Early on in the journey as the perilous Kazakh winter closed in a herder named Aset travelled with Tim for ten days. Before they parted ways, he told Tim about his grave concerns for his safety, and understood the dangers better than Tim. he said: “Tim, you need a friend on the road. Someone to keep you company to Hungary, keep you warm on cold nights in the tent, and most importantly, someone to protect you from the wolves."
Aset gave Tim 'Tigon-' a scrawny six month year old pup who was so desperate to get his paws out of the cold that he would leap off the snow onto Tim's shoulders.
Although Tim didn't rate Tigon's chances of survival very high, Tim soon discovered news from Australia that his family's dog in Australia had died on almost the exact day that Tigon had been gifted. It wasn't long before Tim and Tigon were inseparable. Together, they went through their own rite of passage on a journey neither had imagined.
Tigon's own adventures included being stolen, frozen, and revived on raw eggs and vodka. He was hit by a car and broke his ribs, grew into a man, and even had children along the way. To start with he had to find his own place to sleep in frozen Kazakh villages, but by the end was so spoilt that he would no longer accept bread from strangers unless it was lathered thick with cream and Jam. Tigon warmed the hearts of children along the way and made hundreds of canine friends. Like a true re-incarnation of Ghengis Khan he marked his territory across the globe.
Over time Tigon became more of an honoured traveller than Tim, and at times it seemed that he had become Tim's fearless guide.
What breed is Tigon?
Tigon - which means fast wind or 'hawk- is half kazakh Tazi breed (a sight hound), and half shepherd dog. Tazi's are an ancient breed for hunting hares and foxes. Since they are short haired and considered very clean, it is said that they are the only kind of dog that Kazakhs, as muslims, would traditionally allow into their home. Tazis are related to 'Salukis' which are regarded as one of the oldest known breeds in the world.