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When our furry friends become part of our family...

“If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.”

I had no idea that an ordinary walk in the park would change my love forever. Sitting on a bench at El Retiro, one of the most famous parks in Madrid, I saw a young woman playing games with a little dog. The energy between them was amazing. As someone who didn’t know anything about dogs and hadn’t had the chance to share a life with them, I knew at ‘that moment that I would start living with a dog as soon as I returned to Istanbul. This led to my first visit to a shelter, which spanned a large area and was home to nearly 2,700 dogs. There, I noticed a dog who was very distant at first and found it hard to communicate with me. It was Pöti, who would become my first companion, and I adopted him. As of that moment, I knew I wasn’t lonely anymore; I was part of a family. I even expanded this family by mustering up the courage to dive headfirst into the world of abandoned dogs. Whether I knew them for a long time, spent time with them at long and short intervals, or transformed their lives with the butterfly effect, I accepted each dog as a new member of my family. This feeling only became more intense as I crossed paths with hundreds of dogs over the years. I came to realize that my family of dogs meant as much to me as my human family


For generations, we’ve been taught that the family is only composed of parents and children. However, in time, I understood that a real family is a group where you spiritually and emotionally belong. Unfortunately, swayed by this system which blinds our perception, only a few people can see where their “real family” is and have the courage to steer away from a life of routines and pressure. When I started living with dogs and founded a new family with them, I realized I looked strange to people around me whether they knew me or not. That was when I saw the position of dogs in the eyes of the society, and I must confess hopelessness took over for a while. “You can’t have a family with dogs. Don’t fool yourself. You’re just wasting your time with them. You’re wasting your life…” Almost all these discouraging remarks, which were either said to my face or behind my back, insinuated that you could not have a family with dogs. I built up the courage, covered my ears to everyone else, and followed the path I believed to be true.

Still a great deal of scientific research is being conducted to see whether dogs are sentimental animals or not. However, their skill in communication and reading the body language of humans have made them our closest friends throughout history. Dogs are genetically blessed when it comes to learning new things and adapting. And this heritage continues to grow and enrich. One of the most important things I realized after spending so many years with dogs is that they are not only great learners, but amazing teachers as well. After starting to live with my family of dogs, I started abandoning many negative and hindering thoughts and behaviours. Now, I’m better at controlling my anger. I am not hard-headed. I see that most of the time my initial decision is the correct one. I can fearlessly put a distance between myself and people who wear me out physically and spiritually. I’m braver, faster, calmer, and most importantly, happier. I have a long road ahead and a lot to learn from dogs. Their pure wisdom, encoded in their minds and hearts by mother nature, illuminates me and my path towards the future. You don’t have to share a house with a dog to become a part of its family. If your conditions don’t allow adopting a dog, you can befriend stray dogs and open your heart to them in order to be a part of their wonderful family. We have a lot to learn from these animals who have been exposed to humanity’s cruelty and indifference, abandoned, left to starvation and loneliness in the unknown. Despite all this, I believe they still haven’t given up hope on humankind.

“All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn't a dog.”

– Charles M. Schulz


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