Thursday, July 30, 2009


My rescued Akbash Keeva came to the town where I live as a tiny six week old puppy
  she was found with her parents at a truck stop along the interstate in Wyoming. The parents had been there a week looking for food according to the people working at the truck stop. Some young guys that were driving across the country decided to take the tiny pup with them to California. The parents were wary of people and would not come to them so they decided to get the pup.
    A few days later I was in a crowded coffee shop, in the town where I live in CA. I was sitting reading a book when I felt something at my foot. I looked under the table to see a tiny white fuzzy pup curled up with her head alongside my tennis shoe! Seems the young man that brought her from Wyoming was a regular at the coffee shop and just let her wander about that morning. Out of everyone there she curled up at my feet! Okay I know I sometimes smell like a dog, working with them as I do!
   That day started my involvement in her life. I watched her grow into a remarkable looking dog. She was always unusual looking but became even more so. She developed a very tall and long-legged appearance, with fine bones and a delicate agile gait. Her pure white longish hair culminated in a plumed tail with a little curl at the end. It was often carried up and over her back in a loop. Her large beautiful and very expressive eyes were a deep brown, framed by black liner and exquisite white eyelashes.
                                                   Her demeanor was just as remarkable as her appearance. The young man did not care for her very well and she was often left to wander about town. Remarkably calm and self-possessed for such a young dog, she managed herself well. Successfully negotiating traffic on the busy corner where the coffee shop was. She could often be found wandering without a collar or leash, and sometimes dragging a rope around her neck. She would wander to the coffee shop and the local high school looking for her friends! People knew how fond I was of her and would report sightings around town.
 One day I was with her, I often had her for days at a time as the young man could sometimes not care for her. We were in a neighboring city in a pet shop wandering the aisles A tall bearded man came up to us, stopped in his tracks, and said "where did you get your Akbash"?  "My what"? I said. "Your Akbash" he repeated. He seemed intent on an answer to this unintelligible question so I began to look down at myself, thinking he might be referring to something I was wearing! Then I noticed he was fixated on Keeva. "Your dog, your Akbash" he said enthusiastically. He went on to explain to me what an Akbash was, it turns out a good friend of his was a breeder and he had been around them a lot. I began to research and learn about the breed. I found this picture in Dog Fancy magazine. He was one of the main sire's around at the time and I think Keeva must be related to him. The Akbash dog was described as "an elegant rare breed from Turkey".

Here is Keeva at age twelve looking very much like him!

  Over the next year Keeva's life took a dramatic downturn. Growing very thin due to lack of food, and often having accidents or bite wounds from being placed in dangerous situations by the young man. I tried to look for them and take her food and water but sometimes could not find them for long stretches of time. I always had her on my mind and even sought help from the authorities regarding her lack of care. Eventually she had a severe enough injury,  a foot broken in a car door, that caused action to be taken by the authorities.
   Eventually I ended up with Keeva when she was about two years old and began to restore her health and mental well-being. She went from a low of 58lbs to 85-90lbs. Her hair grew out from thin and sparse to so soft and healthy. Being a long-coated Akbash she grew a very long thick coat.
   Keeva always enjoyed the beach and I took her often She loved the wide open space and ocean smells.
Oh and of course a good roll in the sand!!! We visited beaches all along the west coast.

Even though dogs are not allowed on the beach in our city we would sneak on and hide from the rangers...Keeva had perfect beach manners!
    I was always curious about where Keeva came from, Wyoming. I found a story NPR had done on a wyoming rancher and her Akbash dogs. I called her and she told me all about the range dogs in Wyoming. Keeva was born to range dogs, that is why she was along the interstate with her parents. The range dogs follow the sheep and guard them over open rangeland. The male and female Akbash dogs mate for life and when the female is pregnant they leave the herd and seek a den to have the pups in. She explained Keeva could have been the only pup to survive from the litter or more could have been back at the den. Perhaps others were taken by passersby. She said probably the parents would find the sheep again once the pups were gone. She sent me a picture of her young female Akbash on a bale of hay. I sent her this head shot of Keeva about the same age. We remarked how they could be cousins they look so much alike!

Keeva always accompanied me wherever I went so she had many friends.

You could say Keeva was a happy dog and look at that smile!


Unknown said...

This is a lovely tribute. Keeva had a rough start, but was so fortunate to have found you. You had a beautiful relationship, and though she is gone from your physical life, I know you'll always have her with you. I hope all the rescue Akbashes have such perfect luck. Keep up the great work you do.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful and inspiring story!

straughie said...

Thank you for your comments. Not a day goes by I don't think of her and it helps me to have her memory alive....Janet