The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Packs of Blondes

Granted, it was a small sample, but from the Turkish TV dramas I’d  watched in passive attempts to learn the language, all of the blonde women were evil. Friends in Istanbul called me Caroline, which I interpreted as a sort of odd pop culture compliment, until I learned that in this particular series, Caroline was a German vixen who stole a Turkish man from his wife and five children. Later in the show, the wife met Caroline in the street and stabbed her. I briefly considered life as a brunette.

One afternoon, I stopped at Taksim Square to sit, take notes, attempt to collect the pieces of that day. A stray dog spotted me, circled me, and rested nearby. I tried various English and Turkish words to encourage him into depart–to no avail.  He only came closer and made himself at home against my boot.

stray dogs, Istanbul

Tourists paused from placing their children into circles of pigeons while armed with cups of birdseed.  Instead, they snapped pictures of the resting blondes. I tried to look faraway and at ease, mimicking the dog. I remembered why this moment felt familiar. My new Turkish companion resembled to a dog I’d met before.

Two years prior, I went through Tivat, Montenegro. It was hard to sleep when serving as a feast for mosquitoes, so I embraced an early morning and fled my unsavory hostel for a walk near the water. I reached the boardwalk and watched an old man go to the edge, take off his shirt and shoes, and leap into the sea.

A blonde stray dog crossed my path. I tried to ignore him, but he was also coy and let me lead. I stopped at a bench, staring over the water, reminding myself to savor the morning and all of its details. The new friend hung out as well, just passing time in my vicinity.

A pack of six or seven massive strays came rushing down the waterfront. They were largely menacing in their number, their speed, and in the fact that other than the man in the sea, I was completely alone. I briefly lamented my childhood pets–outdoor cats, a bunny, a retired pony. Perhaps people raised with pups wouldn’t have panicked the approaching dogmob. Yet, the blonde one who adopted me stood, sniffed, marched a few paces away, and barked. He barked not with ferocity, but with an apparent sort of doggish authority.

The other pack grew attentive. They stopped short and waited. When Ol’ Blondie held firm they turned together and rushed in the opposite direction.  My dog returned, marching around me with pride and coming to rest at my feet. I shared the meat from my sandwich and promised that, along with the details of the morning, I would not to forget him.

stray dogs, Montenegro

To the beauty of being protected–


25 comments on “Packs of Blondes

  1. altruistico
    February 3, 2012

    A touching story of our best friend !

  2. Jill
    February 4, 2012

    I think this is one of my favorites 🙂

  3. Yvette O'Reilly
    February 5, 2012

    It seems that you have canine Guardian Angels. I’d immediately purchase a small box of dog biscuits upon entering any city. When out, carry at least three in your bag wrapped in a baggie so as not to attract other strays, and when ready to leave your Angel behind, give a ‘cookie’ of thanks. Amazing how similar the two dogs are. 🙂

  4. stardust310
    February 13, 2012

    This is a new side of Paige! Remember, if you think dogs cannot count, use the dog biscuits Yvette mentioned, put three in your pocket, only giving the dog one. They will wait anxiously for the other two 🙂

  5. Natalie
    March 5, 2012

    One of my favorites!!!

  6. I need to write more stories with dogs in them, I think! Hmm hmm…oh! Got one! Next week, next week… 😀

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  8. beachcomber
    September 15, 2012

    If I was there I would end up with 25 new pets.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      September 15, 2012

      The strays in Istanbul seem to be happy public domain pets. Lots of bowls of water throughout the sidewalks, and yesterday I saw a butcher handing out meat treats to a sea of wagging tails.

      • beachcomber
        September 15, 2012

        that’s so nice!

  9. longtooth
    January 28, 2013

    absolutely brilliant post! made my day ….again! this is turning into a habit, Paige!! 🙂 Your briefly considering becoming a brunette was a good laugh too 🙂

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      January 28, 2013

      Hehe, well, thank you! Ultimately, I was happy to be my mother’s daughter nonetheless. I’m so pleased that you like the stories. I can’t believe how many seem to just come together for me! I head out on a trip in a few weeks, so here’s hoping I notice more en route… 😀

      • longtooth
        January 28, 2013

        Paige, judging by your existing portfolio of stories…you’d have to be placed in solitary confinement to not come up with one. Even then you’d find something that no one else notices. That’s what’s so amazing.

      • longtooth
        January 28, 2013

        P.s – I hope you never have to be in solitary confinement 🙂

      • thenicethingaboutstrangers
        January 29, 2013

        LOL! Aren’t you kind?! Yes, I hope I won’t either, especially since it might break up my blog-post-schedule. I just had business cards made!

  10. bearspawprint
    March 26, 2013

    Reblogged this on bearspawprint.

  11. ottomandandy
    March 27, 2013

    Great post as always ! Yes , in Turkey , there is some prejudice about blonde women , I guess…

    • It’s okay. I like being both an outsider and an insider. Learning the language is helping me make inroads.

  12. thenicethingaboutstrangers
    October 14, 2013

    Reblogged this on The Nice Thing About Strangers and commented:

    I met another blonde dog in Bosnia. Not such awful companions, when it comes down to it.

  13. suej
    October 15, 2013

    It’s definitely the way you tell ’em… I love this one!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 15, 2013

      Thank you, Sue! It is fun to remember these little moments along the way. I’m glad I got them on camera too. Folks love doggies!

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  15. Al
    December 1, 2013

    Dogs can spot someone with a loving nature. Consider yourself blessed.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 1, 2013

      Thank you! I’ve never had a dog, so I have often been wary of them. I am learning that they are an important part of my journeys as well!

      • Al
        December 2, 2013

        They teach us many things about life, not the least of which is unconditional love. Some day the right one will find you and adopt you. That’s usually the way it works.

        Have a great day!

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