Thursday, 21 May 2015
Bodrum's Golden Retriever Man.
Bodrum has had its fair share of "characters" over the years. Individuals who choose to follow a different lifestyle from the norm and good luck to them. For the past three and a half years, Şenol Özbakan has been living in his Peugeot Minibus with his Golden Retrievers, Şesu 14, Tarçin 8, Ajda 4, Hürrem Sultan 5, Aslan 3 and Leydi 3. A former merchant seaman, Şenol bought Şesu as a puppy in England and brought him back to Izmir on his ship. A few years later he rescued Tarçin from a rubbish bin where she'd been left for dead. Ajda is their offspring. Hürrem Sultan and Aslan were also found on the streets and Leydi was about to be sent to the dog pound by her owner because she'd been stealing shoes. She now fulfils her retriever instincts by carrying the shopping bags back from the grocers. Unfortunately, Şenol's wife did not share his love of dogs and thus his 20 year marriage ended and he moved into a minibus. He never asks for money despite having no income apart from that sent by his family, but well-wishers donate enough to provide sacks of dog food. Until a couple of months ago, he had a permanent base in a car park, where he had planted flowers and generally made a pleasant home for himself but he was moved on and is now beside the football pitch, grateful for the tree that provides shade but without the space to lay out the dogs' blankets and without access to an electric point that he needs for his oxygen equipment that, with 11 daily medications, treats his heart condition. The Municipality may not be very happy with his living conditions but the general population in Bodrum are very pleased to see him walking his 6 dogs down to the sea for their daily swim and many slip him 10 TL or so as he passes to help with his expenses. He's become quite a local celebrity and has had his picture in several newspapers. I asked how he trained his dogs to be so obedient, but he said that they educated themselves which reminded me as a terrier owner of the saying " A Golden Retriever is born half trained, a Terrier dies half trained". Unable to leave his dogs anywhere or travel with them any distance, he will be missing his daughter's wedding in Izmir next month, which is a shame as 6 Golden Retriever attendants would have made a good follow-up story.