The Case of the Turkish Puppies

Our Istanbul otopark home had one permanent resident, a white-haired Turkish man living in the RV opposite us.

He resided in his rig with a golden retriever and her five puppies, which I presume were for sale, though I saw no actual evidence of it. (But why else would a person have a litter of puppies?) The puppies’ owner came across as a warm and friendly fellow, though I knew little about him because our communications were limited to sign language and rudimentary Turkish.

The puppies piqued my interest pretty quickly, not only because it’s pretty strange to be raising puppies in a Turkish parking lot, but also because the white-haired man’s puppy rearing techniques were unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Often the dogs were confined to a cramped cage barely big enough for one pup, much less five. It sat outside by their owner’s RV, and the pups spent long afternoons in there crying and whining, desperate to be released.

The active, adolescent pups had outgrown their cage long ago, and watching them squirm around in there like eels in a Chinatown fish tank was pretty gut wrenching. Look how crowded the cage was with just four of the puppies.

Sometimes the fellow would leave them like that when he went out for the afternoon. Once when they were crying, he emerged from the rig with a stick in his hand and thwacked the side of the cage several times, stunning the yelping captives into silence. Then he turned and, with a friendly wave and a smile at us, disappeared back into his rig.

Not your standard North American puppy handling.

When we first arrived the man used to let the pups scamper loose in the park and around the small marina, but after one of them disappeared, he stopped doing that.

One particular night around 3 a.m. I was jerked awake by a cacophony of barking and whining. Strangely, the wretched yelping was coming from the park side of our rig, not the puppy side. Irritated, I peered out the window. The puppies were once again locked in their cage, but this time the cage had been moved to to the middle of the now desolate park and left there overnight. What the hell?

I goaded Mark into getting dressed and dealing with it. He and some of the other camping husbands congregated by the cage, perplexed about what to do, until the owner turned up about 15 minutes later. Apparently he’d gone out and gotten hammered, completely forgetting about the pups. But why did he leave them in the park in the first place?

Another time, we found the cage empty, and the pups locked in this dark box dog house. But why?

This whole puppy thing was getting to be a real mystery. What was going on? This man didn’t seem to be a cruel or bad fellow. Rather I got the impression he was struggling to care for pups that had simply gotten too big and been around too long. But he didn’t appear to be actively trying to sell them either. Weird, weird, weird.

Finally, the morning we left Istanbul the fellow put on his best suit, tied up the mother by the guard booth and then drove off with the pups, presumably to dispose of them. Hopefully at a pet store, though I have no way of knowing. Fingers crossed they all found good homes, though in Turkey one can’t be too sure about that.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vi September 18, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Heartwrenching.  Those pups are so cute!  To think they spent so much time in that tiny cage, without freedom or affection.  Must have been hard seeing them in that condition day after day.   🙁


2 Renee September 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

It was. Hopefully they moved on to good homes but in Turkey you can never be sure. Dogs have a rough go of it here.


3 elaine September 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm

oh my goodness! this is so heart wrenching & makes me absolutely sick.  those poor pups!


4 Renee September 20, 2011 at 6:42 am

By the time we left Istanbul, the whole situation was really bothering me. I was glad when the man loaded them up and drive off. Hopefully to a better life.


5 Zac September 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm

The most likely explanation is that, because of financial
restrictions, the latest Air Bud flick moved filming to Turkey, and that was
just a temporary home before they were transported to a lifestyle of
private trailers, scantily collared poodles, and buffets overflowing in lunch meats and cheese.

Yes, I like my version.


6 Renee September 20, 2011 at 8:29 am

Air Buds Midnight Express. Of course.


7 Athomeintheworld6 September 23, 2011 at 4:08 am

I alway wondered about those incredibly huge, stray (and often times pure bred) dogs when we were there in Turkey. We saw a similar crate full of german shepherd pups when we were walking along in Calis one day. It breaks my heart to see such animal cruelty. 


8 Renee September 23, 2011 at 9:51 am

I hear you, Jenn. Dogs don’t have an easy time of it here in Turkey, though I’ve seen exceptions. I’m writing a post now about the strays.


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