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