Sunday 20 October, 2013 by Uncle Spike
You might have seen my recent post about Bonzo The Farm Boss. Well, I had a good friend express her concern that she “couldn’t/wouldn’t keep a dog chained up for any period of time… let alone outside”.
I’m a doggie-lover, all animals really, so I thought it best to tell it how I see it too.…
“When in Rome…” goes the saying. Well, I’m not in Rome, but I do live in Asia, the Near East, and here, no dogs would ever be permitted indoors (to be honest I’ve only come across it just the once, with a city family in the capital of Ankara, and that’s in 18 years of travelling/living here).
As for Bonzo, well he has never been in indoors in his life, so that would be so alien to him, plus I think he’d hate it – he’s a DOG and proud of it! Indoors is for wimps I think he would woof at me if I asked him 🙂
In terms of him being ‘stuck outdoors’, well he’s a working dog first and foremost, not a pet… yes I love him to bits, but without him out there, we would have some serious issues to contend with – that’s why all farms here have a dog, on duty 24×7.
Dogs are animals, and to be honest, most are pretty tough – they are by nature a pack species (we have loads up in the mountains, and none have a snug warm bed or tinned food served up twice a day, but they continue to survive). I’m not belittling having dogs as ‘pets’, far from it; I had many pet dogs in the UK over the years. But we live in rural farming Turkey, there is a difference, a vast world of difference to modern western suburbia.
Bonzo, well he comes from a tough old wolf-chasing breed, the Kangal. (Wikipedia quote: “While the Kangal is often referred to as a sheep dog, it is not a herding dog, but rather a flock guardian that lives with the flock of sheep to actively fend off wolves, bears and jackals”). So you couldn’t get much more removed from the refined western pedigree breeds that have had much of their natural tough animalness bred out of them in my opinion. In fact, even during a winter sleet storm at say 1-2c, he’ll rarely use his hut, he just stands out there in all weathers, ears flapping as he faces the storm head on (remember his native area is the high Anatolian Plateau). In winter he grows a thick down under fur which he malts every spring.
Yes he runs on a long chain, but how many of the photos in the last post show him ‘out and about’? When he’s off the chain, he runs free in almost 2 acres (7,000 m2) – he doesn’t exactly get ‘walked’ on a short lead around a concrete housing estate. He seems fit and healthy too, certainly not lacking from his lifestyle by the looks of things!
But he also has a palate which includes fresh chicken – one reason why he is not gonna run free all day long. He’s scoffed a few over the years, including one who just flew out of it’s roosting clementine tree right into his lap. There was a bit noise, then quiet. I went down later to see Bonzo sat there, with feathers on his nose, and a look on his face like “What me? Nope, I ain’t seen no chooks round here, honest Guv”. The pair of chickens feet without an owner on the ground next to him was perhaps his downfall, a bit of a give-away to his unexpected breakfast!
But his job here is security first – Turks are almost all terrified of dogs. Even the electrician will stay in his car on our driveway and beep his horn till I come out of the house, just in case he’s off the lead. Even a neighbouring farmer, who has 100 goats and 2 dogs, carried a plastic chair in front of him at all times once when visiting, ‘just in case’.
Second, if he were kept indoors, we would have no chickens left very soon, the foxes would see to that, and therefore we’d be overrun with scorpions as the chooks keep them under control around the house area. Plus, wild boar that come down from the mountains of a summer nights would decimate much of the farm in a matter of weeks without Bonzo (they currently come up to the next field, but keep a wary distance)!
In the west there are dogs as pets, but here mostly there are not. But we do have tortoises, birds, snakes, lizards and even iguanas all living wild – now aren’t they caged up and ‘sold’ as pets elsewhere… so are we all that different?