Wherever you are, wherever you travel, around the block, or across the world, be kind to animals. Your heart will thank you, and if you're like me, you get a sweet puppy kiss from an Anatolian Shepherd in the Turkish countryside. Now that's my kind of Turkish Delight!!
During a vacation last year across Turkey, I had the chance to see stray dogs for the first time. They displayed their own unique way of hanging out, and engaging with people. The spaniel in this photo was an intact male who seemed to enjoy checking out various groups of tourists exploring the ancient Anatolian ruins of Perge.
Compared to other groups of foreigners, I think he was encouraged by our body language to get very close. I certainly welcomed him, even petting him for a few minutes. He decided on his own to lie in the shade with us, and listen to our guide talk about the baths for about ten minutes.
After returning to San Francisco, I realized that I had witnessed what it must have been like for dogs thousands of years ago. These stray dogs displayed a desire to be near people, even if the people showed little desire to have them close by.
This spaniel wasn't unusual, the stray dogs at the many UNESCO sites we visited sensed that we were people who responded positively to their overtures. Neither side was threatening. How they chose to engage varied. Some came in close for physical affection, while others were content at lying near us in a relaxed and trusting manner.
As a dog lover, watching how other tourists and visitors responded to the roaming dogs, one can appreciate why these dogs had to be cautious around people. I saw some tourists and locals reacting badly to a dog's presence near their shop or just walking down the street.
It was obvious the dogs were trying to survive in a place where they weren't always abused, just mostly ignored or tolerated.
I did not see pet dogs, but at a rural cultural and educational center, there was a puppy and an older deaf Beagle being cared for as part of their property. They lived outside in dog houses, or freely wandered the property. They were definitely members of the group who ran the premises, interacting freely with them. They were not chained up.
Experiencing dogs who belong to a place rather than a person was a first for me. Having that experience set inside ancient communities made it easier to image the evolution of dogs over thousands of years.
How (and when) dogs become members of our family definitely depends on culture and country.
This trip showed me firsthand that dogs are incredibly adaptable creatures! But from my perspective, once you've experienced the joy and companionship of a dog, anything less is unacceptable.
- Sharon Castellanos
Have you experienced dogs who belong more to a place than a person?
Is this a wolf in leopard-unicorn clothing rather than sheep? A treat walking in San Francisco, with or without a dog, is our many murals.
You find yourself surprised again, and again, with what people draw on buildings, or next to a window. The Mission District has many large and colorful drawings along alleys that are wonderful. Each week you can find a new piece of art, and this summer I've been seeing more organized walking tours taking visitors to the best exhibitions.
Not having my dog Cleo to take on walks, I enjoy coming across these various murals featuring canines. I feel like strangers are reminding me how much this city loves dogs. They are as fascinated by the different shapes and personalities of dogs as I am. These are often unexpected visual reminders on my walks that tell me I made the right choice all those years ago to call San Francisco home.
Though I currently don't walk or hike some of my favorite city trails as often as I did with my dog, here are four of my favorite places to take a dog in the city:
Forgot your headphones in the seat pocket? I did. I'm probably also one of the few people who wishes the FDA Beagle will stop and visit me at SFO baggage.
This news from a major airline carrier out of Amsterdam is making me think hard about my next trip, and feel better about my carry-on. Watch this video from KLM Airlines:
From a teddy bear found by the cabin crew to a laptop left in the lounge. Locating the owners can sometimes be a challenge, so special forces have been hired…
KLM’s dedicated Lost & Found team at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is on a mission to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner.
Seriously, this is one smart airline to employ a dog as a goodwill ambassador, and delivery method. I can think of a few airlines, starting with United, who could benefit greatly from this same service.
First therapy dog teams giving out cuddles for stressed out travelers, now passengers could have their lost cell phone or teddy bear returned to them by a cute dog? Yes, please!
What do you think? Best use of social media and dogs from a major airline?
I have yet to encounter one dog who has turned down a good scratch when the spot is hard to reach. The dogs I met while traveling in Turkey enjoyed my human affection, and this youngster most definitely loved getting her butt scratched after lunch.
In April, I traveled for the first time to a place where the majority of people didn't love dogs the way I do, the way most of us do in the United States.
This was my first experience of seeing stray dogs roaming city streets, staked outside with little shelter, or being chased off of a sidewalk by someone with a broom. It was overwhelming at times emotionally because it was obvious there was little that I could do to make the dogs lives any better.
For each lonely stray I saw in the countryside, the bright side was seeing images like this one. It was heartwarming to witness some level of kinship and connection between Turk and dog, even if it wasn't what I was used to experiencing here in San Francisco.
This snoozing puppy was at Pergamon, a world heritage site in Bergama, Turkey.
A tagged stray dog hangs out in Istanbul. Most of the street dogs I saw in Turkey wanted to be near people. At one point it seemed as if they were tracking me, a known animal lover. These loose dogs showed up at every place I went, and didn't hesitate to come close. Could they smell my desire to clean out their eyes or give them a soft pet?
Istanbul's street dogs seemed to be content either observing the flow of pedestrians, or napping in the sunshine. They were calm and sweetly passive to feet stepping very close, or in this case letting me sit near him on the bench to chat for a minute.
Most of the dogs I saw in Istanbul were somewhat healthy looking, considering they lived outside and fended for themselves. This is a busy, crowded city. I was glad to see most people here either ignored the dogs, or were pleasant to them. Given the amount of cars and buses on the streets, I expected more aggressive behavior from people towards the loose dogs. Sure they honked at dogs walking in the road but that was all.
I was also kind of amazed to watch how the dogs navigated the crowds of tourists. The dogs I saw didn't spook easily and had a level of confidence in their behavior that told me the majority of them must be getting their needs met somehow.
I hope whatever they are doing in Istanbul is spreading to other Turkish cities and rural communities. The majority of dogs may not have a home but they didn't appear neglected, or abused, as I saw in some of the smaller towns.
My big struggle during this trip was deciding how to respond when I came across one of these dogs. What would you do if this happened to you on vacation in another country?
While traveling through Turkey, I met wary stray dogs, independent but cared for by the community dogs, and pet dogs. This senior dog came to visit and get a nice snuggle. He was the perfect finish to our lunch after exploring Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You didn't have to know much about dog behavior or body language to figure out what he was trying to say to this lady. We were in the Aegean region near Fethiye, Turkey, and this dog was fluent in the international language of good smelling dog treats.
Dogs understand what treats are, and how to ask for them in any language...
This holiday season has been rough because the loss of my sweet old dog is still fresh. We have delayed putting up any decorations that remind us of her, and we skipped putting up stockings all together because I can't bear to see hers.
Given that my dog didn't need me now, I decided to fly to Arizona to visit my mother. She's up there in age and with our shared background loving dogs, I knew she'd know what to say to help me manage my grief.
Have you ever had one of those times when you are just so surprised by your reaction to something? Where you are caught off guard by the passionate response you have to a random commercial, or highway billboard or maybe a magazine ad.
I had one of those experiences as I paged through the SkyMall catalog while on the plane south. SkyMall was filled with every gadget no one really needs. As I flipped the pages, my eyes landed first on a $24 "Pet Tiding Stone" that memorializes your pet using a rock and not your pet's ID tag or collar. Then scanning to the right, I see this...
It's been National Walk Your Dog Week. We love capturing pics of people and their pups out on morning walks in our neighborhood. This sweet moment in the photo here made us smile because they were very in tune with each other compared to some folks we see.
A dog walk is not just about taking your dog out to poop. It's a wonderful time to bond with your little buddy. I would chat with my dog while we walked about the block, often stopping to visit with neighbors out on their stoop. We got to know many kids this way also. Cleo loved exploring and picking up the news and peemail from every corner or tree.
P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) has a new Outdoor Bed Collection giving pet owners stylish comfort for their four-legged friends, while introducing an extra pop of color to their outdoor living areas including decks, gardens, gazebos or poolsides.