THE HEART DOG
written 5/23/2010 by Sandie King of Alaturka Anatolians
Every dog person has that special dog in their lives that touches them in a special way ... the dog that holds a piece of their heart. When that dog is no longer with them, it leaves a big gap in their lives and it is usually very difficult to find another dog to fill their life in the same way.
I think Anatolian people (and LGD people in general) are different ... and, while we often find that each Anatolian takes a piece of our heart with them when they leave us ... down the line there can be another Anatolian (or two) that helps to fill in the gaps.
There is something so undeniably noble about the Anatolian with their calm demeanor and their nurturing hearts. When they are around, you don’t just feel that you and your animals are safe, you feel a calmness that permeates the air around you and makes everything a little better.
My first Anatolian heart dog .. Murgatroid (yep, that was his name) .. came to live with me in 1987 and was total culture shock for me. The intelligence, the independence, the sense that he always thought he was smarter than I was, all were new to me as far as having a dog went. As I learned how he “worked” and what he expected of me, I slowly realized that this dog was not just my best friend, but also my partner. He was very tolerant of my eccentric human foibles, but he let me know that it was HIS job to protect me and keep me safe. And, he did it without making a big deal of it.
My second heart dog .. Tilki Bayan (turkish for “Foxy Lady”) .. was Queen of the House from the day she stepped off the plane from Oregon in 1993. She partnered up with Murg to set up a 24/7 protection detail over me and my property and, once again, it was all done very unobtrusively. Between exhibiting at the various rare breed shows we went to until she retired in 1998, and being a great ambassador for our breed, Tilki stayed very busy letting all the neighborhood critters know that HER property (which included me, four goats and a various number of feral cats) was off limits to them all.
When Murg left us in 1997, it was heartbreaking to watch Tilki lay at the front gate watching and wondering why he was no longer there to help her with her duties. Eventually she decided that it was up to her to carry on by herself.
In 1998, Tilki had a litter of pups that produced a male that I knew was meant for me from the time he opened his eyes. Safa (turkish for “delight”) came into my life and right away I could feel the hole in my heart start to fill up again. He fulfilled the promise of his name throughout his life .. at nearly 12 years old, he still sleeps in front of the door in my bedroom every night just in case a “bad guy” might try to get to me.
In 2001, one of Tilki’s daughters (Ruya) had a litter of pups that produced a little girl that took my breath away and I knew she needed to come and join my “group”. Daniska (turkish for “the best”) was my “personality” puppy and was very mischievous. She loved to play tricks on her grandma Tilki and uncle Safa .. and would go to great lengths to try to get them to play with her. When she was old enough, I started taking her to dog shows, neighborhood festivals, and area arts and crafts shows. At 9 years old, she still revels in being the center of attention wherever she goes and always “plays to the crowd”.
My next two heart dogs showed up at the same time in 2005 when Ruya had a litter that produced Kolay (aka “Daisy Mae”) and Mustafa (aka “Moose”), two dogs that could not be more different if it had been planned that way. Daisy is quiet and very feminine, and is one of easiest dogs (“Kolay” is turkish for “easy”) I have ever lived with. Moose (co-owned with Linda Curran of Türkay Anatolians) is a 24/7 working livestock guardian who takes his job very seriously and occasionally moonlights at dog shows. Off his property, he is gregarious and very charismatic, and charms just about everyone he meets (including many of the judges he has shown under).
In 2006 Tilki left me, and while it felt as if at least half my heart was gone, my four remaining “heart” dogs work daily to fill it back in. And, while I have wonderful memories of all the many Anatolians that have passed through my life before and after these few "special" dogs, it is very comforting to know that I did not have to settle for just one “heart dog”.
"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." -Unknown