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

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