Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lebanese Shepard Dogs

[guest post by Ryan]

I never thought I'd muzzle a bear until I met a 110-pound (about---he was too big for our scales) monster of a dog today. He had enormous, powerful jaws and a disposition that left a little to be desired (to be fair, he was being approached by three strangers carrying a leash, a muzzle and needles). But we got the job done with no problems.

While that dog was extraordinary, the shepards' dogs here in Lebanon are all large, powerful, not fond of humans and many have fairly long hair (alpine meadows get cold---we were sampling in the shadows of some mountains that still have snow on them in late June). I've had to use all my dog handling prowess learned over the course of sampling several hundred dogs previously to avoid direct bites and other damage. This is in stark contrast to the dogs in Qatar who were all well-socialized since they were shelter dogs. But we've been able to sample just about every dog we've been able to leash here in Lebanon, a testament to Cori's, my and Mounir's prowess with mammal handling (Mounir is a mammologist who frequently works with wild animals). One dog bit through a leash in 3 bites and then almost bit through the 2nd leash we got around it despite our best efforts.

Still, these have been some very cool dogs. They have been very healthy (in sharp contrast to the dogs in many places), they seem very good at what they do (guarding sheep), they are beautiful animals and they seem very confident and happy with their lives.

I'd love to write more about Lebanon and the dogs here, and to post pictures, but that will have to wait until we find a faster internet connection. Plus it's Saturday night in the most happening city in the Middle East and I don't want to spend it just in a loud internet cafe.

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