Young Faroukh and his shepherd dogs

I love dogs. I have one myself. Toshka is his name and I treat him like a son. I never fear nor panic when dogs bark at me. They’re just doing their job, guarding their territory. However… a couple of days ago, for the first time since I was a small child, I didn’t know whether I should run for my life from a dog. This was a BIG dog, which belonged to a shepherd boy named Faroukh. 

The story goes like this. We set up our camp, well, basically just popped up the roof-tent and took out a couple of chairs. In the distance there were some sheep, shepherds and of course, dogs. I greeted the people, asked if the area was ok to camp. They said yes. The dogs let out a token bark, as I was still far away. 

It was when I launched my drone that the dogs went totally nuts. One tried to jump at the machine when I was about to land it. Luckily there was still plenty of battery that I could make it go up again. I had to land it some distance away from me, in case the dogs still thought it was a good idea to attack the drone. I tried scaring one dog off by pretending to throw a stone at him. He wasn't convinced. I did throw a stone in his direction and since I wasn’t very close, he seemed like he couldn’t care less. Finally, after the drone kept still for a few minutes the dogs lost interest and went back to the flock. 

We went on about our business, making tea and heating up Mia’s food. But then the flock of sheep started moving towards us. There were new shepherds. I wanted to say hello and take some photos. After all, how cool is it when the people you’re interested in photographing actually come to you? I told Tanya and Mia that it might be a safer idea to move into the car. 

The same dogs that tried to attack my drone started barking again. I made just a couple of steps towards the shepherds and they were ready run at me. First were the little ones, which weren’t so little, since an adult dog like these is probably at least 50-60kg. I didn’t care much about the pups, but, stopped in my tracks when the two big dogs (one of them is in the photo above) started to move towards me. 

I know not to run away from a dog, but, I asked myself - What the heck am I gonna do if one or both of them go for me? These dogs are big beasts, without ears to grab them by. They have spiked collars (again, can't grab them) and don’t scare when someone pretends to throw a stone at them. I was ready to make a run up the roof of my car, but suddenly, both of the animals stopped. The shepherds were shouting at them all the way and commanding them to back off. It seemed that the commands finally sunk in. 

Finally things settled down. I interacted with the shepherds, carefully made some photos and the dogs chilled out a bit. The next morning the flock came past our little camp again. These dogs are pretty smart because this time they couldn’t care less about me. It’s like they understood that I was harmless and it wasn’t worth wasting energy on me.

With everyone in a happy mood, I decided to photograph Faroukh with the big dog that freaked me out most (near the top of the post) as well as the little pups. 

Despite the fact that they’re gonna be mean guard-dog machines when they grow up, these dogs are ridiculously cute when they’re pups.

Above is a shot of the area where we camped. We were actually at a cross-roads for the shepherds and their flocks. Works great for photos, the subjects come to you. 

Since we're in the East of Turkey, we're technically in a sensitive area. People in the West of the country are totally freaked out by the idea of visiting these parts because of the Turkish government and the PKK conflict. The PKK has never targeted tourists (apart from one politically motivated incident with Germans) so, I was not too concerned at any stage. However, as we set up camp, I heard some explosions in the distance. I asked one shepherd if it was dangerous. He replied that it was VERY far away and all was fine here. And so, we went to sleep with an occasional explosion in the distance. Strangely, it was not at all unnerving. I guess being reassured by a local does a lot for the peace of mind.