Thursday, May 12, 2011


There are a lot of famous stories about dogs that have found their way home, or even to less familiar locations, over great distances and overcoming tremendous difficulties on the way.  Not all dogs have such a well developed sense of orientation and the ability to navigate so well from place to place, but all of them have it to a certain extent – certainly much better than mine…!

Just over the last few years, I know of a few Canaans that have proven their abilities.  One dog (who happens to be Habibi’s grand-uncle) was given to a new home when he was about two.  He had spent his entire life, until then, in one place, and had never even been for a car ride, and suddenly he was loaded into the car and transported about 50 kilometers to a totally unfamiliar area with new and unknown people.  He was tied out on a cable and his beloved owners left him.

Well, this definitely was not a situation that he was willing to accept.  Like any good Canaan, it didn’t take him long to figure out how to get free of his collar, and he disappeared.  The new owners called to tell his former owner that the dog was gone, they drove around looking for him, but there were no signs of Pashosh anywhere.

Two weeks later, a very thin and sore-footed Pashosh was found sitting on his first owner’s doorstep.  It had taken him time – it was a long way, and there were several major highways in the way that he would have had to cross – but he got there.  Pashosh, after demonstrating his devotion and navigation skills, was welcomed home and no further attempts were made to rehome him.

The second case was Indi, a four year old female who was placed in a new home after her elderly owner passed away.  She adjusted well and was very happy – until on one of the national holidays, fireworks were set off in the vicinity.  Many dogs every year go into a panic from fireworks, and this is what happened to Indi.  She took off and disappeared.  Her owner, who was very attached to her, even though she had only been with him for a few months, did everything possible to try and find her, with no luck.  No one had seen her, she had not been reported to the veterinary services, she was just gone.

When I thought about it, what occurred to me was that she would try to go home to her old home.  It was only about thirty kilometers away.  I suggested this, and her owner went to look, but didn’t find her.

After three and a half weeks, a tired and dirty Indi came home to her new home.  Subsequently, with some bits of information that we obtained, what seemed to have happened was that she did indeed go back to her old home – but there she found strangers living in the house, and not her beloved owner.  Seeing that this was no longer the home she had loved, she turned around and found her way back to her new home, where she had been quite happy. 

Habibi certainly shows a great sense of orientation and the ability to navigate when we are working in the field.  He always knows which way to go to get back to the road we came in on, or to get back to the car, even if we have been walking for hours and he has been doing nose work to find hidden people for his SAR practices.  He always knows where he is.

I am not so good at this, especially if it is a matter of getting around in town, in all sorts of crowded and unfamiliar streets, with traffic and one way streets that somehow seem to change from day to day.  I try to avoid going into town as much as possible, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

So now I have a GPS.  I always thought that Israel, being such a small place, would be no problem to navigate in, and that a GPS here was silly.  But my daughter got a new one and gave me her older model.  Well, if you get something for free…!

I rarely use it.  But once in a while, when I have to find some obscure address in town, or some tiny little unobtrusive turnoff somewhere in the country, I turn it on.

My GPS is female, and she behaves like a real bitch. I can’t help it if I am navigationally challenged.  I know she has told me to turn in 23 and a half meters, but I don’t see a place to turn.  And then she starts to shout at me, “Turn now! Turn now!”  Well, it is too late, I have missed it, and then in a totally scornful and disgusted tone, she tells me, “Calculating a new route…”  Like, how stupid can you be, and now you are putting me to extra work!

I have finally managed to figure out what the various symbols on the screen mean – but I am really supposed to be watching the road, not these little arrows moving around.  And they seem often to be moving in the opposite direction from the way I am driving.  I know they are moving according to compass directions – but I am not driving according to compass directions!

One day, I was trying to get to a place in the country, where I had never been before, and I really didn’t know the way.  I was counting on GPS (no, I haven’t given her a name, if I did, it would be a very impolite one) to show me.  As we got to the general area, she went silent and the screen just showed a blank empty field.  Well, it seems that the road to my destination was a new one, which she didn’t even know existed – so no directions.  After driving around in circles for some time, I finally found my goal, but with no help from the bitch.

I really think that Habibi should learn to drive – he would do much better than me at navigation.

1 comment:

  1. How accurate - all of it!
    The navigation skills of dogs, the lack of them in some people (I myself am a member of honor in that society) and the bitchy GPS.

    I vote for Habibi as a road guide!!!!