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  • Writer's pictureanusha gopalakrishnan

Man's Best Friend

They are sweet, loyal, intelligent and incredibly generous with their affection and cuddles. For most of us these four legged creatures are more than just dogs or pets; our furry friends have long become part of the family.

A pair of Alabay brothers - gentle cuddly giants

From all my travels, I noticed that Istanbul has the highest concentration of strays. You will find street dogs roaming on every street in the city and wandering in and out cafes. The affectionate relationship between dogs and people is part of of the charm of this city. Upon closer inspection, we noticed that most of the dogs on the street have ear tags on them which indicates that they have been neutered and vaccinated. This encourages people to be more friendly and caring towards them.

As you explore the city you will find people leaving out food scraps and water for the strays. Some kind store owners even build makeshift shelters from straw and cardboard for the strays. The love that the Turks have for the strays reaffirms my faith in humanity. The stray dogs in Istanbul are homeless but not unloved and we can really learn a thing or two from the Turks.

All this dog talk got me thinking about the pooches in my life - Kane, Bella and Teddy. Kane was a Rottweiler and we got him when he was approximately 6 weeks old. They say Rottweilers are scary but Kane was a ball of love except that one time he almost bit Bella's neck off. We had to keep them separated after that incident. Bella joined the family a few months after Kane and he did not take it very well. Bella is a Shih Tzu so she was always indoors while Kane was not allowed inside. He is a big guy. He would have wreaked havoc on the furniture.

A photo of Kane when he was little. Miss this guy!

Tevan also had a Rottie called Ceaser. Isn't he a thing of beauty.

Whenever we sit in the garden, we would let Kane out of his cage and once he is out, he will park himself next to one of us and demand for a belly rub. He loved listening to stories while tirelessly wagging his almost non- existent tail and drool all the time He loved playing ball and he has managed to destroy quite a number of balls in his lifetime. He was a gentle giant and unfortunately we lost him in 2016 due to illness. He has brought so much joy and laughter to our family.

Little Bella looking pretty in pink

Well, well look who decided to wake up from her slumber

Bella is however a diva. She loves doing her own thing and displays minimal affection for people around her. I still think that she is a cat stuck in a dog's body. Lol. My cousins often joke that she is like a furniture in the house. Well she has her days - some days she lets you cuddle and on other day she doesn't so much as glance at your direction no matter how much you call her name. Very emotionally detached that one is. Sighs but her cuteness triumphs everything so we just learn to deal.

My husband spotted Teddy during his walk around my neighborhood. A dog had just gave birth to a litter of puppies and the owner gave most of the pups away and intended to keep only two. The puppies were so adorable especially the tiny brown guy which instantly captured our hearts. We tried our luck and asked the owners if we could keep him and they said yes. We took him home and gave it to my brother in law who was looking for a pet for the longest time. We did not get to spend much time with Teddy but boy this little guy does keep you on your toes. He is so mischievous and playful. My in laws find so much joy in him and they spoil him silly. Dogs evoke so much joy in us without even trying, don't they?

Teddy all snuggly after a nice warm bath.

Turkmenistan may not be the most popular country but they take pride in their horses (which I briefly mention here) and dogs. The Alabay is a native Turkmen variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog. In 2020, the then President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov dedicated a holiday in honor of the the said breed and unveiled a 15-meter tall golden statue of the same in the nation’s capital, Ashgabat.

Golden Statue erected in honor of the Alabay dog. Picture taken from Google.

I count myself very lucky to be able to see and interact with these darling creatures up close as exports of these dogs are heavily restricted. The Government is now requiring that these dogs have a passport before they can leave the country. On top of this the government also requires special export permission making it very difficult for the dogs to leave the country.

Cheleken is a desert town in Turkmenistan surrounded by vast deserts and the Caspian Sea and life here can get pretty mundane if you don't find ways to entertain yourself. To avoid this, Tevan and I make it a point to take long walks in the evenings. During our walks we had the privilege to befriend two Alabays that stand guard in front of our camp. Our furry friends would religiously walk with us every evening and before long a pack of dogs started joining us on all our walks. They would wait for us every single day. It was truly the best part of our days.

Our faithful walking buddies

Cheleken has some of the best sunrise and sunset views. The sky is almost always filled with stars. On most days you will find herds of camel grazing along the way. How often do you find yourself in the middle of the dessert, walking hand in hand with your partner under the starlit sky, accompanied by shepherd dogs while watching camels in their natural environment. It truly a magical sight to behold. Being in nature and taking in its magnanimity really humbles you and this one of a kind experience is forever etched in my memory.

Outdoor desert scene with dogs and camels hanging together.

This is pretty random but whenever I am around dogs in Malaysia, I get into a sneezing frenzy but that does not seem to happen when I am in cold countries. I figured it has something to do with the weather or humidity. Idk really. Let me know if this has happened to you as well.

Tevan and I would love to have a pet of our own when we permanently settle down in one place but till then we will be watching funny dog videos. - they are really therapeutic. hehe. English Bulldogs and mini Pomeranians have my heart so I hope one day we will become proud fur-parents to either one of these babies. The bulldog has to be a boy so we can call him Sir Little Truffles and the Pomeranian has to be a girl since we are gonna call it Lulubelle. Haha. Talk about wishful thinking.

Hi my name is Piglet and I am paws-itively adorable!

We are headed to a crazy pawty.

I hope that this post warmed your heart just as much it did mine. Now go on and show your doggo some TLC as Marmaduke accurately pointed out "“No one said it was easy being a dog.”

Just leaving this here cause it is just so darn cute.

Have a pawsome weekend. Till next time. Toodles.

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