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


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 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 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 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. 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Elizabeth's Rescues...Part 4 Zorro

When Frodo arrived Zorro came too.
Poor Zorro had been taken into the Turgutreis shelter at two years old and was still there eight years later. 
What keeps an animal's spirit up? In a word Volunteers, as there was precious little for him there. He was in a concrete pen with wire door, no blankets or toys allowed as the workers need to hose everyday and these things would get in the way. His outlook was a high white wall. One plus, he had a doggy friend in with him.

So to return to the dedicated volunteers, a couple had been walking Zorro twice a week and each time, in his excitement , he would pee on their boots! He also had a habit of splashing into any water bowl, bucket or puddle he could find. Other than that he was a perfect gentleman- or so they thought. 
But on leaving Turkey they promised the old guy they'd do everything to home him.

I had seen an advert for a tripod from Turgutreis who had been there for five years and  I successfully found him a home near me, but then I heard about Zorro. He had runny eyes, due to we thought inturned eyelashes, so a simple op would cure that. Surely he deserved a chance at a happy life in his old age.

So it was we set things in motion and the other  wonderful volunteers helped by taking him for his injections , bathing him, grooming him and just making him ready for his big day.

Robert and I went across for him, signed the papers and he, without hesitation, jumped into the car and sat in the back with me. Every now and then he'd take a sly peep at me and look as if to say- Well what took YOU so long!!!  We transferred him to the shelter Frodo was in where we knew he would have a chance to build himself up by feeding and running around. I also bought them a water tank- full as he continued his hobby of emptying any water utensil he could find.

So we waited for Frodo and Zorro and drove them up to rural Aberdeenshire. Zorro WAS the perfect gentleman they had promised, walking on the lead and never putting a foot wrong.
He was in the chalet with Frodo to recover from his journey, when he sought out the other dogs who were.............excuse the house!!!!! During the day we would stand gazing into the house and started to resent going back to the chalet at night. So he barked unceasingly for a day or two when we thought, poor soul, he would now be ok with the others. So that next night we had him in the conservatory. He barked and barked unceasingly. So the next night he was transferred to the kitchen- lovely and cosy, where he barked unceasingly. The next night he was put in our bedroom in his own blanket and we all slept!!!!! He has never moved out.

When he arrived he decided he was my official guardian and wherever I went he had to go too. Initially this also meant I had no privacy- even in the bathroom. If someone came to the door and got between me and him he would nip the offending person. Oh dear, so instead of running to the door to welcome people I ran to grab Zorro- or Zozz as he began to be called. 

You can take the dog from the street but not the street out of the dog !! So began, and still does to this day, a competition between us and him to have food out of reach. I am a retired teacher so I DO have eyes in the back of my head but........Bins were great- oh the mess I have cleared up over the years from the recycling. We just give him the packet now to lick, bite and tear as it saves us putting it in the bin then picking it up again as it has been licked, bitten or torn. He is the only dog we have ever had who has managed to take a cooling, roast chicken out of the slightly ajar oven door and run off with it. He has stolen raw herring and eaten one whole!!! Only to be sick after ten minutes and eat it again!!! If a cat is sick its a race to get there first- me with the mop or Zozz to lick it up- Yum!!!

Bless him. His eyes have cleared up without any op- starvation and hollowed eye sockets were to blame. He had a swollen throat at one point and I was devastated to be told it could be a tumour when after a week he mystified all our vets ( who still speak about the miracle dog) when it cleared up. As a Turkish vet once said, These street dogs are made of stone.

We have wildlife pools and Zozz has his splashing times still. He has realised there is no way he'll ever empty them so runs from one  end of the pool  to the other  splashing with a happy grin on his face.  I always say that if he ever has a heart attack it'll be playing and running at the pools with our three year old lab as they both think they are the same age -only ten years between them!!! 
Zozz is SO inspirational.  For all he suffered he has never looked back. He arrived here and thought- Right folks I've a lot of living to do so we'll get on with it. Bless his heart. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Wasting time

Last week while I was in Milas I called into my bank to get a small amount of English currency for my trip next week.

I took a numbered ticket from the machine....and waited...about 45 minutes, only to be informed by the cashier when it was my turn that they had no GBP in stock.  I have never experienced this before so I was quite surprised.   I asked if they could get some for me, but they said they weren't ordering anymore foreign currency at the moment.

I think this has something to do with the present government not wanting money to leave the country, but for goodness sake...I only wanted a small amount.

Today I popped into Milas for an appointment with my hairdresser at 9am. As usual a lovely wash, cut and blow dry, for which he charged me 10 lira...just over £2.   I always feel happy when I've had my hair done so decided I would brave the queues at the post office to see if I could get some currency there.

There was indeed a long queue which stretched out of the door, so to avoid wasting time I asked at the information desk if they had GBP in stock.  The answer was yes and I joined the queue.   Half an hour later when I reached the cashier I was informed they had none.  I was fuming.

I then went to HSBC bank and asked the security man to check if they had GBP, which he did.  He said they had some and would I take a ticket and queue.    35 minutes later the cashier asked how much I wanted and I told him.  He asked if I had an account with them and I said I didn't but my bank had no currency.  He said he was very sorry but they were only changing currency for their customers at the present time.   Aargh!

Next I went to  Akbank and a man with a "Manager" tag on his jacket was standing just inside the door.  I asked him if he had GBP in stock and he said yes.  I explained that my bank had none and showed him my debit card (which I don't think he looked at) and he told me to take a ticket and join the queue.

30 minutes later on reaching the cashier I produced my card and asked the cashier for the currency.  He said he couldn't accept my card as  I was not one of their customers.  I asked him to check with the manager as I had already spoken to him.   The manager came over and I showed him my card and he confirmed that it wouldn't be acceptable.   Clearly he had NOT looked at it or listened to me when I spoke to him before.    He said I should take money from an ATM, come back, take another ticket and join the queue.   By now I had smoke coming out of my ears and had had more than enough of queues.

Meanwhile Kaya had been trying to sort out our government health insurance.  I had been trying to pay our monthly subscription online but kept being informed there was no debt.  On checking this out it seems that our insurance had "run out"...and they had given us no all the paperwork has to be completed and submitted again.   Kaya has been there for the best part of today.

Finally, I thought I would pop into my own bank again on the off chance that they may just have some GBP after all.   I asked the security man to check and he said they had around £200 in stock.  So I took a ticket...and joined the queue...and waited.  It was coming up to lunchtime closing so I actually wondered if I would be served, but I was just in time.   It turned out that in fact they only had £70 in stock, so I took it anyway.

A whole morning wasted for £70.   I really can think of better ways to spend my time!

Elizabeth's rescues. Part 3...Frodo

This is my favourite one.  The patience involved and the time it took for Frodo to settle, brings tears to my eyes.

There is a hound dog in our house all day who is giggly, wiggly and a hooligan. He is red brown with a black muzzle and a whip of a tail. He is SO happy. But it wasn't always so............

When we were in Turkey we'd visit a dog shelter with a holdall of treats: blankets, knitted jumpers, chew sticks and balls. We would spend time cuddling the puppies and one family took our attention. Mum was a German pointer and she had three pups still with her when found. We named one of them Frodo. He was a shy, wary little man. His brother was bigger and braver, his sister a cutie who took after Mum. At a few months old they contacted a flea or tick based disease. The little girl died, the big brother fought it successfully but Frodo was very, very ill to the point we thought he was dying. With great skill the vet saved him and we decided to try and take him home here to Scotland. 

Whenever we were out in Turkey we'd visit and he became a shadowy figure: lurking behind sheds and his brother. Each time we were there he was worse, so at eighteen months at last he was cleared to come home.
 Robert and I drove from North Aberdeenshire to Folkestone in 2012, sitting in a huge , featureless barn of a place waiting for word of an arrival on UK soil. The White van arrived at midnight. All dogs and cats were cleared off it and joyfully picked up except one very scared , quivering individual, head hidden into the corner. I was told he'd been carried into the van at source, stayed in the cage all the way across Europe, and now , at destination, I decided to manhandle him out,( not a pretty sight but essential) hand him to Robert, get him into our jeep ( with Zorro- another story) and away. 

When I had taken Ruby ( see first rescue) to the vet I had told her , This is the first step on a long, long journey. This one was far greater. 

Frodo ( carried) and Zorro ( led) were together in our chalet in the garden. It had been a wonderfully warm and happy chalet when my mum and her little dog had spent their sunset years with us and now that Mum and Hansel, her little one, had passed on, we had a home from home for the Turkish pair where they could sleep, settle and recover from the journey.
Frodo went into a corner and stayed for six months. He came in November and saw nothing outside until April. He toileted on paper and ate heartily , thank goodness, but oh, the worry. 
I got my friend, the dog trainer in about January when I was seemingly making no headway with Frodo. We sat, coffee cup in hand and she said," Don't worry. It will happen. One day he will decide to come out and when he does - be prepared , as he will be the most loyal and loving dog ever. But DO NOT make eye contact. Leave him in his own space.!" I gulped - easier said than done. Your natural instinct is to cuddle and cajole. But why ask for help unless you are to follow the advice. 

In February I was asked to foster a beautiful hound-type bitch , so for company until I got her adopted, I put her in with Frodo. Did I mention he was unneutered? Oh the joy on his face and they played and played ( when no one was around. ) Frodo lay under a large table and this girlie was a jumper . So , one day, looking out of the window, she knocked the table over. Perfect . As I could now remove it knowing it had fallen without my assistance. She went to be adopted and Willie, our young lab, took over. Every morning in he would go to Frodo, " Still here! Come on out!" I though it might be a good idea to use Willie's friendship with Frodo, still without looking. 

So when Willie was sitting beside his pal, I would sit on the other side of Willie, petting him. Over the week, my arm gradually went over Willie's back , between Frodo and Willie , then on to scratch, fondle and pet Frodo. By now my need was as great as his to be touched. It worked. Daily we would have a threesome, gradually getting my arm across Willie until I was scratching ears and head. 

I also had the radio on all the day time and when washing his floor I would chat to him- not looking- about world affairs! I also bought kongs which I filled with tasty bits for him to while away what MUST have been boring hours. His door was always open- just in case! 
I was hanging out washing in April. Willie came running out of the chalet followed by Frodo! I stood stock still, not looking, not breathing as Frodo ran round the garden and back inside. Next day it happened again and he came up and sniffed my shoes, then out he came for longer and longer to play with the others and yes, he became fixated on me. Wherever I was, he was. My heart was singing. 

Every day he learnt something new. New noises, tastes, smells but always he had the open door and his den he could return to when things got a bit too much for him.
I walk the dogs every morning and one day , August now, he asked to come out. I just knew what he wanted. He wanted a walk. We have a wood at the bottom of the garden area so, with the others we went into it. He was SO proud of himself. Every day we went a tiny bit further. He would bark at passing cars- quite a rarity I may add- and try to peer through the fence at them. He is a giggler and every morning would bound out and wriggle, wiggle and giggle. 

It hasn't been plain sailing since then. He did "escape" with Toorki one day but came back after two horrendously long hours , nose to the ground , covering all the areas we walked. He clambers over wire fences. He cannot go through doorways unless I am standing there. No, Robert is not good enough!! So he is still unneutered and has not been back in the jeep BUT he is a house dog, at last in 2015, all day. In he comes, finds the best dog bed and quick as a flash, is in it before the others. He is a funny character who exudes happiness and well being and at Christmas met his first strangers at the house and went up for a clap. 

He has his brother Bilbo here now and I'm so glad I got Frodo on his own first, as I suspect he would just have followed Bilbo. But he had to make it on his own and has , very successfully and rather proudly, shown Bilbo the ropes!