Before he was adopted off the streets of Istanbul, he had a life very similar to the story I am about to tell you.
Raki's human took "a loving" to him and invited him to jump into the boot of her car when she drove passed him on the street. He eagerly obliged and that was the start of his new life in heaven where he could find warmth, foooooood and big love. Here at Fidos Playground he is our lovable clown, adored by each of us.
Picture this .....
It is estimated that there are 2 million stray cats in Istanbul and around 150,000 stray dogs. Your eye can't help but notice the animals.
Street animals have been a part of Turkish culture for generations, and many Istanbul residents believe they have as much right to inhabit the streets as people. Dogs and cats are allowed to roam the streets while the Municipality, residents and local shop owners look after them in a collective effort.
"These are the neighborhood's dogs," says Hamit Yilmaz Ozcan, as he sits with Chico, an elderly Alsatian, and Hercule, his younger, rust-colored companion, two strays that reside near his clothing shop in the neighborhood of Cukurcuma.
Some animals even become local celebraties like Fatso the cat. When he died the neighborhood collected money to build him a statue.
Does this happen everywhere in Turkey?
The municipalities are all charged with the care of the animals but the quality of life for the animals varies greatly, depending on how much spare money the municipality has, to allocate to their care. Istanbul has more money available and so the animals have housing and veterinary treatment. Care and interest of the animals can also vary within certain areas of Istanbul.
If you get caught killing an animal in Turkey there is the possibility of a 10.5 year prison sentence
To end the story of Raki and the stray dogs and alley cats of Istanbul, we finish with this cat celebrity called Gli. He is a devout cat living at the 1,475 year old museum of the Hagia Sophia. He is squint eyed, with one eye on God and the other on the Devil. He greets all the tourists and supervises the employees. He was even visited by Barack Obama.