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

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