Sunday, June 5, 2011

Over and Under

There are a few things in particular at which Canaans are extraordinarily talented.

The ancient Chinese believed that the Chow Chow was part bear.  I believe that the Canaan dogs are part monkey.

I have never known another breed where a six week old puppy could climb up a wire fence to get to the top of the dog house.  Not only do the puppies climb up effortlessly, they also get down – usually with a kamikaze leap.

The last few months I seem to have been spending most of my time trying to fix up fences that will keep the Canaan puppies where they are supposed to be.  Pens that hold adult collies without any problem are a joke for the Canaans.  When I brought Tutti, the little red girl, home (she was not born here, but up in the Galilee), at seven weeks of age, after a long drive of several hours, I thought I would put her in the pen for the night, so that she could settle in and not have to meet the other puppies yet.  That was a laugh – ten minutes after I put her in, she had figured out that she could climb up the fence in the corner and jump over the top.  She spent her first night in the house – which no doubt was her plan from the start.

My Canaans stay inside our fences because they don’t really want to go anywhere else, not because they can’t.  When there is a serious reason for it, they have no problem at all getting over – fortunately for me, that is rare.  There have been a few, though – Zik used to climb up and walk around on the kennel roof, until I managed to fix him a kennel that is closed in on all sides and top.  Now that he can’t get out the top, he runs up the walls and somersaults off the roof – very hard to describe, you have to see it to understand it.  

Another bitch we had, Salima, would climb up the kennel fence, walk along the roof, jump down into the yard, climb over that fence, and then run around outside taunting everyone – “Look where I am!!! You can’t catch me!!!”   She never went anywhere, she just liked to feel free.  She could get out of a mousehole, I spent enormous amounts of time and energy trying to block all the holes that she made and managed to get out of.  When I finally did manage to close off the top of her kennel, she would stand on the wire at the top of the two meter high fence, with her body curved into the corner and head touching the roof, front legs on one side and hind legs on the other, and watch life go by from this nice high vantage point.

Having had two litters of puppies here at the same time, with a month’s difference in age, I fixed up a pen so that the younger ones could be separated from their bigger friends when I was not supervising play time.  The small ones did not at all approve, and started climbing up the fence and over the top. Thinking myself clever, I took another fence panel and attached it flat across the top of the fence, so that is was covering the corner they climbed up. Certainly they couldn’t climb over and around that!

Next time I came out, the little ones were fast asleep curled on top of the new fence panel.

Up, up and away....

Then of course, if you can’t go over something, then you might well be able to go under.  If the Canaans are half monkey, then the other half is mole.

All Canaans love to dig.  Soft earth is the best, especially if it has already been prepared for them by being part of the garden.  And if you get to it by digging under fences, that just makes the challenge more exciting. In our hot climate, of course a nice muddy hole provides a lovely cool spot to relax in.

Of course, there are definite rules involved.  Digging, for a Canaan, is not scratching around a bit and kicking up some dust.  Digging means a proper excavation; the ideal is a tunnel big enough to crawl into, turn around in, and lie down with your body well protected and your head facing out so you can see what else is going on while relaxing in your new cool den.  If the excavator happens to be a female, she might also be considering that this den has to be big enough so that if, at some time in future she has puppies, the whole family can enjoy it.  It should be dug deep and well in under plants, trees, rocks, or whatever is available, to make it almost impossible to get in to the digger to pull him out, and also almost impossible to fill in again.

Persistence being another well known Canaan trait, hard or rocky ground, protruding boulders, or thick tree roots, are no deterrent.   It just means that the digger gets to keep working and having fun for longer – but in the end, success!

When we were filming the Animal Planet program here, the photographer wanted to know if I could get the Canaan puppies to dig – he thought that would be a fun scene.  Well, that was no problem – a few pieces of sausage buried in the dirt at the edge of the garden was quite sufficient to set off a digging frenzy. The problem, of course, was not to get them to dig – it was to get them to stop.  Since that rewarding experience, every time the puppies are out in that part of the yard, they head straight for the grass and start digging away, looking for more hidden treasures.

 The Canaans also are very frugal by nature, and like to keep their possessions safe.  It is very effective, of course, to bury them.  So I often find old bones, toys, or other objects neatly buried for future use. I have even found entire food dishes with some food in them – the portion was more than the dog wanted to eat at the moment, but certainly it is a good idea to save it for the future.

If there is no readily available dirt, this does not discourage the attempts to dig. Habibi, as a puppy, had a very strong instinct to hide his favorite toys and bones, but had a hard time finding a suitable place in the house,  He would carry them around from place to place, “digging” in the book case and shoving them in between the books, and carefully trying to cover them with his nose, though there was no dirt to cover them with, or digging in the sofa pillows and hiding them well down in the sofa. 

Nowadays, he has realized that this doesn’t really work.  But he still runs out and daily digs vigorously at the floor of the dog house outside, apparently in the hope that, overnight, it has become soft enough to start tunneling through.

Here we go - a good spot!

This rock will not defeat me!!!!

And a little help from a friend...


  1. I am laughing hysterically at this post. In the past two weeks, I have simply gone to the nursery and bought some spiky plants and put them into the holes that Simi dug. We have a new soaptree yucca and a miniature rose. Appropriate plants for the area of the new hole. I will have to try putting sausage into the ground where I would like a hole for a new plant. It does sound kind of dicey though, he may not stop there. Oh well, I don't think he's going to stop anyway so I might as well get him to make a hole where I need it. LOL

  2. One last comment. I have my east side yard fenced so the dogs cannot go there. Especially since one wall is only 5 feet tall. I learned my lesson about locking Tova in that space. She will simply jump the wall and come to the front door and bark to be let in. The wall on the other side yard is over 7 feet tall, I have seen her leap over that wall as well but I guess she doesn't want to because it's open to the rest of the yard. There is NO containing these dogs unless they want to stay where they are.

  3. Is Orela related the Zik? She climbs the wall, does a swimmer's turn and lands on her feet back on the ground.