Thursday, January 5, 2012

Canaan Journeys - Kotev

A few days ago, I got a phone call from a veterinarian in a small town about 40 kilometers south of us.  She told me that there was a lost dog that had been taken in by a couple in the town, and they were trying to track him, and from the microchip, they found that he was listed as coming from me.  It was a Canaan, she said, about a year old.

I always make sure that all puppies that leave here are microchipped, so that whatever may happen with them, they can always be traced.  The microchip number is registered with the kennel club, as well as with the licensing authorities here.

As soon as she described the dog, I knew who it was, and when I checked out the chip number, it was verified.  The dog was Kotev, a year old son of Habibi and Lilo.

Kotev grew up here with me and the rest of his Canaan family until he was about six months old.  He then went to someone who seemed to be a good choice for a home for him.   Kotev’s new person was a young man with a small horse farm, who wanted a dog as a companion, to be able to run along with him when he went riding, and who would also guard the property.  He had experience with dogs and very much wanted a Canaan.

The first reports of Kotev in his new home were enthusiastic.  He quickly got acquainted with the horses, was getting bonded to his new owner, and seemed to be making a good adjustment.

Some time passed, and then one day, the young man called to tell me that Kotev had run away.  He couldn’t tell me just what happened, just that he had been letting him run loose around the farm, and suddenly he disappeared.  He had looked for him, and couldn’t find him, and no one around seemed to have seen him.

It is not very unusual for a young dog to become frightened of something and to bolt, but it is very untypical for a Canaan to “run away”.  The usual behavior is for the dog to find a safe place to hide, to wait for whatever was frightening to disappear, and then to come back, or to return when his person goes out calling him.  I am familiar with a number of cases like this.

I notified the authorities and vets in the area, but there was no result.  Kotev had disappeared without trace.

Now, five months later, he had turned up in a town about 25 kilometers from where he had disappeared.

I called the young man and told him that Kotev had been found.  “What do you say!” was his response.  I gave him the phone number of the vet who said she would put him in touch with the people who had him, and told him he could go to take him home.

The next day, the vet called me back.  He had not come to get Kotev, she told me, and she didn’t think he wanted the dog.  I told her I was on my way, I was coming to get him.

The response of the fellow when I called him back was, “Well, my situation has changed meanwhile, and it has been a long time…maybe you can pay me and take him.”  Well, take him I would, there was no question about that, but he could forget about any payment – and there were a few more juicy bits to the conversation relating to someone who wanted to just abandon the dog….

The couple who had Kotev lived on the very edge of the town, adjoining a large area of open fields.  They lived in a small apartment.  I knocked on the door, and Alexandra opened it cautiously.  But before she could even get the door open, Kotev pushed her out of the way and was all over me in total joy, jumping, licking, and like his father Habibi, grabbing my sleeve to pull my hand in his direction.  “I knew you would come,” was what he was saying.

Alexandra and her husband Yaakov are wonderful people.  They have six cats in the house, all rescued from the streets, and some of them with healed injuries that show how hard their previous life was, and another young dog who also is a rescue.  They told me that they would have loved to keep Kotev, but their place is just too small – very true, it is a tiny apartment.  

Kotev apparently turned up some time before in the fields near the apartment.  He wouldn’t let anyone get near him, but Alexandra told me that every day he went to one spot at the edge of the field and sat there waiting, as if he was expecting someone to come for him.  She and others that lived nearby left food for him, but he would only eat when no one was around.

Then the weather started to change and there was a storm.  Yaakov couldn’t bear to see the dog out in the bad weather – and when he approached, Kotev came up to him and licked his hand, and Yaakov brought him back to the apartment. Covered with mud, he willingly presented each foot to be cleaned before he came into the house.

He lived with them until they finally managed, through the chip, to find me.

As I left with Kotev to go home, some of the neighbors stopped me to find out what was happening – worried, perhaps, that Kotev was being taken away by the authorities. They were very happy to hear that he was coming home with me.  They had all become quite fond of him.

Kotev was thrilled to be back in his “childhood” surroundings. His sister Kerrie at first looked at him with great suspicion – “Who are you and what are you doing here???” – but after a few minutes of inspection, realized – “Oh, its you!!!” and the two started happily running around the yard in a game of tag.

There is no way of knowing what happened to Kotev during those months that he was missing, or how he got to that field.  Was he stolen? Was he abandoned?  It is hard to imagine that he ran away and then continued in that direction which is the opposite direction to here – Canaans in general have a very good sense of direction and try to travel, if lost, in the direction of home.  We will never know what really happened, but despite it all, he is still a calm and happy boy, still a bit suspicious of people, whereas in the past he was very friendly, but not frightened, and willing to follow Kerrie’s lead and come up to them.  So he doesn’t seem to have been badly treated or frightened enough to lose his trust in people.  And he seems to have known that in the end, he would not be left abandoned – he would be brought home.

Some days after he got home, Alexandra and Yaakov were visiting in the area, and stopped by to see him.  They were worried that he would not remember them, or now that he was home, would not want to approach them.  But Kotev was thrilled to see them, very affectionate and happy, and when they had to leave, I could see the conflict he had of whether he wanted to go with them or to stay with me.  A testimony to these lovely people and the good care and affection they had given him – a Canaan never forgets.

I cannot keep Kotev forever, having another adult male here is a problem.  But there is no way he will go to anyone that has not proven to be worthy of a dog like him…


  1. I already have three (all female) or I'd jump at the chance to take him!! Please keep your readers posted on Kotev....and I'd like to horsewhip the guy who took him. I have no doubt he drove him to a nearby town and dumped him because no doubt "someone" will take him.

  2. I hope you will find a loving forever home for this boy. Who can understand how anyone can abandon an animal who is part of their life? I too suspect he was abandoned. I always worried about the people I sold puppies to, would they be good to them, would they love them? I know you think you can trust what a prospective buyer says but who knows what is in their heart. Good ending to a sad story.