Thursday, 24 November 2016

In Remembrance of Freddie Mercury...and another

Freddie Mercury died 25 years ago today.  One of the greatest talents that ever lived.

I was reminded of him when someone posted the song "Who wants to live forever" on Facebook today.

I first heard the song in the film The Highlander.  It was in my social work days and I was working with young people coming out of care, and supporting them in the community.  The film was recommended by one of my clients, a young boy just 17 yrs old when I first met him.  He was a very troubled young man who had suffered years of abuse and ended up in care.

This young man died at 19 years old.  He was beginning to turn his life around, was very intelligent and seemed to have a good future ahead of him.   Sadly, that wasn't to be.

He was a big Queen fan, and friends thought it appropriate to play "Who wants to live forever" at his funeral.  One of them got in touch with one of the members of Queen.  They sent a lovely letter of sympathy, together with the album containing the song.  Not only that, they also sent flowers.

I am also a big Queen fan.  Every time I hear this song it makes me cry.  For the loss of a wonderful performer.    But also for the tragic loss of a young man who had his whole life ahead of him but was taken far too soon.


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Guilty Feelings and Paranoia

Being paranoid has always been part of my depression.   It's a horrible state of mind.  I may say something to someone, or write something, and then on reflection think I may have offended.  Worse still I can also feel that I am disliked or even hated.

When I'm not depressed, and more rational, I can put it all into perspective and realise that my feelings are unfounded...but it takes a while for it to fall into place.  I'm not sure those who don't suffer these feelings will understand what I'm saying, but those who do will get it, I'm sure.

These thoughts came to the surface again during the last few days.

Kaya had to sell our car.  Financially it was a drain on resources, particularly as he has been out of work for a while.  It also meant that he could attempt to start up a small business with the proceeds so at least he would have something positive to focus on.  This is all underway and we are hopeful that it will get off the ground in the not too distant future.   He gave me some money from the proceeds, which, along with a gift from a friend, enabled me to book two nights away in Izmir next week with a friend.  Something we have talked about for a while, but which I wasn't sure I could afford.  So now I was in a position to go ahead.

Then come the feelings of guilt, because at the same time I realised that I would soon have to ask for help again with funding for the animals we care for....our 12 rescues and the others in the village and at the sanayi.  So I naturally feel that I shouldn't be wasting money on a trip but should be using the money for the dogs and cats instead.

I actually wrote a post for my Facebook page to ask for help, but then didn't post it...because I felt guilty.

At the same time, something cropped up about people who operate scams connected with animal welfare.   They raise huge amounts of money which apparently lines their pockets rather than benefit animals in need.  This can have a bad effect on the genuine rescuers, because naturally people are wary and are reluctant to donate if they feel that they are being scammed.

So I then start to wonder if those who help me with my work, may think the same about me.  This is what paranoia does.  Hence, no post on Facebook.   I had a good response in October, and I was so grateful as it enabled me to stock up with food, medication, flea collars, and also to clear vet bills.  But so far have received just one gift during November, so funds are starting to run low.

I did discuss these feelings with a close friend today, and she told me that my planned trip and the work I do with animals are two separate things.  She also suggested that I write about it.  So here it is.  I'm not sure if it helps me, and part of me still feels I should cancel my trip because the animals come first, but maybe when I'm in a better frame of mind, I'll look at it differently.

This post wasn't easy to write.  It makes me feel vulnerable. However, I have an overwhelming need to be honest.  I will only post it on my group page because some of it may help others genuinely involved in animal welfare and rescue.  They may also think that they could be tarred with the same brush as scammers.  The genuine ones that I have come to know, will, like me, just keep going regardless.






Thursday, 17 November 2016

Looking forward

You might recall my last blog post when I talked about the need sometimes to escape (HERE) and of course I spent nine days in England from the 4th to 13th and had a lovely time.  It was wonderful to have  time with my daughter and grandsons, having not seen them since February.

The boys are growing and changing all the time and I miss them so much.  It's really difficult to say goodbye.  I'm hoping it won't be too long before I'm able to see them again.

I do find the travelling exhausting, and  never sleep well in a different bed.  I was also very stressed about one of the sanayi dogs, Elif, who had been badly injured in a traffic accident.  In spite of my insisting she be put to sleep, the vet disagreed and wanted to operate.  To cut a long, sad, story short, she was kept at the clinic for several days and Kaya removed her and took her to Mugla.  All this happened whilst I was away so it was constantly on my mind.

The Mugla vet hoped to operate but promised that if there was no improvement he would euthanise her.  She waited another week and eventually the decision was made to end her suffering. It should have happened sooner of course, but at least she is now at peace.

An enthusiastic welcome awaited me from the dogs, and also Kaya (although I think maybe he was relieved that I had returned to clean the house, do the washing, ironing, etc...he does his best, but men, and in particular Turkish men, don't find household chores easy!).

He has been busy in the garden though, and there are repairs to be undertaken to the fencing around the big dogs' area which were damaged during strong winds.  In fact, Melek, Chas and Blondie managed to escape through a gap which was quite worrying.  However, they returned none the worse for their adventure.

Kaya is still not working and there are no jobs around.  He has wanted to get out of tourism for some time now which I think, in the current situation in Turkey, is a good idea.

We made a decision to sell the car, and stick with the motorbike.  Not an easy decision but financially it makes sense.  It also means that Kaya is hoping to start up a small business with the proceeds of the sale.  I won't talk too much about that at the moment as I don't want to tempt fate, but he is not someone who will just sit around waiting for something to fall into his lap.  So we'll see how it goes.  Fingers crossed.

He also insisted that I have a little of the money for myself.  So that, together with a gift from a friend, will enable me to go to Izmir for a two day break on the 28th.  It's something I've been hoping to do with my dear friend Fleur, and we had been making provisional plans.  So the hotel is now booked...with a request for a bath of course, and we are really looking forward to it.

Thanks to gifts over the past month or so, we were able to settle vet bills and stock up with food, and to all those who have given...you have my most grateful thanks.

We will of course have to stock up again soon, so if anyone would like to help, please email me at lindikaya@hotmail.com, or send me a message on Facebook (the link to my group page is on the sidebar).

Have a good weekend everyone xx




Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Sometimes we just need to escape.....

....because we feel trapped.

 I love our dogs, and  I enjoy the fact that we can help so many other dogs and cats in our area, but occasionally I have a desperate need to get away from it all.

Those of you also involved in animal rescue and welfare I think will understand what I mean.  Even having one or two dogs can restrict you.  You can't just pack a bag and set off somewhere on a whim.  You need to put your pets in kennels or find someone to look after them.  Easy with one or two dogs, but 12 is a different kettle of fish entirely.  Who in their right mind would want to look after this many dogs, not to mention the cats, and keeping an eye on the dogs in the village and sanayi?

In 18 years, Kaya and I have never had a holiday together.  We've never even been away for one night together.   If I want to go to England to see my family, I have to choose a time when he is not working so that he can be here to look after the animals.  Likewise, on occasions when he has been working away, I have to be here.

I haven't seen my daughter and grandsons since February.  I usually try to visit on Billy and Jimi's birthdays, 6 days apart in April, but because Kaya started work in March this year it wasn't possible. My daughter's birthday is in September, and I have missed an awful lot of them because it's a busy time in tourism.  That makes me very sad.  I would love to be with her on her birthday.

Of course I book my flights way in advance to get the best prices, but had I known that Kaya would be out of work before the end of the season, I could have gone to the UK sooner than 4th November.  Nevertheless as the day approaches I am very excited and so looking forward to being there.

I tell myself at this point in time that it will be such a relief to have some time away from barking dogs and endless feeding of same, but I know I'll probably miss them.  It's a real dilemma.  If I could win the lottery (difficult as I never buy a ticket!)  I could  buy a huge piece of land for the dogs and employ someone to care for them if I just fancied escaping for a few days.  Perhaps a private jet to pop over to England?  

Kaya tells me that he is done with tourism.  He's not getting any younger and it really is a young man's game.  The long hours are exhausting and take their toll.  I'm hoping that he can find something locally which will make life a lot easier for both of us.  If that happens then I fully intend to go to the UK for my family's birthdays next year.  Better still, I'd like them to come and stay with us.   We'll just have to wait and see.

This post is beginning to sound like one big whinge, but it's not really because I don't regret the decisions I made.  Caring for these animals is a commitment which will last as long as I live.

But an escape now and then would be nice wouldn't it?


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Nothing stays the same

Sunday 22nd March 2009.  That was the day I wrote my first blog post.  Since then I've done 2000 posts. How on earth have I managed to write so much?

A lot has happened since then.

The most exciting events were the arrival of my grandsons.  Billy is now 7 years old and Jimi is 5 years old, and both at school.  It seems like only yesterday that they were tiny babies.  I love them so much but miss them dreadfully.  I wish I could just pop over to see them much more often.  A lottery win and a private jet would help!

I am going to the UK on 4th November, but just for 9 days.  I wish it were longer but having booked the flights in June...well in advance to get the best price, and not knowing when,  where, or if Kaya would be working, I have to accept what I can get.

This year has been a difficult one, for many reasons.  So much has happened in this country, not all good,and the effect on tourism has been dreadful. Kaya has been in and out of work since the start of the season, finally giving up on tourism completely when it became apparent that there were very few customers and as a result bosses cut corners.  They stop paying insurance.  They make promises about wages but when it comes to pay day, they change their minds and pay less or nothing at all.

He worked at the sanayi for a couple of weeks, then was laid off.  After a week or so he was taken back on again.   He worked from early morning till as late as midnight some days and for two weeks work was paid just 300 lira...and no insurance.   Just over a week later they took him on again.  He hoped things might have improved.  He worked for 8 days and was laid off again.   Now, one week later, he still hasn't been paid.   He continues to look for work, but winter is fast approaching so it's unlikely he'll find anything.   In the meantime, he is doing work in the garden and behind the house, mostly to prevent water getting through the walls of the house and onto the balcony when the rain starts.  Those of you living here know that when it rains here, boy does it rain.  Torrential is an understatement!

We still consider ourselves luckier than most.  We don't pay rent because our house is owned by my father-in-law, and I have my pension.  There are so many others here who have far less, and have families to support.  We are very fortunate to have the support of friends which enables us to continue to care for our 12 rescued dogs, and the others in our village and local sanayi, not forgetting several cats who we now feed.

The country is still in a state of emergency following the attempted coup, but apart from far fewer tourists, day to day life has not really changed.  Security has tightened up at airports and there are more police traffic checks.  But that's a good thing.  I've always felt confident of security here, particularly at airports where you can't enter a terminal building without going through a scanner.  I'm always more anxious about using Heathrow airport where people can wander in and out unchecked.

Those regular tourists who are not put off by the scaremongering UK press, and who still came here  this year,  will tell you that their holidays have been just as good as always.  It's not safe anywhere these days, and Turkey is no more at risk than any other country.  Let's hope 2017 is better, not just in Turkey, but everywhere.






Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Reasons not to blog

I have been wondering why I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for blogging.  Not just writing blog posts but reading other blogs too.  It used to be one of the first things I would do in the morning after rising very early to feed the dogs.  I'd settle down with a coffee and catch up with my favourites...and then do one of my own.

So this morning I was drawn to a blog post by one of my many blogging friends, Annie in Spain, who seems to feel the same way, and she blames it to a certain extent on her smartphone.  I must say I hadn't thought of this, but I think she's right.

Because of the dreadful service from TTNet, my internet connection comes and goes...and sometimes stays away for several days.  Although I never wanted a smartphone, I'm now glad I  have one and am using it a lot more than my laptop.  I have it permanently connected to Turkcell internet which is much more reliable.  I can take photos of my dogs and cats, or if I am out and about, and upload immediately to Facebook.  I don't have to mess around transferring the photos and then uploading to a blog post.  I don't have to keep logging in with my laptop to check Facebook or emails.  A ping on my phone tells me someone has responded to a post on Facebook, or that I have an email or message on Messenger or Whatsapp.

The downside is that my eyesight is just not good enough to do a blog post from my phone....that and the silly little keyboard with it's predictive text.  So blogging gets pushed to one side.

My last blog post was on 17th August, with updates about the dogs and cats, and also Kaya's work situation this year.  At that point he was on his third job of the season.  Sure enough, that one didn't last either.  He's now been out of work for over a week.   He did get paid what he was owed, which is always a bonus, and he has been looking around for work, and thinking about other possibilities which will get him out of tourism.  In the meantime we are in the middle of Kurban Bayram which this year has been extended to 9 days, so nothing is going to happen workwise until the holiday is finished.

He is using the time this week to do jobs around the garden.  He has re-done the cat area and you can see  what a good job he has made of it.  We bought 4 cat boxes at a good price in Bodrum which are now on a high platform along with cat food, easily accessible to the cats, but not to the sheepdogs who have recently been stealing the cat food.





He has also knocked down part of a stone wall at the side of the house and is cementing the area where we try to park the car (with difficulty as it is a narrow space)  to make it easier to get in and out.  There is more work to be done to tidy up the big dogs area at the back of the house, so he will be kept busy for a while.

Fistik continues to improve with the medication and special shampoo for her condition.  She will continue with regular fortnightly checks with the vet.  She won't be cured, but she is a lot more comfortable.  Blondie's leg is now fine.  She gets an occasional hotspot.  I spray with the Bitter Apple Spray. She doesn't touch it and it heals.

We carry on with the feeding of dogs and cats in our area.  Food is regularly dropped off to our recruited feeders in the village, and to the sanayi where the kind workers there feed between 20 and 40 dogs each day, which they supplement with scraps from a food factory there.  All this is thanks to contributions from friends, without which we wouldn't be able to continue.  Thankyou so much.  (If you would like to help you can either message me on Facebook or email me at lindaikaya@hotmail.com)


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Getting back to normal

When I say "normal" I mean I am attempting to get back to normal blogging again.

I could blame the intense heat of summer for lack of inspiration but I think it's really that you have to be in the right frame of mind to write.

So, what's been happening lately?   Kaya is on his third job since the start of the season.  He joined the tour company at the end of March that he worked for last year.    As anticipated, the season started off badly.  Scaremongering (mainly from foreign gutter press) has put people off coming here for holidays.  Businesses have closed down and many people are out of work.   Anyone with a job considers themselves lucky.

Naturally the greedy bosses play on this.  As in Kaya's case, fewer people were employed, but those who were still had to work ridiculously long hours.   Then the boss decides to cut salaries.   Then he doesn't pay up when he should.  Finally it is discovered that he hasn't paid employee insurance.  So Kaya managed to secure a similar job in Didim.    He set off full of optimism, but I wasn't really surprised when he returned just over a week later, having experienced the same attitude from the new boss.

For the past month he has been working back in Bodrum for a private health clinic.  Again he is working stupid hours.  It started well at 12 hours a day, but this has increased significantly and as a result he is tired and very grumpy.  But at least he is being paid and he gets one day off each week.  He'll stick it out, and there is a possibility that they will also have work for him during the winter months.  Fingers crossed.

A lot has happened recently in this country.  An attempted coup last month, and a four month state of emergency imposed.  There's so much more to all this of course, but I don't want to clog up my blog with anything political.  Suffice to say that there really doesn't seem to be any change to daily life here for most people at the moment.

And the dogs (and cats).   I think I am fortunate (touch wood) that my 12 rescues remain relatively healthy.  Megan still limps from time to time with her arthritis but is taking a daily supplement to help with her joints.  The problem Blondie has had with her ankle for almost two years has finally been sorted.  After many vet visits, antibiotics, an operation, and so many other remedies that didn't stop her from licking and re-opening the original wound, we finally hit on the cure.  Bitter Apple Spray, which can't be bought here, but a friend kindly brought over from the UK for me.  So the lampshade was finally removed after four months, and so far no further problems.

Fistik has always suffered with skin problems, and has also been back and forth to the vets for months now.  Her skin is black and scaly and she is losing her hair.  We finally have a diagnosis and treatment started.  It's a chronic condition and there is no cure, but hopefully the medication and special shampoo will prevent her scratching so much.  She will have to be checked on a regular basis and medication adjusted or changed.  It's a costly exercise, but worth it if we can make her life more comfortable.

We now have around 7 or 8 cats visiting the cat area at the side of the house to be fed and watered every day.  And we continue to provide sacks of food for the shepherd and his dogs,  the Hoca and the dogs he feeds, Annie's mum for Annie and other dogs, and our feeders at the sanayi, as well as food for our neighbour Dursune's cat Tekir and 3 other cats she is feeding.   We also administer worm and flea treatments for as many animals as possible, and provide vet treatment for sick or injured animals.

Since PayPal ceased operating in Turkey on 6th June, many friends who once sent money to help with caring for the dogs have stopped.  PayPal was so easy for people to use so I anticipated this.  Some friends however have found a way to continue to help and I am so grateful for their efforts.  But a difficult season with low earnings, and just my pension, means we may have to consider cutting back on what we provide.  It will be an absolutely last resort, and avoided for as long as possible.  If you wish to help, whether you live in Turkey or the UK, there are easy ways to do this.  Just email me at lindaikaya@hotmail.com for details or message me on my Facebook group page.

We are now past the middle of August and although the days are still very hot, there is a very slight drop in temperature at night, which is a relief.   I don't do well in summer and can't wait for Autumn, Winter and Spring.   That's when I really feel I am back to normal!








Thursday, 11 August 2016

Just Me

Dear Blog

I have neglected you for a while.  I'm sorry about that but I have been quite busy elsewhere and the intense heat of summer doesn't really inspire me to write very much.

I have been using Facebook more than my blog.  I like to update my supporters about the dogs and cats on my group page.

Facebook can be useful at times for getting things off your chest.  When you feel angry or hurt it's easy to tap out something that, at the time, makes you feel a bit better.  You don't mention names so no-one need be offended.   Some people don't feel this is appropriate though.  I was reminded of this yesterday when my friend Maria posted about her need to offload her feelings on Facebook, and then finding that so called friends were reporting back to people not even on Facebook.  She was informed that she was a laughing stock.   She's not of course.  Anyone who is laughing has no compassion for someone who has recently lost two members of her family who were very close to her.

People share all sorts of things on Facebook.   I've watched them talk about husbands cheating, break-ups of marriages, sadness when a loved one is ill...and even more sadness when someone close to them dies.   Facebook can seem like a big family when someone is isolated and has no-one else to talk to.  The support gained from Facebook "friends", many of whom we have never met in person, can be very comforting.

I feel very isolated at the moment.  I also feel very depressed about things that have happened recently.   I try my best to support those close to me.  I don't always get it right.  When I don't I will always hold my hands up and apologise.  Sometimes I apologise over and over again, but that doesn't always work and I end up on the receiving end of someone else's anger.  I am told I am self-absorbed....I wish I had the time to be so.  I do have feelings though and can be hurt...if that is being self-absorbed, then OK...I am.

But I am also pissed off at being blamed for everything that is not my responsibility.   This morning for example it's my fault that the dogs are barking.   I am thinking of wearing a sign on my forehead saying "If you want someone to blame choose me".  

We are all human.  We have failings.  We are not perfect.   Try not to judge people for the things they do wrong, but try to remember the things they get right.   Positive encouragement works far better on someone's self-esteem.

If you wish to comment, please do so here on my blog, rather than on Facebook.  Thankyou


Thursday, 30 June 2016

"God" help us?


If there is a God or Allah, or whatever you to choose to believe in, then "He" has certainly got it in for Turkey at the moment.

I don't need to give you a list of everything that's been thrown at us over the past year or so.  If you read the papers or you are on Facebook, then you already know.  And it doesn't seem to be getting any better.  

It must be hard for those who have faith in something/someone they can't see or touch to carry on believing that to pray will save them.  They will tell you that it's not "his" fault.  It's human beings that create this chaos.  Well of course it is.

This beautiful country and it's warm and welcoming people are suffering.  Their indomitable spirit is being eroded bit by bit.

Tourism has taken the biggest hit because people are too afraid to come here.  It's understandable of course, but if they choose to go somewhere else for their holidays they are just as much at risk.  Nowhere is entirely safe.

Those who work in tourism have a few months to earn what they can to support their families throughout the rest of the year.  My husband is one of them, but I consider us to be better off than a lot of others.  We live rent free in a house owned by my father-in-law, and I have my state pension to subsidise us, which is just as well as my husband has recently been laid off from his job and is now in a different area with a similar position.  But still there are few tourists, so little chance of earning money.  I feel for those whose families who have no other income other than that provided by their men working in tourism.

This latest atrocity at Istanbul Airport would seem to be the final nail in the coffin.  My thoughts (but not prayers) are with those who have lost loved ones yet again from an act of terrorism.

Most of the blame has to lie at the feet of the one running the country, but of course I am not going to say anything more about that.  Those who live here know exactly what I mean.   I'll keep my mouth shut...we no longer have freedom of speech.

The world is changing...and not for the better.  Leaders everywhere seem to have little concern for the people of their countries.   Their interest is solely about power and control.  We are seeing so much hatred and prejudice.  

Love is the only way forward.  Unconditional love for our fellow man.  Hate never wins.

 






Sunday, 12 June 2016

It's Sunday....

Living in this village, away from civilisation (not entirely of course but it sometimes feels like it) every day is much the same.

I am up before sunrise.  My body clock wakes up around 4.30am and by 5am my 12 dogs let me know it's time for breakfast.  And so the routine of my day begins.

12 rescued dogs, all different, and most of them having arrived over the past few years with issues, take a lot of looking after.   But it doesn't stop there.  I have committed myself to feeding and caring for other street dogs in our village and at the sanayi 5km away on the main road.

You may recall my having mentioned that I now have a car.  I still need to sort out my license but Kaya has checked with the traffic police and I seem to be ok with the documents I have at the moment.  Naturally I don't know if this is entirely accurate.  It largely depends on which policeman he spoke to.  If he decided to check it out with 6 more policemen, I have no doubt each would have a different story.  Anyway, for the time being I am driving and if I get stopped by the police then I'll soon find out for sure.

At first I stuck to driving on the back roads between my village and my friend's village.  No traffic police...just tractors, sheep and cattle.  I've had to slow down at times to let cats, dogs, tortoises and a lizard cross the road as well.

Having not driven for more than 10 years, I was quite anxious at first, but with each day my confidence has grown.  In fact it is beginning to change my life for the better.

The week before last I crossed over the main road to deliver sacks of dogfood to the sanayi, then to the dog Annie's mum who feeds several dogs, and also to Osman in the village shop who does the same.

I needed more stocks of food.  On a trip over to my friend's village we drove into the nearest town (at least he drove because I was still anxious) and bought sacks of food.

But I knew that I would have to venture further to get supplies myself so on Thursday I drove into Milas and bought more from Migros who still had dogfood on offer.  I then went to Kipa to do my own shopping before setting off for home.  On the way I filled up with petrol (another worrying moment overcome...making sure I bought the correct fuel), and a drop off of more food to the sanayi.

I have until now had to rely on others to do these things for me.  Kaya rarely manages to get home and he is permanently exhausted so I feel guilty for putting pressure on him.  He had to come home last night for a couple of hours however, because we had a bit of an emergency.  Sadie somehow managed to break one of the fences in the first section of the big dogs' area and get out into the small dogs' area, followed closely by the other 6 big dogs.   After much frantic activity and a lot of sweating in this heat, I managed to get them all back into the far area and shut the gate.  The fence is now fixed...we'll see how long it lasts before Sadie breaks out again!

I am lucky to have a good friend in David, who has helped enormously over the past few years.  I am a naturally independent person so it's hard for me to ask others for help.  I don't know how I managed without him.

On Friday I drove again into Milas, this time braving the roadworks in the centre of town.  I needed to go to the bank to get a new debit card, but also my dear friend Fleur was driving over from Kusadasi to see me.  We had lunch together and a good catch-up and as we were saying our goodbyes it really hit me how much I am enjoying the independence this car gives me.   Not only that...I am prone to bouts of depression and my mood has now lifted considerably.  Who would have thought it could make such a difference to my life.

Wishing you all a very happy Sunday xx





Sunday, 29 May 2016

How to make life as difficult as possible.


I'm afraid many British immigrants here (sorry I hate the term expats so won't use it) are starting to believe that there is a concerted effort to make living here as difficult as possible.

There are residents permits to contend with.  There is a system of sorts but it seems dependent on the area in which you live as to whether you can sail through the process without problems.

You can't work without a work permit and they are not easy to obtain.  You cannot do a job that can be done by a Turk.  I actually agree with this up to a point.  It seems that teaching English is one of the few options open to foreigners.

It's always been possible to open a business here as a foreigner as long as you employ a certain number of Turkish nationals.  As far as I was aware if you met this criteria you could work in your business, but I think I may be wrong on that point.  Certainly in recent weeks it has come about that foreigners are now being fined and deported for not being aware of a change in the law in 2014 which apparently wasn't publicly announced (except as it seems in a newspaper called Resmi which covers such things, and which I frankly had never heard of before now).

One such lady in Didim bought a business a few years ago from another foreigner, has done everything by the book as she understood it, paid her taxes etc and employed Turks.  She wasn't even working herself but was quite suddenly told that she would have to leave the country in 30 days as she didn't have a work permit...as well as having to pay a hefty fine.  One could say that she should have made herself aware of the changes, but frankly it's impossible to keep up.  Laws are made or revised constantly, goalposts are moved, and even those in authority who are there to implement and uphold the laws don't always understand them.  Sadly, this lady has four young children, and has also during her time here done a lot for her local community.  She is very much appreciated by those who know her, and who are trying to raise funds to help her.

I am fortunate to have been married at a time when things were a lot simpler.  I automatically obtained dual nationality upon marriage, which allows me to live here without a residents permit, to work, to vote..in fact everything that a Turkish national is entitled to.  If this wasn't the case, and I had to jump through all these hoops, I very much doubt I would still be living here.

Kaya has now traded the motorbike in for a car.  We realised that it was going to be impossible to manage without one.  I haven't driven for a number of years.  The photo on my UK license expired a couple of years ago and I didn't renew it because I no longer have an address in the UK.  However, I showed this, along with the paper license to the traffic police in Bodrum in November and they assured me that I could have my license translated and noterised and as long as I had exit and entrance stamps on my passport every 6 months I could drive here.  I was a bit wary of this advice but got the translation and had it noterised.

The law then changed again in January and UK licenses now have to be exchanged for Turkish ones unless the 6 month date stamps can be shown on passports.  This isn't helpful for those immigrants who don't leave the country on a regular basis who will now have to do so, or change their licenses. I recently learned that as a dual national I could have exchanged my license years ago.  I wish I had known before it expired because if I want a Turkish license now I will have to take a driving test.  This is something that fills me with horror and it also costs money that we cannot afford.

So I have this car parked in front of the house which I can't  drive.

 So I will have to make a decision at some point about taking a test.   I'm reluctant to rush into doing this as I have no doubt the law will change again.

It's not easy here for foreigners these days and it's no wonder many are deciding to up and leave.

NOTE:  There is a wonderful page on Facebook to help foreigners through all the red tape.  It's called Doc Martin's Surgery for Expats in Turkey and you can find it by clicking this LINK

Monday, 16 May 2016

DREAMS

I saw this on someone's timeline on Facebook yesterday and it prompted me to do a blog post.

I've never really taken too much notice of the books, articles etc that interpret dreams.  I'm not sure I really want to know what they mean.  How does anyone know how to interpret them anyway?

We all have dreams don't we?  Or maybe some people don't.  They can stir up all sorts of emotions:  happiness, sadness, anxiety, and especially if they are so vivid that when we wake up we believe that they are real.

When I was a child I had a recurring dream about being able to fly.  In my dream I would come out of the house, to the end of the road, turn left until I came across a road which was a steep hill.  I would stand at the top of the road...jump...and fly to the bottom.

A common dream seems to be about falling.  I've had this one many times.  Another is trying to reach a destination but finding it impossible because of so many obstacles in my way.  I tend to get this last one if I am due to go on a journey, or if I am anxious about the dogs.

A rather more pleasant one that I had when I was a child was when I would be walking along a road and every few steps I found money on the ground.  I picked it up, continued walking and finding more.   If this was a sign that I might win the lottery, it never happened!

Occasionally I have a dream which, on waking and realising it's not true, upsets me dreadfully.   I have been estranged from my son for 18 years.  His choice, even though I still make attempts to contact him.   In my dream we have reconciled and my son is part of my life now.  It all seems so vivid and real.  Initially on awakening I still believe it and feel really happy.  After a short while the truth hits me and the sadness overwhelms me.

What do you dream about?   Are your dreams happy or sad?  Interesting or disturbing?  Have you actually tried to find out what they mean?  I'd like to know.


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Scaling back

This time last year the tourist season was well under way and Kaya was doing well in his job.  He gets a small basic wage but his earnings rely on selling excursions to customers when he does his welcome meetings at the many hotels he is responsible for.

So far this year, he is still working long hours.  There are fewer reps employed by the company which means those who are working have more hotels to cover.  But there are not as many customers so it's proving difficult to earn money.  I think most of us suspected that this would be a bad season but we tried to live in hope.  Businesses will close because rents won't be covered.  There will undoubtedly be many out of work this year.  We are lucky that Kaya still has a job.

I am pretty good at economising when I need to.  I've had times in my life when I could afford to buy whatever I wanted, but times when money was in very short supply.  I can adapt easily and the habit I have had for years of checking prices in supermarkets for the best deals, has never left me.

Kaya has sold the car.  He has replaced it with a motorbike which is almost brand new.  This means that the debt on the car has now been cleared.  He has a company car with his job but if he wants to use it to come home the company make him pay highly for the privilege.  The idea was to leave our car at home for me to use throughout the summer but because of the changes in law on driving licences, I am not able to drive here now, unless I take a Turkish driving test at great expense.  Now he can come home sometimes on the motorbike and the cost of petrol will be a fraction of what it costs to use the car.

It will be difficult if we need to take dogs to the vet, and collect sacks of food, but we will have to borrow a car if necessary.   I think some of you may remember just how much Kaya can manage to carry on a motorbike...so we'll manage!


I am used to using the dolmuş to go into Milas or further afield, and my good friend David usually takes me shopping in Milas once a week, which helps enormously.

We may also have to cut back on what we provide to the dogs in the area.  Even though we have donations coming in, it's never enough.  My fund is still in the red.  When I see dogfood on offer I buy it anyway because I can't afford to miss good deals, and then hope money will eventually come in to cover it.  Sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn't.  Feeding and providing vet care for my 12 rescues costs a great deal, so I rely on donations to pay for all the other dogs (and cats) out there that we are trying to help.   We will continue to feed those we are committed to, but we know our limitations and it will be difficult to take on responsibility for any more.

I hate asking for money.  To be honest, writing about it in a blog post seems easier than just coming straight out with it on my Facebook page.   I am however extremely grateful for those who have continued to donate.  Without your generosity, we'd never have managed to help so many animals in need.

If you would like to help, you will find the PayPayl button at the top right hand side of this page.  Thankyou xxx











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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

When you just don't have a clue!!

Yesterday I lost my internet connection on my laptop but still had it on my phone.  To my non-technical brain this just doesn't make sense.  Although I'm sure you pc wizards out there know exactly what was wrong.

So I fiddled about with all sorts of things in the hope that I would by some miracle be connected again.  I wish I wasn't always tempted to do this.  I don't know what I'm doing and I am sure I do more harm than good.  Does anyone else do this?

At one point I decided to refresh my PC which meant that apps that I use every day were uninstalled and those I had painstakingly uninstalled last year were reinstalled.  And of course it made no difference whatsoever to my internet connection.

I phoned TTNet last night wishing my Turkish was better, and wishing even more that the customer service operators who answer after you have chosen the "English speaking" option could actually speak English...or at least something vaguely coherent.  I think he said it was a router problem and gave me another number to call.  I asked him to repeat it three times, still didn't understand so gave up.

I phoned them again this morning and got a girl who was most unhelpful so gave up again.  I sent a message to my brother-in-law who usually helps solve my pc problems but he's out of the country.  I asked Kaya if he knew anyone in the village who might be able to help.  Sure enough he did.  The guy turned up at 4pm with his little dog on a lead.  Tiny timid little thing but very well cared for and loved...that was quite clear.

I have my laptop and modem in the bedroom, but I couldn't bring the man and dog through the gate and into the house as the dogs would have gone berserk.

So he tied the dog's lead to a pole at the side of the house and climbed through my bedroom window.  No problem here, except that a couple of neighbours just up the road were watching.  No doubt this bit of activity will spread like wildfire throughout the village.  Ah well gives them something to talk about.

The most important thing is that he managed to sort out the problem with my laptop in 10 minutes....then exited via the bedroom window...being closely watched again by the neighbours.

I had an appointment at the hospital yesterday concerning the problems with my hip and leg.  X-rays were taken but it's not clear what's causing the problem.  In the meantime I have strong painkillers and anti-inflammatories and will go back in 10 days, and probably have another MRI scan if there is no improvement.

Although Kaya has been working since the end of March, this season is so quiet and he is not earning money yet.   We are considering selling the car and getting a motorbike.  Because of the license situation I won't be able to drive it anyway and a motorbike will be cheaper to run.  This is going to be a very difficult season for those working in tourism.  Let's hope it picks up.

Meanwhile, the dogs are all OK.  Blondie is doing well and I think I may be able to remove her bandage tomorrow as the scar has healed well.  I'll leave the lampshade on for a while yet to make sure she leaves the wound alone.

I am still in the red with my donation fund and am getting quite anxious about being able to buy more stocks of food for the village and sanayi dogs.  I may have to consider cutting back on what we provide.  Thankyou everyone who donates to help us to care for the dogs, and if anyone else would like to help, it will be very much appreciated. (You will find the Paypal button at the top right hand corner of this page).


If you are on Facebook and not yet a member of my group page, you are very welcome to join.  Just click on this link: Ayak's Animal Welfare (Dogs and Cats)


Sunday, 24 April 2016

I've been gone some time.....

...well I haven't of course.  I've been here all the time but it's been a long time since I did a blog post.

Our work with rescuing dogs continues.  We now have 12 at home.  Kaya had taken several dogs over to Mugla shelter who agreed to treat them.  Some isolated with mange and some that the shelter agreed to vaccinate, neuter and spay as long as we collected them and returned to the areas from which we removed them.  This has now been completed.

One of the dogs taken to Mugla was a boy we called Arthur.  He had a tumour on his face which the vet removed.  He was vaccinated and neutered and Kaya collected him two days later and placed him at the sanayi for safety.

Several hours later Arthur turned up in the village where he found Kaya at the teahouse.  He had crossed two dual carriageways and walked the 5km to the village.   Kaya left him there and returned home.  Ten minutes later Arthur found his way to our house and cried outside the gate.  We took him in and he has now been with us for about 4 weeks.

After a couple of days he went down with kennel cough.  He was very poorly and was taken to our vet.  He deteriorated so we got a second opinion from Pethane vets in Bodrum.  They prescribed medication and after a bit of a struggle which included having to feed him with a syringe, he finally recovered.  He was very thin but is eating well now and is very much stronger.

As I suspected, my other dogs succumbed to kennel cough.  In fact out of the 12 dogs, Sadie was the only one to avoid it.  They all recovered quite quickly, thanks to being fit healthy dogs.

I've had visits in the past few weeks.  Audrey from Bodrum popped in for coffee and spent some time playing with the dogs.   My friend Tamara on a visit to Turkey, stopped off to stay with me for 4 days and we had a great time.

Kaya started work at the end of March.  It's quiet at the moment.  It's early in the season and we are hoping that the recent problems in this country won't have too much effect on tourism.  We'll just have to wait and see.

I have had problems with my hip and leg, which is clearly all part of my osteoarthritis....old age creeping up on me I'm afraid.   It wasn't helped by an incident yesterday when I went out to feed the 7 big dogs.   Three dishes placed in the first area for Chas, Melek and Sadie, and as I was walking up the step through the connecting gate to the second area, I slipped and fell on my back.  At the same time 4 dishes of food shot up in the air and scattered so there was a bit of a free for all with the dogs.

Recovering myself, I returned to the house and brought out more food for the dogs who didn't manage to get to the scattered food quick enough.

This morning I am hobbling about.  I have a big bruise on my backside and I think I will have to start wearing my orthopaedic corset once again and use the strong painkillers prescribed just before Christmas.

It's at times like this I realise how much I miss Kaya when he's working.

We had hoped that our car would be left here this summer for me to use.  I was told by the traffic police in Bodrum that as long as I had my UK driving license translated and noterised I could drive on this...even though my license has expired.  Frankly I was doubtful but got it translated and noterised anyway.

The law concerning driving licenses changed in January this year, and recent info seems to indicate that an expired license would not be allowed.  I would have to take a driving test here to obtain a Turkish license...at great expense.  Those people with resident permits can change their current UK licences.  But even if my license hadn't expired, I have dual nationality so it doesn't seem to apply to me.  Most foreigners here will agree that there seems to be a concerted effort to make life as difficult for them as possible.

So the bottom line is that a car is of no use to me here.  If I need to get shopping I will have to use the dolmus, wait for the rare occasion that Kaya can get home, or rely on others, such as my friend David when he goes into Milas.   I hate not being independent!

Just a few photos from the past few weeks.

Tamara playing tug of war with the dogs

Kahve and another dog on their way back from Mugla Shelter

Arthur

Arthur

Feeding Arthur with syringe

Kaya with Arthur and the little ones

Audrey with Arthur and little ones

Me with some of the big ones all wanting cuddles





Saturday, 5 March 2016

My Turkey Journey

Occasionally people ask me about where I have lived in Turkey and a few years ago I did a blog post about my journey which began almost 18 years ago.

The last post in the series was written in our last home in Selçuk.

We moved from there to this village outside Milas almost 8 year ago and this is where I upped my game in rescuing and caring for dogs, simply because at long last we had the space to do it.

In the absence of being inspired to write anything at the moment, I thought I would share my journey for those of you who may be interested in some of the different areas of Turkey, and my ups and downs along the way.

The following list links to old blog posts for each area, and ends with Selçuk, before moving to our current home.

So, here are the links, in order, starting with my first home in Gümüslük.

Gümüslük

Turgutreis

Side, Antalya

Ceylan (on the way to Cappadocia)

A bit about Cappadocia

Arriving in Cappadocia

Göreme

Recent post - memories of Göreme (and a video)

Göreme to Selçuk

Selçuk

Friday, 26 February 2016

Recovery and Moving on

After I published my last blog post about my anxiety HERE I knew that writing about my feelings would help me.  What I didn't expect was the huge level of support I received as a result.

Of course I wasn't surprised that my close friends who know me well would understand completely that when I am in this black pit I'm not always the best person to be around, that I can act out of character, or shut myself away.  

It's to be expected that some I considered to be friends would not understand, but instead could be harsh and unforgiving, but that's fine.  Not everyone gets it. Depression can make you lose friendships, but it also makes you realise who your true friends are.

It's not always easy to hold your hands up. and apologise unreservedly for a blip in one's normal behaviour.  I can do it because over many years I have learned that none of us are perfect.  We are all flawed on some way.  So I forgive easily if someone upsets me.   I hope to receive the same in return.  If I don't then reluctantly I move on.  To dwell on it will not change things.

So thankyou so much to all those who sent me such lovely messages of support and encouragement, particularly to those who also suffer from depression, anxiety and paranoia.  You already know that I will be there for you when you are low, because I get it, and I appreciate your friendship when I need it most.

My mood has lifted considerably since last week.  I was sorry to leave my daughter and grandsons.  My time with them is always so short.  But each time I stay in the UK I feel more and more like a fish out of water.  After 18 years in Turkey, and in spite of all the problems we have here at the moment, it is my home.  It's where I belong.

I have thrown myself back into caring for the animals here.  Our 11 dogs gave me the best welcome, as did Kaya.  Like most men, he copes when his wife is away, but prefers me to be here.  He hasn't been well and has been making trips to the hospital, but we are remaining positive.  He quit smoking three weeks ago.  He has tried many times over the years to do so, but has never lasted more than one day.  I am amazed and very proud of him.  

Fistik has been receiving treatment for her yeast infection. This has necessitated trips to the vet every three days for injections and using lotion on her body to prevent her licking and scratching.  I'm afraid this dear little girl has always had skin problems, way before she came to us, and may continue to have these, but we will always make sure she has the best treatment.

I bought flea collars and worm tablets while I was in England and these were used on our 11 dogs yesterday.  The collars were normal ones, but they won't offer enough protection against ticks once the weather gets warmer, so these will be replaced by Paraband collars in April.

We travelled over to Bodrum on Tuesday to stock up with more dog food, and called in to see Annie on the way back.  We left some food, and also met Annie's "mum's" cat Sarı.  



The dog in the village that bit a child has been removed by the Belediye, but the four remaining dogs who we recently vaccinated, remain here.   We don't know how safe they are.  People are saying that if we continue to feed them, they will also bite people.  They just don't get that the opposite is true.  We are planning to remove them and place at the sanayi.  Two of them are female and we want to get them spayed, but we need to raise the money to do so first.

More food has also been delivered to the shepherd for his dog and more will be delivered to the sanayi today.  We continue to feed cats outside our house, and at least three are making good use of the cathouse Kaya built.  We also continue to supply food for Dursune's cat, Tekir.

As usual, thankyou to those of you who continue to donate to help with our work.  Donations are always needed and are very gratefully received.

We gathered together some leftover tiles yesterday and now have enough to lay them under the gazebo in the garden.  So this is Kaya's current project.  He likes to keep busy.

In the meantime I am making plans to get out and about a bit more.  Catch-up for coffee in Milas with my dear friend David today.   I am meeting up with two friends in Bodrum on Sunday, and the following week will be going to Didim for a couple of days to stay with friends who will be visiting their holiday home.  Another friend is hoping to come over from the UK to stay with me sometime in April, and I am looking forward to this.  My friend Gwen will also be over for a couple of months and will catch up with her too.

Moving on...onwards and upwards.   Have a good weekend everyone.



Friday, 19 February 2016

ANXIETY

Feeling constantly anxious is part of my everyday life.  It goes hand in hand with my depression and paranoia.  Those who have followed my blog for some time will have occasionally seen posts like this one.

There are two reasons for putting my thoughts and feelings here.  Firstly, those of you suffering from any kind of mental health problem will recognise them and maybe you won't feel so alone.  Secondly, when I am feeling as low and anxious as I am at the moment, writing about it sometimes puts it into perspective and can help me to cope.

So I am here in England for 12 days and should be happy, right?  Then why am I waking up each morning in tears? Why am I feeling like this?

There are things going on both within my family and in the outside world that make me incredibly anxious.  This is not ordinary anxiety and concern ...it is way off the scale.   I can't talk to anyone here about my feelings.  In fact there are very few people I can talk to these days.  People have their own problems.  I don't like to bother them...so I write about it instead.

So then the paranoia raises its ugly head.  Feeling hurt at the slightest innocent remark.  Reacting badly to such remarks.  Apologising but receiving no sign of being forgiven.   Making conversation but feeling that you are being ignored.  Always asking how others are and showing concern and interest, even though they don't ask how I'm feeling.    Generally feeling like a bloody nuisance.

So that's the self-indulgent part of depression.  It is a selfish illness made all the harder if you are not a selfish person by nature.  That perhaps sounds like a contradiction.   I do care a great deal, perhaps too much, about my family, friends, people and animals......and what's happening every day in this violent uncaring world.  But I sometimes feel that when it comes to my needing a bit of understanding, there's no-one there.  So it's all too easy to sink into a black hole and feel sorry for myself.

So there it is...off my chest...and I'm feeling better already (well just a bit)

Now I can talk about the best bit of my visit.  Two hectic days in Bristol with Stella, Billy and Jimi.  We arrived after midday on Monday and left at 2pm on Tuesday, but managed to cram an awful lot in.  We visited @Bristol Science Museum on Monday afternoon. Dinner out in the evening.  There are so many lovely restaurants in Bristol.  After a hearty breakfast at the hotel on Tuesday we visited Bristol Aquarium and then M Shed which is a museum dedicated to the people and history of Bristol.

After a quick lunch we headed back on the train feeling quite exhausted but I think the boys enjoyed themselves.

Much has been going on at home while I've been here.  Another bomb in Ankara and further attacks in the east of Turkey.  Warships being sent to the Aegean to apparently deal with the traffickers taking refugees to Greece...quite how this works or what will happen to the refugees is not altogether clear.  No doubt even more suffering for these people who have already been through far too much.

So it's a worrying time and no doubt I'm not the only one feeling anxious about the future.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

FACEBOOK UPDATES ON DOGS. As at Tuesday 9th February.



4th February

This dog has been in our village for a while now. He seems happy and we feed him. He has been accepted by people here and we consider him to be as safe as its possible to be.
However this morning Kaya noticed something wrong with his testicles. He is now with our Vet who diagnosed a nasty infection so he has been neutered and given antibiotics and will stay in the clinic tonight or until we feel he has recovered sufficiently to be returned to the village.




5th February

The dog at the Vet clinic is staying there until Monday. He is fine but the weather is awful so a few days of shelter will enable him to recover. He will be vaccinated before he leaves.
Three more village dogs also vaccinated today. You may recognise the photo of the black dog as I posted it on here a couple of weeks ago. Battery ran out before Kaya could take a photo today. This dog has gradually moved into the centre from his hiding place so has gained in confidence.One more vaccination to be done today or tomorrow.
Two females will be spayed and vaccinated some time next week.


9th February  a.m.

The dog who was treated for testicle infection, neutered and vaccinated was collected from our Vet yesterday after spending four nights in the clinic. After much discussion yesterday we decided to relocate him to the sanayi.

The village people are OK with the dogs at the moment but this one does hang around the teahouse and we can see it becoming a bit of a nuisance in time.
He is now being looked after by the man who has cared for Kahve and several others who were placed at the sanayi by us more than a year ago. This is proof enough for us that they are safe as long as we continue to provide food and any Vet treatment necessary. There is plenty of shelter there from bad weather and the dogs are happy.
The safety and well-being of the village dogs is what's important.
Today we need to take two of our dogs to the Vet. Megan is struggling with her arthritis and Fistik's yeast infection has flared up again. Just wanting to get these things sorted before I go to England on Friday.

.............................

A visit to the vets. Megan's arthritis is getting worse and she has tablets to take and will be checked again in three weeks time.
Fistik has another yeast infection. This poor girl has been plagued with these skin problems since long before she came to us. This particular infection is not contagious but she has several creams and lotions to be administered daily and she had injections today. She has to go to the clinic for further injections every 3 days until the condition has cleared up.
On return to the village Kaya was confronted by an angry man who informed him that his daughter had been bitten by a dog in the centre of the village. It seems that this dog was a new arrival...early hours of this morning...another one dumped no doubt. The girl has been to hospital. Not a serious bite but the usual precautions taken.
It was understandable that the man was upset but he was blaming Kaya, saying that it was his fault for feeding the dogs. Kaya said that if he DIDN'T feed the dogs in the village there would be more problems. The dogs are not hungry and as such they cause no problems.
Well the upshot of all this was that the Muhtar became involved and the Belediye phoned and the dog will be removed and taken to Milas shelter.
Unfortunately, he has insisted that four other dogs who congregate in the centre are to also be removed. Kaya argued the point as these dogs are causing no harm. They have all been vaccinated by us and flea and worm treated. Two of them are the females we planned to have spayed this week, but I guess the only positive in all this is that they will be spayed by the Belediye shelter.
The man had said that if they weren't removed then he would kill them. A threat made in anger of course, but Kaya reminded him that it was against the law and if he attempted to do this to any dogs in the village he would be reported and prosecuted.
Of course children have to be protected, and even though I feel we are making progress here, it seems like it's one step forward and three back.

Elizabeth's Rescues....Part 5...Bilbo

This is the last of the guest posts by my friend Elizabeth about her Turkish rescues.  I hope you have enjoyed the series as much as I have:

And so we come to the last one of our Turkish Family.


 
After rescuing Frodo we knew his brother was also left behind. Bilbo was bigger but with a hound dog expression. Frodo followed him everywhere which is why we took him first as Frodo had a chance to be his own dog. So we asked for things to be processed. The first rabies tests were unsuccessful so poor BIlbo had another year until the rabies was redone and there was a delivery to the UK.
 
I managed to get him transported to Carlisle. I did not want to drive again  that long, long journey from Folkestone to Aberdeenshire. Give me rural roads any day - not motorways.
He arrived at a service station outside Carlisle at midnight in August 2014. The driver had managed to have him walking on the lead and toileting on the verges. This was definitely better than Frodo who had not ventured out of his cage.  So we safely drove home and arrived at 6am and I introduced him to his brother in the chalet. 

I went for a few hours sleep and at ten,  crossed the garden to see how the brothers were getting on and saw right into the room. Where were the curtains? 
Oh, they'd had fun together. Such excitement!!! Four curtains shredded on the floor!
 
I hoped this dog would be braver and come out of the chalet quickly. He did better than Frodo, but was very shy and scared for quite a while. He must have wondered how Frodo had changed so much . The little scary pup had turned into a hooligan but it was good for Bilbo to see him boinging along.

Like Frodo, Bilbo looked for a " safe" place in the chalet- jumping on to the kitchen work surfaces and hiding his head in a corner, if we went in. This was dangerous and he'd jump in panic, sliding across the surfaces so when he was out one day, I closed the kitchen door so his " safe " place became the shower unit where he stayed for a few months. He would sneak in there if anyone came along when he was out in the garden. 

I'd been here before so left him and , sure enough, he came into the main room without any intervention from us, and adopted a lounge chair as his. Then proceeded to tear it to bits!!!
After that he went for the next chair and did the same. Ah well. Willie, the young lab, sleeps with the hobbits ,  but on the sofa. Well sure enough Bilbo started on that so I just cover it all up with blankets and they still use the half torn suite.

One day, as with Frodo, Bilbo asked out for a walk . You just know when they are ready. So , with Charlie our older Lab's help, we set off into our wood, and he so enjoyed it. This was going to be a daily ritual.
 
At the moment Bilbo is walking every day off the lead into our horses' fields with Charlie, Willie and Zozz. He loves the pool and is very like a Labrador in behaviour.  On my last stay in Turkey Robert had him on the lead and they were getting on well but the horses approached and he panicked and Mum was  nowhere to be found, so he wiggled out of his collar and scarpered into the field and disappeared. I know how little he can make himself if afraid and he had been hiding in the hedges but Robert was frantic. I phoned and told Robert to leave all the gates open, drop one of my jackets at the doorway , and keep the passage into his chalet clear- he'd appear. Of course he did and came home - both very relieved males!!! 

But that made Bilbo suspicious of Robert and we've had a long , long trial of Robert trying to get round him again.  At the moment Bilbo goes willingly with Robert on the lead to the pool,  and I appear  after a half hour and slip his leash so he has some fee time running . Robert sneaks off and Bilbo is confident with me.  It takes forever with him- one step forward , one step back but it's all adding up to a lovely, happy dog.

Initially he was a Scooby Doo dog - all legs everywhere, ears flapping wildly while he ran with his tail whirling all over the place but as he has developed fitness he has a strong, loping run . He also had no spacial awareness and when I called would run to me, almost knocking me over, banging into my legs, side swiping me with his body and this also is improving- which is great as he's a big dog to hit you full on!
 
So we continue. These dogs bring such joy into our lives but we are fortunate that being retired we have the time  and, being in rural Aberdeenshire, we have the space for them. Not easy dogs - but we have an enormous sense of achievement when we see them blossoming.