As I was writing my latest blog post, describing the house we rented here in Kayseri, Turkey, my hands went to type ‘The only thing that would make living in this house more perfect is a dog’, but then I deleted the sentence, and with it, the sentiment. Because we talked about it at length and decided that Henry Tudor (our future dog is it’s a boy) will have to wait until we settle down permanently. Because we might move to another country in a few years. Because the majority of people here in Kayseri dislike and fear dogs. Because we are at work from 8 to 5. So many reasons not to get a dog. So how did we find ourselves standing t under the scorching sun of a seaside town called Mersin, clutching a 2-month old lab puppy to us and grinning like two fools that we are?
I blame our neighbours and friends Marie-Loise and Murat.
While I was in Izmir attending a conference, Mike texted saying that, according to Murat, there is 1-year old golden retriever needing a new home. I`m not sure why, but we both felt like it was ‘our’ dog, even though the dog turned our to be a 2-months old lab. I came back from Izmir on Friday night, and on Saturday morning we were driving to Mersin, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean sea less than 4 hours away by car. We arranged to meet Murat and his friend Bunyamin, who was bringing the dog, in a large shopping mall. As soon as we got out of the car, our t-shirts were plastered to our bodies by sweat and we marvelled at how cool and composed everyone looked in the afternoon heat.
The puppy was handed over to us. Mike ran back to the car for the leash which we bought on the way and I stayed there, cradling the puppy and attracting a large crowd of admirers. At some point there were about 10 people queuing to pet her. As soon as Mike was back, we started to think of names. Mike vetoed all of my suggestions (Cookie? Is she a stripper?) until, jokingly, I called the puppy Jackie, the name of one of my best friends here. And somehow the name fit. Jackie adores dogs, she has a lab mix back in the US, and he’s called Jack. I texted her to make sure it was OK, received her blessing amidst OMG OMG OMG YOU HAVE A PUPPY messages.
Soon it was time to drive back to Kayseri and it was than that the Demon Puppy made its first appearance. Now, I`ve never had a lab before. In all my life, I`ve had 3 dogs – a little mutt and two sausage dogs. I was not prepared for the level of energy and mischief that Jackie brought with her. As soon as we started driving, gone was the cute toilet-paper-commercial puppy, hanging limply from my arms. In its place was Tasmanian devil, whirling, squirming and all the while biting, biting with her sharp puppy teeth. I would shove a raw-hide bone in her mouth, she would chew it a few times quickly switching to my fingers, my toes, my stomach, my cheek, basically any part of me she could reach. We stopped a few times to give her some water and let her walk around, but by the time we reached Kayseri I was scratched, bitten, we were both exhausted and wondering what we got ourselves into.
This pattern continues. When she’s in a playful mood, all bets are off. She’ll kump up and bite you on the butt if you are walking, she will chomp on any body part hanging over the edge of the bed, like a monster from children’s nightmares, pull covers off sofas. But once she’s worn out, she becomes a soft pile of fur, gently snoring in your arms and looking like the world’s cutest puppy.
Jackie ‘helping’ me make the bed by hanging onto the blanket and then, once I let go, plopping on top of it and taking a nap.
Jackie the puppy napping with Jackie the human girl. Now all we talk about is dog training. We keep reminding each other to close the bathroom door as one of us is chasing Jackie around the house so that we can wrestle a roll of toilet paper out of her mouth. We wake up at 2 am because she turned on my touch lamp with her nose, spilled my water and is noisily drinking from the puddle. We try to trick her into liking her crate by putting her food bowl in there during meal times. But above all we are concerned with teaching her to be more gentle with her humans. We read that one way puppies learn that is from their siblings. As they grow together and play together, they learn not to bite too hard, guided by each others’ reactions. I tried whimpering like a puppy when she bites me but it doesn’t seem to work. So we have been borrowing Marie-Loise and Murat’s puppies to try and socialize her and join them on their daily walks.