Kucuk was acquired by Suzanne Strong through her friend, Ilene. Ilene owned Kahn, a male Anatolian Shepherd Dog (ASD), who was getting up in age. Ilene wanted a puppy from Kahn, so she talked Suzanne into raising a female ASD. It was agreed that Ilene would buy the female and Suzanne would pay her back with a puppy. Ilene then looked into puppies and found only one breeder, at that time, who was guaranteeing hips. The pup was chosen from a photo. In the picture, all the pups were climbing the fence toward the photographer except one. Kucuk (meaning "runt" in Turkish) was that pup. Suzanne wanted her because she stayed back with the sheep in the picture. Thus Kucuk came to be a goat guardian at the Strong farm.
Soon it was August, and County Fair time, in Clackamas County, Oregon. Kucuk was still a pup, 7 months old. Kucuk's owners were in a hurry that Monday morning. It was animal move-in day at the fair. Coming home late that evening, they noticed gates open in the barn. They thought they must have left the gates open accidentally in their haste. Luckily, the goats weren't running loose. Kucuk had kept them behind the feeder. So the next morning they double-checked the locks before leaving for the fair. One of the locks was a sophisticated two-fold lock.
Day two finished at the fair. The Strongs arrived home and found the gates open again and no Kucuk! Finally they found Kucuk cowering underneath the goat feeder. They coaxed and called for her. Eventually Kucuk crawled out on her belly. It was clear that someone had been up to no good with the goats and that Kucuk had been beaten. Poor, wonderful Kucuk! She had done her job; there were no missing goats and no harm done to the goats!
Jim Strong, a law enforcement officer, stayed home the rest of the week. Late Saturday evening, he told Suzanne that Kucuk just wasn't acting right. She wouldn't come into the barn to eat. He had to take food and water to her in the pasture. So early Sunday morning, Suzanne went to find Kucuk. Kucuk felt warm and dehydrated to her. Even more alarming, Kucuk would yelp when touched in certain spots. Strangely, she wouldn't yelp again if touched in the same areas. Suzanne gently carried her into the house and found she had a 107-degree temperature. Furthermore, Kucuk was refusing even the yummiest treats. The cats would get right in her face and eat out of her food bowl and still Kucuk would do nothing.
Later that day, Kucuk was taken to the vet. She was x-rayed and had a blood test to check for internal bleeding. There were no broken bones. Everything, including the blood test, checked out fine. The vet then referred the Strongs to a specialist. Because they could not afford one, they instead begged the vet to save Kucuk. A deal was arranged: a puppy for vet services. The vet herself consulted the specialist. "Have you considered spinal meningitis?" the specialist asked. Oxytetracycline was given to Kucuk. It worked! Kucuk began to come around.
Very soon, however, the Strongs learned the battle wasn't over. When they stopped giving prednazone to Kucuk, her fever would spike back up. Kucuk's body had begun to attack itself. The beating had apparently caused an autoimmune reaction. Once identified and treated, Kucuk's medical condition was resolved . . .
Until the next fall . . . and again the fall after that, when the autoimmune reaction mysteriously reappeared. Given the pattern and time of year, Suzanne determined that something in the fall was causing an allergy that triggered another autoimmune reaction. She began looking into natural remedies. She discovered that giving Kucuk the mother hormone, pregnetalone, before the fall season, helped to balance Kucuk's system so that she was able to avoid another autoimmune reaction.
When Kucuk was 12 to 18 months old, a goat doe she was guarding delivered a kid. The doe was not a good mother. She didn't know what to do with her baby, so she left it in the barn. Kucuk picked it up, put it in a safe place under the feeder, and cleaned it off. Later, when called, Kucuk wouldn't come to eat her food. She kept looking back at the feeder and wandering back there. That was when Suzanne discovered that Kucuk had saved the life of the newborn and was continuing to protect it. (The kid ended up being a bottle baby, as its mother would not nurse it.) After that, whenever the mother goats kidded, Kucuk liked to steal the babies and stick them in the feeder!
At about 2 years of age, Kucuk was guarding in the pasture while the owners were milking the dairy goats and doing chores in the barn. It was after dark. All the sudden, noises from a horrendous dog fight were heard from out in the pasture. It sounded very bad! The Strongs were afraid to go investigate for fear of what they would find. They heard what sounded like yelps as a dog ran off. A short time later, in trotted Kucuk into the barn, looking very pleased with herself. She began licking her fur as if it were just another day at work. The next morning, the Strongs discovered blood and chunks of dark fur all over the pasture. Kucuk had definitely tangled with a coyote and won!
After Kucuk turned 2 years old and received an "excellent" OFA hip rating, she was bred to Kahn. Because Kahn would not mount females, a single side-by-side artificial insemination (AI) procedure was performed. (Kahn's previous owner, a colonel, had reprimanded Kahn, so he had learned not to jump up.) Kucuk's first litter of 7 pups was born: 5 females and 2 males. In keeping with the agreements, Ilene was given a puppy as payback for Kucuk. The vet also was paid with a puppy. Zena, Sirin's dam, came from this litter. (You can see pictures of Zena, "Koyu Kirmizi Alim," other pictures of Kucuk, and also pictures of some of the other dogs in Sirin's pedigree at http://www.shepherds-rest.com/pedigree.html.)
Kucuk's second and final litter was sired by Bandit. (See yesterday's blog.) There were 9 puppies born in this litter: 4 females and 5 males. Akilli came from this litter.
When Kucuk was at least 3 or 4 years old, a load of oat hay was brought to the farm. At this time, Kucuk had become a great hunter and digger. She would kill rats . . . but not eat them. One day the owners were surprised to find that Kucuk had found a nest of baby rats: dinky, tiny, pink baby rats with no hair. Kucuk was carefully picking them up with the tips of her teeth and putting them next to her stomach to try and nurse them. Of course, the Strongs took the baby rats away and disposed of them properly. However, Kucuk kept finding more and repeating the process! The Strongs kept taking away baby rats just to find that Kucuk had found more . . . and not just a few! It seems that the new hay delivery was more than just hay!
I am sad to report that in October of 2005, when Kucuk was 10 years old, she passed away while asleep in her den. She was buried atop the knoll she loved so much. "Now she can always look out over her valley where she guarded her goats," Suzanne told me.
I am happy to report that Kucuk's daugher, Akilli, and her granddaughter, Sirin, are alive and well to carry on the Gokkusagi line that Suzanne Strong started. We are all eagerly anticipating Sirin's puppies, due to arrive next week (sired by Ballester's Rahman "Red": http://anatolianshepherd.cc/Redpage.htm).
[Thank you, Jim and Suzanne Strong, for the stories on Kucuk and Bandit, the wonderful photos, and the permission to post them here!]