Of kangals, and other dogs and cats

This is Efe.

Efe at Miletus
Efe at Miletus

Efe took time out from his job as guardian of a group of nomads and their sheep wintering in the area, to accompany us on our visit to Miletus.  He’s a kangal, and we all immediately took to this handsome, gentle and affectionate dog, one of a breed popular in Turkey for its qualities as a fine guardian of stock.

Like many Turkish dogs and cats, Efe has a home.  But many others do not.  There are hundreds and thousands of animals whose home is the street, and who are on the whole tolerated and even regarded as part of the community.  Don’t imagine that these animals are mangy and sickly, with protruding ribs and rotting yellow teeth.  They’re well fed and healthy.

Turks apparently, when planning a move to a new neighbourhood, will look and see how street dogs are treated.  If they’re friendly and companionable, then that means the neighbourhood too is friendly.  If the dogs are aggressive or fearful than it’s not a good area.  Best not to buy.

Street dogs by the sea at Ayvelik.
Street dogs by the sea at Ayvelik.

These days though, street dogs are a problem, simply by virtue of their huge numbers.  So they are tagged, vaccinated and spayed or neutered to prevent the spread of rabies and other diseases, and to limit their population.

An Ephesus resident attempts to steal the show from our guide.
An Ephesus resident attempts to steal the show from our guide.

We saw cats too wherever we went.  But never so many as at Ephesus, which is rather famous as an unofficial cat sanctuary.  Looking round the site, we once saw 14 at a single glance, and they were quite at home as they lolled on marble pillars and lounged round the library.

Ephesus cats.
Ephesus cats.

These photos of street dogs and cats are among the less expected souvenirs of our trip.

10 thoughts on “Of kangals, and other dogs and cats”

  1. How interesting and Efe looks like he’s walked straight off the pages of a history of ancient Roman. I like the idea of judging a neighbourhood by the health of the stray animals. The street dogs at Ayvelik look pretty chilled!

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  2. I remember when we were in Istanbul travelling out to the Princes Islands for a day and on our return the boat stopped at a couple of the islands on the way back to the mainland. On one island as the boat approached the pier we were completely fascinated by a reception of about 50 cats literally fighting in some instances to greet the boat. We sat waiting and watching to see what was going to happen, when an old woman got off the boat with a sack of food and handed it to the man responsible for tying up the boat and then fed the cats. Clearly it was a regular evening ritual and all the cats on the island knew about it, the funniest cat party ever seen, you can imagine how thrilled the kids were to see it!

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  3. Fascinating! I didn’t realize the situation was so extreme. Like Sharon, I liked how the animal temperaments are community indicators … it doesn’t get more basic than that. No surveys or studies required!

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