Akbash, Anyone?

Today was my day to make the milk run.  I belong to a milk co-op, a group of six or seven people who share a desire to drink raw milk from a small farm, and to buy eggs from chickens who eat an organic, or, at least, all-vegetarian, all-natural diet and who have absolute freedom to move around their living space.  So today it was my turn to get our milk and eggs. 

I really enjoy my turn.  The farm isn’t even an hour away, and it’s an easy, pleasant drive.  And I like the farm and the dairy farmer.  But there was a problem today–because of our frigid weather, the hens haven’t been laying, and the man who usually delivers eggs to the farm didn’t have enough.  There was only one carton available for me to buy, and I needed four, or, at the very least, two.  I could go without, if I had to, since I buy eggs mostly for the dogs, but the other people who’d requested eggs have actual human children they need to feed. 

The egg man, who happened to be there getting his milk, said that I could follow him to his farm, and he’d check on his hens to see if anybody had laid, and then, by using some eggs he had in his fridge, he might be able to make up a dozen.

This sounded like fun.  One of my friends has been bonding with chickens lately, and another friend learned to train chickens, as part of her dog training course.  I like chickens. 

So I followed Mr. Egg to his farm, and followed him into his henhouse, where I saw big, beautiful chickens and where he found one lone egg.  He was able to make up a dozen for me, in the end, but from this point on, this blog is egg-free, because in the henhouse was one of the most unusual dogs I’d ever seen.  He was huge, for one thing.  ‘Let him sniff you first’, said Mr. Egg.  Absolutely, I thought to myself, whatever you like, Big Dog.

I carefully avoided making eye contact.  His name was Brooks, Mr. Egg told me.  Brooks got a noseful of me, and seemed satisfied, and Mr. Egg told me I could go ahead and pet him now.  I did, and Brooks liked it.  I was scanning through my breed knowledge, to try to come up with a match for Brooks, but I couldn’t.  I asked Mr. Egg.  ‘He’s an Akbash’, said Mr. Egg, ‘a Turkish livestock guardian’.

Cool!

He’s cream colored, almost white, with the thickest coat I’ve ever felt.  He stays outside all day and night, but by ‘outside’ I’m including the barn, where, when we met him, he was resting on hay bales.  Although the temperature today was in the teens or even lower, Brooks didn’t appear cold at all, even though he had tiny ice balls trapped in the fur on his back. 

When Mr. Egg went to wash my dozen, I stayed with Brooks and offered him some of the training treats I keep in the car in case I should encounter a stray.  He didn’t like the treats too much, and appeared puzzled by them, in fact.  But boy, did he love being petted!  I began roughing up his fur to try to remove the ice balls, and I noticed how he rubbed against my hand.  And some of his undercoat started to come out as I rubbed, which clearly felt wonderful to him, so I kept it up for a good long while.

And then Mr. Egg came back, and we started talking dogs, and, to make a long story very short, Mr. Egg would love for me to find him a young Akbash to adopt, or, if not an Akbash, some other canine livestock guardian.  Because Brooks is quite elderly, and soon will be too old for his work there.  I found myself thinking what a wonderful thing it is for a dog to have a job.  Brooks has a real job, too, as opposed to, for instance, agility training, which is a way of re-enacting a dog’s historic real job.  Brooks isn’t re-enacting anything.  He actually protects the chickens from foxes and the cattle from everything.  Mr. Egg credits the fact that he’s able to allow his hens the whole run of the farm to Brooks’ patrols.  Wow.  I love that idea.

And I love the idea of finding him another Akbash-y dog.  So I’ll write more about this soon, and will, in the meantime, learn about the breed, and what other breeds are similar.

I’d love for you to accompany me and learn along with me as I search for an Akbash or Akbash-type dog for Mr. Egg.  Here’s a link to get us started. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbash_dog

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