I know winter has come when one of the collies in the pack, a smooth girl called Freckle, sits in the middle of the yard, exactly where she is visible from all the windows, crunched up in a ball and with a totally pitiful look on her face, to communicate to me that it is cruel and indecent to expect any poor little dog to be out of doors, especially a dog like her without any hair…(Tell me about the lack of hair at shedding season!) Freckle LOVES to be out of doors, where she can herd the other dogs and be in the center of action, and if she is inside when something is going on, wears a groove in the floor by the door until I give in and let her out. But the minute there is a hint of cold or rainy weather, the situation immediately changes - she needs to be inside. Once she comes in, she disappears into one of the dog baskets in as tiny a ball as possible, in the hopes that I will not notice she is there and she can stay there until the spring.
Well, somehow I can accept that a poor smooth collie, having developed in the tropical clime of
England and , could object to being out of doors in our terribly cold Israeli winter. (When I travel to Scotland Europe in the summer, I take my Israeli winter clothes.)
Habibi, however, is a Canaan Dog. Both his grandfathers were wild dogs that had to survive, among other things, the weather conditions in the desert.
During the summer, the other Canaans are very happy with the sun and heat. I find them lying and sunbathing in the middle of the day, and it certainly does not limit their activity. Habibi has no objections to going out – he loves to go out and make his rounds, making sure that all is right in his kingdom. But he very quickly returns to the doorstep, waiting for me to open the door and let him back in to the air-conditioned interior.
“Habibi, you are a desert dog. You are supposed to live in the extremes of heat and weather, not in the house. You are a survivor!”
“If it was up to us Canaan Dogs, the air conditioner would have been invented two thousand years ago. Who says surviving has to be uncomfortable!”
But summer is nothing compared to the winter. With the first rains (which this year arrived by furious downpour), he looks outside with disgust.
“You don’t really expect me to go out there and get my feet wet, do you?”
“You really do need to go out once in a while to pee, you know.”
“I have a great bladder, I can wait to pee until next week when the rain stops.”
Finally persuaded to go out, he doesn’t touch the ground – he leaps from the porch to the top of the grooming table and from there to the top of the dog houses in the yard. One quick jump to the ground at the end of the yard, a quick leg lift, and then back up on the dog houses for the route home. Inside again, he gives a thorough shake, which expresses his disgust with the wetness on his coat, and then a few dainty licks to his paws to be sure they are again dry and clean, and he is ready to return to the position he has decided he is worthy of for the winter – under the blanket next to me on the sofa.
“I am, after all, a desert dog. I don’t need to deal with water!”
“But Habibi, it does rain in the desert sometimes!”
“Well, if it was up to us Canaans, we would have climate control…”