At the end of January 2020 this caring Mum Bella and her eight puppies were spotted on Long Beach – we were worried that they might catch the killer distemper, as a neighbouring dog had recently died from this dreaded disease. So, with the help of Mehmet Alp, the family was moved to a derelict building opposite Kustur Beach, off the Selcuk Road. Sadly one puppy was found dead the following morning.

The next day, Sunday, Jane, Brenda, Alan, Mehmet & I visited the family. All apart from one plump, fluffy puppy tucked into the homemade tasty meal that Jane had prepared. Brenda suggested that as one puppy had died already; we should take the reluctant eater to Vet International, Ziya’s new clinic on the ring road for a checkup.

In the car, I gazed down at the pup – as his nose was brown, different to those of his mum and siblings, I called him ‘’Brown-nosed Barney’’ – ‘’Oh, you’ve named him, have you?’’ said Jane, with a twinkle in her eye.

At the clinic we were met by two vets, Cağatay & Umut and the lethargic pup was given a thorough examination. He passed all tests with flying colours (sighs of relief). ‘’But he’s not eating,’’ I exclaimed.

Cağatay then opened a small can of gourmet cat food, which to our huge surprise he licked and then devoured! The pup clearly hadn’t been interested in the biscuits – he had a more discerning palate.

It was explained that this wasn’t an absolute guarantee that all was well – it was, of course, just possible that there was an illness incubating, waiting to show itself . . . as indeed it soon did . . .

The pups did well for the next 10 days – our ARK team visited daily to keep a close eye on them. Then on the tenth day we found one dead pup and a number more were unwell. We took them to Pandora Vets and the weakest died shortly afterwards. We decided on Pandora because we knew that they would keep them at the clinic as long as was needed.

Parvo was diagnosed, from which dogs have a 50/50 chance of survival. Deniz & Özden worked very hard with them, giving antibiotics, infusions and putting the weakest two in an incubator. This continued for several days and then three of the pups were able to be returned to Mum Bella – they immediately began to suckle and we were relieved that Mum’s milk flow had been restored. The weakest two remained at Pandora under observation until after a week they also were able to rejoin their siblings. We were reassured that puppies that had survived parvo were then immune – they would not catch it again.

Mum Bella was a lively dog – she loved crossing the main road that ran between Kuştur Beach and the area where the derelict buildings were sheltering her pups, though she never wandered far – but whenever we volunteers were leaving in our cars she would try to hitch a lift with us.

We had to distract her by throwing toys and then making a hasty getaway. Bella’s habit of chasing cars along the beachside road did worry us – in Spring there were few vehicles and it wasn’t too much of a problem, but we foresaw that as soon as the holidaymakers arrived, her habit could become a death trap.

In February I was contacted by a family who had seen a photograph of Brown-nosed Barney and they were considering adopting him for their daughter.

I felt obliged to take the father out to visit the pups . . . but I was surprised to feel a strong reluctance to do so! I took plenty of fresh water and food with me and pushing my misgivings to one side, I accompanied the Father out to the derelict Kuştur buildings.

 On the way, I asked him where his daughter was . . . ‘’Oh, resting at home,’ he replied.
‘’Really?’, I thought – ‘’Not excited enough to come with us to see her new puppy for the first time?’’

The father didn’t want to risk dirtying his polished shoes . . . but said that he wanted to take Barney to his daughter at home, ‘’on approval’’, so I went alone to greet and feed the roly poly pups, who were playing in the scrubland behind the buildings.

I scooped up wriggling Barney and carried him to the father, who was waiting by the car. I was surprised how heavy Barney was – he’d put on a couple of kilos since that first visit to the vet in February. Father looked dubious . . . ‘’How big will he grow?’’ he asked. ‘’I’ve no idea,’’ I replied . . . then holding up his huge paw, I told the father that you can usually tell by the size of his feet.

The father considered, and then made a phone call . . . while I took the opportunity to cuddle Barney, maybe for the last time. Then to my relief the father announced that he had changed his mind – his daughter didn’t want a puppy after all. Phew!!

We put out a plea for warm bedding for the pups and the five survivors flourished in their snug little jackets and with oodles of loving care from our team of volunteers until spring arrived . . . Alan & I were on the feeding rota and Sunday was our turn for a cuddle in between feeding, watering and cleaning duties. Then at 22.00 on Saturday, 21 March it felt as if a bombshell had been dropped. Covid 19 curfews were announced and Alan & I realised that, due to our advanced years, we would be obliged to stay trapped within our home for the foreseeable future – grounded, with no further feeding trips permitted. I then realised that I just couldn’t leave darling little Brown-nosed Barney, we would chance one more visit to our canine family, with no option but to bring Barney home with us, to settle into our lives in Beyazgül Sitesi – and what a saviour he has turned out to be . . .

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