‘The story of how I adopted a dog’
Belgin Akaltan - email@example.com“I threw myself on the floor and rolled. I was kicking and stamping. All of this was because I had watched this in a cartoon. If children absolutely want something, then this is the way to act… ‘Please, mummy, I want a dog, please.’ My mother said ‘no.’ I cried my heart out. I was desperate. I waited for my father to come home so that I could ask him. I looked out the window: I saw him park his car. As soon as he stepped inside I snapped the sentence: ‘Daddy, I want to have a dog.’ He was surprised.”
This is Barış Kıralioğlu speaking. Barış is my first cousin once removed. Barış is an actor, and his mother, Sema Mangaloğlu Kıralioğlu, is my first cousin. Barış has such a nice story; I do not need to say anything else. Here is what he said:
“My dad asked me where this idea came from. I must have watched it in a film or maybe I had seen people with dogs around. My father said it was very difficult to look after a dog.
“I thought it over. I would feed him once a day. And then I would play with him; that would be enough. I could even take him to school if I wanted to. My father explained the difficulties of owning a dog. First, I could not take it to school. It was not enough to give him food and water, he told me, as well as that I had to take it to the veterinary regularly and that I had to take him/her for a walk at least twice a day. He was so right. I could not do all this. I was small. I could not meet any of the needs of a huge dog.
“Years passed by… It was always in my mind to have a dog. I was attending junior high when I tried once more. This time my mom pointed out the bad examples around us. She told me all those kids who have a dog but leave all the responsibilities to their parents. I started high school and tried my chances again. I told them, ‘Look, I’m not a child anymore.’ It didn’t happen yet again. That meant it would only come true when I had my own home. Maybe, I was thinking, when I was a university student.
“Time flew… I graduated from university; I started working. One day I saw a flier for a nice apartment. I told my family that the time had come for me to stand on my own feet. I moved out. During the first three months I came across responsibilities I had not even imagined. It was as if I was only rehearsing life up to that point and now, real life had started.
“After a year, everything seemed to shape up. I thought it was time for me to do what I had been dreaming for years. One evening, mom called me to dinner. We all sat down at the dinner table. ‘Dears, it is time now,’ I told them, ‘I want to adopt a dog.’ My brother giggled; my mother said, ‘If you wish.’ My father warned me, ‘Don’t count on us.’ Of course I don’t count on you. I live alone. I am a big man now.
“I started going to the animal shelter. I observed the dogs. I kind of learnt all the characteristics of different breeds… Then the time came to befriend one of them.
“As a person who has reached the age of 28, I am now able to see how precise my parents were in their concerns and thoughts at that time. If the families are not ready to take the responsibility for a dog, they should never adopt dogs that they cannot take care of just because kids want them.
“The kid(s) get bored soon and the dogs become unhappy animals that families keep on looking after because they have to.
“Meanwhile, the word ‘adopt’ [‘sahiplenmek’ in Turkish] is an expression we started using only a short while ago. When we were kids, pets used to be bought from pet shops. Nobody would even think of adopting one from the streets or the animals in the shelters. When I heard the now well-known ‘Do not buy, adopt’ [Satın Alma, Sahiplen] sentence for the first time, I was in high school. Kadıköy Municipality in Istanbul set an example for many district municipalities by banning the sale of dogs in pet shops.
“I was again taking a tour of the shelter one day. Dogs got to know me by then. They were starting to bark when they saw me. Some of them got fond of me very much. I took them for walks. I pet them. Then, one day I saw a small white dog in a cage. He had just woken up, approached me on his tiny feet. He yawned. I reached forth; he licked my hand. Right at that moment a bond between us was formed. I thought to myself ‘I think I found the dog I’m going to adopt.’ I visited him for a couple of more days; I walked him. Then I named this handsome creature ‘Jön’ (pronounced like the French word ‘jeune’) and I adopted him.
“When I adopted Jön from the shelter, I learned that he had been driven into a corner in Kozyatağı by street dogs when a lady saved him and called the shelter. That was all the knowledge I had of his past. We think he has a combined origin of Labrador, dachshund and Jack Russell.
“We got used to each other in a very short time. The first day he arrived he was very shy on where to sleep. The second day he went into the doghouse I had prepared for him. In one week, we had started playing games. He comes to my bedroom door every morning tapping so that I take him inside. Sometimes I do and we have a fun morning.
“Nowadays, we take walks in Kadıköy’s different parks. We have already started making new friends. Actually, there were many dogs on the street I live that I hadn’t noticed before. We are now meeting those dogs and their owners. For Kadıköy Municipality’s ‘Do not buy, adopt’ campaign, we were featured in a short film.
“Then photos of us were used in billboards. Then we were guests in a webcast. I am asked to write about dogs… But my priority now is to include Jön in a play. I opened an Instagram account @jonplusjon where I post our pictures.
“Nowadays many Kadıköy residents notice us when they see us. I feel like Jön is on his way to becoming another symbol of Kadıköy just as the Goose Rodi was once the mascot of the Kadıköy market or like the Moda Street’s chubby dog ‘Paşa…’”