Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Gentle Giant Comes A-Callin’

My Thanksgiving kicked off with an unexpected and magnificent visitor. He was staying with a neighbor who knew I’d want to meet him. What she didn’t know was that I had been reading about his relatives in Shepherds of Coyote Rocks by Cat Urbigkit. Now my neighbor’s guest was about to bring part of the book to life for me—the part about the great guardians of sheep the world over, the Anatolian Shepherd.

Yup. I got to hang with a massive, laidback pooch named Luke.

He never looked at me, but Luke never hesitated to let me know he thought I should pet him nonstop. We were outside on a warm and sunny morning, so why not take advantage of the beautiful day? I sat in the yard and fulfilled my obligations to my new friend.

It was hard to reconcile the oversized lap dog beside me with the fight-to-the-death guardians Anatolians are bred to be: working dogs used to protect livestock from all predators—including wolves, mountain lions, and grizzlies. But my time with Luke made it easy to understand why the sheep in Shepherds of Coyote Rocks put their absolute trust in their canine guardians. Anatolians are an unlikely combination of extreme gentleness and extreme protectiveness.

At one point, Luke sprawled out next to me and extended his front leg across my lap—to make sure, I guess, that I didn’t try to get away from him. I didn’t mind. I could have stayed like that all day.

[The pic is Chakra, an Anatolian up for adoption through the National Anatolian Shepherd Network.]

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