My Kedi Cat and My Hurley Dog

Two years ago today my SIL and I travelled to Istanbul to collect two of my most precious family members – My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat.  They had just flown 29 hours from Sydney to Istanbul via Malaysia.  Like all long haul travellers they were tired and grumpy and the last thing they wanted to do is spend the next 11 hours sitting in customs in Istanbul while we fought to get them released.

This is their story.

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I have mentioned before that both of my pets were rescue animals and I had no intention of leaving my fur-babies behind when we moved to Türkiye (well I had half a mind to leave My Kedi Cat behind but that’s because he hates me).  I spent many hours dealing with both Australian customs and Turkish customs ensuring I had covered every base before I finally arranged for them to be flown over. I wanted them to have an easy flight and a simple transfer into my custody at Istanbul Customs.  I was certain I had crossed every “T” and dotted every single “I” but when arriving at customs in Istanbul it was, as expected, a fecking nightmare!

My SIL and I arrived in Istanbul from Adana at 6.30am and I had arranged a return flight for 5pm.  I assumed that this would be more than enough time to collect my two fur-babies, do all the custom rigmarole and have heaps of time to get our flight home with my fur-babies in tow.

Nope!

Every single thing that could have gone wrong did go wrong.  It began with the Veterinarian not arriving to sign my babies off.  Why didn’t he arrive you wonder?  It was raining.  Poor love.  After a lot of yelling by my SIL (God bless my SIL) he was finally roused into work but did not arrive until after 3pm so basically we sat in customs for nearly 9 hours.  We weren’t allowed to leave, even a toilet break was frowned on.  We had to sit there in case the Vet arrived so we could point out our pets.  They were the only two fecking animals in customs so obviously they were fecking mine!!!!!  I spent a lot of that time in tears.  I could hear My Hurley Dog howling through the customs door but I wasn’t allowed to see him.

After being examined the Vet then questioned whether My Kedi Cat had rabies as he was vicious.  In fact the Customs officers back in Sydney had put a sticker on the cage – “Handle with Caution.  Dangerous Animal”.  After I explained that My Kedi Cat was always vicious – frankly the cat is a bit of a shit – and finally they were signed off.  But that wasn’t the end of it. There was still more paperwork and more money handed over (grease the wheels guys) before finally my two fur-babies were released into my custody.

I know a lot of expats bring their pets with them and I wonder whether flying into the more regional airports would be an easier option.  I expect that if I had taken a direct flight from the UK and arriving into, say Bodrum, then the customs guys would be quite used to nervous yabanci and would deal with them swiftly.  Perhaps but then really Istanbul is one of the biggest airports in the world.  They really should have their shit together!  It’s a domestic cat and a fecking poodle for Christ’s sake!  I know I should be thankful that my babies arrived safely because many do not.  While arranging for my babies to travel I read of many cases where domestic animals pass away en-route due to the stress and being mistreated by airport staff.  The thing is that flying is stressful for us humans I can only imagine what my fur-babies throught was going on.  Being put in cages and stuffed into a very noisy, very cold cargo hold before finally being delivered into my very relieved arms.

After collection we made our way to Domestic to catch our flight to Adana which, of course, we missed thanks to the lazy Vet.  The following flight was already booked with animals and they too would not let us on.  Finally a flight was made available at 11.30 that night that would allow My Hurley Dog in cargo and I would carry My Kedi Cat on my lap in the cabin.

Got home at 3am the following day.  My Hurley Dog was ecstatic and showed his excitement freely.  My Kedi Cat bit me and hid under the bed.  I chose to sleep on the couch for the next few days – just in case the cat tried to kill me in my sleep!

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Two years on and My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat have settled into life in a Turkish village.  My Hurley Dog has not made many friends with the village dogs as they are all a lot larger than him.  They are farm dogs and not prepared to deal with My Hurley Dog’s precious, precious ways but he does have lots of people to hang around with.  He gets fed at every door (although not usually allowed in every door) and more often than not gets a pat on the head from visitors.  On the other hand My Kedi Cat who, back in Sydney, was a very high maintenance cat seems to fit right now.  He disappears each evening with Evil, My Stairwell Cat, and returns the next morning covered in dirt, mud, thistles, whatever.  He drags himself onto the bed and sleeps until evening.  In fact the other night I was taking My Hurley Dog for a walk and I found him in a dumpster.  So yeah – he is now a Turkish Cat.  It’s called assimulation people!

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Good as Gold

When I was pregnant with Daughter I attended at the local free hospital in Mersin for some blood work and a check up.  It was a dark, extremely dirty hospital where lines of people waited in various stages of injury or sickness.  I could not compare this hospital to anything I had ever experienced and I was so traumatized by the visit I left the country.  Yes I literally returned to Australia to have Daughter determined to never return to a Turkish hospital again.

Those who know me know my love of self-diagnosing ailments and self-medicating.  I hurt my back last week in the garden (I am getting old) and went upstairs to look through my various pills to find something to take away the ache.  As I rummaged through the plastic bottles and packages, some purchased here and others brought with us from Australia, I found some of The Turk’s pain medication that he used after an operation a year or so back.  Strong pain relief.  Still in date.  Let’s do it!  I took two pills and promptly passed out.  They were crazy strong.  I learned a valuable lesson that day.  Always be sitting down when self-medicating.  Nooooo! 

I did need to go to the doctor though has I had run out of my blood pressure tablets.  Again terror ran through my veins at the thought of going to a Turkish hospital but it had to be done.  Thankfully The Turk chose a ozel hastanasi (private hospital) which was not quite as frightening as my first foray into Turkish hospitals nor my most recent attendance at the local village hospital (another story in itself).  The doctor spoke English which was a bonus and happily told me my blood pressure was spot on.  Yah me!  The doctor also gave me a speech about “White Coat Syndrome”.  I laughed and told him every doctor I have ever met has given me the same speech.  The Turk mentioned me passing out to the Doctor who suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t self-medicate.  Seems like a good idea. 

Now it was Daughter’s turn.  In Australia I would take Daughter to the dentist every three months.  She would have a cleaning and a check-up.  It’s called preventative dental care people.  Preventative dental care.  Daughter has been complaining about a tooth for a couple of weeks and finally after my constant hounding The Turk arranged an appointment for yesterday afternoon.  Oh.  My.  God!

We walked into the dental hospital and I knew immediately that this was a mistake.  The building was dilapidated, not old actually dilapidated.  No paint, holes in the walls, dirty floors.  This is not what a dental hospital should look like.  There must have been 200 people waiting to be seen.  Daughter clung to me and whispered that she would probably end up with a highly contagious disease and started sprouting off various diseases that can be transmitted by unclean instruments.  I smiled and told her to relax but to be honest she was absolutely right. 

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On the bright side and despite the sheer volume of people there our appointment was on time.  Daughter entered the consultation room.  The Turk tried to come with her but was told to wait outside.  Less than one minute later the door opened and Daughter emerged.  What happened?

“She asked me to open my mouth.  I did.  She looked in and said there was nothing wrong with me.  She told me I was wasting her time.  So I left.”

No instruments.  No nothing just as cursory examination before sending her on her way.  The Turk blew a gasket at the doctor and she told him that you don’t come to a dentist unless you are in pain.  She said it was unnecessary to do a cleaning.  The doctor then suggested that if Daughter’s teeth seemed unclean we should buy a toothbrush.  Such an excellent suggestion!  Capital idea!  The Turk ushered Daughter out the door and threw some expletives at the doctor as we went.

But he made it up to her.  When she came home from school today he told her to get changed and meet him downstairs.

After spending a moment being loved up by Stanley and his sore leg she ran downstairs to find – a new bike!

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When The Turk asked Daughter how she was her reply to him was, “Good as gold Dad.  Good as gold!”

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