LETTERS: Save an Armenian Gampr

Deke is a Gampr in need

To the Editor:

There are many things that come to mind when you think of Armenia – but the Gampr is probably not at the top of your list. The Gampr is a dog breed native to the Armenian highlands, with a history that is more than 2,000 years old. They are a majestic, noble herding breed. Sadly, my Gampr does not look like this. In these photos you see a Gampr with a very painful condition, most probably caused by Rickets because in the short 6 months that he has been alive, he has been a stray and starving to death. His name is Dikran or “Deke” for short.

I say my Gampr because I am having this dog brought from Armenia to Los Angeles so that an orthopedic surgeon in the states can perform the necessary surgery to help save this dog. If he stays in Armenia, he will have limited resources available for his care, and there is no orthopedic surgeon with the knowledge and experience to perform the surgery needed to correct this type of deformity. If he stays in Armenia, in all likelihood he will be put to sleep.

You are probably asking yourself why put all this effort into saving a dog in Armenia when clearly there are thousands upon thousands of abandoned, sick, neglected and abused dogs in America. My answer would be simple . . . somebody had to help this dog, and I quickly realized that that someone would have to be me. And then a village came together and there were a multitude of “someones” putting wheels in motion, chief among them being Coastal German Shepherd Rescue, a non-profit, charitable organization that saves thousands upon thousands of stray, abandoned, neglected and abused dogs from the “high kill” shelters of southern California.

So it’s really quite simple… I need your help to defray the costs of bringing Dikran to Los Angeles and to help pay for the costly surgery to repair his legs. At the very least, all I’m asking for is that someone or many “someones” possibly give up their morning coffee to make a donation to the non-profit organization Coastal German Shepherd Rescue. Help Coastal bring Dikran to the states and provide for all of his medical and housing needs. Once Dikran has recovered, he will be available for adoption. You can contact Coastal for applications at www.coastalgsr.org.

This dog was saved from the streets by our brethren in Armenia. Now it’s up to the Diasporan Armenians and to animal lovers everywhere to give him the life he deserves here in America. You may not be the one who gets on a plane to Armenia to bring our Gampr to safety. You may not be the one who performs the life-saving surgery. But you can play a significant role in his journey towards a better life. Please consider donating to save this noble breed of Armenian descent.

Laura Manukian
West Hollywood, Calif.


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  1. bigmoustache said:

    Its noble what you’re doing but the whole breed needs to be saved. Turks are trying to claim the van cat and Turks and kurds are trying to claim the kangal dog. The gampr is still unrecognized by mainstream associations and the govt is doing nothing about it to preserve the breed. Guidelines need to be established to keep the breed pure and efforts have to be made to have it recognized. Most importantly the Armenian govt should crack down hard on animal cruelty. I saw dog fighting videos for sale at vernisage (bazaar) which i found totally disgusting and immoral.
    Sorry to get off topic but these things are important too.

    • Laura Manukian said:

      I agree with everything you said. While all of the issues you raised are very important, I as an individual in America can only do so much . . . and I have chosen to save abused, neglected, and sick dogs here in America and in Armenia as well. I don’t even know how to begin to address safeguarding the breed, which it should be, especially with all the evil breeders that exist in Armenia that are corrupting the breed and just reproducing at an irresponsible rate and in a harmful way. How do you stop the corruption? How do you get municipalities in Armenia, and the government of Armenia as a whole to address the overpopulation problem, the rampant strays that roam the country, no low cost or free spay/neuter clinics for people who can’t afford to spay and neuter. There seems to be one animal rescue in Yerevan, Dingo Animal Lovers. What they are trying to accomplish is staggering against the backdrop of a country and a culture that does not view cats and dogs as family members. My hat goes off to the small team of rescuers who are trying to plug a dam bursting at the seams with a million holes.

  2. Arziv said:

    Yes, we must help Dikran , and donate for the purpose of his rstoration to health. The gampr’s are lovely creatures. We must go to any lengths to rescue and rehabilitate dikran.

  3. Arman said:

    You lost me right at this point in the article: “You are probably asking yourself why put all this effort into saving a dog in Armenia when clearly there are thousands upon thousands of abandoned, sick, neglected and abused [dogs] in [America].” Replace “people” with [dogs] and “Armenia” with [America]. I am understanding Laura Manukian’s concerns about the Gampr dog. But the REALITY is that often on this planet animals are treated/cared for/spoiled better than many people, especially people in third world countries, Armenia being one of them. I hate to break it to you but the money you will spend on this dog would be better spent on an Armenian PERSON. There are many starving, neglected, homeless Armenians in Armenia. Go to Youtube.com and look at Yurik the scrap metal collector who spends his days in landfills and trash dumps outside Yerevan so he can collect metal and recycle it to earn money for his family. His wife is sick and bed-ridden. No one can afford the money for her medical treatments. His son is unemployed and his only prospect is to go to Russia to find low paid migrant labor. Even if he succeeds in going to Russia, who can guarantee that he won’t become a criminal there or be involved in drugs, alcohol, and prostitution. There are so many wasted young lives on Russia’s mean streets, and Armenian hoodlums, thieves, drug dealers, prostitutes and strippers are among them. Just like you Laura Manukian want to save the life of Dikran the DOG, I want to collect resources to help Yurik the MAN. After seeing the video footage, I was touched by Yurik’s humanity, his decency, and his sense of dignity and honor. I would like to advise Armenians to muster their strength and try to save the life of every Armenian PERSON in danger and neglect. A Nation is made up of individual families, and families are made up of individual PERSONS. A Nation is not made up of individual dogs. Saving an endangered dog will not strengthen the Armenian Nation. Saving even ONE ARMENIAN INDIVIDUAL will help strengthen the Armenian Nation. Look at those combat veterans with missing limbs in Artsakh. Look at those without wheelchairs. Look at those who are half-freezing in winter. They would sure appreciate funds for a new home built for them. The snobs at Armenia Fund, Inc. will never do benevolent projects about one family or person at a time. They want to work with the Armenian Government and pick out large, open-ended infrastructure projects which are expensive, slow to complete, and don’t effect he lives of individuals as much as they would like to think. WE must help the individual in Armenia/Artsakh. Armenia’s people are PEASANTS. That’s how poor they are in the countryside. Middle Ages feudalism. A “feudal lord” like LISKA [aka Suren Khachatryan] can have any peasant ruffed up, killed, robbed, abused, exploited, without being accountable to the law. That bastard LISKA practically owns the Syunik region because he’s the Governor there, and the President is his “sponsor.”
    I am on the side of the Armenian individual. I believe in small government and empowering the individual. I want government to have a healthy FEAR of the PEOPLE. I don’t believe in collectivism. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about because I was born and raised in a poor Eastern European Communist country. Let people’s wounds be bandaged first, and then the dogs can be rescued. Let people be rescued first, then we can worry about dogs. While you’re paying for this dog’s surgery, do you know how many Armenians would like to have life saving surgery??????????????? Just look at the good work of the “With Our Soldiers” program. The war veterans need medical treatment. Let me assure you government-run healthcare in the ex Soviet Union was terrible. I should know…..when I was born, there was an e-coli bacteria outbreak IN THAT HOSPITAL’S MATERNITY WARD OF ALL PLACES!!!!!!!!!!!!! Long story short, Laura Manukian, I have just elaborated on our two very different and diametrically opposed worldviews. We have these opposing worldviews perhaps because of our different pasts and upbringings. Or maybe because you live in WEST Hollywood with its “feel good” environmental liberals, and I live in NORTH Hollywood where I see the lives of first generation Armenian immigrants fleeing ex-Communist Eastern Europe for the freedom of America. No matter what, I’d never save a dog over a person.

    • Laura Manukian said:

      I have a very simple answer for all that you have asked and all that you have stated. . . we each find a cause that we are passionate about and we pursue that cause relentlessly, and by doing so we leave our mark in that one area. My cause is animal rescue. I cannot fight all the battles in Armenia. I cannot fight the corruption, the poverty, the sickness and the unemployment. But you might be able to make a difference if you choose to pursue that cause because it is clearly your passion. There are some who passionately fight to help children who have been abused or sexually assaulted. There are those who are passionate about saving the environment. There are others who are passionate about politics. And let’s not forget the people who passionately work to keep the arts alive for future generations. Some fight for gay rights. There are hundreds of causes and I can’t take up the mantle for all of them. What moves my soul are the animals that are abused by humans. While humans are in need of help, it is also clear that because they have a voice and a mind and a free will, they can fight for themselves. They can fight for change. The animals only have humans to fight on their behalf. I will spend my every breath fighting the evil in humans that choose to fight dogs for sport or money. You will find this a foolish venture on my part and that’s okay. But I will die knowing I did everything in my power to fight this kind of horrific human barbarity against innocent animals. The people in Armenia have choices. The choices may cost them their lives, but they nevertheless have free will. They must choose to stand up against the institutionalized corruption and fight to save themselves. No revolution comes without the cost of human sacrifice. Clearly, the Armenians in Armenia are not ready to lay down their lives to overthrow the sickness that has taken over their government. And as for our different backgrounds, I may work in a liberal “feel good” environment, but my grandfather watched his entire family annihilated during the Armenian Genocide and fought besides his brothers in arms to save Armenia. I come from a long line of proud Dashnaks who devoted their lives to the Armenian Cause. And not one of them would feel the way you do. In fact all of them would tell you that they believe in the saying by an ancient philosopher (the name escapes me right now) that you can judge a group of people, or a country for that matter, by the way they treat the most innocent creatures in its care, and he meant that to include animals.

      • Ana Lovesbooks said:

        Look people are people, and dogs are dogs! Helping dogs does not mean not helping people. If Laura M. wants to save that poor dog, help if you can! Not try to say that she is wrong! There is nothing wrong in saving dogs, it makes society more humane.
        And if you want to open line to help Yuki do so, try……….good luck!

  4. Anahid said:

    will Coastal recognize that my donation is for Deke? I don’t mind helping other animals as well, but I really wanted to help Deke as soon as possible and I wanted to make sure that Coastal knows

    • Laura Manukian said:

      Anahid, if you use the account that is provided in the letter, the money goes into an account that is specifically for Deke’s medical care and only his medical care. Coastal German Shepherd Rescue is online and Deke or Dikran is on their front page. They are a very reputable organization and highly respected and trusted in the rescue world. Thank you for your consideration.

  5. Sarkis Jacob Babachanian said:

    With due respect for your noble intentions, there are plenty of people in Armenia, here and elsewhere who could benefit from your money. Yes, it is your money; do with it what you will, but know this: $300 will pay for one entire cleft lip/palate surgey through The Smile Train saving a child from a destitute family (in countries like Armenia where such surgeries are not routinely done at birth) from ridicule, embarrassment and disability. Such a surgery would enable him or her to attend school without (or with less) bullying, drink and eat normally and have the chance of finding friends and a mate. The admin cost are underwritten by wealthy donors, so all donations go to the surgery. I love dogs and have always enjoyed their friendship, but some perspective may be in order. Just saying.

    • Laura Manukian said:

      Then my friend, you should take up the mantle of raising funds for all the children with debilitating physical deformities. Start a non-profit organization devoted solely to this cause. Read what I wrote above to Arman. If you feel passionately about this, go forth and create good deeds to achieve even one of these surgeries. I donate to the Armenian Tree Project, the Armenian Eye Care Project and to Dingo Animal Lovers. Here in America I donate to other well deserved Armenian charities. My passion lies with saving animals. I will spend my every breath to save them from the hands of humans that I find despicable and a waste of human breath. We make a difference in this world when we do what we love and what we have a gift for. I can’t be everywhere at once helping everyone in need. But the money I donate to the Armenian Eye Care Project every year helps to restore sight to hundreds of Armenians, especially seniors, who have spent years being blind unnecessarily because their government is too corrupt to even care about them. With my yearly donations to the Armenian Tree Project I help to reforest a land that was stripped of all it’s forests for fires so that people could stay warm throughout the bitter cold winters. This organization also helps to bring jobs to Armenia and helps the people of Armenia to raise their own crops and be able to support their families. Like I said, I can only do so much. Other people need to step up as well.

  6. Nairi said:

    Nice, but in Armenia there are many children in need of surgeries, diabetes is rampant and a dog is not a high priority.

    • Laura Manukian said:

      Please read my response to Arman and Sarkis and perhaps you will understand that it is easier to criticize those who try to help with what they can than to actually start your own non-profit organization and make a difference in the areas you feel passionately about.

  7. Terry said:

    Any leaving and breathing thing is worth saving, especialy dogs that can be saved and trained to help our people with dissabilities( blinds, etc) and be companions to our children and elderly. I think they will care more for their owners than people. Good for you Laura.

    • Laura Manukian said:

      Thank you Terry. At least someone sees the value of dogs. If people would actually do some research, they would see that dogs are invaluable to soldiers during wartime as battle buddies, to the retired soldier who is battling horrific PTSD to the elderly who are left alone with no one in their final years. It is proven scientifically that companion animals help you to live longer, bring incredible comfort to the sick and dying and help children and adults who are victims of abuse and rape to begin to trust again and to live again. But I guess, that really doesn’t count for much.

  8. Laura Manukian said:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

  9. Dave Guild said:

    Dikran came to stay at my facility, K-9 Adventures, at the end of May 2013. I had never met Laura before then and only knew that someone from Coastal German shepherd rescue was bringing a dog to us for rehabilitation. My first thought was that this was not a GSD and that whatever it was, I had never seen one before. I rapidly fell in love with Deke and in September my family and I adopted him into our family. I have been training dogs for 34 years and can honestly say that I have never met a dog remotely like this before. Within that adorable face is the toughest, most loving, most driven dog I have ever seen. Without the need for surgery Deke’s legs are completely healed and he has not one ounce of emotional damage from the hard life he came from. His story inspires every person who meets him. He is truly the picture of redemption. We adore him and he adores us. I am forever grateful to Laura and her friends for bringing this amazing dog into my life. As I read the above comments from the critics of what Laura has done, two questions come to mind. Do those people have even the remotest idea of what Laura does to help others that she is too humble to mention? And what are they themselves doing to help others?

  10. JT said:

    its disgusting to read all these insensitive comments. Laura Manukian, i’m sorry you had to defend yourself to these senseless comments, just keep doing what you’re doing, we need many people like you instead of lazy criticizers who like to bring others down so they feel better about themselves…

  11. edward demian said:

    Interesting the response this mutt garnered, as opposed to other more substantial issues. But, I too will contribute to the irrational human -canine bond, and be the first to offer to offer to adopt Dickran. I need a good watch dog. The Kaylachecht is perfect. I’ll probably need more than one.

  12. JT said:

    Can I get an update on the dog? I just stumbled across this and I’m so upset seeing the dog in this condition. God bless you for being willing to go above and beyond for this beautiful creature. And ignore all the naysayer and negativity people are giving you.

    • David M. Guild said:

      An update on Dikran can be found by going to the website guardiandogministries.org or by ordering online the book “The Story of Dikran.”