Golden Retriever Man and His Dogs Are a Turkish Tourist Attraction


A 56-year-old man that is living in his old minibus in southwestern Turkey with his 13 dogs is known as the “golden retriever man” by tourists. Şenol Özbakan has been looking after homeless and abandoned golden retrievers in Bodrum. Now he lives with 13 of his fur babies in their minibus home.

Senol says that every afternoon he and his canine friends go to the beach for a swim to cool off in Bodrum’s scorching temperatures and then go for a walk along the marina. The sight of all of them swimming usually attracts a small crowd with smartphones.

“There are people waiting there for us, we sit and chat for a couple hours and then go back to our home,” he added.

He also said that he loves ‘adopting’ street dogs whom he takes care of individually and has always had an interest in animals.


Özbakan says that with his daughter’s help they set up a page on social media site Facebook named ‘Golden Çetesi’ (The Golden Crew) and they already have 13,000 followers. He also sells hand-made beaded jewelry on the page, using the proceeds to take care of the dogs’ needs.

“There have been many people from Canada, the U.K., the U.S., France, Saudi Arabia as well as people from all across Turkey coming to see the dogs. We upgraded our bus with the help of our jewelry sales. People passing by also try to help us,” he said. Expressing that the help was much appreciated, he said that it was much more peaceful living with animals instead of people. “There is no need to talk about all the cruelty and brutality inflicted by humans in the world. Animals want nothing, only love. I condemn the people who threw these dogs onto the streets. We receive help from all over the country.”

Despite having no income apart from that sent by family and his proceeds from his jewelry sales, well-wishers and animal lovers donate enough to provide sacks of dog food. Özbakan also said that he put money aside in a bank account for the dogs to provide for them in winter.

His 20-year marriage had ended over three years ago as his wife did not share his love of dogs.

I have to admit this story is a little crazy. But I always say that my partner has to at least like dogs. If you are in the market for some handmade jewelry or just want to donate for the dogs, look up their Facebook page, ‘Golden Çetesi’.

Ending a 20 year marriage over dogs seems a bit rough. But Senol seems happy and at the end of the day it is his life to live. I can’t condemn a fellow dog love, though some might because of the extremity of the situation. I wish Senol and his golden retriever clan the best of luck!

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