Notes on 19th Century Istanbul-Dogs

Joined Feb 3, 2010
All of the excerpts below tell his own times, from the eyes of an old baker named, Hagop Mintzuri. I recommend you to read throughly the book of this Ottoman, who aspired to be a writer and wrote his own book one day. It lays before our eyes the late Ottoman Empire downtown culture, commons perception, and the streets; you almost feel as if you get in the scene there...

Source :
Istanbul Memories (1897-1940)
Hagop Mintzuri
History Foundation of Turkey - Yurt Publications
Tarih Vakfý

" ... When telling those years, it is disrespect not to mention the dogs. In both the European and Asian sides of the capital city, stretching to Kavaklar district, the streets of all of the shopping districts and residential areas were full of innumerable dogs. And most of the streets didn’t have pavement. All along those streets were occupied by the dogs. With their puppies side by side, or without a puppy, they owned specific spots. In the shoping districts, before the shops, or in the residential areas, on doorsteps of the houses, they were gathering and lying down, with half or wide open eyes. They didn’t know to bite humans. Even if the people would step on their tails or something in getting in and out of the shops or homes, they were getting up, howling, and again lying down.

They had borders. A dog could not get in the neighbourhood, transpassing the borders, and pass through. If a dog from Kılıçali neighbourhood would be seen at Paşa neighbourhood, all of the dogs of the region were standing up and barking. Their kids, even those puppies were joining in this shindy with their shrilling voices as if they got what was going on! But they were never making attack on an outsider dog. And without barking, the outsider was going away. If it would go to the square of Hasan Pasha police station, the dogs around the borders there were barking.
If it would go to Koybası, there again... Because of this noise, the barking from one neighbourhood to the other, the ears of the people were choked up. They were getting mad and yelling "Shut up, will you!". The outsider dog would run from Dolmabahce to Kabataş, and find a corner, a nook, and shrivel there, so long that he would become the native of that neighbourhood.

In summers under the sun, and winters, the snow, rain and in mud, they were in open air. People from shops, and homes in residence areas were giving bread, bone, or leftovers. The elder ladies were buying five, ten loaves from the bakery, and distribute in big pieces to all of the dogs of the shopping district or the street. It was considered as good deed. People had mercy on the dogs. If a dog would get ill, have an accident or pup, there would be people to bring milk, food, or cream of yogurt. To let them the ill, accident victim or the new mother with her pups, eat. If someone, for some reason would hit a dog, the dogs were, as if they knew that they would be defended, beginning to whine, almost to sob. And the passer-byes there were getting together with the people of the vicinity, and condemn, even beat the guy, especially if he is a non-muslim...

The 1908 Constitutional Government collected the dogs, brought them to Insiz Island and killed them there!... "
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