Meet Michelle, Leyla and Olivier. Their lives, choices they make and their outlook on life made a drastic turn after adopting not one, but three dogs through Pets in Turkey (PIT).
Michelle has forever loved rescuing and helping abandoned cats and dogs from the streets. During her travels, she had rescued two dogs and two cats from Turkey and Greece since 20 years ago.
After the tragic loss of her beloved dog she found out about Pets in Turkey. Right in the heart of the pandemic in 2020.
After connecting to Sibel Akin, President and Founder of Pets in Turkey, she told Sibel that she will take any dog that needs help. As Michelle is an experienced dog owner and rescuer, Sibel arranged for Michelle to meet and pick up Sienna from Cesme, Izmir. Sienna was a wonderful but traumatized dog. With the help of her daughter, Leyla, they were able to help Sienna overcome her trauma by training and learning and researching. After Sienna the mother and daughter duo decided to adopt another dog, Daisy. As this interview was being conducted, Michelle’s husband, Olivier was on his way to pick up their third family member, Mindy.
Michelle and I spoke for an hour and she explained the joys and tribulations of adopting a pet and how easy it was to do so through Pets in Turkey with the watchful and detail oriented eyes of the organization.
“I felt I wasn’t just getting a dog but making a difference in my life”
Little did Michelle know that adopting Daisy and Sienna not only was good for the two “sisters” but it was also paving the way to a closer bond between her and Leyla, between her and Olivier, and it was making Leyla into a stronger young woman. Thanks to having the dogs, Leyla as a 19 year old became more grounded and closer to nature. She has found her inner strength and leadership skills. Being a dog owner is not always simple. Along with the cuteness and joys comes the responsibilities to raise a healthy, happy, balanced dog. The owner not only needs to show love and care but also a confident nature. Dogs simply prefer that humans are the leaders. They are then so much happier and at ease. Leyla, at a young age, has been able to find that confidence through her training of Sienna, who now lives with Leyla at her university housing. Not only has Leyla become even more bonded with her mom, she is a stronger and more responsible young woman. She has also been able to prioritize what is important. Going out and getting the latest trends is now lower on her to do list as she has the responsibility of taking care of Sienna and helping out when needed with Daisy.
“Adopted dogs know. They are easily adaptable and so grateful”
As with many changes in our life, adding another life into your family can be daunting. Michelle quickly realized the importance of having a strong community. She has a dog sitter she can leave Daisy with when she needs to go into Geneva for work. Her daughter comes in and helps when needed. She has a walking group of other owners who also adopted and are able to exchange ideas and tips about taking care of their furry kids. As an expat, it can be difficult to feel integrated, however owning a dog, during their walks it has been much easier to meet new people and start a chat. With her support group and the openness of her dogs to start a new life with their new families, the transition became smooth and worth the while.
Patience is key when bringing a new member into the family”
Michelle’s biggest challenge was bringing a new dog to meet her two cats.
“Time is important”, no need to rush or no need to give up. She made sure her cats were relaxed and kept them apart in the beginning. Not only did the cats need to understand a new member was added but the dogs had to learn not to chase the cats. Now less than a year later their two dogs and two cats lovingly share a bed.
“You’re not just given any dog and they really do care”
Working with PIT so many times, Michelle was very impressed with the dedication and passion of the organization had to the dogs. The association is now a master at fitting the right dog with the right family. They makes sure the dog’s character is a match to the family. For example, some dogs are stressed easily so a family with young kids may not be a good match. Once a match is made, in the case of Leyla and Michelle, they went to Turkey to meet and bring their new doggies home. As an association, PIT makes sure the new owner’s trip goes smoothly and the transport papers are in order. The other detail Michelle likes is that the dogs do not come out of cages to their owners. If they are found on the streets or if they are rescued from shelters they are placed into Care Centers until their paperworks are cleared. There, they are basically integrated in living in a safe environment with other cats and dogs and sometimes in a home. This way, the rescued dogs are less traumatized and have had the feeling of being loved. Even after the adoption process, PIT still cares and follows up and tries to help in anyway they can.
“Our lives have been uplifted. The joy they bring us is transforming”
The unconditional love the three receive from their doggies has been life altering. They are so happy with the choices they have made and even though Michelle and her family rescued three dogs, she is grateful for the way the dogs have added so much sunshine and happiness into their lives.
Both Michelle and Leyla are now active members of PIT. Along with Michelle’s high stressed career, she finds the time to help with membership and fundraising.
If you are a cat/dog lover and want to adopt, foster, sponsor or simply support our cause: