Wild Dogs Of Istanbul

A wild dog in the middle of a city? (Click image to see larger)In my travels, I’ve seen plenty of wild dogs.  I really notice them because I love dogs, and I always try to decide if they’re happy and healthy or not.  I sometimes watch domesticated dogs in a house and wonder if they would be more pleased with life while wandering the hills with their pack.

The one who's missing his tail. (Click image to see larger)Anyway, one thing I’ve never seen is a pack of wild dogs in the middle of a city with a population more than 13 million.  Well, I hadn’t seen that until I went to Istanbul.  I found them there.

Our first night in Turkey, just a few hours after getting off the plane, we were wandering through one of the biggest tourist areas in the city and noticed a dog running along.  Where was its owner?  As I struggled to find a person who belonged with it, I noticed a few other dogs.   Finally, I realized it was a pack of six or seven of them running along.

I recognize you! (Click image to see larger)After that, we managed to run into them all over the place.  Sometimes they’d be in a big group, and other times it would just be one or two of them following a food cart or taking a nap.  I even started to get used to them – something I never expected to happen.

My dad made a good observation that he could even start remembering which was which.  We were walking down a narrow street one evening and one was sleeping right in the middle.  As a car approached, the dog jumped up, started barking furiously, and chased the car down the street.  That dog became known as “the one who fights cars.”

Just hanging out. (Click image to see larger)There was also “the one with only half a tail,” “the one who really likes food carts,” and “the playful one.”  I know there were others, but I didn’t find it important to write down at the time.  That’s a regret.

The best, however, was “the one who sings the call to prayer.”  Multiple times a day, the speakers outside of the mosques would belt out the sounds of a man singing the call to prayer.  It would echo across the city and was especially loud if your hotel was right next to one (like us).

The dog who sings the call to prayer. (Click image to see larger)One afternoon we were in the square between Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, and there was a dog happily sleeping.  When the songs started ringing out in this location, they would echo and really give you a surround sound noise.  This was ear-piercing to a human, so I can only imagine what the dog heard.  But, he hopped up and started howling along.  It was, as a random British tourist stopped to tell me, “amazing.”

Overall, these dogs look like they have a decent life.  They look fairly healthy, and I noticed tracking tags on some of their ears, so I think someone is watching out for them.  They can go to sing-a-longs, eat leftovers, roam around with their friends, and take naps in the shadows of famous places.  Not bad really, kind of like a permanent vacation.

 Napping with the pack. (Click image to see larger)

Hungarian word of the day:

Török kutya

I tried to translate this myself, but it hopefully means “Turkish dog.”  Oh, and it’s pronounced “Tuhh-rook (those vowels should be the same, so try to find some common ground) Coo-tcha.”