A Traditional Culture
In Turkey, Black Sea region is known for its dark sea, fish, balmy weather, enriched farmlands, hazelnut, honey, Laz people’s jokes, and most importantly, the lush plateaus.
The sea, the land, along with the weather, have cultivated the ways of living, especially for people who live in the small villages surrounding by the highlands. In the villages, people grow fruits, nuts, keeping bees, making yogurt. When it’s summer time, they take their live stocks to stay on the plateaus so the animals can enjoy the fresh grass.
A Different Type of Relationship
In many parts of Turkey, especially small towns where people live more traditionally, keeping indoor pets is still a less appreciated concept. Dogs and cats roaming around freely are more like part of the community instead. People are reminded to offer them water and food, especially on hot summer days. As a result, most of the dogs and cats are friendly towards strangers. You can easily pat a napping cat or quickly befriend a playful puppy.
Among the highlands in Black Sea, Kackar mountains are known for their high elevation and breathtaking landscape. Most of the visitors spend at least one night camping. There are two main camp sites along the route from the village Yayalar to the 3937 meters tall peak (~13,000 ft). The first camp ground, Dilberduzu, is on the plateau side before an intensive climb, and the other one is next to the Deniz lake deep in the mountains. There are more people gathered at Dilberduzu, and many tents are set up already. With more resources, most of the free roaming dogs mainly live around Dilberduzu. Among the dogs, there are a few Kangal Shepherd Dogs.
The Gentle Guardian
Kangals are originated from Turkey as working and guardian dogs. You see them frequently around the Black Sea plateau regions as protectors of the livestocks. They are extremely strong dogs that can even fight bears, but they are very sweet to people, especially great with kids. The Kangals at the campground are used to travelers, and therefore are very easy going. They know the mountains well, and an intensive 8 hour summiting hike for people, to them, is like a stroll in their backyard. The Kangals thus often accompany trekkers to explore the mountains. Sometimes for food, sometimes just for fun.
Each culture and each region has its own special way of living, and its own dynamic with the dogs and the cats. They are all different, because we are all different. However, the affectionate bondings between human and animals, are all based on love and respect towards life and nature. No matter how a society changes, no matter how the world progresses, we should never lose that special love and respect.
After losing our 19-year-and-11 month-old cat, my partner/husband-to-be and I started fostering shelter animals, as well as pet sitting for friends. Giving unconditional but not completely committal love seems to be helping us cope with the void of loss, the ache of grief.
We are currently hosting two kittens from WLA Shelter, as well as our friend’s dog Juelz. (Learn more about Juelz)
The kittens are brothers from the same litter, and they have been staying with us for the past 5 weeks since they were 3 weeks of age. They are so wonderful and we love having them around so much! Any forms of baby, human, cat, dog, others, are just the most fun-loving-energetic-joyful little creatures that melt everyone’s heart.
On my days off, there was a serious heat wave in Los Angeles. Everyone in our house was miserable, and even one of the kittens was panting while playing! (Note: Cats should never breath with their mouth open. If a cat does that consistently, that would be a medical emergency.) With less than 48 hours, two 8 week-old wild kittens, one easily overwhelmed dog, us two “heat-induced lazy” people, the trip must be easy and relaxing. That means, away from LA but not too far, close to the nature but not too remote, and modern/convenient but not too crowded.
I love California in general, and Central California is definitely special. It’s beautiful, laid back, great food, tasty wine; the atmosphere is amazingly friendly and people are ridiculously nice. Compared to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, Lompoc is not as well visited but it still certainly has all the getaway elements that we were looking for. We brought the kittens along with their large crate and a small carrier, Juelz’ tent which she already had, as well as our own tent. We hung out in town for late afternoon supper and some groceries, and then set up our tents at Jalama Beach. The campground is pet friendly and it’s right next to the beach. It was 95% full when we got there, but because people were all very respectful of each other’s space and privacy, it didn’t feel packed. Many people brought their pets as well, and Juelz even made a new bunny friend named Banana!
To my surprise, the trip was very stress free. Even though we consciously chose a mellow and easy place, the unpredictable nature of having this many “random” animals for camping itself seemed intense already. I contribute most of the smoothness to the people we encountered. It appeared that they were all animal lovers. They politely and genuinely wanted to meet Juelz and the kittens, and they were eager to share the stories of their own beloved pets, or the foster experience that they had.
At the end of our trip, not only we human were relaxed, but the kittens and Juelz also seemed happier, more playful, and ate better in spite of the heat.
For more information about Lompoc and Jalama Beach--
Kittens are ready to go home with the human love of their life! Please visit WLA Shelter website to see how you can help—-
The pet friendly restaurant where we had both great food and fun conversations—-
The article is written from Helen’s point of view and does not necessarily reflect the position of Vetcreations.
The first Vetcreations workshop was a great success! We had a fun and awesome crowd, spent a wonderful afternoon talking about food, making food, and of course, eating food!
With the modern busy lifestyles, the therapeutic power of both eating nutritious food and taking the time to actually prepare a meal is often overlooked. Through taking the time to have a discussion on food with a different cultural perspective, taking the time to actually taste foods and experience their various “thermal natures,” taking the time to cook a fresh and balanced meal for our pets, we empowered and reminded ourselves that when it comes to feeding our pets, we have so many more options than just relying on a bag or a can of commercially prepared pet food.
Thank you to our loving and supportive participants, especially those who had traveled far for their fur babies! We are always so inspired and motivated by our pet lover community!