Some of the many cats in Turkey (at Ephesus, sleeping in Istanbul, begging for food, and in front of Hagia Sophia)
Turkey is the first country I've ever seen where the cat section at the grocery store is twice (or even three times) as large as the dog section. Cats dominate the streets, the squares, and the hearts of the people, in some respects for historical reasons.
Before we arrived in Turkey with Chewy and Abby, I was incredibly concerned about how people would treat our dogs. I had read horror stories about the wild dogs of Turkey being poisoned with strycchnine by the government, hung, shot at, and chased for fun, because Islam states that dogs are "unclean." I read on message boards about neighbors poisoning dogs and dogs dying from unsuspected treats. Renee at Ramblecrunch, who had just traveled through Turkey with her terrier, reassured me a bit and, once we got there, we found that our fears weren't (completely) warranted.
I won't say that the Turks are completely comfortable with dogs; occasionally, people walked all the way across the street to avoid standing next to our very innocuous pups. Finding pet-friendly accommodation was often very difficult because people didn't understand why we would want to keep our dogs inside the house. (We were told on one occasion, at a supposedly "pet-friendly" hotel, that we would be welcome to keep our dogs in the car.)
Dogs from all over the country, notice the red tag chipping them in Istanbul
But, at the same time, it wasn't nearly as hard as I expected, either. In Istanbul, we stayed in a wealthy area on the Asian side where it felt like everyone had at least one or two dogs and our landlord in Cappadocia had two beautiful dogs of his own. Best of all, our amazing landlord in the Bodrum peninsula loved dogs so much that he even watched them for us for two days when we went to visit Ephesus and Pamukkale (more on this pet-friendly apartment later because it's one of our favorite places that we've stayed in the last three years.) We found a great English-speaking vet and groomer in Istanbul, pet stores that sold what we needed, and people who wanted to cuddle and pet our dogs when we took them for walks.
I came away from the country feeling that, though the Turks are not used to dogs as the Italians, French, and English are, their compassionate hearts keep them from treating these animals too badly. In Istanbul and many of the large cities, the government tags every single stray dog, spays and neuters them, gives them innoculations to prevent rabies, and provides free food three times a day. The dogs we found in Turkey were generally healthy, well-fed, and calm.
And, so this weekly photo post is dedicated to them: the beautiful wild dogs of Turkey.