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The Old Man with the Bright Blue Eyes and A Greek Chorus 


                                    Ode to Our Akbash*

        Oh, Akbash dog, we sing your praises; we have seen the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the impossible performed by you.  Since you were a puppy, we have observed your antics as you destroyed/altered/renovated our home.  You have chewed/relocated/eaten bricks, metal, hammers, garden hoses, huge stones, plants and their decorative pots, the corners of every wall in the house, a whole couch, chairs, refrigerator magnets, and solar lights.  Especially solar lights. 

        As a sidenote - stars, the moon, and passing aircraft – seem to count in this category.  I have seen you bark, then howl, at the moon.  Probably out of sheer frustration because you couldn’t get to it and destroy it.

        You grew an inch a day, and so began to jump, then climb.  You learned to use the mysterious declaws, positioned halfway up your front legs and thought by us (and why wouldn’t we?) to be some type of aberration.  Maybe, but aberration just waiting for its maturity because these “dew claws” serve an important purpose.  Powerful and fortified with steel tendons, they enable you to go where most dogs are not wired to go.  This is either an evolutionary error, or else a harbinger of things to come.  The wildlife are as surprised as we are.  The squirrels think they are safe, then glance back with horrified, pinched squirrel countenances when they see what is coming up after them.  The deer do double takes and flee. 

        We have seen you test fences by leaping up and banging on them repeatedly, shaking six feet of cyclone fence to its core.  Then one day I saw you back up and gaze over and past the fence, and with horrified fascination, I realized where I had seen this behavior before.  A horse will deduce the power of its jump to clear an obstacle by setting its gaze directly across said obstacle.  If this is possible without raising its head disproportionately, the jump is likely to be successful.

        The next week, the hotwired fence made its appearance. 

        Most dogs dig holes – you dig burial pits.  A hole dug by a dog should not be three feet deep and four across.  Obviously, you have an agenda in which there will be inhabitants of these pits; we are just not privy to their identities yet.

        I have seen you count the fish in the pond and debate the odds of catching and eating one.  I count them, too, and at my last calculation, there were 15.  I do not expect to see any fewer tomorrow. 

        And yes, we have an inground pool.  For us.  Not for you and your friends.

        I know that for a long time, you thought your name was “No biting, no biting” or “No no bad dog” or several colorful and lengthy epithets.

        Every day, you try to herd the Chihuahua, knowing that this provokes him to hysteria. You seem mildly amused by this.  Sometimes you like to stare at him, just stare, until he froths at the mouth in rage.

        If you whine, this manifests as a whistle, an unearthly, soul-shivering sound.  Your bark is enough to challenge Cerberus.  You never barked until you were watching a movie and a man was barking.  The next day, you began and seemed to glory in the swelling cacophony.  Anything of particular interest to you evokes a bark ending in a spectacular howl. When we first heard this, another round of epithets spewed forward as we looked around, expecting to see something inescapable and frightening bearing down on us.  Well, there kind of was – a dog that grows an inch a day.

        It seems to be important to you that you stand on the highest vantage point possible.  We’re thinking of buying you a treehouse; we would let you inhabit the roof of our own house but then we would have no roof left.  After only two days, probably.  You should have your own demolition company – “Akbash Demolition No Stone Left Untouched.”

        I marked your growth progress on the wall of our enclosed porch.  When the marks started to become closer together, you began a regal atonement.  The biting and the manic chewing stopped, and wonder of wonders – you began to come to us when we called you (without the prerequisite treat, I might add).

        No more jumping up on us (and a good thing, because you would be my height if you were to do so).  You are also my weight now – 130 lbs.  You are a perpetually happy creature.  I sometimes feel like it was the invasion of the dog body snatchers.  Someone took the “no, no, bad dog” away and left this wonderful, gorgeous (with your wavy, Farrah Fawcett hair), loving animal.

        One thing remains though –  occasionally, you still have ways of reminding us that you are, after all, an Akbash, and you have agreed to a partnership. 

        The adventures (misadventures) were totally worth it!

*This breed has only been in the United States since the 1970s. They are Turkish dogs, bred for guarding livestock, and they are very independent because they are used to making their own decisions.

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