Whisky’s still here, now she’s got a friend

I can’t believe its nearly four years since I started this blog about Whisky. Well yesterday she gained a friend, another little dog from the dog sanctuary came to live with us so I decided to resurrect the blog and include how I found this new one.

I read a story and saw some photographs of a little dog who had been severely injured and then treated quite badly after her recovery.

Rather than me writing my own version of the story I am copying from a Facebook post written by Teresa, one of the volunteers heavily involved with looking after street dogs here. I am also including Teresa’s photos of Sevgi when she arrived at the shelter last year for the first time, on the operating table and afterwards during recovery.

Sevgi’s story. Last year a small dog was seen being dumped from a car. Her body was in a broken state, but fortunately Mustafa (dog shelter worker) had been alerted and he collected her and brought her to the shelter where Didem (Council Veterinary Surgeon) operated on her amputating one of her legs and her tail. She had gone through so much but made a good recovery and became a much loved addition to the shelter. She was kindly sponsored by Patricia Casteels (another volunteer who visits regularly). In June last year her luck seemed to change when a local family adopted her. They changed her name and seemed really happy with her.

Under anaesthetic

One day I was driving along the main road from “Big Pebble Beach” to Kas town when I saw a small three legged dog running behind a couple. I recognised her and asked the German tourists she was following. They told me she often walked with them. This was worrying as she had already been run over and should not have been left to walk on a main road, but many dog owners here leave their dogs to wander around to the extent that it is often difficult to distinguish between owned dogs and street dogs.

Her leg and tail are taken off

One very rainy night a couple of months ago Angela “another sanctuary volunteer) and I were driving up the main road beyond Big Pebble Beach when caught in the headlights was a small three legged dog running in the middle of the dark road. She was absolutely wet through. We phoned around to get the exact location of the family who had adopted her and took her there. The garden was enclosed and she would not have been able to enter even if she had returned. They took her in but did not seem overjoyed to have her back.


Just after the lock-down she was back at the sanctuary. The family had left her there saying she chased chickens. Didem asked them why they did not keep her in the enclosed garden and apparently it was because she knocked over the flower pots. No comment.

Is there a family out there for this little creature?

Well yes, there is a family, she is now part of mine.

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Well that’s that then!

The process of getting Whisky back to what passes for normal in the dog world has continued so much so that I let her off the lead for good on Tuesday! To say I was apprehensive is a typical British understatement, I was worried sick but I needn’t have bothered. She stayed around the house, followed me down the garden and then came back with me too, played with the other dogs and when I’ve have visitors she jumps up them for a fuss as if she had never done anything else. She now eats her food alongside the others, I don’t allow them to have a bowl sitting there all day, it gets eaten at the time or is put away and presented again at the next mealtime.

Very pleased to say she is now acting mostly like a “normal” dog.  Here she is eating with all the others.


She also will lie down and relax and even go to sleep in the morning while I’m drinking my second coffee on the terrace as I showed in the photo on the last blog instalment.

She still panics occasionally but not so badly that you would worry about her too much.

Well rather than terminate this blog here now that I’ve gone to all the trouble of setting it up and now that she has “rehabilitated herself”* I think I’ll make it a blog about all my dogs and cats and try to post amusing, interesting or just plain ordinary stories that I like and can invent without taxing what passes for my brain too much. It might be amusing, there might be a bit of sadness, it could even be complete fiction if I have a “writing” moment but it will be about the dogs, what they do, what I think they might do, what they haven’t done yet and what I wish they would do, not necessarily in that order.

Those of you who have “followed” this blog I thank very much and I won’t think badly of you if you wish to end your following at this point. If you would like to read my blatherings about general life in a dog sanctuary from it’s head inmate then by all means carry on, your comments will always be welcome. I must say this has been a great deal shorter that I expected it to be but all credit to Whisky, she has adapted far more quickly than I could ever have imagined…now if I can just find a way to stop Wolfie barking so much….



*Alice’s Restaurant – Arlow Guthrie.




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Whisky has finally trusted me enough to lie down right in front of me and let me take a picture of her so I thought I’d post it here. Her fur is looking tatty because she is moulting a lot but in this warm weather which dogs aren’t?

Whisky lying

Looking good there Whisky! 🙂

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Oh the heat!

Yes we’ve had a good few very hot days up here in the village, here’s a photo of my outside/inside thermometer,


45C outside in the shade of the veranda roof, 34C inside the house. During the day the dogs have all been coming inside the house and sleeping in the air-conditioned comfort of 25C in my bedroom. With them all sleeping closely together like that Whisky has accepted the others and been accepted much more closely and quickly than before, another great leap forward in fitting in to the lifestyle here. She has also become much more trusting of me. She even likes to interact with the cats, here she is with Katie.

Whisky, Katie

These two get on well, maybe because they are both the same colour or more likely that Katie is a very brave and outgoing cat. She looks a bit strange here licking her nose but she had just been having a drink of water and still had it all over her face.

Whisky has also been getting a lot more confident in the way she walks around the garden, her head is up most of the time and she’s taking much more of an interest in all of the goings on around her. She has also gained the confidence to sit by me on one of the patios and sometimes even lie down and close her eyes.

Sudden movements and strange sounds can still panic her though and she is still wary of new things and places, for example I have brought her into the spare room where I keep my computers and tools while I am typing this blog. She’s been in here with me for about 10 minutes and is still standing and looking around at everything and seems a bit scared to move. I’ll just wait and read the papers or do something else to see if she gets used to it.

One thing that I’m very glad she has stopped doing is making a dive for the kennel anytime we pass by it. She can now just stand by it and not dive in for safety, that means she doesn’t upset her water bowl so often.

We’ll just have to Keep Calm and Carry On.

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New Kennel

I finally got my act together and went down to the local wood supplier and bought two big sheets of plywood, quite expensive they were too. Their delivery driver, an old friendof mine, Mustafa, delivered it for me fifteen minutes later and I set about making a new kennel. Had I made one just for Whisky it would have been half the price but I thought I would make a three berth one for all the girls, Minnie and Molly too. It took me all of the next morning and a bit of the afternoon but it looks good. It won’t be out in the rain at all so it’s really just a place for them to retreat to and feel safe. Here’s a photo.

Triple Kennel

I suppose I could have gone mad and made a pointy roof for each of them too but it’s better to have a useful flat place to put things  or for them to jump up on if they like.

So Wolfie is the only one without a kennel but that is purely his choice, I made one for him but he doesn’t like to use it. After a couple of weeks of trying I moved it off the porch and Aslan started using it, Wolfie is happy sleeping on the dogs’ settee at night.

Whisky has made some more progress getting over her shyness and panicking. When walking with me if I stop she will usually come and stand right next to me now and sometimes even sits down. Sitting on the patio with her has always been frustrating because she has always ranged at the end of her lead and hasn’t relaxed at all but during the last few days she has started to sit and yesterday to even lie down.

The panics have not disappeared though, she will still jump and run away if something surprises her so there’s still a lot of work to do. We spent most of one morning walking around my car with her leading and reaching out with her nose to try and smell the tyres. She only came within about a eighteen inches of touching it but the next day actually left a wet nose print. It’s little steps forward like that every time, nothing comes easy while she is learning to overcome her fear of the unknown.

The morning fussing and stroking session continues and she has now started jumping up to me at other times of the day too. She has also started to eat her food outside her kennel but still won’t take a treat from my hand although if it’s on the floor it disappears in a flash. I’d like to do some obedience training with her but until she’ll take some food or a treat from my hand it seems we’ll have to wait, we’ll just have to work hard getting her to develop enough trust to do that.

More later…



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Successes and failures

I suppose it’s better to get the bad news out of the way first. Well it’s not really bad news, just a bad experience, but only one. The Sunday before last I gave all the dogs their breakfast at about 7am as usual,  then took them into the garden for a sniff, bark, pee and poo. Whisky was being particularly good, paying attention to me and coming to me when I called her (she was still on a long lead) so I thought I’d give her a treat and let her off her lead.


She immediately trotted off into the bushes at the side of the garden, found a hole in the fence and went out to see what she could find. I wasn’t too worried about this at first because she had escaped once before and had been relatively easy to catch after fifteen minutes or so. I went out into the bushes after her with the lead and followed her here and there, all the time just too late or just too far away to catch her. Then she went onto the road and trotted off towards Pınarbaşı, the next village. This made me worry about her a lot more because she has never experienced road traffic and doesn’t know to keep out of the way of vehicles. I walked after her for ten or fifteen minutes but then went back to the house to get some proper shoes, sunglasses because my eyes were hurting and I returned to the chase on my scooter.

I drove slowly up the road and eventually saw her and stopped to try and get the lead on her again, no luck. She would come to about a metre from me and seemed quite happy to be near me but she wasn’t close enough for me to get hold of her. Luckily there weren’t many passing vehicles and her natural timidity caused her to get off the road when a vehicle came past. All this time my right eye was getting worse, streaming with tears and starting to be quite painful. I went back to the house, bathed both eyes and returned to Whisky with a tin of meaty dog food to entice her closer to me. Over the next hour or so I managed to get my fingers on her collar three times but she jerked away each time .

Eventually my eye got so bad that I had to go back to my house to wash it out again. Something had got into it I was sure but I couldn’t see anything. The pain subsided with the cool water so I went and had another try to get Whisky but it was no use. By this time it was 12 o-clock midday! I had not even had my first coffee or any breakfast so I again went back and made a coffee, started making breakfast and bathed my eye again. As I looked up from the kitchen sink there was Whisky having a drink from the water bowl on the front terrace! She had come back by herself. I went out to her, she still didn’t want to come too close to me but she did start following so I walked around the outside of the house a couple of times and then stood near her kennel and she walked into it and lay down looking quite pleased with herself. I secured her lead ate breakfast and then went to the hospital to see if there was anything they could do with my eye. On the following Tuesday I saw the ophthalmologist who did various test and pronounced me free from any lasting damage, still don’t know what really happened but the problem has gone away with repeated use of lubricating drops.

Now the good things, Whisky has become much calmer and is able to bounce back from upsets much more quickly. She has become quite used to being fussed and stroked and even wants to jump up at me in the general boisterous melee when I go out to them all first thing in the mornings. And she has found a voice, not a real bark but little squeaks of excitement and happiness when I bring the breakfast.

Maureen, who lives up the road from me with her husband John, came to see her the other day and proved one of my thoughts right, Whisky seems to be happier approaching women, this is quite a usual thing with a lot of dogs apparently. From what I have read it seems that a lot of dogs find the lower pitched male voice more scary and off putting.

My other dogs are interacting with Whisky in a normal fashion now, sniffing each other and touching noses in the usual way. I just wish that it was easier to photograph her, because she is black most photos just show her as a black dog-shaped hole in an otherwise well exposed frame, I have the same problem with my black cat, they always look like silhouettes. I would love to post more photos of her here, also she is not an easy model, if I don’t get a photo of her within about 10 seconds she becomes afraid of the camera and dives into her kennel. I have a lot of blurred pictures of her leaving the side of the frame.

Well that’s all for now, generally things are looking more positive and successful than I had first thought, we’ll just keep calm and carry on.

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Fourth Week

Dog sanctuary life is noisy and as I approached the gate with Whisky the barking grew louder and louder. I brought her back to have her ear tag removed and I had a few concerns about bringing her back. Would it upset her? Would the other dogs be aggressive towards her? Well I needn’t have worried, she took it all in her stride and when she saw some of the volunteers who she knew she was jumping up at them to be fussed! And at my house I had been trying to get her to come within stroking distance for a month. Jumping up to be fussed indeed!

It should have been obvious to me that she would feel at home, after all, she had been born in the sanctuary in 2013 and had lived there ever since. It was a lesson to me not to assume that all the dogs would be instantly happy to find a permanent home. However bad your life might be if you spend the first four years of it in “captivity” you are going to be unsettled by being taken somewhere else even if you are treated well.

It’s no wonder that such a lot of importance is placed on having a period of rehabilitation and adjustment for animals from zoos, circuses and laboratories when they are released and maybe you could stretch the analogy even further to include prisoners released from long jail terms, or is that a stretch too far?

Wolfie is my other dog that has spent time in the sanctuary but only a few weeks, previously he had lived free in Kaş so there was no comparison. Here’s Wolfie looking typically relaxed.


Well the only thing to do is to remain patient and little by little Whisky will grow to like it here with me.

Anyway Whisky only has the hole in her ear to show that she once had a tag and that will close up soon. I filled in the paperwork and Didem the Belediye Veterinarian took a photograph of Whisky and I together so that there can be no argument about who has adopted her.

We have made some more big strides this week too. I was sitting having a coffee on my front patio and she walked up to me, put her feet on the cushion of my chair and stood up in front of me for a fuss. Pity I didn’t have my camera close to hand.

From now on I’ll update the blog on a monthly basis unless there is some special news that I want to tell you about sooner. Please keep your comments and advice coming, I’m no expert, anything you write that will educate or just encourage me will be welcome.

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Third Week

Whisky gets scared very easily and by all sorts of things that my other dogs don’t even notice. For example if a chair on the small patio is placed differently she will freeze and study it for a while before cautiously advancing to it to inspect it thoroughly with her nose, if something moves or a noise is made behind her she will panic and rush to her kennel or to the dogs’ couch whichever is closer. If I’ve been sitting with her and stand up she will panic and run to the extent of her rope. It’s heartbreaking to see all the little things create panic in her and it’s a bit disheartening too. Here is a picture showing her usual stance, head down a bit and looking warily around waiting for the next scary thing to happen.

Wary Pose

There are good things too of course, she will now come and stand right next to me while I pet her around her head and chest, that was a major breakthrough this week. She made another bit of progress when she ate her food outside her kennel, she hasn’t done it since though, I think it’s the presence of one or more of the other dogs that prevents her from being brave enough.

In the mornings when I go out with my first coffee and sit with them they all crowd round me and she joins in and wants a fuss the same as the others, that’s another big step forward. Here she is in a more confident mood, still keeping an eye on me though.


As this photograph shows she has a very large chest to waist ratio and big thighs, she must have some fast running dogs in her bloodline.

Now that she appears to be less stressed the other dogs are taking more of an interest in her, my cats too are being more friendly to her. They can sense that she has problems and didn’t really want anything to do with her previously.

I’m now trying to get her to take food or a treat from my hand, it is proving a bit of a sticking point so far. Perhaps if I take her down the garden so we are on our own she might pluck up courage, I’ll try that later.

Here’s a photograph showing two of the signals that dogs make, I was pointing a camera straight at her but it was a large black DSLR with a lens that must have looked like a big eye on the front of it. Obviously I was only trying to get a reasonable photo but this is the kind of thing that dogs (and cats) don’t like.

Nose lick

The first signal is her body posture, turning not only her head but most of her body away from me, the second signal is quickly licking her nose. Each of these signals mean “you’re intimidating me, both of these together mean “you’re being way too intrusive, please stop”. See, I said I’d be learning things didn’t I?

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Second Week

Whisky slowly got into the routine of the days, breakfast at about 7.15am, a walk and poop shortly afterwards then a learning period (for both of us) for somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour depending on how long she put up with it. We’d have some more learning periods during the day then dinner at about 6pm. A final walk about 9.30 then bedtime. This is the routine with my other dogs and I wanted Whisky to feel as though she was being treated just the same, whether dogs notice or care about that sort of thing I don’t know but it makes it easier for me anyway.

The calming signals started to have an effect and I learned to spot them in all the dogs, little things that I had thought were just habits or quirks but turn out to be messages that they were sending to me and each other. Things like a quick lick of their nose when you walk towards them, apparently they prefer to be approached in a curving path rather than straight towards them. Another is yawning, this is a signal to indicate feeling uncomfortable at your actions, if you yawn back it means “ok I see you are uncomfortable and I’ll back off a bit”. Most of the signals vary in intensity of message, short quick signals means the feeling is mild, prolonged signals that the feeling is more intense. If the dog turns it’s head away from you or even turns round and sits facing the other it means they don’t want anything to do with you at the moment. I was getting a lot of head turning in these early days.

One day I let her off her lead to see how she would react, she headed to the top end of the garden and found a hole under the fence through which she promptly disappeared! Trying not to appear as though I was chasing her I climbed over the fence and walked around the bushes at the back of my house to where she was and then just stayed fairly near to her. Sometimes she came close and then she’d disappear behind another bush. I really wanted to catch her but at the same time I tried to appear quite nonchalant about the whole thing, I sat down and just watched her, was I fooling her? I don’t know but eventually she came out from under a bush in easy reach and I just hooked a finger into her collar and slipped on the lead again, no fuss. I made a mental note to fix the fence too.

Whisky was feeling more and more at home with me and would come within reach for a short petting session, she still wasn’t too sure though. Walking up the drive she sometimes would walk alongside me and keep the lead slack so that was a major step forward. In the garden too, if I sat down she usually came closer to me, not quite within reach most of the time but now and then close enough for me to stroke her three or four times.

I was still reading lots of website advice, don’t suppose that will stop anytime soon. I still had to put her her food bowl inside her “tent” before she would eat anything although she would stick her head and front paws out to reach her water bowl. I didn’t want to put that in with her because it would have been upset and wet the bedding but we had plenty of problems with it anyway. She would upset it regularly when making a rush to hide, didn’t seem to matter where I put it and of course the other dogs knocked it over now and then too.

One big leap forward happened one evening towards the end of the second week while I was watching TV. She jumped up on the settee next to me and sat there pretending to ignore my presence keeping her eyes on the screen. Eventually she lay down and closed her eyes too.

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First Week

The word “Pis” in Turkish means “dirty”, “Pis su” means dirty water, so the idea of her being named Piskie was not attractive to me, I changed it to Whisky. It was close enough to her previous name for her to still recognise it if she had learned it before and it’s a fairly common name for a small dog or cat so, not odd, although I have been known to give pets odd names, like Olive, Wilfred, Roy (the cat) etc etc.

The first week was all about getting Whisky used to my place and me. She would not come close to me or allow me to stroke her, when we had a walk round my garden she was always at the full extent of her rope. My tasks were showing her the house and garden, getting her used to regular mealtimes and getting a daily routine started. I didn’t try to do anything else other than seeing how she reacted to my presence and that of my other four dogs and just sitting within her reach, (she was secured on a longish lead while outside) I didn’t try to do any more because she was too wound up to take anything in.

I had a wooden frame that used to support a water tank so I threw some old carpets and shading material over it to make a rough tent sort of thing that she could sleep in and use as a retreat when she wanted to feel safe. The weather wasn’t cold so she didn’t need a proper kennel yet, I put a folded up mat inside for something soft to sleep on.

Kennel 2

Yes it looks rough doesn’t it, she’ll have a real kennel soon. She used it a lot but also alternated with using the double kennel that I had made for Minnie and Molly, they didn’t seem to mind too much.

There were one or two little steps forward during the first week. I rejoiced if she came within a metre of me but then if I clumsily kicked a food bowl, moved quickly or allowed her rope to get caught while we were walking then the steps forward got cancelled out and we were back to square one. By the end of the first week, though, she started to recover from these setbacks a little more quickly each time so although it seemed never ending, the successes did in fact mount up.

This is not going to be a quick fix though, Whisky is going to take months to get to the stage of acting in a “normal” fashion when off the lead. I found a book online that shows the calming signals that dogs use amongst themselves and can be used by humans to instil calmness in a dog. In fact they seem to be used by a lot of animals, and even humans. I downloaded it to my Kindle and read it three or four times in quick succession then started to practice the signals.

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