STAFFORD – For Patty Robbins, adopting a pet has proven to be more rewarding than one might expect. Robbins and her husband have taken to adopting dogs of the rare Canaan breed, indigenous to the Middle East, saving them from a life of mistreatment and abuse by bringing them into their home in Stafford Township.
“Our story is such a long one I’m not sure where to start. Back in October of 2013 my husband and I had recently lost our dog and were looking to adopt another one. We went to Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter just to look, and there we found Dakota,” said Robbins.
Dakota was their first; she is a four-year-old Canaan brought over from Iraq. Previously belonging to a soldier, Dakota was then brought to the shelter, said Robbins, and the couple fell in love with her.
Little did the couple know that adopting Dakota would spark a series of life-changing events, bringing three more Canaan dogs into their home.
After Robbins found Dakota, it prompted her to research what makes the Canaan breed of dogs unique and where they come from. She noted that this was, “not an easy task, since they are a rare breed.”
What Robbins’ research revealed to her was that the Canaan breed is an ancient breed from the Middle East, around the upper half of the Arabian Peninsula. Robbins emphasized that this breed is not very popular among those in the Middle East; in fact, they are primarily treated as pests in their native countries.
“Even the local government is trying to eradicate them,” she added. “It’s very dangerous for them over there, and only a few try to help them.”
Since then, Robbins has taken it upon herself to be one of those people. With Dakota now a member of the Robbins family, her research connected her with other individuals familiar with the Canaan breed.
Turning to Facebook, she found a few pages with more information than she could find on her own. On the Malath Canaan Rescue Jordan page, she was confronted with a heart-wrenching video of another Canaan dog.
The post was, “asking if somebody would please adopt ‘this poor little blind dog who had been horribly abused’,” said Robbins. “The tag line at the end of the video said ‘all you have to do is fall in love with her and pick her up at the airport’.”
In the blink of an eye, the couple was at John F. Kennedy International Airport picking up Sugar, their newest addition to the family. Sugar is not only blind but she has also suffered serious injuries after having half of her tail cut off and being covered with hot tar.
“At this point, I wouldn’t hesitate to call Lama one of my good friends, although I’ll probably never meet her in person,” she said.
Ghobar later introduced Robbins to another Canaan dog, Ben. Ben, like Sugar, had experienced some hard times and needed saving. He was hit by a car and left on the roadside. When he was found by Ghobar, she found he had also been stabbed, said Robbins.
“He survived and we adopted him too,” she said.
The following year, the couple adopted their fourth: Chance. Chance is also blind, like Sugar. Her blindness is neurological; the result of someone attempting to drown her, said Robbins.
It has been about five years since the Robbinses took on this initiative to grow their family and save Canaan lives. Robbins expressed that the breed is fascinating and typically more wild than the average breed here in the US. “Definitely not for the novice dog owner,” she added.
She noted that this experience has expanded her horizons. By adopting Dakota and embarking on an educational journey into the Canaan species, she has since learned a lot about the Middle East; the culture, religion, food, language, politics, and even history that accompanies the area.
“We love them immensely and take great pleasure in seeing them adjust to life here and getting over the issues that they came with as a result of the abuse suffered in the Middle East.”
Robbins adores her Canaan family members and encourages anyone who is interested in taking part in a life-saving journey like her own to reach out. You can contact her at 609-709-0859 or at [email protected], with any questions.