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Judging the Canaan Dog


Bayud, a magnificent Canaan in all ways, is a pure Bedouin dog born in the wild near Tel Arad in the south of Israel.  We were tremendously fortunate in being able to get him, and he has adjusted superbly to "civilization".

June 2007 -
Bayud is now in Italy with our dear friend Isabella Zirri, where he will be standing at stud.
Just to show the tremendous adaptability of the Canaan, take a look at the following photos - from a wild dog, Bayud has progressed to becoming a total house pet...



Bringing Bayud Home


Bayud's sire

It had been several years since I had visited the Bedouin to look for dogs.  A woman can not travel around among the Bedouin tribes on her own; this is unacceptable in the Bedouin culture.  The warden of the Nature Reserves Authority who I had travelled with in the past had been transferred to another area, and I did not know the new warden.  It was definitely advisable to visit with someone who knew the tribes and was respected by them.


However, as the plans for the International Canaan Convention 2001 progressed, I decided that it would be worth trying to make contact with the Bedouin so that we would have a better chance of seeing some Canaans during our trip to the desert.  I called up Matti, the warden that I knew, and he gave me the telephone number of a Bedouin, Hassen, who he said would be willing to help out.


How the Bedouin have changed in some ways!  They now have cellular phones, pickup trucks, and TVs powered by a generator.  But in most other ways, their life style is very much the same as it has been for thousands of years.


The day of the trip to the desert came, and on the way south, our tour guide and I called Hassen.  He was willing to meet us in the afternoon and take us back to his own camp.  So after a lovely visit to Massada and the Dead Sea with our overseas guests, we headed for Tel Arad, where we were to meet Hassen.


Hassens son was waiting for us on the edge of the highway, where a rocky trail headed off over the low dusty hills.  There was no possibility that our bus could navigate that trail. Several of the guests were able to get a ride with Hassens son in his pickup truck and the rest of us began to walk along after him.


At first, there was nothing in sight except the dry brown undulating landscape.  The hilly layout of the land here is very suited to the Bedouins temperament the camps are completely hidden from one another and from any visitors until you actually climb the rise behind which the tent is hidden.  You could be standing fifty meters away from a camp, and not have the slightest idea that it is there.  After walking for a while, first we came to a group of camels very nice ones, in very good condition, that were hobbled and grazing on the very sparse vegetation.  Camels are very valuable livestock so of course, as we came closer, we heard the dogs that were guarding them begin to bark.


Ahead of us on the hillside, we could see the encampment, and several dogs started running towards us.  And they clearly were Canaans!  There was a large cream colored male with cut ears (the Bedouin cut the ears of their best watch dogs so that they will guard better they believe that this makes them more alert), a very nice type of dog that I would have been happy to have, a red bitch, and in the distance a few more, including a puppy.  As we came closer to the camp, another dog came over the rise barking a very pale cream dog, nearly white, of a lovely type, with erect ears and very dark nose and eye pigment.  This one was even better than the first male!


Hassen and his family greeted us with the typical Bedouin hospitality, inviting us all into their tent for tea.  We all sat on the carpets spread out for us on the ground, and the women, who appeared to have dressed in their best in honor of the visitors, served the sweet tea. 


As we were getting ready to leave, after the visitors photographed the Bedouin and the dogs, camels, sheep, and so on, I decided that I would try to convince them to let me have one of the dogs.  They seemed to have quite a large number, and I thought they might be amenable to letting me have one.  At first, I was offered the puppy that was running around the camp, but after they had caught him and brought him over, I saw that he was of a different type, with a longish coat, and not really what I was looking for.  He was not from their dogs, the Bedouin told me when I asked who his parents were, he came from the neighbors.  This could mean that he was from another tribe kilometers away.


Getting up my nerve, I asked about the white dog.  Yes, I could have him, they said. Not the one with the cut ears he was their best watch dog but the young one


I was overjoyed that was just the one that I wanted!  We agreed that I would come back to get him it was impossible to take him now on the bus.  I would call the day before I intended to come down to the desert, so that Hassen could catch the dog and tie him.


The prospect of getting a new dog from a new bloodline was very exciting, and I didnt want to waste any time the Bedouin move around a lot, and their animals move with them, and chances were, if I waited too long, the dog would be gone.  So I talked to a friend of mine in Arad who had spent years working for the Nature Reserves Authority, and knew the Bedouin and their customs, and arranged for him to go with me once again, as a woman alone, I could not go to visit the Bedouin.  We were also joined by a friend who is a professional photographer, in particular of dogs, who very much wanted the chance to photograph this event.  Two weeks after my first visit, we were again on the way to the desert.


I wasnt sure that I could identify the turn off onto the dirt track, but when we got to the area, I found that I did remember the landmarks, and found the turn without trouble.  Getting up the track was another story, though.  My car is a little Fiat Uno, not very powerful and very low to the ground.  As we jounced over the rocks studding the trail, I had major misgivings over what this was doing to my poor little car, especially when we got stuck at one point and all of us had to get out and push the car out of a rocky ditch.  Was getting a new dog worth wrecking my old car?


But we did manage to make it to the camp, with the car still in one piece.  The Bedouin were waiting for us.  Hassen was there with a son in the twenties, and some of the younger children.  They had prepared the tent with colorful carpets and cushions for us to sit in, and we were invited in.


We were welcomed with typical Bedouin hospitality plenty of hot sweet tea, and then hot and very strong and bitter coffee.  At this point, after some casual conversation Hassens son proved to be quite well educated and up to date on what was going on he even knew that there had been a big dog show in Tel Aviv a few weeks earlier with dogs and visitors from abroad, though he really wasnt sure he understood the point of such a thing I asked if they had managed to tie the dog for us.  Yes, they said, he was tied right outside the tent.  And indeed, there he was, a few meters away, tied to a pole and hiding under an old tractor, very unhappy about the situation. We had passed right by and not seen him!






Hassen and his son wanted to know how we intended to take the dog home.  I had a collapsible crate in the car, which was how I intended to transport him.  That idea seemed to be acceptable to the Bedouin.  However, they said that they had had a very hard time catching him, and were very hesitant about how they would get him into the crate.  They suggested I take the crate out of the car, that we would then put the dog into the crate, and lift it back into the car.  But, once the crate was out and was standing next to the tractor, the men seemed very hesitant about approaching the dog or even touching the chain.  They seemed to be afraid of him, and when they moved a bit closer, the dog growled softly.


This looked like it was going to be more complicated than I had expected.  If the Bedouin were afraid of the dog, I was not going to have an easy time with himAnd how would we get him into the crate?  I could put the chain through the bars and try to pull him in that way...


The problem was solved much more easily than that.  Hassens wife suddenly appeared.  When she saw what was going on, she walked over, took the chain, and pulled the dog out from under the tractor.  He immediately submitted to her, with his head lowered and his tail wagging a bit.  Obviously the dog was accustomed to the women of the family.  This was what we had always observed about the Bedouin it is not the men who ever deal with, feed or relate to the dogs, it is the women and children.  The Bedouin men cant get near their dogs, but the women and children can.  But this was a superb illustration of this fact.  The Bedouin woman pulled the dog over to the crate, the dog passively accepting what she was doing, and pushed him in.  Once the dog was in the crate, the men were ready to come over and lift it into the car.  The dog flattened himself to the floor of the crate and remained passive.


Once the dog was in the car, it was time for more tea and talk things can not be rushed in this culture.  We were offered a meal, which it would have been impolite not to accept.  However, it was lovely fresh salads in wonderful olive oil, fresh pita bread, olives the Bedouin have a very healthy diet and it is very rare to see one that is overweight. I asked if the dog had a name.  Yes, they said, his name was Bayud, which they could not translate for me exactly but they said it had to do with his white color, and he was two years old.  He was a son of the older dog and the red bitch, and they had kept him to guard, as his father was an excellent guard dog.


In return for the dog, I offered presents.  It would have been an insult to the Bedouin if I had offered money, and I had to be very careful to choose gifts that would be correct.  I brought the photos that had been taken of them at the previous visit they were thrilled with those a tea set for the women of the household, and a game for the children.


Finally, it was time to go.  After invitations to return, and an invitation from me to stop in and visit if they were ever in my vicinity, we left for home.


Bayud took the trip amazingly well.  This dog had of course never been in a car, but he did not panic, but rather sat and inspected his surroundings and watched what was happening.  He did not get travelsick.  He allowed me to touch him through the bars.

When we got to Shaar Hagai, he let me put a collar on him without any resistance.  I put him in a kennel in isolation from the other dogs, until he settled in a bit.


  Survival is the first priority of an animal like this so from the first day, he was prepared to eat.  He would not eat dry dog food, of course this wasnt food to him.  But he would eat canned dog food.  He moved around the kennel, eats and drank when there was no one around.  When he heard me coming, he lay down in the corner of the kennel.  But he allowed me to come up to him , to touch him and stroke him.  He never, despite being cornered in a totally unfamiliar environment, showed the slightest inclination to attack or even to growl, and has never been in a state of panic I find him to have a very steady temperament.  And after a few days, when I came into the kennel, he did not lower his head and he slightly wagged his tail.  A relationship was starting to develop!


The breakthrough came soon after he let me pet him. There had been a few other dogs in the area of the kennel where he was, but I had now taken them out and brought them back up to the kennel next to the house.  Bayud was alone in the lower kennel - and this obviously was not to his liking.  The next morning when I came down, he was standing with his feet on the wall, watching for me, and came up to greet me when I came in - he did not want to be alone.  I put him on a leash and took him out and he followed me as if he had been walking on a leash all his life.


Since then, Bayud has bonded to me totally.  I can do anything with him and he is totally devoted, as much as if I had raised him from puppyhood.  He is a fierce guardian of his territory, however, and not at all interested in having anyone else touch him - for him, I am the only person in his world, though he will allow me to hold him to permit the vet to vaccinate him.


It is still amazing to me the trust that he has given me.  He has sired several lovely litters this year, and his genes are a wonderful addition to the gene pool of the Canaan Dog.



Bayud's mother




Bayud enjoying life at Shaar Hagai...

Bayud (right) and Pandora