Saturday, 30 January 2016

Elizabeth's rescues. Part 2...Toorki

Ataturk. A big name for a big dog
And so it started........
As I have already mentioned, in 2011, we would foster a dog for a few weeks , until the adopter was ready. This dog came across Europe with Ruby. It became obvious very quickly that the new home was unsuitable and the people had been economical with the truth. Would we keep Peanut? 
For once, I was unsure but my husband was certain. We would and so we adopted this large Anatolian cross breed dog but changed his name from Peanut ( totally unsuitable ) to Ataturk - a big name for a big dog and ultimately Toorki. 
He had been saved from shooting, in a little village , for chasing hens and had landed up in boarding kennels in Bulgaria. He is a striking dog but had and still has many problems. 
He was remote from us. He made no eye contact . He was aloof and very much his own dog. I worried about him and brought in a dog trainer and got her opinion. She has a kindly, patient way with her and so we played games with a clicker and lumps of reward chicken. He loved the challenge and is a very intelligent dog but still would run off / away from us whenever he could. He hated walking on grass- a minor problem as we are surrounded by it and would tread carefully from one patio to the next. He hated having his collar held or neck touched . ( as most of our rescues do! What do they do to them? ) 
So it began . I have stood , my heart hammering in my chest , as I watched him mount fencing and go..........and I could see him running over fields and settling at a fence about a mile away just bordering a main road. What to do? Run for the jeep? Or hope he quickly returns. My imagination was working overtime. I eventually took Charlie, leaving our other lab and collie in our fields, and walked towards the white dot. He did return to Charlie but you are so desperate to grab him and tell hm off but , of course, you cannot, but tell him what a good boy he is for returning! I remember phoning my husband who was offshore and weeping into the phone about him whilst watching the fugitive- as though Robert could do anything. But I had to share my distress. That was only one of many " escapes"! He always came home. 
So he was ours for the forever , of course, ( never, ever would we give up on a dog) so we set about fencing. Our garden - and I use that term loosely now - as it is muddy, potholed and weedy - was already fenced with five foot wooden fences but we had a contractor in to add additional wire to our horses' fences and now have an area- no kidding- which is eight acres of dog proofing at the house. ( Frodo can still escape but that's for another day) I have sweated and cried about this dog Toorki. 
He is a big, sensitive soul. He brought up our young lab ( no kidding) and was his nanny enduring nips , tugs and sleeplessness from little Willie! He still lets him off with murder! Such a good dog in so many ways.
So with much, much love and patience we now have an outstanding , loveable rogue. He gets a lead walk daily. Let him loose in the field now and he sits looking into the far distance. He would be a dog who walked with sheep and guard, barking if he saw anything worrying. He barks at crows and buzzards and only yesterday I went to see what the commotion was and he was barking at a piece of plastic hanging high up in our wood. If I take him into the field with the rest he comes home and nags for his "walk"! So we oblige. He absolutely adores people. All visitors get the Toorki treatment - kisses, friendship, lying at your feet- or on you if he can! - and love. 
But at one time I almost despaired of ever having anything like this and only Robert's encouragement would lift my spirits some days. "It will get better". People who see him would not believe it! But I tell you he's been hard work!!!! But so, so, so worth it! 
Toorki chatting up the girls!
Toorki having a laugh
Toorkie playing with Willie who he brought up
Sorry Mum!
Toorki shows his heart

Elizabeth's rescues. Part 1...A Turkish cat

I often read about dogs and cats being rescued in Turkey and being transported to new homes in Europe and it's great to see the "happy ever after" stories.

My dear friend Elizabeth has rescued four dogs and a cat from Turkey, and this blog post is the first part of their story.  In Elizabeth's own words.

Princess Ruby of Didim

Linda has asked me to tell you about my Turkish cat and dogs. She thought you may like to hear how it happened that we have them, and what we have learned . 
Well it all began with a rather dirty, greasy coated " white " and tabby cat with a seriously matted fur, who seemed to be rather bossy around other cats. We were across in Turkey in February 2011 for a week to open up the house after winter. This cheeky , little cat seemed to have quite a personality and decided to stay that week with us sitting on our knees whilst I combed and combed to see if we could whiten her up. 

At the end of the week she looked beautiful and my husband, we still don't know why, called her Princess. 
We feed when we're across if neighbours are already doing so - if not we leave food daily at the rubbish bins. So we left dry food for our neighbours to carry on feeding when we left.

Going back in April we wondered if Princess would appear. The others did, then by the end of the week she appeared, rather surprised to see us back, still beautifully clean, and stayed.

We were sitting outside , Princess on my husband's knees, discussing our Ruby wedding that year.  Well what would you like? he asked, becoming rather exasperated at my lack of ideas when I said,  Her! 

We had, many years ago, taken a cat from Saudi Arabia so we knew it could be done. But we were leaving in two days so we got started planning, found a vet, discussed neutering with him and by an amazing coincidence, found a lady taking 20 plus cats to Bulgaria and then home to UK.   With help from another involved in animal rescue, and with us covering the financial costs, they would make sure Princess was ready to go home with injections etc. before they left.  Once in Bulgaria we had a call asking if we wanted to fast track her across in a van with other animals. 

We agreed and that September our young neighbour went to pick her up in Yorkshire.  We'd had a call about a rather big  Anatolian - cross dog  who was on the van, and had been adopted by people in Dundee who weren't ready for him. Would we foster for a few weeks? So our neighbour arrived with a big cat box and Princess - who was now, in view of her rather important place in our hearts- Princess Ruby, and a rather large white and tan dog called Peanut! His story is next week!

Princess Ruby was taken to the vet the next day and to our dismay she had been hit rather badly on her left jaw which would account for her lack of grooming in February and all her broken teeth on the left side were removed. Poor soul.

She is rather haughty now and tells huge porkers about being Princess Ruby of Didim and living in the Sultan's Palace- ah well!

 We have three other cats and six dogs and she rules with a rod of iron , but never goes out. She nags and nags each morning for her particular grasses which I pluck, still  in my dressing gown,  and was rather fat initially until, realising there would be food always available,  settling into a proper shape. She is a joy and a living present. She cuddles into my arms every night and purrs and purrs. 

We have always had dogs and cats in our house and because the cats have confidence, the dogs seem to acknowledge this and we've never had problems. They all live together quite amicably , apart from Ruby's attacks coming down the stairs! But it is all light hearted . 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

Well it would seem so.  

Although the circumstances surrounding a free lunch can be rather sad.

When someone dies here, people come together 40 days after the death to commemorate the deceased.  They pray and then sit down to a meal together.

This village has a large elderly population and sadly we have calls from the mosque announcing a death several times a week throughout the year.

This past week Kaya has attended two 40-day meals in the village and has another one to go to tomorrow.

Sometimes lokma is cooked too.  These are delicious little dough balls which are deep fried and drenched in syrup.  I absolutely love them and it has been known for Kaya to discreetly bring me a doggy bag of them.

There were none at yesterday's meal and it's probably a little heartless of me to hope that there may be some tomorrow.  But if I receive some, I will enjoy them and give a thought to the deceased and hope they are resting in peace.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Facebook Updates on Patch

Early yesterday:

Two days of searching in the village and then following a report from someone, a search of Milas where it was believed she was taken.
It would seem that she didn't remain in Milas, and is possibly now in Mumcular.
Kaya is investigating, and as soon as we have more news I'll let you know.

Later in the day:

We have now discovered the full story. A man who works in Milas but visits our village every day to give a lift to a friend, saw the pup the other day. He apparently asked around to see if she belonged to anyone and having established she didn't, decided to take her to work with him, and later to his home.
Kaya managed to get the man's phone number and spoke to him. He lives with his family in Mumcular. His wife has been ill and this little dog has really helped to make her feel better. She adores dogs as do the rest of the family. Patch was checked over by a vet, flea and worm treated and vaccinated. AND the best news is that she is living IN their house with them. Those of you who live here will know that this isn't usual for Turkish people.
The man's first reaction on hearing from Kaya was "oh please don't take her away from us, we love her". That was good enough for us.

He has promised to send us photos and we are satisfied that she now has a good home. RESULT !!!

And finally:

Patch in her new home. Photos sent by new "mum" 

And a few words about what is necessary to safeguard a dog:

I'll let you into a secret. Over the past week while searching for Patch, Kaya told people she was "our" dog. There was a good reason for this. We had no idea who had taken her. Several people thought they knew. One said she was still in the village somewhere and being kept on a chain.
We were so anxious about making sure she was ok and anyone who lives here knows that you can't just go in and take a dog if it belongs to someone else. So the only way we would be able to rescue her if she wasn't safe was to let people think she was ours.
So when he found the number of the new owner he said that he believed they had "our" dog. After establishing that she was indeed in a good and loving home, he "agreed" that they could keep her.
When rescuing dogs, sometimes we have to lie for the sake of the dog.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

That didn't last long.....

...just two weeks.   It seems that I am finding it more difficult than anticipated to give up blogging.

OK I still don't seem to be managing my time better, but it feels like something is missing.

Something happens, or a thought pops into my head, and I immediately think "I'll blog about that" but then I remember that I've stopped blogging.   I've had many thoughts this past week, but unless I write them down they are forgotten.

Maybe those of you who have kept daily diaries would understand this.  It's kind of like having a close friend that you confide in, and they suddenly disappear and you find you have no-one to talk to.

Winter here can be depressing.  Apart from looking after dogs and cats, there is little else happening. The only time I get out of this village is to go shopping in Milas and to stock up with dog food or visits to the vet.   Kaya has done a fair amount of work in the house and garden but he is now bored so spends his free time in the teahouse.

Although I prefer to live here than the tourist areas where we have previously lived, I do miss having people to talk to.  I have nothing in common with the village women.  They spend their days drinking tea in each others houses and gossiping.  It's not for me.   Thank goodness for my dogs and the internet.

So that's all a bit gloomy isn't it?  But I've written it down, and I find that once I get it off my chest I start to feel a whole lot better.

Just a few updates from my Facebook page.

This little dog was spotted in the village last week and then disappeared.

We have searched extensively and she (yes someone told us it was a girl) is nowhere to be found.  I posted her photo on my page in the hope that, if found, someone might give her a home, but we all know how difficult it is to find homes for dogs here.  The latest information is that someone in Milas, who frequently comes to the village, has taken her.   It's hoped that Kaya can find this person today and try to establish whether this dog...we call safe and well cared for.

We are continuing to provide food for the men feeding the dogs at the sanayi, and dropping off sacks every week.  We are getting through a lot of food at the moment, so as always donations are always needed, no matter how small.  We spotted Nancy who we placed at the sanayi last year.  The four Bodrum pups continue to thrive, and we saw one of them at the same time as Nancy.

One of the Bodrum pups

The dog who had the tumour which was removed by our vet, continues to thrive and is being well looked after by the Muhtar and his wife.   We paid for the operation and vaccinations thanks to donations, and we treated for fleas and worms.

On our search of the village for Patch, we saw a dog that we haven't seen since last summer.  We fed him but he looks fairly healthy, if a little thin.  We are sure he is being fed but Kaya is trying to find out by whom, so that we can help with food, and also flea and worm treatments.

The village spreads over a wide area with a population in excess of 3,000.  It's a maze of small lanes and we still get lost even after 8 years, so it's easy to lose track of dogs that aren't brave enough to venture into the centre of the village.   We aim to cover most of  the area in the coming days and weeks to see if there are any other dogs in need, and to try to find people to feed them.

The cat house is still in use.  I spotted Button yesterday and am sure she is pregnant but can't get close enough to her or any of the cats...they keep their distance because of the dogs barking.  But they are eating well, and I think they go into the cathouse late at night when it's dark.

On a happier note, in four weeks time I will be going to the UK to visit my daughter and grandsons.  I usually try to get over to spend their birthdays with them in April, but Kaya is due to start work around the middle of March, so I need to be here to look after the dogs.

Well...I guess I'm back to blogging again!

Saturday, 2 January 2016


I have made a decision to stop blogging.   So this will be my last post.

I started this blog in March 2009.   I've published 1178 posts in that time, and gathered a lot of followers and now good friends along the way.  Surprisingly I have received awards for my blog and had it listed amongst Turkey Travel Blog's top ten Turkey blogs.  Unexpected but very flattering.

It was always a personal thing for me.  I used to keep a journal in exercise books when I moved to Turkey nearly 18 years ago, but sadly these were lost during one of our many moves.  The blog kind of replaced them.  

It started out as an almost daily record of my life in this country, interspersed with other irrelevant topics, and  for years I found the whole exercise very therapeutic.  I enjoy writing and the blog has been a way to get things off my chest.  There is a link to my journey in Turkey and all the places we have lived which you can read by clicking this LINK

Gradually the blog became more and more about my work with street animals.  I tried to keep it separate from the main blog by opening another page in January 2014 after we had started feeding the dogs at the sanayi (industrial estate) on the main road out of our village.   I stopped recording on that page in August 2014 and continued to write about our work on the main blog.  The page is still there and I find it useful to dip into it from time to time.  You can see it if you click on the title at the top of the blog "Rescued /Street Dog Feeding and Care Programme".

I now have a Facebook page entitled Ayak's Animal Welfare, the link to which can be found at the bottom of this post and also on the sidebar of this blog.  The Facebook page has really taken over from blogging and I simply don't have enough time to update on there and on my blog.  If you haven't already joined, please do.  I'll be very happy to welcome you there.  It is a Closed Group under my control, so that it can continue to be a pleasant group of people, with no negativity.

Apologies to those of you who don't use Facebook, but I hope you will understand that my time is limited and I have started the new year by trying to manage my time a little better.  I have a huge "to-do" list and I'm afraid not everything will get done if I don't let some things go.

If in the future I find myself with spare time (some hope!) I'll come back to my blog, but in the meantime, thankyou to all of you who have followed me and your words of support and encouragement.

Happy New Year from me, Kaya and all the dogs and cats xxx