By Anastassiya Pastoukhova
The first round of the regional championship on tests of domestic wolfhounds and Central Asian sheep-dogs took place in the suburban Akzhar village. People simply call such tests - dog fights.
Trainings to exhaustion
Last Saturday the fenced site near Atyrau Refinery dachas (country-houses) was packed. The gathered audience, dog owners, organizers, judges and even wolfhounds were exclusively male. And that is understandable – those are men’s games. The owners of the dogs don't consider it an entertainment at all.
- What is a wolfhound? – asks Erlan Esenzhanov, the organizer of the championship, and answers himself: - “ This is not a plain dog. In old times they protected cattle from wild animals and were an integral part of domestic economy. But times has changed, and now tobets (Kazakh sheep-dogs) generally spend all their life in the dog- house on a chain. They are frightened of passersbys, or even worse – they are turned into cuty “teddy bears”. But they are the dogs with the spirit of soldiers and guards. We, the Kazakhs, belive that if tobet didn't pass the test fight, it can't be considered tobet.
The tobet owners start training their dogs at early age. They run 5-10 kilometers a day, running behind bicycle or car. When they grow up for training endurance and force they carry car tires on their necks. The special treatment, good nutrition and care turn them into real soldiers.”
… I looked into the ‘participants’ list and was impressed by the cool names of the dogs: Alypsok (Giant), Topzhar (Winner), Batyr (Hero), Sartai (in honor of Warrior Sartai - the leader of West Kazakhstan troops during the battle with jungars) , Paluan (Fighter), Spartak, Caesar …
The first pair of dogs appeared on the ring. It was apparent that they don’t want to fight at all. They both wagged their tails and looked at the disappointed audience, as if they didn’t know what is expected from them.
- The test failed! - someone shouted, but the judge continued: - It happens. If this pair doesn't want to fight, the rivals can be changed. They are living creatures, maybe, they liked each other.
There were about 30 dogs that came to the test. They need to pass such test when they reach the age of 2, otherwise their cubs are considered unplanned and documents aren't issued for such puppies.
The second fight lasted only a few seconds. I didn't even have time to choose which dog to support when the microphone announced the winner.
- Very often the battles are silent and dogs don’t yelp. But if one dog yelps the fight is considered over, - explained the organizer. Sometimes dogs put tails between the legs, start barking or even run away from the ring. It means the dog lost the battle.
The next pair was Sartai and Batyr. Dogs rushed to each other, jumped into the air and their jaws clutched on the back of their necks.
Flocks of wool flew into the air, first blood squirted on the ground and soon one of the dogs yelped.
It was Sartai. He lost the battle. It seemed to me that the dog and its owner were crying and stroking a huge dog’s head the owner kept saying: “ You are still the best…”.
Photos by Kanat Eleuov