previously published in the ASDI news.letter: Choban Chatter
from Tales of an Anatolian Knight

Another Kind of Working Dog

By Janice Frasche'

I didn't start out with the idea of making it happen. I certainly didn't expect things to turn out the way they are now. We all take our good health for granted, though in my case, health had always been a changing variable but I had no idea how quickly nor how changes would manifest.

At any rate, I decided to get a second Anatolian. This time, a male, since it was strongly advised that an opposite sex pair would greatly simplify pack dynamics if one were to keep two individuals of this breed. I was hoping for a breeding quality male, one that would be a property guardian, and perhaps we would show, then possibly after passing muster after health screening and evaluation -- become a future stud dog.

When my long awaited boy, Maranda's Aslan Semavi, arrived, excitement and some apprehension jelled into reality -- I now had a Anatolian . . . A particularly primitive, dominant and independent guardian breed, with the addition of testosterone! This promised and proved to be a contrast to my previous experience with raising my first Anatolian, Sabah, my female.

Why apprehensive? Past experience observing other Anatolians at events elsewhere, and dogs of other guardian breeds in training classes had sensitized me about Alpha' problems. Development of the relationship between the dog's human companion and the dog are especially important in the formative period between the pup's arrival and the dog's eventual maturity which, for this breed, could be as late as three years or more. I was prepared to neuter him if we were unable to reconcile with our expectations of each other.

I started him in puppy class, but had to sit most of it because I had difficulty working the leash with one arm in a cast and the other holding my cane for balance. We persevered and finished class with a classic Anatolian long down that won puppy Aslan the best in the class for that exercise. A few months later, I had yet another aortic aneurysm, this time requiring heart surgery -- but when I was able, we continued to train. And he got his CGC. Much of my hearing was already gone, and my balance and strength were poor even then, but my efforts to bring him to each weekend and holiday opportunity were really paying off for me. On Guard! He was so sweet -- most of the time -- so did I really have to worry?

Oh yes! Emphatically! Being prepared certainly helped! He had his moments of adolescent behavior and we sorted through what was acceptable and what not. His stable personality, quiet confidence, and his tolerance for the unusual (and sometimes annoying), played a significant part in making our relationship a success.

[ At a playday, Aslan resting in the shade (foreground) ]As I began to have more problems with my mobility, I had a dog harness made at a saddle shop. It helped me to get around, stabilize my balance and helped me to get up when I fell. Aslan then officially became my assistance dog on a daily basis. He took to his job with patience, seeming to know when I needed help, slowly taking stairs, negotiating tricky footing with me, helping me up and down slopes that normally I could not do without a human always taking me by the elbow. Tricky footing for me can mean anything from flat floor, when I feel the room is spinning around, to a lawn with patches of grass and a stone here and there.

Does he have a sense of humor? Oh yes, he does! He's still an Anatolian. But that's life with a member of this breed. A dog, no matter how well he or she works, is still not a machine, but an individual with his or her personality. Compatible personalities are a good part of what makes a team successful.

[ Lazy Afternoon ]Aslan has many badges.

When I'm not going anywhere, he plays the part of a property guardian; excellent with our poultry and horses, he watches out for them as well. He's also a great PR dog for the breed when we do breed showcases, or more impromptu, in public when he works as my assistance dog.

[ Aslan with Janice, relaxing in the shade. ]
Photo by Eisenberg
He's done a bit of therapy work, and he's also helped with formal and informal puppy socialization as well as C.G.C. certification testing in training classes.

To top it all off, he's a U.K.C. Champion. O.F.A. certified hips as well. The biggest part of it all, is that he is truly a loyal and loving companion.

We are several years along in our adventure together and I do look forward to several more.

Canine Good Citizen - This is a certificate that can be awarded dog upon it demonstrating with its owner that the dog has social skills that integrate well into our society.
United Kennel Club - The Nations second oldest and second largest, all breed registry.
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - A volunatry diagnostic service and registry for orthopedic and other health concerns of domestic dogs.

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