"I didn’t want to buy a dog. There are too many beautiful dogs in the world without a home and in need of love and safety."
When I purchased a Nordictrack indoor bike with an iFIT programme in early 2021, I had no idea how it would change my life. The iFIT programme is a series of, often challenging, video bike tours on stunning roads around the world. One of the tours was in Turkey and the instructor spoke about the severe situation with stray dogs as she rode through the little villages, pointing out the many dogs wandering the streets.
That got me thinking. I had been looking to adopt a dog here in Switzerland, but at the time it was very difficult to find dogs in the shelters. I didn’t want to buy a dog. There are too many beautiful dogs in the world without a home and in need of love and safety. I started searching the internet for opportunities to adopt dogs from Turkey. That’s when I found Pets In Turkey and wrote to Sibel.
I grew up in Los Angeles, California, and we always had dogs - big dogs and little ones. We have a beautiful cat, Leopold, who we rescued from Corsica, but I missed having dogs in my life. I wanted to adopt two large males that were “cat tolerant.” After a long and friendly conversation about the kind of home I could provide, Sibel suggested a gorgeous large white terrier mix, Sakiz, a big flat-coat retriever mix, Jango, or a sweet lab mix, Pascal.
Sibel explained that Jango suffers from leishmaniasis, and that the disease is one reason he has been overlooked by many people, in addition to his size (I think he is part Newfoundlander). She spoke with me about the disease and the treatment and gave me time to read about it and consult with my vet before making a decision. I was grateful for her transparency. I decided to adopt Jango and Pascal (now Paco). I wasn’t too worried about Jango’s disease and thought it would be an honor to give him a loving home.
Trip to Turkey to pick up the boys
Sibel was an amazing support with all the paperwork. She guided me through the process and arranged a pickup from the airport. She also generously offered to host my daughter and I at her home while the dogs got ready to travel.
My daughter and I flew to pick up Jango and Paco in December 2021. To my delight the other dog she had proposed, Sakiz, was staying at her home (he had been depressed in the shelter due to floods). We fell in love! While I felt it would be difficult to adopt three large males, my twin sister in the United States had just lost a dog to cancer. I phoned her on FaceTime and introduced her to Sakiz (now Otto), she fell in love with him too. Sakiz will be the story of another blog…
My daughter and I flew back to Switzerland just before Christmas with Jango and Paco. I was amazed at how trusting the dogs were and I believe this trust is a tribute to the love and care they received with Pets In Turkey. I knew relatively little about their lives. Jango had been abandoned by the side of the road by a previous family. Paco likely grew up on the streets and had been attacked by a group of dogs and nearly killed.
I love the life we have with Jang and Pac (as we affectionatly call them), and our two cats Leopold and Cleopatra.
It’s not always easy, for sure. I work two - three days a week in Geneva. On those days I get up very early to take them on a morning walk. And I’m so grateful for that! They get us all moving in the fresh air. We’ve discovered so many beautiful places to walk with them that are close to hour home. And the dogs are grateful even for short walks - 20 / 30 min per walk if that’s all we can do on some days. They are a part of our family, and everyone helps take care of them. Leopold must have grown up with dogs, as I always find him with them. And the dogs accept him, too.
That’s not to say there haven’t been a few challenges. Paco had probably never lived inside and needed to be potty trained. But that only took a few days. He quickly learned. And he also quickly learned to love sleeping on the couch, and the bed, and the comfortable chairs. Having most likely grown up on his own terms, the biggest struggle we’ve had with Paco has been walking on a leash and staying in the garden (he likes to “take himself on a walk”). I worked with a trainer for a few weeks on leash training and bought a GPS tracker that I attach to his collar, in case he sneaks out of the garden for an adventure. Paco has become quite a talker too. It’s adorable.
Jango is calm and was a bit introverted at first. Gradually he has built confidence and, now when we go on walks, and when I come home from work (or even the grocery store), he jumps and barks with happiness. He has this deep, baritone bark and his eyes sparkle with joy. And he’s just started to give me kisses and to play with toys. It’s beautiful to watch them open up with love and care.
My husband, who didn’t grow up with dogs, recently took Paco on a 4-day mountain tour. They had a great time, and my husband sent me multiple pictures and videos every day about their adventure together. Adorable! Jango’s disease is completely under control, and he has gained a great deal of energy over the past months. Guided by my vet, I give him medicine twice a day tucked into a piece of hot dog, which he of course loves.
I believe in Pets in Turkey’s mission and have seen the love and care they give their dogs. I’m so grateful for the work they do. I’ve joined Pets in Turkey as a member and make a monthly contribution and an annual gift towards their life-saving work. If you’re considering bringing a dog, or a cat, into your home please adopt - don’t shop. And please reach out to Sibel and Pets in Turkey.