Habibi is the most somatic dog I have ever had. Most Canaans tend to be a bit aloof as far as body contact goes – they come over for a bit of attention and petting, but then they usually go on about their own business. Even the collies, who can be real pests as far as getting attention goes (“Pet me! Pet me! Pet me! Pet me more!”), once they have discovered that the nose push doesn’t work anymore and the hand remains limp, will go off to find a comfortable place.
Habibi, however, seems to feel that the place he needs to be as much as possible is in physical contact with me. When I am sitting, he is next to me with his body touching my legs. This is true both at home, and when we go out. Wherever I am sitting, he presses up against me – nearby is not good enough, it has to be physical contact. If it is absolutely impossible – as when I am sitting at the computer with my legs underneath the desk, with absolutely no space for him to get in – then pressed up against the chair legs also works.
It is true that dogs gain confidence from being with the rest of their pack, and a bit of physical contact is certainly a great boost to confidence. But lack of confidence has never been a problem for Habibi. He has always been a very self assured and forward fellow. I have a feeling that he has intentions of boosting my confidence.
For instance, he is not really keen on strangers coming to visit – this is our territory, his and mine, with the other dogs in the pack allowed, and a few carefully chosen and approved people allowed. But strangers!!! He has learned that I (sometimes being rather stupid and trusting) do allow people he does not know well or even those that he has never met before to enter our space, and that I expect him to tolerate them and not even to nip them a bit in warning.
So they are allowed to come in. But he immediately takes up his position pressed against my legs. Pressed against the front of my legs, in fact, and sitting or lying alertly with his eyes never leaving the face of the intruder.
“Just move a bit! Just do something that I can interpret as being threatening…! I am waiting for it!”
A few times, when he has been particularly worried about a visitor, he has agilely and quickly shifted his position onto my lap – that way he can look at this invader at eye level.
Habibi knows that doing more than glaring is not allowed – but that glare can be very convincing, especially when there is a faint growling vibration going on as well…
But his interest in close physical contact is not confined to protection. He simply enjoys it. He makes use of all his abilities to encourage me to stroke him. Pushing his nose under my hand often works, but when it doesn’t, he has developed additional ways of manipulating. He will very gently and carefully grab the edge of my sleeve and pull my hand towards him, and if there is no sleeve, he will very carefully take hold of my watchband. He may also take hold of my hand itself, and is really good at gently tugging the hand and then quickly getting his head under it for the pat. He also is very persistant. I try to ignore him in the hopes that he will get fed up and leave me alone, but that rarely happens – usually it is I that gives in and pets.
Not that I really object…
When I am lying on the sofa watching TV, his favorite place was right next to me on the floor, where he could also reach my hand quite easily. But now that winter has started, and it is cooler, he has decided that the floor will not do – his place is on the sofa, with the length of his body against me. He is also an expert at pushing the edge of the blanket away with his nose to make himself more room.
He also likes to bring one of his bones to share with me while we are lying there together. He will put it in my hand so that I can hold it for him while he chews.
The sofa is not very big, and he is not a small dog, and lately I have been noticing that he is getting more of the sofa than me…
But it does help to keep me warm on those chilly winter evenings – nothing like a warm dog…