Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dumb Tourist Takes On Wild Dogs, Saves Lamb! Who Saves The Dogs?

Stupidity of tourists confounds me at times! Their well-intentioned but ignorant actions may place themselves in danger without a care for themselves or anyone else!
 Yeah, well look who's talking....

Poor qualty pics in this article but taken in 2001 on my first ever digital camera.

Ephesus, is a very popular attraction on the Turkey tourist route. Over 2,500 years old, the ruins of this main ancient Greek city, and later a major city in the Roman era, need time to explore. Ruins of  the old amphitheatre, the Library of Celcus, and the stadium being the main sites and there are also remains of paved roads and village houses. Check out the history of Ephesus here- Ephesus

 In January 2001, on a Cosmos 14 day tour, in the ruins of the amphitheatre our 34 member group were eyes-and-ears-on as our guide explained the history and features of the ruins, but I was distracted. There were dogs barking in the background, that distinctive bark or yelp that dogs give when in a pack worrying something: a helpless prey perhaps? It disturbed me so much I asked our guide to check it out, or for him to alert the locals to what could be a a need for help. None of the few local men responded. The dogs still yelped and barked.

I wasn't going to leave without seeing what could be done.

The amphitheatre is enormous and stretched high up the hillside. The photo below will give an idea of scale. The yelping and barking was echoing down from high above the top seats.  

Amphitheatre at Ephesus.

I headed up the ancient stone steps, then climbed up the hillside. Took ages to get to where I found a pack of dogs worrying a lone sheep defending its newborn. The dogs were viciously attacking her, one rushing in to attract her attention, while others dashed in from her rear. She would fend of the attacking dog then wheel and charge the other dogs, then have to return to stand over her young lamb. Her attackers knew they could wear her down then make the kill. She was in dire trouble defending her newly born lamb, the umbilical and afterbirth still attached as it struggled to take its first steps.

Then the dogs saw me, and it hit me that I was no match for six fired up, hungry, snarling dogs. Strange how there is never a big knobbly, clubby branch when you need it most - they were up by the dogs. Even a short, sharp toothpick I'd have grasped at that moment. The sticks I desperately grabbed snapped with their dry brittleness. I guess all the big stones had been scoured from the hillside for the ruins I'd just left...I couldn't find any large rocks either!  Ah well, bravado was called for. So I charged a mad snarling pack of dogs, yelling and making out I was throwing rocks...and they scattered.

Mrs Sheep promptly allowed the lamb to suckle. The lamb seemed to be getting to grips with its legs which were as wobbly as mine. I kept my distance not wanting to distress her more, and grabbed a quick shot with my camera...that had just about been flung in desperation at a dog!

Mrs Sheep takes a break from the fray.
I hung around for maybe 10 minutes as a dog deterrent, hoping to give the lamb enough time to grab a feed, get to grips with its long gangly legs, and perhaps it would be able to run and keep up with mum!

Climbing down I realised how stupid I had been. Those dogs could have been wild and hungry enough to have stood their ground and taken me on. Rabies is one vaccination I have never bothered to get.

Would I do it again? 
Yep! Every time. I can't bear to think of an animal in distress. But I would make sure I have a great big club! Better still a shotgun!

Back down with the tour group, it was time to get more pictures of the ruins. As Kay and I posed with our friends, the barking started up...the dogs had returned!

This time I prayed I had bought her enough respite from attack for her lamb to be able to scoot off with her. Maybe the dogs would find the afterbirth enough to keep them happy while mum and lamb got away?

Have you ever done anything that was downright dumb and life threatening?

Stadium at Ephesus.
We'd seen how dogs were poorly treated in Turkey. Emaciated and crippled strays hung around other sites and cities we'd been to...heartbreaking. Dogs don't have a great time in Islamic countries, being considered unclean, usually kept just as watch dogs or for protecting flocks. As in many countries, a dog gets injured or sick it may be abandoned, no money will be spent on treating it; cheaper to just get another pup. Left to breed freely there are so many strays having to scavenge any morsel they can find. We saw injured, crippled and starving dogs everywhere we went. 

This was 10 years ago, and I guess we were not the only tourists to be so shocked: others have actually done something positive for the animals, and to help change local attitudes to animal welfare in parts of Turkey.
I admire the dedication of other tourists of that time who did this - www.animalprotectiontrust.org.uk Setting up a trust to care for Kusadasi's stray dogs and cats, many destined to be poisoned after the tourist season! Easier and cheaper to kill them horribly that way, than to cure the problem at its source by neutering  or spaying to stop them breeding!
Charities like this need more support financially.  

Anyone else know of reputable animal rescue organisations in Turkey, please leave their contact names in my comments, and I will research them and add them to this list.

Travel Bloggers Give Back. During the season of goodwill, charities are being promoted. Any blogger can join in. Join us here- www.facebook.com/groupsTBGB



AJ said...

Wow, you are a hero, Jim! You went out on a limb for that lamb. I'm surprised (and glad) the pack didn't charge you. The ending isn't as happy as I hoped it would be though. But if those dogs were emaciated, they'd also do everything to survive as much as Mrs sheep and her baby. Such is life. :(

Julia said...

Not sure what's going on with the Facebook group for Animal Aid Fethiye, Jim but they're a very active bunch in our local community supporting the council run animal shelter in the area. It's a lovely place for dogs and cats! :)
There's an email address on there, too.

Anonymous said...

A braver man than I yet I understand the reasons for such an act.

Good one Jim


cathy jones said...

Like AJ I had hoped for a better outcome for the sheep. I was also wondering where the owner of the sheep was...not guarding his flock obviously.

I am sad for the dogs too...driven to attack by hunger. I look at my well fed pack of 4 dogs and tell them they don't realize how lucky they are.

Glad you survived the rescue Jim. :D

Jim said...

Just did what felt right AJ. No heroism, just concern.
Thanks mate, will do it again but think about it better next time!

Jim said...

Thanks Julia, have added them in. I have read about them on your website too. Great stuff!

Jim said...

Can't stand by AG, had to do something. Perhaps I did create that chance for them to get away?

Jim said...

4 Dos Cath? What a great pack! Well, perhaps the sheep did get away, I hope so.
Yes normally a sheep would be part of a flock guarded by a shepherd. And he would know to keep pregnant sheep under watch at lambing time. So yes, where was he?

Natalie said...

Yes, you are a lot braver than me. I like to think that Turkey has moved on in terms of how they treat dogs but there is still a lot of work to do.

Jim said...

Hi Natalie, yes in many places they have, but it's a huge country and attitudes don't change easily. Last time we were in Istanbul we did notice there were hardly any strays this time, but what of all the country towns?