night falls in the mountains, Ljus and Zoë are worth as much as two
armed battalions. I spent my life with the flock and the Sarplaninci.
The sheep neither like to be without dogs.
They say that a good dog is worth as much as half of the flock. I would
not give Ljus and Zoë away for a whole flock. I know that if I would
loose an entire flock I would manage to replace them but finding a good
Sarplaninac is not as easy as you think. Even with good parents you can
get a bad descendent. I believe that the Sarplaninac becomes a good shepherd
dog only when near to the flock. Lot is needed to happen…
A few years ago they tried to start a farm of Sarplaninci in the place
of Dragas but it did not work. If they asked me I would have told them
this story about Zoë and Ljus. It is may be also the story about
my life. My best years I spent near to the flock and the dogs. Most probably
they would have understood me.
I also have another dog but it is not the same kind. It is a Sarplaninac
as per its origin and appearances. However when I am in the mountains
for several months, I discover who is who. For example, while I am eating,
Ljus and Zoë will not come near me, they are staying with the sheep.
When they are eating I am keeping an eye on the sheep. There is always
somebody who has to stay with the flock. A dog who is looking into the
plate of another dog is not a Sarplaninac and he is also not my dog anymore.
It is my criteria when I value a dog.
I just said it, the Sarplaninac needs the flock to become a good shepherd
dog and he also needs freedom! Ljus and Zoë have never been locked
up for a minute or under a roof. They spent years running around the flock.
If a sheep starts to limp they never abandon it. They are spending all
night near to it and protect it. When you chain up a Sarplaninac, it is
not growing. It can grow up to one meter, only when it is free.
Once on the mountain, a stranger came to me. While he came nearer, Ljus
jumped on him. The man started to shout. I ran to protect him. It was
only at that moment that the man got mad. He said that my dog could have
hurt, or mutilate him, that I had to take care of my dog. He was swearing
and gesticulating with his arms. At that moment Ljus jumped on him without
getting the order from me. He knocked him down and kept him on the ground.
I never saw Ljus like that. I approached again not saying anything to
Ljus, I searched the man. His documents looked strange to me. I left the
flock to Ljus and I went to the police station. It appeared that the man
was a fugitive and that he wanted to cross the border…
However the hardest test is the confrontation with the wolf. Ljus was
very young when one night the wolves came.
I was sleeping with the sheep. It was very cold. I woke up on time but
I was powerless, I did not dare to move. I thought that Ljus was a coward
as I did not hear him!
I did not come to the end of this thought or Ljus jumped on the first
wolf. He became a shepherd’s dog.
I believe that a good shepherd dog is as intelligent as a human. Sometimes
when I think about it, I am surprised and even afraid. Up there on the
mountain, when you are all alone everything seems different.
For example Zoë, she has never abandoned the flock. She only abandoned
me once. It was to give birth. She went up into the rocks. When night
was falling I was thinking how much vulnerable and helpless I was without
her. I thought all the time about her. I knew it was also not easy for
her. She also was all alone. That night the wolves killed some sheep.
Even the gun was of no help.
next day Zoë appeared. She checked the flock, as usual, and she stopped.
It looked to me as if she put down her head. I went to her and caressed
her. We stayed a long time like that. Afterwards I milked a sheep and
I gave her a bit of milk. She drank a bit and went back on the mountain.
I followed her. I say that Ljus and Zoë are like the right and the
left arm. I have never sold a Sarplaninac!
Once I offered one, when somebody from community came to ask me to donate
it to somebody. I do not know if it was a real shepherd dog or one that
resembles a Sarplaninac. It was separated too early from the flock.
(This story about Sarplaninci was brought to us by Safet Becirovski, 51
years old, one of the best shepherds in the community of Dragas. He possesses
a flock of 250 sheep. Recently the shepherds of the village of Brod have
chosen him as their representative.).
This article, I took from the magazine “Politika”, dated 17th
November 1978. It is this story that inspired me to give the name Zoë
to my first bitch. The coincidence wants that we went to get her by passing
through Dragas and Brod in Restelica