Some columns are inspired by members of the animal kingdom and rightly so. In the past I have written about visiting the Turkish capital of Ankara’s splendid zoo, critically commented on sad stories about dead Caretta Caretta’s washed up on nearby southern Aegean shores or discussed potential solutions for problems related to our apparently ever increasing street dog population.

Still on the subject of animals and what surprises me are two facts. First, most of my Turkish friends, colleagues and neighbors have no pet at home. Second, diametrically opposed to this observation I walk past either a pet shop or a vet on almost every major thoroughfare. Hence, there are pet owners in this country and they must be in the millions.

I do admit owning a pet living in an expatriate environment was not necessarily one of my priorities as we tend to go out a lot (more) away from home, travel a lot inlands and work a lot of course, too. All changed after we welcomed our first daughter into the world. By nature, kids want to enter each and every pet shop they spot and examine its multi-colored, multi-language residents.

Whereas our pet number one was a turtle we recently added a parakeet who as I type on my keyboard curiously watches what her human friend is up to. I never thought that a parakeet can be such good company and fun at the same time. What I did not expect either was that she does need quite a fair amount of attention, much more than an hourly acknowledgement or a quick ‘hi beautiful, see you later’. She sings, will soon talk (sort of) and for sure knows how to make sure we are constantly reminded of her presence. She needs her ‘airtime’, too – we were told parakeets love to fly indoors, as long as all exits and windows are locked and curtains closed so that she does not hurt herself whilst attempting to fly out via the window.

Those pet shops I came to pop in over time were all immaculately clean, with friendly and knowledgeable staff. Whether buying vitamins for turtles in Bodrum, checking prices for dogs in Ankara or taking a look at whatever is on display in our neighborhood here one does get the impression that Turkish people are animal lovers indeed, and Kuşadasian’s are no exception from this rule.

There is a price tag attached to owning pets. And my biggest wish is that in case you consider buying a little friend you do your math first similar to what we did. ‘Math’ related to how much money a pet’s upkeep sets you back per month, and ‘math’ with regards to how many hours per day/week/month you want to spend in the company of your pet.

Are you a parent perhaps? With a young child at home and/or enrolled at primary school chances are a family will spend more time within ones own four walls thus making for a happy pet. As long as your child wants to share responsibility for it all will be fine! Alternatively, are your kids already living away from home? Then and in particular if you live round here permanently except for the two or three annual returns to Britain having a pet can be such good fun. If you ask around, leave money for pet food et cetera one of your fellow expatriates or friendly Turkish neighbors might as well take care of your pet for a fortnight or so if necessary.

Buying a pet is a reasonably cheap affair unless you aim at ‘big fish’ or big dogs for that matter. Our parakeet complete with cage and all other things it initially requires came in at an affordable 60 Lira. Add a few extra toys and a mirror and of course food we expect to pay not more than 20 Lira on top of that per passing month.

A cat eats more, a dog eats much more – you know your family’s budget best. But please do make a budget as the last thing our little friend deserves is to be brought back to the pet shop from where we bought it because we can not afford it anymore!

And be on the right side of the law. Do not buy animals which are protected species (unfit for being kept at home) or not allowed to be sold at all. Do not hesitate to ask your pet shop owner, too, as even turtles may or may not be ‘legal’ depending on their place of origin. Go online first and read as much as you can about your choice of pet. Make sure your flat or house, respectively, are suitable. Make certain you are not allergic against it, too.

If you have the time, spare cash and real interest a pet can become indeed your best new friend. Not that Kuşadası would not already offer enough attractions besides our famous three S (sea, sand and sun) – but should we not all develop much more interest into all things pet-like? Until my next columnist’s chirps and whether with or without a pet at home – enjoy our great resort!

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