A person from a local village has found a way of harnessing the energy and ability of the local dog population to help tourists discover the surrounding area.

Bey, or Mr Kaya (coming as he does from a small village of the same name above Fethiye,) has found a way of harnessing the energy and ability of the local dog population to help tourists discover the surrounding area.

“I used to occasionally make a point of accompanying groups of tourists around the village just to make sure that they didn’t get lost. But these days I am not as active as I used be. I had to come up with an alternative.”

Using the well known scientific theory of the 19th century Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, conditioned response, he has collected together some of the brightest canines and trained them to take individuals or groups to the better known historical sights in the area.

“I spend a lot of time just sitting and watching these days,” Kaya Bey explains“ and I became aware of and intrigued by the way that the village dogs hung around in the places that tourists go, waiting to accompany them on a tour of the village.

I thought a lot about how I could organise the dogs’ enthusiasm and use it as a business opportunity.”

He has always been interested in animal behaviour and it wasn’t long before he hit on the idea of using the Pavlovian theory of conditioned response. “Speaking from personal experience you can give a dog a biscuit and it’ll do pretty much anything!” he chortles.

“It doesn’t take much time at all to train these dogs,” Kaya Bey growls softly; patting one of his favourites, Burcu on her head.

“I choose them for their temperament and fitness. All the dogs around here are bright and people pleasing.

{mosimage}They are much easier to work with than the local people.”

The dogs already know their way around the valley and according to Kaya Bey all that is needed to get to follow a particular route is a few biscuits. The younger ones are easier to train and follow commands.

“I have found that the biscuit is becoming irrelevant these days as they love their work and are seldom, if ever distracted. They have an incredibly active sense of duty.”

The dog guides have their own favoured routes.

They take their group via old tombs, monasteries, beautiful views and the abandoned village: places that strangers to the valley would be unlikely to find on their own.

The dogs that enjoy swimming can also take the tourists to a local beach.

They are trained to walk at the pace of their group, to wait if the walkers need a rest and not to disappear after any interesting smell or chase other animals.

Local restaurant owners are happy to cooperate with this new enterprise as the treks inevitably end up at one of several barbeque eateries.

For the owners there is the opportunity of doing business and for the dogs there is always the hope of a juicy, meaty reward for their job.

There are now several dog guides in the valley, each proudly wearing a collar with a  bandana, a sort of corporate uniform which identifies them to walkers and local residents alike.

{mosimage}“These dogs are wonderful diplomats for our valley; always happy, obliging and never shirking their responsibility.

There hard work is always rewarded with some of our tasty lamb!” says Tuncay Vesekci, owner of Cin Bal restaurant.
Kaya Bey is smiling; his brown eyes twinkling in the spring sunshine, peeping out from under his shaggy silver hair.

“I don’t expect this will make me rich but it is a good way to see out my remaining years.”
It’s seems strange to his friends and admirers that not everybody can understand his gruff voice but the summer will test this unique and enterprising venture.

Meanwhile, he and the lucky dogs sit under a shady tree, dozing on this sunny first day of April.