinations for not only his pup, but the 3 others re-homed and our 3 of course.
In recent weeks we discovered a mum and 7 pups on the outskirts of the village. We have provided worm tablets, flea treated the mum, and supplied a large sack of dried food. Mr A also helped him build a shelter for them all. We will try to find homes for the pups, but the mum needs to be spayed. If we can get the Belediye vet to do this it is the ideal solution, but it's proving difficult, so we may need to get her done with our vet.
So at this point decisions have to be made. Our priority was to care for as many dogs as possible throughout the winter months when life on the streets is at it's harshest, and this we have achieved. We took two bitches on the estate to be spayed, and attempted to do the same with the mum of our pups, but she had disappeared. At the moment she remains elusive, coming and going, so it's difficult to arrange, particularly with Mr A being away. But hopefully we can get it done in the near future.
Now we are into May, life on the streets is not so difficult for these dogs. In tourist areas, the rescue groups stop feeding because there is more food available for them from cafes and restaurants. The café owner on our industrial estate is busier now, and he has more scraps, so he will now not need as many sacks of food from us. People in our village are now feeding scraps to the 6 or 7 dogs that are here, and again, we don't need to supply any dried food.
It is, and always was, about education and encouraging people not to be afraid of the dogs, and helping them to learn that if they feed them, they will be grateful and will do them no harm. Slowly, but surely, it seems to be working.
If it hadn't been for the donations we've received since the beginning of November, none of this would have been possible. I can't even begin to express my gratitude to all you lovely people that have helped us with this. A friend who gave the very first donation, and has continued to pay a regular amount each month, along with three more people, who have also committed themselves to monthly contributions. This gives me £40 a month which enables me to budget for food. The Facebook friend who held a raffle amongst her friends and donated the proceeds. All other donations have also helped buy food as well as worm tablets, flea treatments, vaccinations, immune boosters, etc. Some people have donated several times.
I am grateful to the group of expats in Bodrum who rallied round to collect blankets and towels at the start which have been so useful, along with a donation for the first two sacks of food. A large quantity of pasta donated by another group in the Fethiye/Marmaris area, which was brought up to Milas by the husband of a Facebook friend. Another kind lady who posted a large quantity of dog collars and leads to me from England, which we used for our dogs and the street dogs, with some left over, which were sold by the person who runs the Gokova rescue group, to help raise more funds. This lovely lady does so much for the animals in her area, but also helps others, and she has already supplied me with worm tablets and a sack of food when we went to collect Monty.
(I haven't mentioned individual names because I don't want to embarrass anyone, but you all know who you are and how much you have helped these grateful dogs)
So with the pressure being lifted somewhat as far as the feeding programme is concerned, I am now planning for the future. The three pups will need further vaccinations, they will also have to be neutered in a few months time.
Any further donations will be used for this, and also if possible to spay other dogs in the village and on the estate. We will also be saving as much as possible for the start of next winter, when the feeding programme will begin all over again.
A HUGE THANKYOU to all of you from me, Mr A, and of course the dogs.