- Jul 25, 2004
- Reaction score
- Norco, CA
Today was Akin's last day to work his farm and his herd - at age 16 (and 2 months) we felt it was time to release him from his aged body before he began to lose his lifelong dignity. He was still able to get around our hilly 2 acres and, although mostly blind, still helped us feed the horses and greet visitors, but it was getting harder for us to watch him move and wobble more and more.
A year or 2 ago, Akin developed nerve damage in his back end so that his beautiful tail could no longer rise in it's graceful curve over his back, but it could still wag from side to side... his back legs got looser and looked bad, but he never acted like he was in any pain, and his indomitable spirit never wavered.
We had tried to "retire" him to the yards around the house, but after a few months, this noble dog who had never defied a fence in his life, found ways to get out of the yard (that we never found!) and tried to dig back in to the area around the horses. So, we let him do what he wanted - he'd earned that right.
We were waiting for him to tell us that he wanted to go, but really he never had that "feeling" about him. Perhaps it was selfish of us, to have him put to sleep before he'd actually failed to function, but I have to believe that this dog who had lived his very long life with such dignity and purpose would have chosen to leave his body behind before he'd completely lost control.
It wasn't until I began to write this message that I remembered that this is the month that Akin is featured in the ASDI calendar - pictured with a 1 week old Bluefaced Leicester lamb. That photo is one of my favorites of Akin... he loved his sheep. He took care of our chickens and horses too. From just a few weeks after we bought him at 8 months old, we NEVER lost another chicken or duck to coyotes, owls or hawks.
He had a lifelong, passionate hatred of hotwire, developed after jumping onto a live wire shortly after we got him, and would always bark madly at the sound of a wire shorting out - so that even at 3am, we knew about the problem and could locate the exact spot to repair. <grin> Akin also had a hatred of skunks, after the one time he was NEARLY hit with spray (close enough that he needed a bath, anyway.) Cats were, in his opinion, just a variety of skunk as well. His rousing bark kept all the cats and skunks out of our yards.
Akin was also, in his younger days, an active horse trainer. We always were bothered by the fact that he would lay down in the barn aisle while we were doing things with the horses, refusing to show the self-preservation skills we would have liked to see from him... but it was quite a while before we found out why he felt no need to move away from our horses - and why they never seemed to get into his "space". We eventually began to see him doing his training sessions. When horses were turned out, he would deliberately walk into the arenas with them and lie down. If a horse came over to sniff him, he would explode into action, barking and screaming at them - causing the curious horse to leap backwards and clear the area. Then he would lay back down! After a couple times of this completely non-physical treatment, you couldn't have forced those horses to touch that dog!
Akin set a standard for us that few dogs will ever attain. We are raising a new Anatolian puppy, she's 5 months old now and shows all the wonderful breed character and sensibilities that Akin personified... but he set the bar very high. We will always have at least one Anatolian, because they are such wonderful dogs... and Akin was a most wonderful Anatolian... the personification of the breed and a magnificent spirit.
We will miss him terribly. I'm not quite sure how to run the place without him.
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