Kara and I connect with each other day after day. Kara reaches out with her paw because she cannot make eye contact with me. When Kara wants water, Kara pushes the water bowl with her nose. Kara expresses feelings in this way as if she has the spirit of a little child in her.
In my previous article, I explained the first day of Kara’s training. For the first time in our lives, Kara and I sat in a crowd during the talk by Maggie Moore, wife of British Ambassador Richard Moore. It was her first day of training and I was excited. Kara make a whimpering sound during the meeting. I warned her, but I had forgotten her dinner time. You see, we both started to train each other.
I was very nervous during first visit to the veterinary clinic. Kara did not want to enter, but I said to her, ‘Hey!’ and we walked through the front door together. The first vaccination happened. I felt that as though she was my firstborn child J We started to walk at Tunalı. I still remember the people’s surprised reactions in my ears. We began to practice the commands taught by my trainer, such as ‘walk’, ‘turn right’, ‘turn left’. Meanwhile, the expressions, ‘Aaa! What is this? Is it a guide dog? What is in the harness’’ came from people when they saw us walking past. I was afraid of walking alone and unsupervised, constantly making mistakes. Walking alone … It was a feeling I had missed for 7 years.
The most exciting day, maybe of my life, came when we returned to Istanbul with Mrs. Moore. It was the first time Kara and I travelled by car together. Kara was sound asleep. I was thrilled to introduce Kara to my family, like it would become her family too. Training would last for one week. At the same time, preparations for the night organized by our association for the benefit of guide dogs were ongoing and there was only one week left. When we came home, my family welcomed us excitedly in the garden. I have introduced Kara to my family, but I had difficult news for them. They should not establish a close relationship for about 3 months. It is the hardest part. Otherwise, Kara was as excited as me. She slept happily when she saw a bed was prepared for her. The next morning, we had an interview with Ömür Gedik. We had three days left until the night we had organized and every minute counted.
The evening organized for the benefit of guide dogs came and I was ready for it to begin. The opening speech was introducing Kara… and still we were doing our training. Kara wanted to sleep in the crowd, but I also wanted to welcome the guests. Kara did not pose for the cameramen or photographers at first. We could not find a photo where Kara did not hide behind my dress.
Together, Kara and I are new to the streets of İstanbul. On our first stop, we visited my favorite, Bağdat Street, where I was for 25 years. Every corner, every pavement were familiar. Despite the rain and the mud, we kept walking. Kara doesn’t like rainy and cold weather but, with the love of duty, Kara continued without pause.
Our first ferry trip was on the Kadıköy-Beşiktaş ferry. A great excitement… When we came to the ticket office, a gentleman said that they would not be able to take her without a muzzle. I explained that she was a guide dog. He told us to ask the captain. Then he came running and said, ‘Welcome’ We could start Istanbul tour now.
The next day we boarded a bus since the taxis were full. We were a little overwhelmed by the rain and wind. A driver of the number 2 IETT bus opened the middle gate and said ‘Come on!’ Then he took us. I cried ‘This is it!’ After a gentleman in the back seat saw Kara. ‘This dog goes to heaven,’ he said. We were welcomed more positively than I expected.
Later, a taxi driver did not want to take me and Kara. He was afraid she might attack, but he liked Kara very much in the end and even wanted to touch her. ‘For the first time in my life, I love a dog’ he said.
Our Marmaray and subway moments are full of different and fun memories. Again, one day in elevator of Marmaray, we met a gentleman. He thought that I was a foreigner. He turned to his wife and said: ‘The foreigners are training the dogs, but you haven’t trained our son.’
While my trainer was telling me how to sit and direct Kara, I heard the voice of a young girl say, ‘Sorry, is Kara blind?’
I am being stoped when I get to the Marmaray. The lady says we can not take your dog without a cage. I’m explain, saying, ‘Kara is a guide dog.’ They ask their supervisors. Then they apologize for the wait and we pass. We travel comfortably. Kara loves the Marmaray and subway. However, I have to say to people, ‘Please, don’t pet her.’ Sometimes they respond, ‘Is it a crime?’
Those who see Kara can’t help but love her themselves. Kara is a sweet dog. There is a note on her harness ‘Please do not touch me. My owner cannot see. I am a guide’, but they want to show their affection anyway, saying that it won’t be a problem one time. These moments are the hardest for us.
The first guide dog school in the world was opened in 1916 in Germany to educate guide dogs for many soldiers who lost their sight after World War I.
Guide dogs raised with the rapid spread of these schools in Germany. They were delivered not only to individuals living in Germany, but also to visually impaired individuals living in different European countries. It takes about 1,5 years for a guide dog to reach their owner.
In 1931, the first guide dog school was established by two women in the United Kingdom and now there are 5400 guide dogs used by blind people. This number is set to increase in Turkey. It makes me very hopeful for the future. It is now necessary for people to be aware, to understand the task of guide dogs, and to increase the number of guide dogs.
Kara is so well behaved. When someone tells her ‘Come here’, Kara does not move from the door of my room. Kara does not bark. The task harness is worn when we go out. We remove the harness when we are at home or in the office. Kara also has a personal life. Resting, playing and running… These are her rights. I also bought her a toy, a musical bone. When someone comes to my office, Kara welcomes our guests and play it.
Mrs. Moore and I have established the Guide Dogs Association and our association’s guide dog and mobility instructor also woman.
There are obstacles, but none that won’t be solved with love.
Mrs. Moore and I have established the Guide Dogs Association and our association’s guide dog mobility instructor also woman.