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The reluctant traveller

Tabya (centre) with Jazzy (left) and friend on the beach in Turkey

Having ‘Discovered Turkey’ some years ago and fallen in love with the country, its people, the climate and, in particular, the Turkish Kangal Dog, Val and Ian Whyte made the decision last year to settle there permanently. They took several deep breaths, gave up their jobs and sold their lovely house in Surrey.

After saying goodbye to family and friends, they packed up their belongings and began the move to their holiday home on the Aegean coast. With three dogs and two cats, they enlisted the help of Sussex-based Animal Couriers Ltd to make the travel crates, sort out the cargo bookings and paperwork, and transport the animals to the airport.

Ian and Amber were the first to take the four-hour flight to Dalaman, to be followed a fortnight later by Val, the cats, and Jazzy and Tabya - known to observers of Anatolian breed classes here as Afacan Kahraman Yasemin Gul and Anadol Tabya. When the big day came, the animals were transferred smoothly to their travel boxes in the Cargo section at Gatwick and Val headed for the departure lounge. Then, just as she was checking in, a call came from Cargo to say that 11-year-old Tabya had panicked and had chewed a large hole in her crate, through which her head was now protruding. She was too stressed to fly. The kind people at Animal Couriers were quickly recalled and agreed to take Tabya home with them.

This was where I came in! With less than an hour to take-off, Val’s next call was to me in Towcester. It was clear that Tabya could not cope with confinement, so air travel was no longer an option (sedatives are not allowed). We therefore agreed that Val should board the flight and Tabya would stay behind to join our Kangal Dogs in Northamptonshire until a Plan B could be found. The next day, my husband Harry and I drove to Sussex to collect a rather lost-looking old girl - we also saw her travel box, with a hole the size of a dinner plate carved from the side!

Exhausted, Tabya slept all the way home while we discussed how best to take care of her. She was not a kennel dog - we already knew that - so perhaps she could be a temporary companion for our imported Turkish Kangal, Duman, also 11 years old and a house dog. However, that idea was swiftly put on hold when Duman pointed out that Tabya had come into season! So, it was separate rooms for the next three weeks.

Meanwhile, at the Turkish end of things, Val & co. had arrived safely and Ian began the lengthy formalities of buying a car as a foreigner in Turkey, for it seemed the only way for Tabya to travel was by road and sea. It took all of two months before Ian could embark on the 7000-km round trip, but the delight with which Tabya greeted him when he finally arrived at our house was a joy to behold, tinged only with disappointment when she realized that the passenger seat was empty: Val was waiting with the others in Altinkum

I’m glad to report that the whole family is now reunited and Tabya is enjoying her retirement home by the sea with her old friends and many new ones.

Margaret Mellor