Friday, August 12, 2005


MEMORIES OF TURKEY 2005 - Still Day One

Dogs for sale at the side of the road Dogs for sale at the side of the road
Dogs which were for sale on the road to Ulas earlier this day

We all enjoyed our visit to Ali and his family, listening to him conversing with Remzi in his native tongue in the totally laid back way that we would become accustomed to. Their lives seemed uncomplicated and simple to us, but in reality their worries and stresses are just different, that’s all. Our group had all completely relaxed there on the rug in front of Ali’s modest little house under the shade of the trees with the ripple of the stream in the distance. We had been attentively cared for by Ali’s wife and his daughters, We had been given ayran when we arrived and several small cups of Turkish tea, no milk, plenty of sugar. Ali put a cube of sugar in front of his front teeth and sipped his tea through the sugar cube, something we were to see on other occasions whilst enjoying refreshments with our village families.

Ali's dog
Ali's dog who returned from grazing w the sheep

Ali's dog
Ali's dog and puppy

April with Ali's pup April with Ali's pup
April (from our group) with Ali's pup

Ali's dog
Ali's dog
Can you see the wooden water trough and the little puppy drinking from it to the right of the picture? Water was in abundance - see the trees? There was a stream flowing and the puppies were laying asleep in the long grass, under the shade of the trees. :) And what a stunner Ali's male is. He was lovely to us, the children and the puppies

Ali finished a sentence and nodding his head he got to his feet. Remzi told us that he was going to take us to a neighbour to see some more dogs and we all jumped up eager to see more. Ali’s family genuinely looked sad to see us go and hugged all of us as we said how much we had enjoyed spending time with them and thanked them for their kind hospitality. They waved to us until they were little dots in the distance as we drove away with Ali proudly sitting in the front of the vehicle taking on the role as expedition leader.

Within a few minutes we came to a small yard area with a couple of small buildings and we were taken to see a dog tied to a tree at the back. He was a grey dog completely different in type to Ali’s dogs with a straight tail, double dew claws, a narrow head with slight skull. This dog did not like women and was kept as a guard dog.

Gray dog
This is the grey dog with a straight tail, narrow head (there was also a female here that was in season and undershot)

Gray dogGray dog
Same dog

Tied to another tree a few yards away was a female who was in season. She was more of a type like Ali’s, very friendly and on closer inspection she was seriously undershot.

We left and continued along a difficult path until we came to an opening where there was another small house and a couple of barns. We were welcomed by a few men who took us through one of the barns, which was very cool and in complete contrast to the blistering heat outside. We came out the other side of the barn into a large walled area and beyond that open land.

Along the wall there were four dogs chained under the shade of some trees. We were still in Ulas and this man’s dogs, like the previous dogs were not working dogs and are kept to guard the property.

The first dog here was a large male, grey fawn in colour and an unusual type - large head but with a snipey muzzle (short coming to a point rather than square). There were two females next to him that were short in the leg, one was pregnant. The fourth dog was an eight month old puppy still with a heavy puppy coat, looked quite nice and was very friendly. One other dog did put in an appearance for a minute or two. It was a male with half a tail that jumped over the wall from the open land into the walled area. Apparently this dog belonged to the man's son and was very unfriendly, the man told us that the dog did not even like his son, and he was the only person who could get near it. Ali advised the man to shoot the dog as he was not a Kangal (although he ‘looked‘ like one). Ali went on to tell the man that a Kangal will never turn on his master. The owner of these dogs told Remzi that he would be at the dog show in Kangal, and indeed we did see him there, but we had many more miles to travel first.

Ulas dogs Ulas dogs
This is the next place we visited where four dogs were tied up against a wall.

This is the first dog

Ulas dogs

Ulas dogs
This man came to the show in Kangal.
Due to the Turkish issues about the Turkish breeds patent, his dogs are now known as 'guard dogs' despite the fact that he is in the Sivas province.

Ulas dogs

8 month puppy
This is the nice 8 month puppy that was tied against wall, notice he still has his ears

Ali had one more treat in store for us. I have to admit to losing my bearing at this point, but we reached another place which had two or three small houses with barns between and around them.

As we approached, on its outskirts was a small group of cattle with a woman following behind driving them towards the barns. Walking alongside the cattle was tall, lean, athletic tri-coloured Kangal.

Pinto guardian following herd of cattle

Pinto guardian following herd of cattle
The guardian dog with the cattle

We walked into the small yard in front of two houses that had rugs hanging from the windows, in the yard were two small children and a variety of chickens scurrying around. The children were wide eyed and smiling, we must look to them as though we were from another planet. An old lady burst out of the front doorway of one of the houses with her arms outstretched and enveloped us one by one into them. She had a weathered face with deep wrinkles telling tales of harsh weather and a hard life, but she had kind and gentle eyes that had tears in them as we hugged her back. A younger girl came from the other house - yes, with a tray of ayran! The old lady looked very put out and beckoned us into her house. The simplicity of the inside of this old lady’s house was striking. Her few possessions neatly in their place, the house itself was quite dull, but the few furnishings were as brightly coloured as they could possibly be! This was something we noticed in the villages we visited, the people may be poor and have few possessions, but they seemed genuinely happy people which was apparent from the bright, happy colours used wherever possible. The old lady’s gestures to us were in earnest and it was obvious that she wanted us to stay. Promising to return, we were taken by an old man from the house to see another dog.

Old boy
Old Dog, possibly the sire of the cattle guardian

Entering an enclosure in the centre of the houses was a big, beautiful old tri-coloured dog, possibly the father of the dog seen with the cattle. It was not apparent that this family group had sheep, we saw mostly cattle, various fowl and a few goats.

Old boy
Old Dog

Old dog, head study
Head studies of the old dog

Old dog, head study

The old lady was waiting for us as we came back to the yard and her face lit up as she beckoned us into a barn. It took a moment or two for our eyes to adjust to the dim light after coming from the brilliant sunshine outside, but slowly a wonderful picture was revealed. In front of us the old lady, dressed in a colourful skirt to her ankles, a long sleeved top with a colourful piece of material around her shoulders and crossed across her chest and tucked into her skirt. Her head was covered, of course, leaving a small circle of her lovely old face showing, beaming. She was sitting on a very low three legged stool milking a cow that stood silently munching hay which was being held by the old man, also beaming. It was a wonderful and unique picture. The old lady picked up the bucket for us to taste the fresh warm milk, which was like nectar from the Gods.

It was very hard indeed to leave this family. As we left the barn to make our way back to the vehicle, Jill was, where we would always be able to find her on this trip, chatting and playing with the children, giving them the simple gifts that she had brought with her from England - colouring books and coloured pencils etc. We always had to tear her away.

It was quiet in the vehicle as we left, all of us struggling to deal with their own thoughts and emotions following a very special time spent with a very special family group in Ulas. My thoughts wandered to Natalka’s stories once again and remembering the pictures of her dressed the same as our old lady, sitting in a circle with other women making bread, and another where she is holding a sack whilst a woman is pouring grain into it. I really appreciated now more than I have ever before how much Natalka loved and understood this land and its people. Spending the amount of time she did in Turkey, she said she ‘lived’ with shepherding families, and from our experience of just a few hours with these people, I started to appreciate what it must have been like for her to spend weeks with them.

Tomorrow would be the start of a very long journey from Sivas to Erzurum.

Ann Grove with Remzi Mustafa - Text
Arkadas and Tuzla Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Caroline Southen & Lee Cranch - Pictures

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


MEMORIES OF TURKEY 2005 - From Day One

The journey began with various members of our group travelling from all parts of the county and meeting at Heathrow airport at 5am on Friday 2nd July 2005. We had an excellent flight to Istanbul, followed by a wait of several hours for an internal flight to Kayseri and finally a taxi from Kayseri airport to the Grand Eros Hotel.

We were all exhausted after our journey but quickly showered and changed and set off to sample the town of Kayseri. It was late, but we were now wide awake and anxious not to waste a second now that we were in Turkey. We had a relaxing evening chatting to the locals in the bustling shops and being tempted by delicious kebabs, local bread and cakes. The shops and their contents kind of spilling out onto the pavement, making them more difficult to resist and the locals, even at this late hour, were happy and friendly.

It became obvious later that people are up and about early in the morning when it is cool, and towns and villages suddenly become quiet and deserted during the middle of the day, coming alive again later and into the late evening. The extremely wide roads in this town were very busy and it took some time to get used to safely crossing them as vehicles of all shapes and sizes, horses pulling carts and men pushing big wooden barrows with huge wheels piled high with apricots, seemed to be going in all directions at once and in no particular order. Car horns are blown all the time for all sorts of reasons, but although it looked chaotic, it was good humoured and we did not see one incident of 'road rage'.

Very early the following morning, from my hotel window, the busy bustling town was already in full swing. A market place had been set up overnight as if by magic with people selling the freshest produce of every kind of fruit and vegetables imaginable, also dried fruit, spices, nuts, beans, bread and pastries; pots and pans, rugs, baskets, tools, clothes - there was also, under the one and only tree that offered a circle of shade, a small group of sheep with a man quietly crouching on his haunches, his knees almost tucked up under his chin and running his prayer beads through his fingers.

We set off early to travel from Kayseri to SivasClick to enlarge

We set off early to travel from Kayseri to Sivas. Once out of the town, the road remained good and the landscape opened up. It was already very hot, fortunately the air conditioning in the vehicle worked well. The roads were good around the outskirts of the town where there was a great deal of development going on; new housing, the sides of the road had been dug up in preparation to lay huge pipes that lay stacked alongside the road. Enormous heavy machinery vehicles were everywhere. A little further out still, farming was in progress. Already some grass had been cut and was stacked in neat piles - land in abundance stretching as far as the eye could see, with small squares cultivated here and there.

4 month old puppyWe had barely travelled for half an hour when somebody shouted 'stop!' A dog was spotted at the back of a small house just off the road. We pulled in and the owners immediately came out to greet us. If they were surprised at our interest in the little puppy, they were too polite to show it, and took us to see the dog. It was a four month old Anatolian puppy that the owner had brought from a man who kept him in a small container, which had resulted in the puppy having a slightly deformed leg. The puppy was friendly, on a long chain with chickens and other fowl scurrying around. More people than would seem possible to fit inside the small house spilled outside to greet us and the first tray of ayran (soured yoghurt drink) of many that we would enjoy on our trip, was brought out to us by the eldest daughter.

4 month old puppyFour month old puppy

We moved on again towards Sivas and not far from the Ulas Government breeding establishment, which is where we were heading, we pulled in at the roadside as we saw some wooden kennels and heard loud barking.

Roadside kennelPrivate breeding establishment at the roadside on the way to Ulas

Roadside kennel

Roadside kennelThis was a private breeding establishment right on the Sivas road. The dogs here were of a variety of type and colour. The dogs were not working, they were either caged or chained in such a way that they were in full view of passing motorists, who may be tempted to buy. An opportunity seized following the interest created in the dogs never before given attention or seen in terms of monetary profit.

Dogs for sale on the roadside
Dogs for sale on the roadside

Roadside kennelRoadside kennelRoadside kennelDogs which escaped near the road to Ulas
He let these two out of a cage, and they ran off across the road that you can see, the road to Ulas, which was only a few miles further on. The dogs disappeared and were gone! Ulas government breeding establishment was just a few miles from here.

New building[Building under construction in Ulas]

Rather downhearted, we entered Ulas village where we had a wonderful meal with the locals of minced lamb on Turkish flat bread, fresh salad, baklava and Turkish coffee. The meal was delicious, the cost minimal and the company fascinating and extremely welcoming. The restaurant owner, following our questions regarding 'dogs' told us to visit the taxi shop man across the road who he knew had a shepherd friend in a nearby village. The taxi man made us comfortable in his shop, supplied us with drinks and disappeared to try and find someone to take us to his shepherd friend. He returned with a young girl on an old bicycle who would take us to Ali's place -she was Ali's daughter. She sped off at an alarming rate, turning off the town road and very skillfully negotiated several dirt roads that were very uneven and rocky. We had quite a problem keeping up with her and she suddenly disappeared between some trees. Slowly we picked our way along and when the underneath of the vehicle started scraping the road, we went the rest of the way on foot. Ali and his wife were already proudly standing to attention outside their home and immediately came forward to embrace us. A blanket had been laid outside for us to sit on and before the introductions were complete, the tray of ayran was already being offered to us by an older daughter.

Main street, UlasMain Road in Ulas

Lunch in UlasThis is where we had our lovely meal before going to the taxi office

Ali and FamilyThis is Ali and his family - the young girl is the one who rode
her bicycle to show us the way to her fathers home from Ulas

Ali's daughterAli's daughter (the bike rider)

One of Ali's pupsOne of Ali's puppies

Ali's pup
We were so fortunate to have Remzi Mustafa (Tuzla) with us as he acted as interpreter throughout the entire trip, and his knowledge of the language, the country together with his knowledge of the breed made him an invaluable member of the group. Ali had several dogs and a few puppies, his house was next to a stream surrounded by trees and some of the puppies were flat out in the shade of the trees as the heat was blistering. Remzi conversed with him for a good couple of hours asking Ali if he would be taking any of his dogs to the dog show being held at the Kangal government breeding establishment in Kangal. He told us that he had tried to register his dogs for the show but he would not be going. He said many disagreements and problems are developing regarding Kangal dogs (dogs known as Anatolian Shepherd Dogs).

Ali's brother's dogWhile we were at Ali's his brother came back with some sheep
and this dog, which he tied up for us to photograph.
He was very friendly.

Ali's brother's dogThis is of course, one of the dogs that Ali has been told is
not a
Kangal because Ali lives in Ulas
- this dog is now a 'Guard Dog' !

One of Ali's dogsAli with one of his dogs

Apparently he found out whilst trying to register his dogs that a new law has been passed that says any Kangal that lives or works anywhere outside Kangal itself is not a Kangal. These Kangal dogs are now classed as a Guard Dogs! - so Ali, who lives in a village in Ulas (close to Kangal),with working dogs ,(some which came from Kangal village), has been told his dogs are not Kangals, he now has dogs classed as 'Guard Dogs'. Ali told us why this was happening and we would find out more as our trip continued and also at the 'dog show' which is part of the Kangal festival in Kangal.

Ann with one of Ali's pupsAnn with one of Ali's puppies

Caroline with Turkish pupCaroline with one of Ali's puppies

Anthony with a puppyAnthony, one of the children who came with us on our trip, with another of Ali's puppies

Ann, April, and Jill with pupsStill at Ali's. L - R : Ann, April (Jill's granddaugher) and the lovely Jill

We also discussed 'colour'. Ali's attention was on type and conformation of the dog rather than its colour for obvious reasons as he is a shepherd with working dogs. He said Kangals are in different colours, and he explained to us that 'different colours' that occur, including tri-colours, is when two Kangals of different colours breed and produce what is called 'kirik', which translates as 'broken' Kangal. Questioned further on this he insisted that this did not mean that Kangals other than fawn were a 'broken breed' or 'different breed'. It meant simply that, for example, a red Kangal mated to a cream Kangal or a grey Kangal mated to a white Kangal can produce Kangal puppies of both colours ( tri-colour) as well as the colour of the parents and the more common fawn. Without further prompting he went further and explained that a Kangal mated to a German Shepherd was a 'pic' which translated means 'cross breed' - two different breeds mated together and this was quite different to the 'kirik' Kangals who are the same breed as fawn Kangals.

Ann Grove and Remzi Mustafa - Text
Arkadas and Tuzla Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Caroline Southen - Pictures
Hisar Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Saturday, July 23, 2005


MEMORIES OF TURKEY 2005 - Trip of a Lifetime

Kayseri AirportThis was the trip of a lifetime - the trip the two of us (Caroline and I) had dreamed of after being involved in the breed collectively for over 40 years - and one of us is barely 30, the other has reached an age that is impolite to ask! :) Both had our own thoughts and feelings of what was in store for us but I think our expectations reached way beyond anything we could have imagined.

The BusWe travelled well over 2,000 miles across Turkey reaching as far East as Kars and Agri. Our trip was not a holiday or a sightseeing trip - although we saw a great deal of Turkey - it was a 'dog trip' and our experiences were absolutely incredible to say the least. We spent time with shepherds and their families right across the country, enjoying their culture, food, company and the most warm and welcoming hospitality I have ever known - as well as their dogs! We visited government breeding schemes, private breeding establishments, the Turkish dog symposium, the wonderful Kangal festival and also the dog show.

Kayseri Town
Kayseri Town

Kayseri Town
Kayseri Town

Turkish Flag on the side of a mountain
Turkish flag on mountainside

Running Stream
Running Stream

Valley view
Valley View

Oltu Castle
Oltu Castle

Information about the Oltu Castle
Oltu Castle information (click to enlarge)

A guardian dog in UlasIt was incredible to have the opportunity to visit the country that we heard so much about from the late Natalka Czartoryska (Hisar). As readers will know, Natalka visited Turkey eleven times during her lifetime on dog expeditions sometimes for months at a time. The magical accounts she recalled over the years, we have now experienced and seen with our own eyes. I now fully understand her passionate love for the country and its people - the dogs were a bonus! She called the shepherds 'flockmasters' and I now appreciate why she gave them this name. They are shepherding experts because their lives literally depend on doing it right.

Another guardian dog in UlasAnother guardian dog in Ulas

Lakeside View
Lakeside View

One family a few kilometres from Kars welcomed us like long lost relatives, the women elders eager for us to come into their homes - dirt floors and few possessions, yet spotlessly clean and cheerfully and brightly decorated with colourful wall coverings. Life is quite obviously very hard and I suspect their expectations are low; they seem to have a fatalistic view of life and make the best of everything. The children wearing brightly coloured clothes were forever smiling and happy and contented; real community life with everyone looking out for each other and everyone looking after all the children as if they were all their own.

Turkish shepherd and his flockTurkish Shepherd and his flock

I felt Natalka's incredible stories coming to life as the scenes unfolded around us. At another village in the same area, we met a shepherd as he returned from the hills after grazing his flock. We walked with him and a hundred or so sheep of various colours back to his village with his dogs and a small donkey carrying supplies. I will never forget that walk and I will never forget the village as long as I live, or its people. The shepherd took us from dwelling to dwelling where its owner welcomed us, and eventually the talk turned to dogs and we were shown two absolutely beautiful puppies - one red and one fawn. In this area it is the custom to remove one third of the tail as well as cropping the ears, although the tail is cropped young, the ears are not done until one year of age as the belief is that cutting before that age impairs the growth of the head. Before we knew it a beautiful rug had been laid out on the grass for us to sit on and we were served Turkish tea in this stunning and idyllic place. We sat and chatted whilst some women nearby gathered dried, cut grass into large piles with wooden implements. The village community had several flocks of sheep and most of the adult dogs were not in the village at this time as the flocks were still out grazing in the hills. The shepherd who we had walked with had two dogs, one white and one fawn, both identical type and both beautiful. They were tall, lean functional working machines working independently and then as one depending on the behaviour of their charges. There were two older dogs in the village, left as guards as the area is plagued with predators.

Reluctantly we had to leave the village, vowing to return, not only to see the return of the adult dogs, but also to experience more of the village and its people.

Road buildingThe mixture of new and old was fascinating, in all things; smart new cars travelling alongside a horse and wooden cart loaded with hay gathered from the fields. The road along which we all travelled had a stretch of decently prepared road surface, which suddenly became a bumpy dirt road and we were engulfed in a cloud of dust. Fine new buildings in pastel colours nestling alongside little dirt houses with turf roofs.

I was fascinated by the haymaking that was going on. I had left just that being undertaken at my home when I left for this trip. Huge round bales of newly cut and dried grass from our fields being wrapped in black plastic by an amazing contraption that spins the bale around whilst the lengths of black plastic wraps around it creating silage bales for winter feeding. Two tractors were there, one with a huge trailer behind bringing the bales from the field and the other loading the bales on the contraption and making a neat pile of them in the corner of the field. The whole process was just one morning's work for a couple of men. I recalled this as I watched an entire family - mother, father, children, and grandparents, possibly uncles, aunts and cousins too - all lending a hand to gather the cut grass into neat piles. It was interesting to note that the piles of hay were of differing shapes in different regions we passed through. A horse and wooden cart or wagon stood silently in the field as the family worked. The heat was blistering, but the women were fully covered, the men all wearing caps. We often saw little piles of stones neatly placed here and there, a pile of four or five stones with the largest at the bottom graduating to a small one on the top. We wondered what these piles of stones meant and it was explained to us that it was the boundary markers for a farmers field! So simple! No electric fencing here! At one village I was able to look at some of the farm implements, which were hand made, basic wooden implements similar to those displayed in museums at home!

Women drying fleeces[ Women drying fleeces ]

As we entered village after village, women ran out from there homes to greet us, stopping whatever they were doing - beating rugs, hand milking a cow, feeding chickens - they begged us to come into their homes and within seconds one of them appeared with a tray of tea (chai) or a yoghurt drink called Ayran, sending children scattering to find rugs and cushions for us to sit on. The men came and sat and talked while the women served the refreshments, but they did not take their eyes off us; taking everything in and not missing a thing. At first the children stifled giggles from behind a wall or an old tractor and then they started to slowly make their way towards us and when finally they were close, touched our clothes and even held our hands, so trusting. Always, their faces looking up at us with beaming smiles and big brown shining eyes. Beautiful!

View from Kangal Hotel
View from Kangal Hotel

View from Yozgat Hotel
View from Yozgat Hotel

I am so totally amazed, moved and humbled by my experiences in Turkey, I believe it will take me some time to collect my thoughts and these notes are just a few disorganised thoughts the day after our return. My companions and I have started to go through hours of video tape and thousands of photographs and next week I will start by giving an account from day one.

Ann Grove - Text
Arkadas Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Caroline Southen - Pictures
Hisar Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

with Remzi Mustafa -
Tuzla Anatolian Shepherd Dogs