In July/August 2006, during the Hezbollah rocket attacks in northern Israel, many people were forced to leave their homes and their animals behind. CHAI rescued the abandoned animals, giving them food, water, medical help, and shelter. Some of these animals were reunited with their families, but many were left without homes. The puppies were brought to the U.S. in search of a peaceful life and loving families…and this one found his way into mine.
It was November of the same year when I went to see the adorable puppies that were featured in The Washington Post and on Fox 5. When I arrived, many pups had a waiting list already, but on my way out, I saw Sabra (Babe at the time) peering out of his crate with soulful eyes and looking emaciated. When I asked about him, the volunteers said he was aggressive with food; This would certainly prove to be far from the truth. As soon as I took him out, he instantly grabbed my application with his mouth and started licking my ear.
This is the story of Sabra the Saluki-mix who was rescued from Israel thanks to the incredible organization, Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI), who gave Sabra and thirty-eight other puppies a second chance at life.
I had never heard of a Saluki and had no idea of their temperament (he was only listed at that time as a Saluki-mix). I soon learned that Salukis, also known as Persian Greyhounds, are one of the oldest breeds from the Middle East and are considered to be the “Royal Dog of Egypt,” owned by nobility and even buried in “the tombs of pharaohs.” The Bedouin tribes thought Salukis to be special - some have a white forehead patch which they called “the kiss of Allah.” Check out Sabra’s white patch in the gallery. This history played very much into the dog that I would grow to love. Believe me he is royalty and he knows it.
As soon as I brought him home with his Israeli passport in tow, he "had me at puppy-eyes" and quickly made the couch his domain. I could see that the name Babe was not going to be fitting for this elegant puppy, so decided to give him a Saluki-worthy name and a Hebrew-one given his heritage. Sabra means "a native born Israeli" and is derived from the cactus that is tough on the outside, sweet and tender on the inside. The name fits. I later learned that he was originally called Izo, which means little jumping goat.
As a puppy, he was was scraggly, skinny and scared, could not walk stairs, would hop like a bunny and refused to eat any commercial dog foods. The latter proved to be a problem as he did not grow initially and remained much smaller than his sister at the time. After discovering that he would only eat organic kibble as well as cooked chicken, cheese and other human foods, he filled out into an elegant, playful and goofy pup who has been spoiled by myself, family and friends ever since. As he continued to grow I realized one day that his head towered over the dining room table and after being stopped by curious folk numerous times daily who all weighed in, determined that he was also part Russian Wolfhound. He did ultimately outgrow his sister.
Since then, Sabra has been an incredibly, sweet-tempered, nominal barker, goat-like jumper who is ready to jump in the car anytime, hang out at a cafe, sleep like royalty on a bed (any bed he sees for that matter), who thinks that couches are his dog bed, and will lay down in the middle of a party for all to step over.
He will give you the stink-eye if you are eating something that looks or smells better than what you gave him, as if to say “Hey, I’m royalty, don’t keep that good stuff for yourself.”
To see more of the story of the rescue, and photos of Sabra when he was first reunited with his sister Liora follow this link.