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Native Alabai

Turkmen Alabai

By F.Bolkunova, I.Gorokhov, K.Kjarizov

wild dogIn the early spring, usually in the beginning of March when first grass appears, Turkmen shepherds with flocks of sheep's get to pastures where they will stay till October-November. A little that has changed in a life of the shepherd for many-many years. The easy folding tilt cart, a shelter for sheep's, looks the same today as it was hundred years ago. Work of the shepherd is hard and frequently dangerous, therefore it uses greater respect, and shepherds experience is often transferred by right of succession from the father to the son who by fifteen-sixteen years can already start to work independently. The unique weapon of the shepherd - a sharp dagger. Rather recently, in 1960th, to shepherds in collective farms began to give out guns for protection of sheep's against predators, but this order was not accustomed. It has appeared, that the major, rather effective weapon of the shepherd is Chopan -It- Shepherd dogs. If the herd is under protection of two-three powerful wolfhounds it's unnecessary to have guns, it is not necessary to build expensive tents, possible to reduce quantity of shepherds up to a minimum. Usually with a flock in the summer the shepherd holds one adult dog, one-two female dogs and some puppies in the age from 5-6 months. This quantity of dogs is quite enough to protect herd up to 1000 sheep. In the afternoon they see off a flock on a pasture and, at the slightest opportunity, being rescued from heat, try to find any shadow and to hide there. At this time they are inactive and seem slow. Their basic work begins with approach of twilight. The jackal and the wolf - the main enemies of the shepherd here. The jackal the enemy of mass, but small, it can attack the lamb, but with it even the young dog will conquer , and for adult sheep's it does not represent serious danger. The wolf is terrible, large, impudent, ruthless animal, having broken in a flock, getting drunk with blood, cuts without the account. It attacks usually at night when sheep's in a shelter or around the wail. Turkmen shepherds say, that number of wolves recently has strongly increased and its not a rarity when the predator is not afraid of the person, attacks livestock in the afternoon and at presence of the owner. Besides there were wolves about which they say, that they " not our wolf " - this is much larger than ours ".

Here that we managed to find out: in 1986 for shooting of the film ,wolves have been brought from Russia. The tamed and well trained animals brought from Moscow, after the termination of shootings have been sent back, and others nine have been let out in reserve Badhyzsk. Among them was four Siberian wolves and five wolves caught in woods of Leningrad region. Besides that approximately in four years one more group of wood wolves has been delivered to Turkmenistan and set free. Duties of flock dogs distributed very functionally between members. Sensing slightly the smell of a predator or having heard the slightest suspicious rustle, the first alarm is lifted by puppies. To the aid of them with loud bark run females. Usually it is quite enough to drive away jackals. But if noise does not calm down, it means wolves, and an adult male dog - the leader of the dogs, rises and goes to put things in order. The wolves, feeling the the formidable opponent, prefer to not enter with it in fight and usually depart, and all dogs pursue them, however they are not leaving far from a flock, but only up to " border of territory ", marked by the leader (150-200 meters from a flock). However Alabai's have more serious enemy- hyenas,that recently become numerous. Contrary to a popular belief,that hyena eats only dead animals - this animal loves to eat a goat or a sheep.We where told about the fight of a 7-years wolfhound with a hyena. It happened towards the evening . The hyena has came to the settlement and seized a goat and rushed away with it. The dog has come running hearing the noise and has rushed in the pursuit of a predator. Having caught up with the thief, with the impact of a chest the dog had brought hyena down and after the fierce fight, pressed hyena down to the ground, opened hyenas belly. The 1,5-one-year-old dog who has come running to the aid has seized a bleeding profusely animal by a throat and has strangled it. The 7-year old dog in exhaustion has fallen beside, but shepherds didn't doubt, that if the young dog did not appear in time for help, this Alabai would not recede and would have taken an animal him self. It is necessary to add, that both dogs did not differ in the enormous sizes and massiveness, they where usual- thin, flock dogs. As the award they where given the goat that was killed by a hyena.

food for 2 dogs and 3 pupsTurkmen's appreciate in Alabai growth, skeleton, massiveness, beauty, but more of all - thoroughbredness and working qualities, which is far more important than exterior qualities, taking into account the prominent features of inherent mentality in this ancient breed. This breed of dog was kept in the protogenic kind because during millennia, for a long time and up till now, rigid natural selection is the result of which survived the strongest,capable and adapted individuals and only the strongest of them have earned the right to breed. Only the strongest, having proved it in the fight with others for the right to be breeding male, becomes one. About Chakan, the father of the legendary Акgush, they say, that he covered all females in the area Kaahka, and at that time there was about 50 different flocks of sheep. How many duels for this dog was necessary to win ?! Artificial selection was not less rigid. Shepherds always left for cultivation the largest ,massive dogs, strong and courageous, known for the victories over fights with predators and on fight rings.Very strictly chose the qualities, they got wrid of idlers, cowards and even the dogs that unjustly bark at night. After few days after birth shepherd crops puppies ears and tail with a knife. Until recently it was accepted to simply break ears of puppies today it almost not done. The tradition of trimming of ears and tails as shepherds say: ears cut to avoid superfluous traumas in fights with predators or in duels of dogs and it raises sensory acuity, and tail is so when the dog is laying down or sleeps doesn't cover his nose with it.

The Turkmen wolfhound is formed very slowly. Only by three-four years it gets to a final development, turning to a powerful, massive animal. Moreover, if a young dog (for them - male dog is the most indicative)at 1 -1 1/2 year looks like the adult, as a rule, it can't get that "fundamentality" which is characteristic for the best dogs; most likely, it remains " adult junior ". In some dogs even the grasp of a wrist is about 12 sm at one year old, but by three years increases up to 14.5. Typical "Turkmen Native Alabai " is non aggressive to people; usually it will bark only to warn the owner of occurrence of the stranger, but does not attack the person. In the presence of the owner the dog behaves friendly, allows to pet itself, practically it is possible at desire to examine, measure and even check the teeth.

When the owner is not present, especially at night, the behavior of Alabai sharply varies: from good-natured, seeming slow, tired from the heat of the sun, it turns to the sensitive watchman actively protecting the territory. Among other things, Turkmen wolfhound's feeling of protection of own territory, and with approach of darkness it's very strongly developed at crossing border which the dog often defines independently, the person that has broken that border, most likely will stop by hearing low, terrible roar. In rural areas of Turkmenistan, unlike other regions of Central Asia, it is not accepted to fence court yard with fences. More often borders of a site are marked either cleanly conditional fencing, or a flute in width about 10 sm and the same depth, but feeling of territory extremely developed in Turkmen dogs allows to contain them without the chain. Even dogs living in the neighborhood perfectly get along with each other and do without fights while anybody from them will not break borders of a site. Meeting in "neutral" territory between earlier peacefully coexisted neighbors almost for certain will end up with a fight. Among Turkmen dogs there are also spiteful individuals ( by the way, some representatives of a line White Екimеn are those type of dogs ), but the overwhelming majority, despite of the scary look, tolerant in relation to the people.The reason for this is: first- education, and secondly- existing tradition to reject spiteful dogs, - such dogs, as a rule, are destroyed. Undoubtedly, the fear of distribution of rabies also matters. Unfortunately, recently the services, called to struggle with distribution of this illness, not always honesty perform the duties and under a kind of struggle against homeless animals poisoned many pedigree dogs. We had heard many times,when we came to look and measure the dog,that it was dead because it has eaten the poison thrown through a fence.That's how in May, 1999 the Champion of Turkmenistan, 8-years Kaplan Kerr lived in Мyana area Kaahki was lost. It was a tragedy for everyone who knew Кеrrа. They saw him off, as a champion:real funeral was arranged and all all inhabitants of the settlement.On the same day female has been poisoned,that was pregnant with Kerr pups, she literally was supposed to give birth on the same day. Kerra's owner - livestock specialist ,made cesarean section on already dead female,got 9 puppies out,but they died the next day,poison that was in moms blood killed them.

old_statueThe best livestock of a Turkmen wolfhound is concentrated in areas of Tedzhen, Каахк, Серахс, Mary, Bezmein. Each of them has given dogs, whose names for a long time are legendary. So from Tedzhen-Gezagar, Karagoolok, Тahmet; from Кааhк - Black Екimеn and White Екimеn, Акgush, Old Gаplаn; from Mary - Мariiskiy Gаplаn; from Beizmen - Black Екimеn, Kara Кеllе. This list can be continued much further. Turkmen kennel club " Turkmen It " is public organization which on a regular basis does breeding reviews and exhibitions, organizes and carrying out tournaments on a rank of the champion of Turkmenistan on fights.No problem arises with fights,because many would enter, but entering the dogs in participation of exhibitions in Turkmenistan is a difficult thing. Considering, that dogs are aggressive to each other, as is characteristic to a wolfhound, in addition practically all of them already participated in fights, it is necessary to make rings with greater enough sizes not to transform a ring in fight ring. Further, in spite of the fact that to enter Alabai in an exhibition free-of-charge, and valuable prizes are always handed over to winners, to entice there owners is not very easy. The majority of owners do not understand the purposes of this action. And, at last, in carrying out of the examination it is necessary to reckon with local specificity as if survey of a teeth passes still rather easy though under a little bit puzzled looks ,the check of dogs testicles results in a condition of a shock: " Vakh, Farida, here is so many men, and you touch a dog there "? It is necessary to apparently explain, and after an exhibition to support their interest and to make sure that they will appear again on the following, it is obligatory to have at least few fights .Whatever people say about this phenomenon, fights were happening and will be in the future. Within the limits of national selection they are happening not only in Central Asia, but also on Caucasus,Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan. Their right of their existence is recognized even by representatives of the countries which for a long time where exclusively engaged in cultivation of show-dogs only.

For example, in the Moscow newspapers " the Cat and Dog " 1999 , they devoted page on meeting of the Moscow dog breeders with a brigade of the English experts that judged an exhibition " The Mayor Cup of Moscow ", is resulted their unanimous answer to a question:

" Are they estimate a practice of tournament tests of wolfhounds extending in Russia (" Caucasian "and" Asians ")? "

flockThe answer was simultaneously diplomatic and frank: " In England presently sheep breeding is " industrial " , wolves have been exterminated for a long time , but the foxes are stealing lambs. It is authorized for farmers to shoot them. Probably, in conditions of a livestock and wolves growing in Russia, testing of wolfhounds is justified (!) ". Alabai fighting in Turkmenistan is not only centuries-old national tradition, not only hazardous and the gripping show collecting numerous participants and spectators, but also one of the major zoothechnical actions which has allowed to create and keep up to now this large, fearless, strong and beautiful dog. Earlier fights where held for holidays, weddings, celebrations on the occasion of trimming, in the spring and in the autumn - during haircutting of sheep's. There was also a custom of the resolution of disputes by means of dogs. Two persons or inhabitants of two different settlements could resort to such way of the resolution of conflict in case the conflict occurred between them. Now fights became more regular. Practically in each city and settlement there are rings on which the champions or as they name them in Turkmenistan " Inglychi It" - the strongest dog come to light. It is necessary to note, that on such fights there are no totes and rates. Owners of the dogs participating in competitions, do not receive any material benefit, more likely on the contrary, often the owner of a dog will spent money to reach a place where fights are carried out ,traveling from remote area located often hundreds kilometers away. If the fight is held on wedding then the relatives of the groom prepare the gifts for the participants. More often it is a scarf which is put on a neck of the winning dog. If only one knew how much time, forces and means it is necessary to invest, that will prepare the real wolfhound! Preparation of the fighter includes the special training's directed on increase of endurance, exercise for strengthening muscles, long walks, introduction for the period of preparation of a special diet. To have such dog that has superb working qualities, possessing boldness and fighting spirit, it is very honorable and prestigious. In Turkmenistan each inhabitant of area, city knew and knows the champions, is proud of them and can talk for hours about their achievements, down to the smallest details of fight.

Fight between two Alabai's strikingly differs from fight of dogs so-called Fighting breeds (American Staf, pit bull terriers), with their squeal, snapping of teeth, an abundance of wounds and blood at which under influence of purposeful selection the mentality has been broken, the inherent block that is present in practically all social predatory animal on killing the representative of their own kind is removed. Fight of the present wolfhounds reminds a knightly duel in which there is a certain code of magnanimity and honor. Turkmen's say, the wolfhound fights with a dog not as with a predator - severely, ruthlessly and uncompromisingly, not paying attention to a floor of the opponent, and, more likely, as the sportsman with the sportsman, showing peculiar nobleness that is characteristic for this breed. It does not have purpose to kill or cripple the opponent, - it is enough to this mighty fighter to prove the superiority, having banish the opponent from the territory. We are resolutely incited against fights where Alabai and pitbull are pitted as thus features of mentality of the last are not considered at all. Behavior of Alabai is rationalized , and it will not finish the dog who has shown submission, grinned - such reactions are perceived by him as a recognition of defeat, a sign which shows that conflict has been solved. If fight occurs not on fight ring but somewhere in other place, the winner, having released the opponent as a rule, having lifts a leg and marks territory. During fight the wolfhound not only shows and perfects fighting skill, prepares for possible forthcoming fight with a predator, but also passes some kind of examination for suitability to further use in cultivation, in fact in each working breed second "work" of a dog - continuation of blood line. The dog, not capable to stand up for, has no right to be in a flock - this hasn't changed for ages.

During a duel dogs are tested for their ability to withstand pain,endurance and skilful combad.Du ring fight with the wolf the wolfhound should "take" in the field of a neck and a head, "to take" powerfully and reliably, stopping attempts of the opponent to be released and make interception then to overturn it and to press down to the ground.

Source: From the book " The Central Asian sheep-dog: myths,reality,prospects "

Publishing house "New Index" 2000

Translated by Admin

 

 

 

 
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