“Often described as reserved, that is more their public face. With family and accepted friends, THEY ARE SWEETLY LOVING AND OFTEN QUITE ENGAGING, SILLY AND FULL OF TRICKS.”
At age 4, Disa prevented a Kuvasz that was not socialized with children from pursuing a screaming child.
there he stood, barking at a door that linked house to garage. After the third or fourth time, royally annoyed with this barking critter, we fi nally paused and listened carefully. Faintly, we heard the slightest whooshing sound and upon opening the door, we saw a lake of water. A pipe had broken and water was fl ood- ing the garage and would soon fl ow into the house! We were saved by a dog that acted on his own initiative, even when told to hush. A Kuvasz’s ability to act without direction can be striking. At one of our large parties, with lots of dogs and chil- dren, a few of them unfamiliar with one another, a six-year-old girl suddenly leapt up, screaming and ran across the yard. A Kuvasz bitch that had no experience with children took o ff after the shouting child. As we adults called to the child to stop and called to the bitch to drop, Disa, our 4-year-old male, in-charge Kuvasz raced and grabbed the bitch solidly by the tail, pulling and holding her until the humans could intervene. In our long line of Kuvasz, we’ve had soccer-playing Kuvasz and those who want nothing to do with a ball; keen hunters and those who watch squirrels and birds as if they were part of their fl ock. None of ours has wanted to swim (others do), though visiting Flat-Coated and Golden Retrievers have bounded into the pool to be watched by our Kuvasz as if some other species. All our Kuvasz have liked playing what famous Kuvasz breeder Aino Andres calls “doggie dress up”: rolling in every dead and disgusting thing, happy to dis- guise themselves. We have learned to be
ever vigilant in fi nding any dead things on the property to spare ourselves this canine party game. Our Kuvasz are interesting beings. Often described as reserved, that is more their public face. With family and accepted friends, they are sweetly loving and often quite engaging, silly and full of tricks. Th ere is an old Hungarian saying that the master’s friends are the dog’s friends and the master’s enemies the dog’s enemies. It has seemed true with all our Kuvasz; they enjoy our friends’ attention, yet suspicious- ly keep watch of any new person. Our Kuvasz have been gentle with chil- dren but the children were taught to be gentle and respect our Kuvasz. Kuvasz are by nature quiet and relaxed in the house and yet will spring into action at any change in the environment. No one enters our property without the sound and fury of barking dogs. Our Kuvasz have been stoics. I have seen many very sick, elderly dogs su ff er end-of-life illness with little sign that any- thing is wrong. Th eir stoicism means that a deteriorating condition can be overlooked; thus, we owners must be vigilant in watch- ing for subtle changes. Our Kuvasz have been great teachers, showing patience and forgiveness when we‘ve made mistakes and showing joy in simple pleasures, whether walking, climb- ing and running about the land; driving o ff a fox or deer; smelling fl owers; eating an occasional bee; sunbathing; smiling; or lying upside down in complete and utter relaxation. Our Kuvasz, the ancient Hungarian livestock-guarding breed, is not for every-
one. Th is is a dog that will fi ll the boss spot in a family if there is insu ffi cient human leadership. For the right family or individ- ual, the Kuvasz is a remarkably engaging, sometimes challenging, noble friend. In an ever-present cloud of “Yes, they do shed,” Kuvasz owners fi nd themselves with dogs that work as livestock guardians and do agility, obedience, rally, tracking, conformation, therapy, carting and more. But most important, they are wonderful family members. And so, these many years later, my husband no longer runs, the children are grown and I’m a bit slower. Yet thanks to wonderful, dedicated breeders who have long persevered to improve and maintain this magni fi cent breed of herdsmen and kings, a handsome male Kuvasz—Rebel Ridge Big Easy Music, CD RN CGC (Jazz)—gets us up and walking, throwing things, playing silly dog games, compet- ing in dog sports, cuddling and driving hither and yon. Th rough it all, he con- nects us to an ancient community of Kuvasz and their enthusiasts.
A. Laurie Leslie Leevy is a 30-year member of the Kuvasz Club of America and has served as editor of
“Selections from the Kuvasz” Newsletter. A member of the Suburban Dog Training Club, in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania and a lifelong gardener, she stays busy training in Open Obedience and in the reading- comprehension sport known as Rally.
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