Something different: the Aussie Doggie Choir, aka, Zoe, Ziggy, Molly & Milly, with the Cat’s Chorus of Jezebel, Sweetie & Bella.
I mentioned our menagerie to Amy who produces a wonderful blog on: http://2me4art.com and she suggested I do a post about our 4 rescue dogs and 3 rescue cats (we did have four cats, but sadly one disappeared one day). So let me henceforth introduce you to our menagerie – they acquired us rather than the other way around! Stray cats and dogs are a big problem in North Cyprus, hence the arrival of a number of mutts in our apartment which are all rescue animals.
When we arrived in North Cyprus, we intended to be footloose and fancy-free. We settled in and then, when our friend Sue was visiting in June, a lovely white cat decided we were pretty alright and moved in with us, as cats do. We didn’t mind as she was a stray who had been dumped by a previous tenant in our apartment block. BUT two days later, hey presto, what did we see? A kitten. So we shrugged and decided two cats were okay. Then, two days later, a second kitten was introduced to us. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. We had ended up as cat owners and, as we’ve had cats before, it was no big deal.
However, in September went to see our family and friends in the UK. Our carrier, Pegasus, kindly cancelled our return flight leaving us with no option but to return from our holiday one week early. Not impressed! On the Sunday afternoon we noticed our Turkish neighbour hovering over something in the communal garden and, when my husband went to investigate, he found a half-dead, emaciated, tiny puppy which had managed to stagger along from the road. She’d collapsed over a bush and was too weak to even lift her head. Our neighbour works and has a young boy, so Bryan picked her up – she was so poorly that she managed just one feeble little wag of her tail – and took her back to our apartment.
What a wreck she was – skin and bones, covered in fleas, ticks and lice! We fed her some water in a teaspoon as she was too weak to drink, then washed her three or four times to clean her up, get rid of the mud and dirt caked on her, and kill the parasites – I had to scrape off the lice and ticks with a knife they were so thick For your info, by the way, Head & Shoulders shampoo works a treat! Then we rang Kyrenia Animal Rescue and they advised feeding her cooked rice and chicken. She managed a few teaspoonfuls then fell asleep. We got a bit more food and some water down her before going to bed but weren’t sure she’d last the night. Happily she did, wobbled outside first thing and managed to drink on her own. She never looked back and has continued to thrive – she now resembles a baby elephant. Had we not come back when we did, Zoe would have died for sure.
Now we were the proud owners of 3 cats and 1 dog. Zoe settled in well and the cats accepted her so peace in our time. In early December I heard a voice outside and found one of our neighbours calling for us. He asked if we were the Australians who took in cats and dogs and El Stupido, me, said yes. And like a proud magician, he suddenly conjured up a little black puppy, shivering with fear, and asked if we could take him in. He had an upstairs apartment with two kids and had no way of looking after the puppy. It had been abandoned near the English School in Alsancak, close to where we live, and our neighbour said he couldn’t leave him there as he was crying and sounding just like a baby. Welcome Ziggy!
But still….. in late December Bryan heard a kitten crying in the field beside our apartment and found a tiny, white, orange and black bundle of fur with only one eye. She was quite feral but, after being fed and given water, has gradually settled in and become one of the mutt family. Sadly, Tinkerbell went missing a while back and has never returned. We hold out hope she may have moved in with another family but cats face a lot of dangers here – other feral cats, feral dogs, dog packs and poison.
Ziggy is our cross to bear, I’m afraid. He had obviously been maltreated as he was a nervous little dog who was scared of the dark, had hysterics the first time we tried to put him on a lead, and who barks and yaps at the drop of a hat. He is utterly neurotic and we’ve had to treat him with homeopathy and valerian to help calm him down. But he’s a loveable little dog, very affectionate, and an utter wuss – if there’s a fight between the other three dogs, Ziggy hides behind us, shakes like a leaf and crawls across our lap. He’s the one who fires up the Aussie Doggie Choir – he hits the mid-notes, Zoe has the bass notes and the two smaller dogs provide the high notes. Zoe is the head cockie and choirmaster and tells me she hopes, when they are more mature and with more practice, they’ll be the headline act for the Glastonbury festival!
And three dogs as well as Ziggy? Yes, just after I got back from a reunion with my university friends from 40 years ago, we found two puppies under our neighbour’s car in the parking area of our apartment block. We hauled them out from under the car, they were terrified, wagging their tails like mad but peeing in fear at the same time. So we took them into the garden, gave them water and food and decided we’d take them to KAR the next day. Well, that went right by the board very quickly and then there were three cats and four dogs! Milly and Molly also must have suffered some ill-treatment as they are very submissive and roll over to show their bellies if we ever get cross with their noise and fighting. It has taken a long time to get them to be more confident and to play, but they are improving all the time.
Luckily, the dogs and cats get on well with each other. Jezebel is a cantankerous old cat who terrifies all of us – humans, dogs and cats alike. She has, however, mellowed in recent weeks which is a great relief to all of us as previously she was quite prepared to hack your eyes out if she got half a chance. The dogs are very wary around her still and she’s still partial to a quick beat-up of Sweetie or Bella. Milly, the dog on the left in the photo, absolutely adores the cat, wriggles in ecstasy when one appears, licks them all over and they tolerate her amazingly well.
The dogs are very loving and affectionate, the cats treat us as their servants, as cats do, and life has been quite chaotic, nothing like the calm, tranquil, well-travelled life we envisaged when we moved here.
They cost a bomb – we’ve had to get them all spayed as no way did we want any more puppies or kittens. And they eat us out of house and come which makes life difficult on the age pension, but what the heck, for some reason they’ve ended up with us, and they love us so much. The dogs do tie us to the house as they can often be noisy when we’re out and upset the neighbours. So if we have a day out, we get a friend to come and dog-sit.
We called ourselves the Hotel MoBro when we arrived, with friends and family in mind. But obviously there’s a dog and cat underground which passed the message around about a pet motel operating in Alsancak. So we have sent the message along the grapevine: Hotel MoBro fully occupied, no vacancies. Four dogs and three cats are quite enough! We are also not contemplating any more overseas trips because every time there have been stray dogs waiting for us. Home, sweet home!