While on vacation in Turkey, a British family find a starving street dog and want to rescue it. The local Muslims laugh and mock them for their empathy toward man’s best friend.
Here’s a heartwarming story of the European’s love for animals, highlighting racial differences toward kindness to out four legged friends.
When Nicky Holden and her family booked their first holiday abroad last year, they had no idea that they’d be returning with an extra family member.
They spent their first few days in Turkey laying by the pool and swimming in the sea. But on day three, Holden decided to head to a local market in Fethiye with her partner, her daughter and her brother-in-law for some shopping.
“We were looking at the stalls and exploring the market when we turned a corner and I saw this black mass on the floor. It looked like a pile of rubbish, but I knew it was a dog,” Holden told The Dodo.
“She was laid there on the ground and everyone was just stepping over her,” she said. “It was shocking to see a living creature in such a state, needing help, and hundreds of people just walking past, paying her no attention.”
“As we got to her, she looked up at us and wagged her tail,” Holden said. “She was so skinny and could barely lift her head.”
Holden and her family bought some food and water from a nearby stall and fed the young, flat-coated retriever, whom they eventually named Kez, after a friend of Holden’s who had recently lost her battle with cancer.
“We sat on the floor with her and she just laid there, licking our hands,” Holden said. “She was skin and bone, she was filthy and her coat was so matted. Her eyes were so deep and she gazed up at me. I knew then that I had to do something.”
Holden and her partner, Sid, were both crying while a crowd formed around them.
“They were laughing at us,” she said. “They couldn’t understand why we cared so much about this ‘worthless’ street dog.”
Eventually, Holden and her family returned to their hotel without Kez.
“There was nothing I could do there and then,” Holden said. “I barely slept that night as I was so worried about her.”
The following morning, they spent four hours in the hotel lobby making phone calls and searching the internet for someone who could help Kez. But they couldn’t find anyone who was able to help them.
They walked down to a nearby village to speak to the locals when a woman handed them a leaflet advertising a fundraising event for a local charity and they rushed over. The group put them in touch with Mad About Mutts, a local boarding kennel for dogs, which agreed to help if the family could find Kez again.
The couple headed back to the market, but when they got there, they realized it had closed and all the market stalls had disappeared.
“Our hearts sank,” Holden said. “We searched the whole area, looking behind bins and showing people her picture. In a nearby residential area we knocked on every door. We went to the harbor and asked all the restaurant owners and shopkeepers.”
“I was losing hope and didn’t think we’d ever see her again, when we turned down an alleyway and there she was, slumped in a doorway — we couldn’t believe it,” Holden said. “She recognized us immediately and her tail started wagging.”
The couple bought a collar and leash from a local pet shop and put it on Kez before calling back Mad About Mutts — staffers from the kennels quickly came to collect all three of them.
They rushed Kez to a local vet’s office, and then back to the kennels, where Kez would stay for the next five months while her transport and paperwork could be arranged. It took just two days for Holden to raise the $2,000 she needed to pay for everything. And then they waited.
Finally, in November 2016, Kez arrived at Holden’s home in England as the family’s 10th dog. Now, she’s part of the pack — joining collies Bean, Bear, Tri and Tootz, Jack Russell terrier Pip, dachshund Tula, lurcher Otto, kelpie cross Dex and bearded collie Casca — though it took her some time to settle in.
“She was very nervous at first, particularly of men,” Holden said. “She would bark out of fear. She’d bark at people wearing hats or people on bikes. It’s taken time and patience, but she is fine with people now. She loves other dogs, she loves puppies and she loves children. She is so good with my grandson.”
When one of Holden’s other dogs, Tri, gave birth to five puppies, Kez took to them as though they were her own. “She loved the puppies, she worshipped them,” Holden said. “She is the sweetest thing I have ever met; she is so gentle.”
Kez quickly adapted to living in a home, learned how to walk on a lead and how to play with toys. And now, she has even started agility training with her new mom, a top agility trainer.
Lots of people tried to put me off going back for her. They said it was pointless and that we’d never find her,” Holden said. “But now, every evening she curls up on the sofa with us and our other dogs and we know she’s safe and will never be hungry or thirsty ever again.”
Nicky Holden now works to raise awareness about the plight of Turkish streets dogs and fundraises for Homeward Bound, a small, UK-based nonprofit working to rescue street dogs in Turkey.
Kudos to all who helped rescue Kez, who now has a forever home filled with love.