Hank

This is Hank, an eleven-year-old Anatolian Shepherd, who, along with another of his breed (Argus), Lords over our flock of Shetland sheep. It has been hot and humid of late and I have taken pity on these two livestock guardian dogs by letting them spend the afternoons in the relative cool of the undercroft. Yesterday, while doing afternoon chores I noticed that the light which penetrated the floor of the hay mow was nicely cast into the dark space below. A quick look at the metadata associated with this photograph indicates that the exposure used was a full eight seconds. That tells you something about how still Hank was (although if you look at him closely, admidships, you’ll note some blurring … he was breathing). [What follows was written by Beth Goldowitz and found, several years ago now, at an earlier incarnation of the website of Anatolian Shepherds’ Dogs Worldwide.] “The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is an ancient breed. For thousands of years Turkish shepherds have used these dogs to protect their flocks from predators. Over time, the shepherds developed a dog that will adopt the flock as his own and live with it, be calm so as not to frighten the livestock, and be capable of working independently, without constant supervision. The dog is large so it will be intimidating and it is strong, fast, and agile. It is calm and gentle with young stock, dependable about staying on the job and with its flock, and intelligent enough to try to warn and chase away predators before resorting to the use of force. Anatolians can be intimidating, self-confident, and discerning enough to know when, and how much, protection and intimidation are necessary. The Anatolian is extremely intelligent, loyal, and independent.” I have written before about our working Anatolians and sung their praises. These are remarkable dogs, hardwired to be exceptional livestock guardians. Our dogs live on pasture with the flock. During the day you’d be hard pressed to peg this breed as a guard dog. At night however our animals are at work, alert, patrolling their perimeter. We lost our best animal, Sophie, to osteosarcoma nearly two years ago. Although both Hank and Argus are excellent and attentive guardians, Sophie worked especially hard during lambing season. She kept track of the behavior of individual ewes so closely that she was able to act as midwife for most births, standing guard and even helping to clean off each new arrival. It has been a pleasure to get to know and to work around these wonderful beasts. Their capacities provide a stunning example of the power of selective breeding. Our very first farm dog, an Australian Cattle Dog, was a wonderful dog but was developed to drive cattle and herd sheep. Poor Cedar simply couldn’t understand why we didn’t want him to chase the flock. Anatolians never, ever, chase for that predatory instinct has been bred out of them. They do not chase, they do not herd, they do not worry (in the transitive sense), they do not follow or track. They attach themselves to flock and watch it, with dedication, around the clock and in all sorts of weather. That’s what they do. It’s amazing. [Here are a two links for more information … Anatolian Shepherd Dogs International, Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America.]

Hank

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