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or how a puppy wins the affection of everyone.

By Bernd Fritzsch, Ph. D.

Sloughiman and his puppy 
© Dominique de Caprona

  Monday, May 2, 1994, Hünst-Bechtheim, Germany.  I finally have my Sloughi puppy.  His breeders are very nervous, and so am I.  Will everything go smoothly with the little one?  Will there be problems with customs?  If there is a delay, will the little guy be alone for too long?  But, first I have to calm down my breeders, which means, I have to calm down the puppy.  How do you do that with a puppy barely two months old?  Maybe he will still remember his mother's warmth.  I pack him carefully into my leather jacket and close the zipper.  So, the little guy likes it!  He peeks, obviously quite content, out of his kangaroo pouch into the world.  Well, I guess I can leave these friendly people with the feeling that their dog is well taken care of by me.  Into the car and off to the highway.  In the beginning the little guy is quiet, but after half an hour, the passing of the scenery starts to get boring.  Now he has to examine what else there is.  But we have arrived and the restless puppy can run around on the lawn.  Whoops, that was the reason for his restlessness!  Well, better on the lawn than into my leather jacket-pouch.
        My family melts like snow in the July sun.  "Oh, he is so cute, really cuddly."  Well, the little guy does have a certain plus, everyone likes him.  But how will it be at the airport?  And how can I get him used to his crate?  I am something like a reference object, and he even follows me (sometimes) when I call him.  Perhaps he likes my smell?  I put a worn piece of clothing in his crate.  He rolls himself on it and goes to sleep.  This is great. I now have a chance to sleep a bit before the next, demanding day.
        Tuesday, May 3, Frankfurt.  After too short a night I begin the hassle to obtain all the necessary documents.  And the puppy has to come with me, everywhere.  Again I pop the puppy into my leather jacket pouch, and off we go.  First, to the veterinarian.  The vet scratches the little guy's ears and says: "Yes, the little guy is healthy, no problem".  The filing of documents is finally done.  Then I return the rented car at Frankfurt airport.  Finally, a trolley filled with luggage and me with the Sloughi puppy in his leather jacket pouch (Enthusiasm with every woman and man).  Never ever have so many people taken such good care of me.  Well, unfortunately, I lack big brown eyes and drooping ears.  We reach the airline.  Everyone looks at me, or more precisely, the little doggy constantly turning his head as first one thing and then another in the hectic of the environment catches his attention.  At the counter there is again, no problem. Only help is offered.  Yes, I can hold on to the little guy as long as possible, but I finally have to say good bye, and he has to go into his crate.  Will he scream?  I step a few feet aside.  Yes, he becomes restless.  I will have to give him a travel sickness pill after all.  What dose is right?  I bite one pill into two.  Will one half be enough?  But the airline staff has already managed to calm the little one down.  I am relieved, no chemical risk.  But now to the plane.  Before we board I look for the crate.  Just below me three people surround the puppy's crate.  They really take care of him.  It is more than empty words when this airline promises to take care of passengers; the puppy is the 'happening'.  I ask whether I can go to him but this is not allowed.  Immediately before I board a guy from ground personal comes to me and tells me that my dog is on board.  How does he know me?  Did I squeeze my nose so flat on the window that everyone knew who belongs to the little guy?  Well , there is no risk anymore that he may be left behind.
        Six hours later we land in New York and have to go through customs.  Our little guy wakes up and shows me his milk teeth with a big yawn.  Well, he seems to be doing okay, thanks god.  And the custom officer knows sighthounds, having had a greyhound himself.  Yes, the documents are okay, but we keep on talking about the amenable character of sighthounds.  The little one obviously has stirred happy memories in the custom officer.  This hurdle, too, succumbs to the natural charm of the Sloughi.  But now, to get the puppy out of the crate.  Immediately a crowd of people surrounds us.  And everyone is enthusiastic about the little one.  But he needs to be warmed up a little.  Therefore he has to go back into "daddy's" leather jacket pouch.  After five minutes the urge for adventure has grabbed him and he wriggles out to explore.  And I have to run after him.  And he has to drink, and he has to...All this is necessary and after half an hour I have to put him back in his crate, for the next lag of our journey.  I hope that crate and puppy will not get lost in the large airport of New York.  I get on the nerves of the counter personal and the flight attendants.  Yes, yes, the dog is surely with us.  Nevertheless, please, could you double check?  Finally, our departure.  The voice of the captain comes over the intercom:  "All passengers are on board, including a two month old greyhound puppy".  I am smiling with contentment.  This airline really takes care of every passenger.  The passenger next to me wants to know more about this kind of sighthound.  Again everyone has apparently noticed my restlessness, and my relief after the captain's announcement.  Apparently, I am projecting my internal turmoil caused by the travel with this little one in such a way that everyone has to take notice.
        Next stop in St. Louis.  A one hour lay over.  All attempts to see the little guy come to nothing.  I am obviously depressed.  The ground stewardess goes away after I bug her several times.  Soon she returns with two technicians, her eyes searching.  As I move towards her;  she waves me towards her with a smile.  The little guy is okay.  But I have to answer the technicians' questions.   Yes, this is a sighthound even if he does not yet look like one.  Does everyone know and love dogs here in the states?   The little puppy obviously finds a way to unlock every heart.  Only one more hour and we will be at home.
        Omaha, 11 p.m.  I am as tired as a dog.  But the little one is happily awake.  He has just been inspected by our other Sloughis.  Our youngest bitch has accepted him as "her puppy" and defends him against the larger dogs.  Then our little guy gets really into gears, chewing and nibbling my hands and our youngest bitch.  Finally, I have to take him with me to bed.  What a beautiful idea!!  Dogs love human ears, even if the owner is not too enthusiastic about it.  After half an hour he has thoroughly cleaned them and finally falls asleep.  Shortly before falling asleep myself, it strikes me that this was the most pleasant trip in my life and that I owe the experience to El Emin Schuru-esch-Schams, the Sloughi puppy who unlocks the hearts of everyone with supersonic speed. 

Copyright B. Fritzsch 1994.
First published in Sighthound Review 1994

Sloughiman and his grownup puppy 
©  Dominique de Caprona

 Sloughi & Other Breeds

The contents of these pages, including texts and images, are copyrighted by Dominique Crapon de Caprona and Bernd Fritzsch.  Reproduction of these materials is prohibited without expressed, written permission.