One observation that I have made is that there is unfortunately an abundance of homeless cats and dogs here. Even in this super cold winter weather here where I am absolutely FREEZING and even purchased my first winter hat since I was sixteen, these poor animals reside outside. Of course this saddens me immensely, as I am a serious animal lover and I hate to see these poor animals suffering outside in the cold. Fortunately, I have observed people feeding the cats and giving them water in places such as in front of our apartment building, as well as in the metro station, and even at school. In front of our apartment building, there are even these cardboard cat houses that people have made for them. Yet when I see the dogs wandering the streets I feel even more sorrow for them due to the fact that I am not even sure if anyone feeds or helps them very much since there are some seriously negative beliefs associated with dogs here.
In fact, what I learned about the dogs really shocked me because I was told that the Muslims believe that having a dog is a “sin.” Furthermore, I also learned that if one were to have a dog inside of the house then they believe that the angels will not come. In addition to this, I also learned that if a dog were to sit on a piece of furniture, they believe that it needs to be cleaned seven times with sand. Wow, this is really something rather unbelievable to me, because I personally feel that our animal friends ARE some of our angels who help us on this earth!
Fortunately, I have observed maybe two or three dogs being walked on a leash by what appear to be loving owners. Therefore, fortunately it seems that there are definitely some people here who believe that having a dog is not a sin. However, this is a drastic difference to what I am used to seeing in the United States, Europe, and South America where it seems that most people own dogs and walk them regularly. Of course this is yet another cultural difference here and I just send reiki to these homeless animals and hope that somehow, someway, conditions will improve for them one day here in Istanbul!