Nuns raising pups: Adorable residents of the Khareba Convent

Khareba nunnery, which is located in the town of Kareli, Shida Kartli region, is famous for its amazing Caucasian Shepherd puppies. So, in order to see and photograph the adorable creatures, we took a little journey. Georgian Journal’s reporters were warmly received and hosted by the nuns who reside there. Thanks to them we discovered plenty of interesting things about the famous dog breed.

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“The Caucasian Shepherd is an ancient breed of dog; it does not need special training in order to do its job well. It is a guard dog by nature. It will never stand on two feet or fetch its master candy as the German Shepherd does. It is too proud and arrogant to perform such simple tasks.”

30f14fc5ea9b5db5ceb3c8ee2976ed13 (1)At present, the monastery has five dogs, three of them puppies named Balu, Adeli and Pepo. Two other dogs are Loka-Puta, the mother of the puppies, and Basa, the eldest sister among the siblings.
The monastery hosts the tomb of Mariam Batonishvili, the daughter of the powerful Georgian King Erekle II. It was built in 1850. The nuns settled down here a year and a half ago when living quarters were constructed near the church.
One cannot pass by the yard of the monastery without stopping and gazing at these amazing creatures for a while or at least without a smile of adoration. The first thing that comes to mind upon seeing Caucasian Shepherd puppies is cotton candy. Their resemblance to big fluffy cotton balls would be uncanny if not for their sharp teeth.

“Sometimes people raise them in strict conditions in order to stir aggression in them; this is a big mistake. The Caucasian Shepherd’s nature is already quite severe, so, on the contrary, these dogs should be treated with friendliness and warmth to keep their character moderate.”

According to sister Manana, the primary trainer and caretaker of the dogs, she brought Loka-Futa to the monastery two and a half years ago. Since then, the life of nuns has changed entirely. Futa has won two dog exhibitions, just like her parents.who won many awards. Currently the nuns are planning to exhibit Futa’s puppies at the International Dogs Exhibition, which will take place in March.

Caucasian Shepherds stand out from other dogs due to their distinct character, bravery and kindness. These dogs possess a very gruff and harsh nature, but if they are brought up in a warm environment among people, their character softens and they become the best companions of humans.

“Sometimes people raise them in strict conditions in order to stir aggression in them; this is a big mistake. The Caucasian Shepherd’s nature is already quite severe, so, on the contrary, these dogs should be treated with friendliness and warmth to keep their character moderate.

“The Caucasian Shepherd is an ancient breed of dog; it does not need special training in order to do its job well. It is a guard dog by nature. It will never stand on two feet or fetch its master candy as the German Shepherd does. It is too proud and arrogant to perform such simple tasks. This dog knows its function very well and does its job perfectly. Georgian Shepherds have been guarding livestock and protecting its masters for centuries,” says Mother Superior Barbare.

As we were informed by the nuns, these dogs were initially called Georgian Shepherds but due to certain circumstances they were dubbed Caucasian Shepherds, which stuck. Nevertheless, Georgia remains their ancestral land. There are many cases of Armenia and Azerbaijan claiming that this breed of dog belongs to them, but such claims are false.

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“Whenever I feel bad, they feel it too and try to comfort me by licking and caressing me. They make me feel happy and, as a result, I immediately get rid of bad thoughts. It is strange, but these tough dogs are in fact very sensitive and easily offended. For instance, if I don’t take them for a walk they become sad and just lie on the ground for the entire day.”

All the dogs at the monastery have their official documents that prove their Georgian origin. It should be mentioned that many Georgian monasteries where Georgian Shepherds are kept play a big role in preserving this magnificent and ancient breed.

Sister Manana told us that she did not have any specific experience initially, but just observing the dogs and communicating with them has given her a lot of insight into their behavior and nature.

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“Whenever I feel bad, they feel it too and try to comfort me by licking and caressing me. They make me feel happy and, as a result, I immediately get rid of bad thoughts. It is strange, but these tough dogs are in fact very sensitive and easily offended. For instance, if I don’t take them for a walk they become sad and just lie on the ground for the entire day,” says sister Manana.
At the moment she is busy bringing up Balu, a male puppy, which is going to become a guard dog for Kareli’s Saint Giorgi Mtatsmindeli Gymnasium. The gymnasium’s rector, Archimandrite Stepane Korinteli, considers it very important for children to learn to appreciate and communicate with these fantastic animals. “The Georgian Shepherd stands out with its intellect, courageousness and strength. But the most important thing is that it is capable of self – sacrifice for a human being’s sake,” said Archimandrite Stepane.

According to the priest, besides Balu, he is also expecting a leopard cub as a gift. He is planning to keep them both in the gymnasium’s yard. If it really happens, it will be interesting to see whether these two dangerous animals will find common ground.

source: http://www.georgianjournal.ge/discover-georgia/29924-nuns-raising-pups-adorable-residents-of-the-khareba-convent.html

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