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'A pet is for life; not just for Ramadan'!
The street dogs of Turkey were not something I was expecting.
Everywhere I travelled street dogs were abundant. Usually they were gentle and very obedient, meaning that clearly their lives had begun quite differently, once having been a much loved puppy.
But puppies grow into adult dogs and sadly, the practice of abandoning them to the goodwill of the local town's folk is all too common.
Our tour guide Gokan explained it to me quite simply. It is culturally taboo to have a healthy animal put down. Caring for stray and abandoned dogs is revered within the local culture and Islamic faith. Stray animals are seen as a community resposibility.
This was affirmed by a number of hotels and restaurants who regularly put out food for the stray animals.
There is also a government funded desexing and vet care program, although some street dogs clearly escape the good fortune of veterinary care when they need it.
Desexed street dogs are evident by their orange or yellow ear tags.
Whilst I had some misgivings about the lives these animals led, they clearly did receive plenty of communal attention and some care. Not one appeared to be starving. All I met were confident and gentle around humans.
Gokan taught me two words that I instantly learned in Turkish. "Gul", which means come and "otto", sit and soon after I was calling and commanding every street dog I met. After that I was frequently interacting with these divine animals and clearly, was not the only traveller to do so.
I was also very glad I had invested in a rabies vaccination series, meaning if ever I get bitten by an animal in a rabies classified country, I need only have two more shots of the vaccination to avoid succumbing to the disease myself. This is a must if you are an animal loving person heading to very many parts of the world, including Europe, Turkey, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Without my rabies vaccination, interacting with the street dogs would carry a much higher degree of risk if I were bitten!
The street dogs did break my animal loving heart in many ways, but I did accept that not all cultures approach abandoned and stray animals in the same way we do in Australia.
To shoo away a hungry stray dog in Turkey, or to put down such an animal is cultural taboo.
I did meet with some very proud dog owners of both working dogs and pets of the toy sized varieties, who loved and provided for their dogs, just as we would, here in Australia.
I take my hat off to all those dog lovers in Turkey, who regularly tend and care for these animals. Though a number clearly were in need of tick and flea treatment, I only saw one youngish dog that was clearly in desperate need of vetinary attention, with a weeping nose and eyes. He nearly broke my heart.
I did consider importing one of Istanbul's stray Anatolian sheepdogs, with whom I gained an instant bond and rapport, back to Australia, but wondered how practical or feasible such "foreign adoption" might be!
I saw little evidence of dog fight injuries'; indeed, most of the street dogs seem to happily co-exist as members of the street packs. They clearly knew where to go for food and water and had their spots to shelter from extremes of weather.
It is confronting to visibly see so many homeless animals, but then again, within our own culture, animals are abandoned much less publicly and their care and rehoming is left to the mercy of animal shelters and local councils. We view pets as a private, rather than communal or civic welfare responsibility.
No doubt some of the street dogs in Turkey, do find forever homes, but hundreds or thousands clearly have made the streets, or more accurately particular areas of the city their home range.
I could not help but think, as a dog lover who walks her dog at least once a day, how difficult it must be for those Turks that do keep their own animals at home, if they want to exercise their dogs publiclly. With that many strays, your own pets health and safety, when out in public could not be gauranteed.
Companion animall laws in Turkey are clearly quite different to our own, with dogs not seeming to be required to be kept on their owners premises, or exercised on a leash. Some of these street dogs may have a loving home to return to in their own good time, but enjoyed socialising with humans and other dogs by day, when their owner was at work!
We once had a labrador who loved nothing more than to do exactly that in the days when dog laws were more relaxed, here in Australia.
I do wonder how "my" Anatolian Sheepdog is doing and whether I should have done more to ensure him a safe, loving and forever home!
A chorus of birds heralds a hot morning.
At the bird bath they drink and preen.
Feeding fast, before seeking shade.
A warm breeze blows from the north.
An hour more it will be hot.
The ashey memory of "Black Saturday" as near as a sniff.
Eggs fry on the road.
Dog paws burn at the whim of careless owners, themselves well shod against the heat.
Countryside kindling dry, grass high, lush pastures
On a day like this those fires began.
Poorly maintained powerlines.
One spark too deliberate.
Fueling the blackest fires in Australian History....
By evening ablaze.
Extinguishing life in its path
The news did not conclude for a fortnight,
"Victoria burns as town after town"...
Taggerty and beyond
173 lives lost
2029 homes destroyed
4,500 square kilometres of land burned
The forests and land
And the creatures.....
Few lives left untouched, my own included:
Barry, fellow activist and friend
Brian Naylor, a TV face all Victoria knew, alongside his wife, their children, best mate of a family friend
Proud King Lake Resident
Students, searching for their pets, accomodated by relatives.
"At least Dad survived"
"All the photos of my childhood burned in our house in Violet Town Miss"
"Our cat turned up, our dog didn't"...
Amidst the devastation
My Home Group collected a record $500.00 the following Tuesday, for the "VICTIMS",
Mostly we were lucky to make $3.00
State of grief
Recurring still, sixteen years on
On days such as this
Initilly we were only VICTIMS or LUCKY ONES, here in Victoria.
Amidst chaos and displacement
Then survivors heavy with guilt,
Their home did not burn
But their neighbours did.
Then just plain survivors
Organising, building and rebuilding
Still fighting the fires that fuelled a Royal Commission
As phases of grief burned hot as Black Saturday across many fronts.
The dawn chorus that began that blackest of Saturday's ended with the roar of fire.
Screams of anguish and grief.
Lives to be reclaimed, or made history,
Drawn from hell on earth
We can only ever hope that tomorrow's dawn chorus will remain loud, strong and vibrant as today.
Useful links to help remember or research.
Sam, the koala that became a symbol of survival
Pets and Plants, Beta Dogs and The Canine Kitchen, along with our pack of lovely dogs are howling with joy!
Already we have raised just over $100 for Ballarat's RSPCA Shelter Animals, and it is not even Cup Cake Day yet!
Our Cup Cake Day event is taking place this Monday, 18th August, between 3.00-5.00 pm.
Come and join us!
We have cup cakes to enjoy, dogs to pat and items Ballarat businesses have generously donated to raffle, auction and give away!
You are welcome to bring along your family and well socialised dogs to join the festivities!
A gold coin donation is appreciated, anything more is a bonus.
We hope to raise at least $500.00, but are reliant on the generosity of fellow animal lovers to reach this target!
Thanks to the generosity of our donors so far we are now on the way to reaching that target!
If you can't make it, but want to leave a donation for Ballarat's shelter animals, please check out the RSPCA's Cup Cake Day link to our fundraising page!
Pets and Plants Ballarat, along with The Canine Kitchen and Beta Dogs, invites you to help us raise money for the shelter animals of Ballarat's RSPCA.
All of us love our pets and hate to think of shelter animals not being given the best possible second chance in life. But this takes money.
Shelter animals need food, housing veterinary care, vaccinations and sometimes, desexing and rehabilitation to become faithful pets ready for adoption. All of this work requires more than just the goodwill of shelter staff.
The reality is cold, hard cash, can help give so many animals that second chance in life.
If you have been regularly enjoying my blogs about pets, plants and animal welfare, I would truly appreciate even the smallest of donations to this worthy cause.
Through our Cupcake Day Fundraiser, we aim to raise $500 for the local RSPCA, but we have barely started.
Please help us make that start by donating to our fundraising efforts via the following link https://rspcacupcakeday-vic2014.everydayhero.com/au/pets.
If you have ever loved a pet, recued an animal and called upon a shelter to rehome it, or made room in your life to give for a shelter pet their second chance in life, then I call upon your goodwill and sympathy to support this very worthy cause!
Just a few dollars will help feed these animals. $30 will help keep them in warm beds and $60 will cover vaccination and microchipping costs.
Every little bit helps and we do truly appreciate even the smallest donations.
We invite you to join us on Monday 18th of August between 3 and 5 pm, to enjoy cupcakes, pat our dogs and meet other people who enjoy animals as much as we all do.
Gold coin donations will be appreciated, more than that and our dogs will be howling with joy!
You can further help us by tweeting your friends or linking our fundraising site to your facebook page.
Alone we may reach that target.... together we may even surpass it!
Thank you most sincerly for your support!
By law in Victoria dogs and cats must be restrained when travelling in a car.
This means your dog needs to be fitted with a harness with a seatbelt strap, only sufficiently long to allow the animal to stand, that connects to the seat belt housing in the vehicle, or restricted to a crate. Cats need to travel in their cat carrier.
This prevents pets flying through windscreens if you are involved in an accident or need to break suddenly. Either of these misfortunes can propell your pet through a window by sheer velocity, just as it does for humans, not restrained by a seatbelt
Unrestrained pets can also dangerously distract a driver's attention from the road if they become restless or misbehave whilst the vehicle is in motion.
Front airbags can kill a small dog, either through sheer force, or suffocation when they burst out of their holders in the event of a collision. For this reason, small to middle sized dogs should always travel in the back seat.
It is illegal to carry a dog or cat in the boot of a car.
Drivers failing to restrain their pets can now be fined if stopped by police and penaltys for travelling with an animal in the boot are even more severe
My dog loves car journeys and likes to accompany me to exciting places, such as markets, parks and sometimes even Lygon Street in Carlton or Moonee Ponds. He will happily sit and look at the scenery we pass or simply sleep through longer journeys. My cat was different. He dreaded car trips and I found the only way to ease his apprehension was to sing to him. I made up songs accordingly. One was "we're going to the vets, we're going to the vets, meow meow meow" or Moggy Boy, Moggy Boy, he's a lovely little boy, Moggy Boy, Moggy Boy, he's his mother's pride and joy". I would repeat these tunes until we arrived at our destination.
That was all very well if the destination was close. Once Moggy Boy drove with me between Melbourne and Ballarat. Just because I sang to my cat, doesn't mean I am much of a singer. My point is, I did my best to distract and reassure my darling cat, that all was well and he would be fine. It was a case of me singing , or him caterwailing all the way.
According to Dr Hugh Wirth on Radio 774's Saturday morning pet segment, cats fare best in carriers where they can only see ahead and not above them. It makes them feel way more secure, than in one with wire over the top. If your cat carrier is of the top opening cage variety, pop a towel over the carrier while driving to minimise travel stress!
Whatever it takes to console a reluctant four legged passenger is worth doing, if it prevents high stress situations for either your animal or you.
In the event your pet gets highly agitated and stressed when travelling in a car, your vet can help with sedatives for a long journey, but ideally, travel training should start from when your pet is young. Short journeys to pleasant, non threatening locations are ideal. Take them on school pick ups, for short trips to a park where they can enjoy time on a leash and train them to relax and travel quietly.
Whether you choose a car harness or crate for your dog's safety when travelling get them used to it from the time they first enter your life. Don't leave it until the emergency trip to the vets as your will be placing your pet under additional stress, at a point where keeping them calm and relaxed is a real advantage!
If you are travelling with your pet in the heat of summer, try to make your journey early in the day or in the evening when the temperature is lowest. Stop for drinks a leg stretch and toilet breaks every two to three hours. Avoid travelling in the middle of the day, as heat stress for your animal can be life threatening, and at best distressing. They cannot tell you they are overheating.
Never leave your pet locked unattended in a car on a warm day. As soon as there is some sun cars heat up to three times the outside temperature, turning your car into an oven. Pets left in parked cars in the sun in summer have been known to be dead in well under 15 minutes. If it is not safe for a small child, it is not safe for your animal. To live with the knowledge that through your own negligence you cooked a loyal and devoted animal alive is not something most people would choose to have on their conscience for the rest of their lives!
Even on cool days, if leaving your pet in the car unattended, you should leave windows down a little when the vehicle is parked, to ensure your pet has some air circulation in case the car warms up to an uncomfortable extent.
Many dogs enjoy a chew toy whilst travelling. Way better to chew on something you have provided, than the upholstery of interior of your car.
If your pet travels regularly with you in the car, excellent pet car seat covers can be purchased to protect your upholstery from muddy paws and pet hair. You can find them at auto stores and even bargain style shops.
If I am taking my dog to places where I expect him to maintain an extended drop at a table whilst I enjoy a meal, I take a mat, so he has somethig way more comfortable than cold paving to lie on for an hour or more. So too a portable water container. He really seems to enjoy checking out the action and being on his best behaviour!
He is rewarded with a walk for his patience!
As for my moggy, he was a home body, though I have known a couple of cats, who loved car rides and would accompany their owners for holidays and regular weekends away.
As a teacher of over 30 years experience, I know there are many reasons for students to undertake research on animal welfare.
Be it simple information on how to look after a pet in primary school, to more complex research for senior students undertaking work for English, History, Humanities, Drama, Art and Science, gathering and interpreting information about animal welfare starts young people on a path to both responsible citizenship, and pet ownership.
It is also a great way to develop literacy and analytical skills.
Here are some sites I am sure will be useful for young people undertaking animal welfare research:
This list is by no means exhaustive. Any search through google or similar search engines will generate lots of sources to help with your research.
Thanks to Animals Australia, of which Pets and Plants is proudly a member organisation, I am happy to forward on this heartwarming animal rescues video for you to enjoy!
Remember, like Pets and Plants, your business can join the Animals Australia campaign to commit to cage free egg workplaces, or you can join the campaign as an individual!
Visit their site to enjoy even more rescue stories; http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/faith-in-humanity-restored.php
The annual RSPCA Cupcake Day fundraiser, on August 18th, is rapidly approaching.
I am excited to announce that Pets and Plants Ballarat, along with BETA Dogs training and The Canine Kitchen will be hosting 'The Doggie's Delight, Afterschool, Cupcake Day Event', to raise as much money as we possibly can for the Ballarat RSPCA's Animal Shelter.
The event will take place at 19 Lake St Wendouree between 3 and 5 pm.
There will be pats with dogs who have been trained with BETA Dogs very humane techniques, special doggie treats from The Canine Kitchen and of course cupcakes to enjoy.
Well behaved and socialised humans and dogs are welcome to come and enjoy the fun!
A donation to the RSPCA is our only request!.
If you cannot make it, you can go to the RSPCA Cupcake Day Website and make a donation to our Doggies Delight After School Event there, https://rspcacupcakeday-vic2014.everydayhero.com/au/pets
We got together as a group of pet related businesses, commited to promoting and supporting animal welfare within Ballarat, to host an amitious but fun Cupcake Day Event and hope to meet many equally devoted animal welfare supporters on the day.
Whilst hosting such an event would be daunting for any of us alone, together it is an enjoyable and rewarding challenge!
I also encourage you to organise a Cupcake Day morning or afternoon tea in your workplace. A gold coin donation is a simple technique to get your colleagues through the door with a contribution for the RSPCA. In my previous workplace, we didn't necessarily even have cupcakes, just donated morning tea items like buscuits and dips. All you really need is someone willing to collect donations at the door!
Simply register your event at http://rspcavic.org/events/cupcake-day.
It certainly does not need to be as big and exciting as the fundraiser we are planning, which is essentially a community scale one. Remember every little bit helps when it comes to animal welfare!
The Victorian Government's Department of Environment and Primary Industries, commissioned La Trobe University to develop and administer a survey of the knowledge and practices of pet owners relating to the keeping and welfare of dogs, cats, birds and rabbits.
This excellent site is very interactive, full of tips relating to responsible pet ownership and welfare and you can test your own knowledge about your pets needs and behaviours.
The site is an excellent initiative and a wonderful source of information for intending or experienced pet owners, including children!
A few more images and illustrations would male it even more appealing, especially for children!
Take the welfare test for cat, dog, bird or rabbit keeping now at http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/pets/care-and-welfare/pet-welfare-report-card.
Animals Australia has launched its cage free workplace initiative.
It's time to start chatting to your colleagues in the lunchroom to get them on side to end the torture of millions of chickens who face life as battery egg producers!
Proudly, Lyn White, AM, Campaign Director of Animals Australia, sent me an email congratulating Pets and Plants Ballarat for inspiring this campaign. I simply signed Pets and Plants up to the "Make It Possible Pledge", ensuring that this workplace, along with myself as an individual, would be cage egg free!
Already over 1,000 workplaces have signed up, beginning with Pets and Plants Ballarat!
Whilst most workplaces are not in the position that Pets and Plants is, with five free-ranging backyard layers, producing the bulk of the eggs consumed within this workplace, all workplaces can play a key role in ending the miserable life of battery hens!
All it takes is one individual talking to colleagues about the plight of battery hens and their miserable and unnatural caged conditions to begin your workplace's journey to taking the cage free pledge. It's more than likely you will find many co-workers and even your boss is on side already. Transforming the buying habits of your colleagues is a powerful action for animal welfare within Australia and even beyond our shores!
The cage free workplace initiative is a true reminder of how small actions we take as an individual, group or workplace can really help transform the world and in this instance, potentially, the lives of millions of chickens!
Get cracking towards that cage free life for chickens with many more "cage free workplace pledges"!
Fiona Ludbrook is the Client Services Director of Pets and Plants Ballarat. Now, entrepreneur and blogger, she was born and bred in Ballarat, but spent many years as a teacher in Melbourne’s