Kara, (black in Turkish) a black Labrador, is Turkey’s first guide dog. Her owner, Nurdeniz Tuncer, is the president of the Turkish Guide Dogs Association. After the duo recently started living together, Kara has begun to become Nurdeniz’s eyes. You can read this pioneer duo’s adventures in the Hürriyet Daily News as the two discover how to live together and overcome challenges together.
Before I start my blog entry, I would like to thank the British Ambassador to Turkey’s wife, Maggie Moore, for all the support and being a pioneer on the project.
Having a guide dog has been a roller coaster ride all together – mixed feelings, lots of confusion and moments of unexpected happenings are all part of the experience I have had during the initial stages of the process.
I knew Kara from before, but when I met her for the first time in Ankara, my heart wouldn’t stop pounding.
There were various reasons that had led to this reaction, of course: I had never had a dog before, but I was now getting used to the idea that Kara and I would be starting a new life together. A life where I wouldn’t rely on another individual to hold my arm and guide me along the way. A life where I would have more flexibility and independence.
The first stages of my training left me feeling really excited about the entire procedure. The fact that I had a fundraising event to look after and my zero experience with dogs were thoughts that always bothered me, but with time, things fell into place.
I still remember the first night when Kara slept in my room. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to notice that she was snoring loudly! I couldn’t stop laughing at the situation. This explains that having a guide dog is not just about following rules, one needs to make the most out of silly experiences and enjoy and thus develop an understanding. Similarly, the following morning, when we went out for a walk and her toilet routine, I left the leash by mistake and Kara escaped leaving me confused, so I started calling out her name. Kara noticed that I was calling her and came back. Also, when Kara was constantly stopping by the stairs, as he was taught in order to warn me about the presence of the stairways, Alan Brooks (who is a guide dog mobility instructor from the U.K.) advised me to praise her every time she stopped. This was a challenge all together, since sometimes I would forget to praise her. However, with time, I got used to it.
I’m so glad Kara and I have developed an understanding of love and care. This reflects that both of us share equal responsibility toward each other. I understand that she needs my love and wants to be looked after by me, and realizing this factor is one of the main reasons why I feel comfortable having a guide dog today.
Finally, a note of appreciation for Winky on being an amazing puppy walker.
You can read the original blog post here