For our 10th Wedding Anniversary my husband secretly arranged for us to spend a few days in Turkey staying with some of our dog crazy friends, yes there are others like us!  What a great surprise and how excited we both were at not only seeing our lovely friends but also meeting their rescue dogs, who we had heard so much about and seen countless photos of, and for the opportunity of making new friends with the street dogs in the area.

We were greeted by Blackie and Dusty, gorgeous and clearly pampered ex street dogs, who now owned our friends and were loving life.  They had home cooked dog food each day and comfortable beds to sleep on, a garden with plenty of sunshine and shade to snooze in when they felt like it.  These two girls were clearly of more advanced years as they have a few white whiskers!   When we left the house to go out the girls would have access to some inside rooms but also the run of a secure garden as they simply needed to have the option for their peace of mind.  You can take the street dog off the street but you can’t take the street out of the street dog!

During our time at the beach or walking around town there would be many shapes and sizes of dogs ambling around, snoozing or just waiting for someone to give them a kind word or a pat, some were in bonded pairs and some alone.  We took treats out with us but had to be careful not to encourage the dogs to follow us home as it was better for them to stay in their usual territory, so we would put treats on the floor and did not make eye contact hoping we would not to disturb the dogs routine.  I must say at this point there were containers filled with dog biscuits and piles of dog biscuits put out by the people living nearby and local businesses and there was also fresh water provided so it certainly felt like many of their needs were being met.  Many of the dogs had matted coats and some had limps and other minor health issues.  The dogs with the thicker coats are often clipped by kindly locals at the beginning of the summer to give them relief in the heat .

We learnt that the female dogs are spayed and the males left entire, surprisingly we did not see or hear any fights during our time there.  There were a number of dogs we met that had their ears removed, we were told that this was often done to security dogs but also there were more sinister reasons that I won’t go into now and it is not anything that anyone we met had any first-hand experience of thankfully.   Many of the dogs had tags in their ears as a way of the authorities recognising them if they needed treatment at any time.  The local pound is also a rescue centre and they give street dogs medical attention if it is needed, local people often take the dogs in if they have an accident or have an illness of any kind. 

We were introduced to a rather large and enthusiastic dog called Pup, our friends had met him when he and his siblings were tiny puppies and as Pup had matured he developed a habit of chasing cars.  This caused our friends much concern and they took him to the pound to be castrated as it was hoped this would calm him down.  He still chases cars but he has calmed down.  We also met other members of his litter on our travels , all lovely natured and rather large dogs. 

A pack walk to the beach took place early each morning, we would accompany Blackie and Dusty and then collect their friends on the way.  We picked up a handsome lab and her street dog sister Wendy, together with their human Mum.  We then met Mutlu a pretty older dog who looked pure German Shepherd or certainly has a lot of GSD in her!  I am not sure if it was her wonky smile or her happy nature that I fell in love with but it was love at first sight!  Having our own GSDs and volunteering with GSDs I suppose it was bound to happen.  This girl had been brought to the area by a neighbor who had found her when she was young and had clearly either been hit by a car or had some other kind of accident that affected her mouth and jaw.   This was some 8 years ago and after she had finished her veterinary care she had lived on the same street.   We continued down to the beach and met Pup and his sister and several other dogs, some came with us and others just watched us pass.  We arrived at the beach and wow all the dogs were running around excitedly, some paddling in the sea, others play fighting, it was just like being out with our own dogs. 

Something really touched me about Mutlu and I loved walking along with her sometimes by my side and other times simply watching her run along with the other dogs and people.  Pup went off at one point and then returned and then decided he had important dog business to attend to so we didn’t see him again on the walk.  When it was time to make our way back I started thinking about Mutlu and how sad it was that she did not have her own home to go to, she was clearly getting older and I just felt she should have her own family to love and spoil her.  As we got back to the place where she would usually go back to her street she ignored the turning and continued back to our friends house with us.  By this time I was feeling very emotional, I am not sure where it came from or why it happened.  There were tears rolling down my cheeks and I hid behind my sunglasses.  My husband immediately saw I was upset but from the look on his face it was obvious he had been thinking along the same lines as me and was not finding this farewell very easy either. 

A minute or two later we arrived at our friends gates and we had to leave her outside.  Blackie and Dusty were very good with the other dogs when we were out and they knew to give Princess Blackie her space!  We knew they would not accept anyone else in their garden.  Our friends assured us she would be fine and would make her way back to her road, they also told us that she was loved by many of the residents of her street and was always well fed and cared for slept on a balcony in one of the gardens when the weather cooled.  All her needs were met and she was loved by many people and not just one family.  I knew in my heart that I was putting my human emotions and what I felt was right for this beautiful dog on to her.  She certainly did not look sad and she danced around freely and happily and had many doggy and human friends.

We met many special animals during this trip but Mutlu was the one that has left a lasting impression on me.  How delighted I was to receive photos of her the next day on her walk with the pack, having the usual fun time at the beach while we were back in rainy England.  She was back into her normal routine and had gone home where she was then picked up a little while later to be collected by a human friend and her two dogs and return to the beach while she had her morning coffee. 

I still wonder if perhaps one day Mutlu’s special human someone will come along and she will have a home of her own but equally I understand that Mutlu is on her own journey and she is living life to the full and in the moment.  What a lot we can learn from animals about living in the moment, embracing each day and simply being happy with the life we have, they teach us so many valuable lessons.  I hope it won’t be too long before we see Mutlu again and I know she has many people who love her and are looking out for her our friends included.