A sweet dog named Hercules lived at a garbage dump. Every time someone came to throw their things away, the dog ran to meet them. In his own way, he was asking humans to take him home.
Unfortunately, no one did. Maybe they viewed him as trash because of where he lived and how dirty he was. The smart dog would have known which cars belonged to the people who came to feed him and would have run happily, jumped to the window and greeted them.
Amanda Cunefare, a volunteer for Rescuers Without Borders (RWB), an organization that rescues dogs in Turkey, told The Dodo: “He was jumping out the car windows and clinging to every person. He was a people dog”
Shockingly, he wasn’t the only dog living at the dump. More than 800 other stray dogs also lived there. It was a hard life. The conditions were heartbreaking. It was cold and there was no food around. The dogs rummaged as hard as they could, but it was obvious that they were hungry.
“It is cold, there is no clean water and there is little food,” explained Cunefare. “You have to fight with 800 dogs for resources and burrow in piles of garbage to keep warm. It’s a horrible, horrible place to survive for years”
Four years ago, a young Turkish woman named Gocke began feeding the dogs from the landfill and providing them with medical care. Even rehome dogs when possible. Last year, RWB decided to join Gocke and help the dogs at the dump. The team rescued 47 of the dogs from the landfill and rehomed them. For the others, they continue to feed them and provide veterinary care.
RWB would like to be able to rehome all the dogs, but they don’t have the resources. For now, they are focusing on puppies and senior dogs that have a harder time surviving the harsh conditions.
Hercules fell into the other category. He wasn’t a puppy and he wasn’t senior. He was also strong and did better than most considering where he lived. But Hercules wanted to go. He desperately wanted a home. He was running to the volunteers’ cars and trying to jump inside.
“This dog wanted out so badly,” Cunefare said. “You could see it in his eyes”
Cunefare is from the U.S. and she adopted a 10 year old dog named Dudas.
“She is an old lady,” Cunefare said. “I wanted to adopt an older one because I felt she had fought so hard to survive.”
RWB knew that Hercules would have thrived with Cunefare, but they were afraid to ask her because Dudas had plenty of challenges of his own. In addition, Cunefare took in another senior puppy from the dump named King Artur.
“Gocke had contacted my friend,” Cunefare said. “She had told him that she was afraid to ask me, but she wanted to know if he could send me Hercules, because since Dudas had left, he had not been feeling very well.”
It turns out that Hercules and Dudas were actually best friends at the dump, and Dudas had become a sort of surrogate mother for Hercules. It was a tough place, but Dudas made it his mission to take care of Hercules. After she left, Hercules was heartbroken.
“My heart broke,” Cunefare said. “I said, ‘It’s horrible. If I had known that, they both might have come’ I can only imagine how awful it must have been [for him] to see her go. So I said, ‘Absolutely, send it here.'”
With Cunefare’s approval, Hercules was transported to the US to live with Cunefare and Dudas on the 2-acre property. The reunion between Hercules and Dudas was pure magic. “They immediately recognized each other,” said Cunefare. “They ran and played”
Cunefare is amazed by the dogs at the dump. Their resilience is inspiring. They are also so well behaved! Better behaved than her US adoptions! It’s almost like he understands how good life is now.
“They are so grateful,” Cunefare said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God. There is a bed and a blanket. I don’t have to sleep outside. Saint Sisoe, you give me breakfast every day. It’s amazing” I’ve yet to meet anyone who isn’t grateful for everything I’ve given them”