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on Atlas Obscura
By Shoshi Parks, 23 Feb 2021
"On the Mongolian steppe, there are predators, there are prey, and there are the bankhar. These large, powerful dogs weigh up to 125 pounds, with shaggy, thick coats that give them a bear-like appearance. For 15,000 years, bankhar dogs have been the guardians of the steppe.
In these grasslands, sheep and other livestock kept by traditional nomadic herders are under constant threat from wolves, eagles, and even snow leopards. For millennia, the bankhar safeguarded both animals and the family’s livelihood. In acknowledgement of their importance, bankhar dogs are the only animals that nomadic herders name. The bond is so special that herders believe humans can be reincarnated as bankhar, and bankhar as humans, another unique honor."