Kur­dish Dogs

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Luke Cole­man

Two years ago a friend asked me for a favour. Would I help her res­cue a puppy, starved by hu­mans and drained by ticks. He was in a ter­ri­ble state, ears sliced off by bar­baric guards hop­ing to in­stil some fear­some­ness in him and thin as a rake. We learned that he was most likely a haw­sher and his large paws in­di­cated he might be­come a large beast. A few days later I was at a party, and was asked about Tick (as we'd de­cided to call him). I couldn't re­mem­ber the name of his breed, so I flipped out my smart­phone and searched “Kur­dish dog”. The re­sults were eye-open­ing. A pic­ture of this huge, gor­geous an­i­mal, stand­ing on its back legs, front paws on its mas­ter's shoul­ders. I was in­stantly and to­tally ob­sessed, and the next day started to makes plans to visit north­ern Kur­dis­tan and find some Kan­gals. In March last year I took off on an ad­ven­ture, which took me to Hasankeyf where I found some Kan­gal pup­pies in the canyons and fur­ther north to Van where I vis­ited the univer­sity's cat breed­ing fa­cil­ity. The proud sym­bol of the city, the pure white Van cats have one am­ber and one azure eye and ap­par­ently love to swim.

How­ever, on that trip I failed to find any adult Kan­gals and re­solved that my quest would con­tinue. And so it came to pass that this March just passed, I had an­other chance to travel north, and this time took my path across Turkey via the town of Kan­gal. I en­joy the bus net­work in Turkey and had a lucky break in Mardin, where I had been catch­ing up with an old friend, dis­cov­er­ing that a new route had opened up, di­rect to Si­vas, the near­est city to Kan­gal. From there it was a short lo­cal bus into Kan­gal, and my op­ti­mistic search for the ca­nines be­gan in earnest. The town is cov­ered in stat­ues and pic­tures of their fa­mous an­i­mal, much like Van. And I found a cheery taxi driver, who spoke as much English as I speak Turk­ish (none) and through a sys­tem of laugh­ing, point­ing, hand sig­nals and a note my friend in Mardin had writ­ten for me, we were soon bar­relling through the Anatolian coun­try­side. I al­ways travel with hope and ex­pec­ta­tion, and I was not dis­ap­pointed – I spent a cou­ple of hours with sev­eral of the most mag­nif­i­cent spec­i­mens. They may be fear­some to look at, but in truth they are the gen­tlest of gi­ants, know for be­ing es­pe­cially good with very young chil­dren.

Oh, and Tick, my friend's res­cue dog?

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