Beykoz is a sleepy area of Istanbul, Turkey, close to the point where the Bosphorus meets the Black Sea. One of the most tranquil parts of a bustling city, it is known for its calmness and greenery. It’s the kind of place where not much happens, where people live quietly and enjoy the simpler pleasures of life. In a country that has known much turmoil in recent years, it’s an idyllic spot.
Residents of the town were going about their business when they heard an unusual noise. At first, they were unable to ascertain where the whimpering sound was coming from. Eventually, they worked out what had happened. It transpired that a young puppy had fallen 200 feet to the bottom of a well and was trapped. What’s more, the hole was too small for a human to fit into and rescue him.
Initially, the people of the town were unsure what to do. As the young pup continued to whimper, they knew they couldn’t just leave him there to die. Finally, they decided to contact the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). The organization is generally associated with disaster relief. Indeed, it is known worldwide for its work following earthquakes and, in more recent times, helping Syrian refugees.
Together, animal rescue groups and local firefighters assessed the puppy’s situation. Firstly, they put a tent around the large hole to protect it from rain. Next, they tried to figure out what they might be able to do to end the poor pup’s ordeal. Eventually, they lowered a camera down the hole to see how the dog was doing.
However, what they found at the bottom of the hole was both a source of relief and cause for concern. Thankfully, the young puppy was still alive, but it was clear from his eyes that he was in extreme distress. He seemed unsure about how he had ended up there and what he could possibly do to escape. The rescuers subsequently worked out that he was a brown Anatolian shepherd – with big, sad eyes.
Furthermore, local people were still worried about the dog. Indeed, they named him “Kuyu,” Turkish for “well,” and started delivering food to keep him alive. However, rescue workers, aware that his health was in a precarious situation, were extremely cautious when feeding Kuyu. They feared that too much food might do more him harm than good. Therefore, only carefully measured amounts of food and water were lowered down to the unhappy puppy.
Unfortunately, hope soon began to dwindle that the team would find a way to save the dog. But it was then that someone high up in Turkey’s political system intervened to help the poor puppy. President Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, the country’s energy minister, ordered the Turkish Coal Institute to send a rescue group.
The new team decided to adopt a different approach in order to try to save the Kuyu. In fact, the method they deployed had apparently been suggested by a Turkish student. It saw the team make a lasso from steel coil and a rubber hose. Sounds a bit MacGyver? Well, it wasn’t far off. The crew subsequently lowered the bespoke device down the well and managed to put it over the puppy’s head. But what happened next?
Perhaps understandably, Kuyu wasn’t best pleased by what was happening. In fact, the terrified dog wriggled free from his would-be helpers. As a result, they didn’t know what to do. People from around the country had assembled to save poor Kuyu, but now he was resisting them! The helpless little creature seemed completely confused.
So how did the rescuers solve their problem? Well, they waited. As scared as Kuyu was, they knew eventually he would have to sleep. Therefore they waited. And waited. Finally, young Kuyu fell asleep. Now was their chance to put all their hard work to good use. With bated breath, they again lowered the lasso down the deep hole, hoping their efforts might finally be successful.
By now a huge crowd had gathered. They watched as the lasso disappeared down the hole, hoping Kuyu wouldn’t be scared to death by what was happening. So much time and effort had gone into his rescue, and it seemed the whole of Turkey was watching. Several firefighters had volunteered to stay and help, even though their shifts had already finished. Indeed, it appeared everyone wanted to see Kuyu safe.
As the volunteers pulled the rope up, it felt like the wait might go on forever. Or worse still, that Kuyu wouldn’t even be alive when he appeared. After all, he’d been down there for so long and the shock of being dragged up could also harm him. But then something everyone had been waiting to see for days happened. He was out. More than a week into the rescue operation, Kuyu was finally free.
The rescuers let out a huge roar. It was as if their favorite football team had just won a trophy. But in this instance, everyone was on the same team. They had been working tirelessly to free Kuyu. One worker held the dog in his arms as people crowded around to see with their own eyes that he was safe. People could barely believe that after all this time, the rescue mission had ended in success.
Kuyu was immediately wrapped in a warm pink blanket and given oxygen by veterinarians. They’d been standing by the whole time, waiting to help once the dog was freed. What’s more, people began to push past one another, trying to get to the dog. Indeed, it was as if they needed to touch him to believe he really was free from his long ordeal. Understandably, the dog looked confused, but he soon became calm.
Now that Kuyu was free, the vets were finally able to inspect him more closely. They gave him a thorough examination to see if he had suffered any serious health problems during his ordeal. Although he needed to have a bandage wrapped around one of his right legs, he seemed fine otherwise. Considering the amount of time he had spent down there and the size of the drop, his recovery was miraculous.
Kuyu’s ordeal had gripped the nation, and people celebrated his rescue throughout Turkey. Many high profile figures from widely varying backgrounds commented on what had happened. “The baby dog’s salvation reminded us of the value of hope and toil, of Allah’s mercy and of the beautiful side of humankind,” tweeted Yildiz Ramazanoglu, a well-known Islamic theologian and feminist. “Thanks to all those who took part.”
Others seized the opportunity to make a political statement about Kuyu’s rescue. “Be it a wounded dog or a wounded country, whatever falls to the bottom of a pit can only be salvaged through science, technology and education,” tweeted Can Gurses, a columnist at the Radikal newspaper. This appeared to be a criticism of recent attempts by the Turkish authorities to disparage evolutionary theory.
Meanwhile, some decided it was a good time to highlight the need to look after animals better in Turkey. Barış Şengün, Istanbul coordinator of the Animal Rights Confederation, had been at the scene throughout the rescue efforts. Indeed, he’d taken to social media to let the world know what was happening. Şengün now commented that the rescue was a sign that “people now value animals as much as human beings in Turkey. We see a public more aware of animals.”
The episode demonstrated that when people work together, they can put aside their differences. Kuyu’s tribulations had managed to bring together politicians, rescue workers, veterinarians and seemingly half the country on social media. All of them were desperate to see his safe return to ground level. And though it was not easy, everyone involved was ultimately successful.
So what happened to Kuyu next? Videos show him acting as you would expect any young puppy to act – running around, getting up to mischief, happy. And in an even happier ending to the story, he soon found himself a permanent home. In fact, Kuyu was adopted by the Beykoz Fire Crew, giving him somewhere safe to stay forever. Well, it was a sleepy town. They needed to liven things up.