ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Photograph by Marie Minchington

Above:
Enjoying the countryside



The Valley of Secrets by Charmian Hussey, Hodder Children’s Books, Hardback £12.99, ISBN 0 340 89349 4. Paperback £5.99.
    Not the least of Charmian’s achievements in Turkey was importing a new breed of dog into Britain.
     She explains how it came about: “As a child I was a passionate animal lover. Horses and big dogs were my special interest. Being brought up in a semi-detached house with a small garden in a north London suburb meant that my involvement with such creatures existed, alas, only in the books I read and in my imagination. Yet I longed for a real involvement.”
     Visits to the British Museum as a child would find her gazing at the famous Assyrian wall reliefs. “My interest always focused on the big, handsome, smooth-coated, mastifflike dogs of war, parading on tight leashes with tails held high.
     “Imagine my excitement when, whilst working on the excavations at Nimrud many years later, I caught glimpses of similar kinds of dogs on the plains of Northern Iraq! Descendants of the ancient dogs?
     “Imagine my even greater excitement when I discovered a distinct breed of dog in Turkey, remarkably similar to those ancient dogs. Unknown outside Turkey, this was a tall, strongly built dog – mastiff-like in appearance, with short, fawn or striped brindle coat and black mask.”
     The colloquial Turkish name for the breed was Karabafl, although they were sometimes referred to as ‘çomar’, which means mastiff, or as the Kangal dog, since breeding had been centred in the district of Kangal.
     “During two years living in Turkey, I came to realise that the Karabafl was a much valued breed and that pockets of carefullybred dogs could be found in certain regions. It was a magnificent breed of dog. All my ‘dog longings’ returned. I wanted one. Simple as that! But acquiring a good example of this much prized breed was not simple. Quite another story.”
     Shortly afterwards, Charmian introduced the first pair of dogs to the UK and the Kennel Club registered them in their Rare Breed files. In due course, the breed became known as the Anatolian (Karabash) Dog with its own special standard.
     The Anatolian Karabash Dog Club was founded in 1968. Unfortunately, the Kennel Club later registered other imported Turkish dogs of no specific type and included them in the files along with the Karabash.
     She says sadly: “A misunderstanding of the Turkish language led certain people to believe that a simple phrase which only means ‘a shepherd’s dog’ (of any type) was the title of a specific breed. The registration of a motley crew of dogs, fitting into that general category, together with the establishment of an alternative breed club for generalised shepherds’ dogs, led to an absurd confusion.
     “This mess was followed in due course by the Anatolian Karabash Dog Club, somewhat in the style of David and Goliath, having to take the Kennel Club to court to fight to keep their special breed’s name and standard. But, although the tiny breed club won the day, the whole absurd scenario is now being re-enacted, with the official stance that the Karabash (Kangal Dog) is not a specific breed; that all big shepherds’ guarding dogs from Turkey, including the Karabash, are one and the same breed and, as such, qualify for pedigree registration as Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, with a standard which is broad enough to cover them all!
     “Whatever happened to common sense?” She remarks: “It is 40 years since I first introduced a fine breed to this country. As Patron of The Anatolian Karabash Dog Club, I now find myself heading an organisation, set up for an acknowledged breed, the existence of which is now denied by the British ‘powers that be’.
     “The bizarre story behind these events would make a great book or documentary,” she adds. “For truth can be stranger than fiction.”
     So how did The Valley of Secrets come about?
     “My son Nicholas is now 32. When he was six he was greatly upset by a television feature about the destruction of the Amazon.
     When he was 11 he created some novel, fantasy animals in the round, obtained a UK patent, aged 12, and later a US patent. He believed that, as refugees from the Amazon, the creatures could become ambassadors for the forests, raising money and awareness in an attempt to save the forests.
     “As a dyslexic, Nick was unlikely to write his story: how the creatures had been brought to England early in the 20th century; how, even as we spoke, in 1985, they were living in secret somewhere in Cornwall. So, I hijacked his story! It took 18 months to write.
     “With fantasy set in total reality, and unable to write about anything that I don’t understand, I found that I needed a lot of help – support and knowledge that was given with great generosity by people who are top experts in their fields: botany; anthropology; history of art; pharmacology etc.”
     Charmian is now working on another book and is about halfway through it. Like The Valley of Secrets, it is written for children of all ages.


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