Whenever we travel to different parts of the world whether for conferences, pleasure or both, it is always fascinating to observe pets. Pet owners across cultures seem to have one thing in common…..they love their pets and form strong bonds with them. A recent trip to Italy to speak at a conference and then on to Turkey for some sightseeing did not disappoint. The cities, the squares, the villages and the countryside were all enhanced by the presence of pets and their owners. A unique aspect of Turkish canine pet culture is a government sponsored program where stray dogs in the city of Istanbul are collected, examined, vaccinated, neutered and then released back into the city with an identification ear tag. Although no one was able to tell me the origins or the details of the program, it was fascinating to witness. Throughout the city, and particularly around the most famous sites, one would see very healthy, well fed dogs with yellow ear tags that were frolicking with each other while life was going on around them. They were unfazed by the fact they were occupying some of the world’s richest landmarks. Although the program appeared to be confined to dogs, Turkish cat lovers assured me that there was a similar program for their feline friends. No one seemed to ever see “dog and cat catchers” but many had said they had occasionally caught a stray and turned them in at the local veterinarian who “knew what to do with them”. Enjoy the following pictures and note the apparent health and happiness of these canines while they frequented such venues as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. If you look closely you can even make out the yellow tags as well as yours truly playing with my “foreign pet companions”.