Book Reviews

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Big Dogs of Tibet and the Himalayas

A Personal Journey

Don Messerschmidt

2010, xiv, 268 pp., 40 b & w illustrations, 5 maps, bibliography, index, 23 x15 cm., softbound.

ISBN-13: 978-974-524-130-5 $29.50

Book review by Charles Allen

From Chowkidar Magazine London, UK; Vol. 12, No. 5, Spring 2011

Don Messerschmidt’s Big Dogs of Tibet and the Himalayas is… eccentric in its scope but a real delight to read—and not just by dog lovers or Himalayas travellers. The big dogs of his title are chiefly Tibetan mastiffs, a breed which I first encountered as giant cuddly creatures at the home of the head of the British Council in Kathmandu in 1966. A year later, however, I was attacked by a pack of these great brutes while trekking high in the Khumbu valley and there I saw the other side of their nature—and why they have been bred, which was to serve as guard dogs to yak and sheep herders. By coincidence Don Messerschmidt was also living in Nepal at that same time as a member of the Peace Corps, although we never met. Messerschmidt subsequently returned to Nepal as an anthropologist and more recently as a writer. Naturally, he acquired his own Tibetan mastiff, which went by the name of Saipal Baron of Emodus, known more familiarly as ‘Kalu’, who went on to collect a great many accolades at dog shows as an international champion. But this is much more than a book about a rare breed by a dog lover for other dog-lovers. It is also a work of exhaustive scholarship, full of bizarre and often extremely funny tales culled from a wealth of sources, assembled by a gifted writer who knows his dogs as well as he knows his mountains.

[Read a review from] [Read a review from ECS Nepal] [Read a review from Peace Corps Worldwide] [Read a review from The Italian Tibetan Mastiff Club] Download an excerpt from the book, published in ECS Nepal. [More Orchid Press Reviews]