Sunday, January 8, 2012

More Canaan Journeys

A few more stories of Canaans that came home…

Pashosh was a puppy that we brought back from the desert on one of our trips, along with his brother, Pereh (who is one of Habibi’s grandfathers).  The two tiny puppies were pulled out of their den under an old oil barrel when they were about five weeks old and handed to us by the Bedouins.  And of course we took them – even though we were of course interested in having them, if we had not taken them, they most likely would have been killed.

I couldn’t keep two more males, so Pashosh went to a friend who had a few Canaans, loved the breed, and kept them as pets and guard dogs.  He lived on the edge of town and had a large nursery for various types of palm trees, and the dogs had solved the problem of thefts.

Pashosh grew into an excellent guard dog with a very strong temperament.  He was extremely devoted to his owner and family, consisting of his wife, and two grown sons who did not live at home but visited often.  But outsiders were absolutely not allowed.  Pashosh had to be closed in the house or back garden when other people were around.

By the time he was about two years of age, he had a few bites to his credit – not real bites, but nips that showed that he meant business in his job of guarding.  My friend could control him very well, but his wife could not, and was afraid that the result would be more serious.  So the decision was made, sadly, that Pashosh would have to go to a new home.

A  new home was found, with another farmer who wanted a serious guard dog and did not have a lot of people coming around.  Pashosh had never done any travelling in the car, even his vaccinations were done by the veterinarian coming to the house.  So when he was loaded in the car to go to his new home, this was a totally new experience. The new place was about 30 kilometers away.

Two days later, the new owner called my friend to tell him that Pashosh was gone – he had managed to pull his head out of his collar (Canaans are quite expert at this), and had run off.  No one had seen him since, although they had looked.  My friend drove out there and tried calling him and looking for him, to no avail. 

Three weeks later, my friend got up in the morning to find Pashosh, filthy and thin, sitting outside the gate waiting to be let in.  He had come home over 30 kilometers, through an area that he was totally unfamiliar with, and also would have had to cross several major and very busy highways to get there. 

Needless to say, Pashosh was welcomed home and any thoughts of rehoming him were forgotten.

Next case:
Shelley and Dvash were two young Canaan females of about eight months old that I exported to the US, to a breeder friend.  She had been breeding Canaans for several years and had a number of dogs and was well acquainted with the breed and its quirks.  She lived in Massachusetts in a small town, and her house was on the edge of town adjoining a national forest area.  She had a well fenced kennel with big yards for the dogs to run in.

Well, never underestimate a Canaan.  A week or so after the girls arrived at her place, they decided that the call of the wild was too tempting to ignore, dug under the fence and took off to the forest.

Of course, all authorities and people in the vicinity were notified.  My friend got many notifications, “Yes, we have seen the dogs, they are running around in the forest.”  They did not go far, enjoyed being in sight of people, but stayed out of reach – when anyone tried to get close enough to catch them, they laughed and romped off into the trees.  My friend tried calling them, and they laughed at her as well, and would eat the food left for them when there was no one around.  This was fun!  Why come back?

After a few days of freedom, Shelley and Dvash seemed to decide that they had milked all the possibilities of this new life style and it was time to return to “civilization”. The next time my friend came out to offer them food, they came over with wagging tails.  Time to go home…

Then there was Ella.  Ella grew up as the beloved house pet of an elderly woman who lived in a Tel Aviv suburb.  When Ella was 4, the woman passed away.  Ella was rehomed in a moshav about 20 kilometers away, with a family that were very animal oriented, breeding horses, and with another Canaan mix for a companion.  She adjusted very well and was very happy in her new home, and loved by her new owners.

On Yom Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), it is common, as in most of the “civilized” world, to have fireworks displays.  The following day, Ella’s owner called me to say that she had been terrified by the fireworks and had run away in a panic and couldn’t be found.  This is a very common occurrence, many dogs get lost on the “fireworks holidays”.  He searched the whole area, notified all the vets, put up posters – but all to no avail.  There was no sign of Ella.

Three weeks later, he called to tell me that Ella had come home, thin and dirty, but fine.  He had no idea where she had been all that time, but she was glad to be home.

I am quite sure I know where Ella was.  She was still fairly new in this home, and suddenly there was something terrifying happening.  So the logical thing to do was to run back to her former home, where she had always felt safe.  20 kilometers is not that far, but it can take some time.  When she got there, though, she did not find anyone familiar – her former master was gone, there were new people in the house, and there was no one there to welcome her.  So there was nothing to do but to return to her new home, which now was the most familiar and safe place.  Being a Canaan, she was clever enough to avoid the perils of the journey – highways, strange dogs, strange people, and to get home safely, to owners who were very glad to see her.

Canaans like to make their own choices, but when they choose, they are determined…

Pereh and Pashosh in the Bedouin camp


  1. Expert indeed at running away---twice my Hobbit has taken off at a gleeful run after pulling her head out of her collar and scampered up the hillside trails. She has me trained: I sigh, I sit down, I wait......and 15-20 minutes she comes back, tail wagging, happy with her morning adventure.

  2. I found my Canaan after he'd escaped from wherever he was born in a forest near Haifa miles from anywhere. He was a four month old puppy, miles away from civilisation, filthy, with tar in his fur and cut around the neck from where the vet thinks a tight collar had dug in. All I can say, is thank goodness he is a good escape artist or I might never have found my wonderful best friend.