Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Izzy The Egyptian American Doggo [Video]

Izzy The Egyptian American Doggo [Video]

Dogs I get to spend time and connect with always have a special place in my heart. Because their lives are quite short, every once in a while I hear the news about one of them passing on to Doggo Heaven. Recently it was Shay the Saint Bernard, before that was my own Caramella, and sadly this time it’s Izzy, or Izabella, who belonged to my second cousin Teymour.

Luckily, though, I shoot and keep a whole lot of photos and videos; many of which are of those lovable canines. When they are gone, these memories serve well by reminding us of how great it was to have such faithful companions in our lives, even if for a relatively short time. Other than a few photos, there is also a video at the end of the article which I created out of some footage of Izzy.

Izzy’s story begins in 2004 in the streets of Cairo, Egypt as a tiny abandoned half Baladi-half Husky puppy. Baladi is the Egyptian word for stray, which literally means my country; it could also be used as a derogatory term meaning vulgar or lacking in taste.

Teymour was visiting from Michigan when he found her all alone under a car in Maadi, so he rescued and took her home. Around the same time, he would come hang out at my place and ended up spending a few nights, along with Izzy. She was so small and helpless, that I didn’t really mind her regular pee stains and tiny poopies around the house, even though the guy was always cleaning up behind her and apologising. 

I remember we called one of the local vets, Dr. Rafik, who issued a certificate stating that she’s younger than six-weeks old. Then called the airport to inquire about the procedure; and they said no extra paper work was needed due to the
young age. That was simply it as off they both went. He took her to Michigan and started a new life together. A rescued Egyptian stray just immigrating and becoming American. A dream coming true for many humans. Kudos to Teymour.

Izzy The Egyptian American Doggo [Video]
T and pup Izzy fresh off Maadi’s streets, 2004

Fast-forwading to almost 10 years in February 2014 when I went to visit T in Michigan. It was one harsh winter; my loving dog had recently passed away, I had to leave Canada after three years of visa renewal, and the relationship I was in didn’t seem like it had any future. I had began writing the book and had no other option than to just keep going. So I got on the road coddiwompling across America for a few months before ending up in Venice Beach in Los Angeles. 

But before that I got to spend about six days with Teymour and Izzy. There wasn’t too many things to do in Birmingham, Michigan, especially without a car, and especially in such cold. So in the mornings T would go to work and I spend the entire day at home with the dog. A lot of time to connect.

The night I first arrived she was showing her teeth, something she usually did according to T. Nothing too aggressive, but untrusting. She obviously didn’t remember me as she was literally three or four weeks old back then.

Being alone in the house with a dog person who was tremendously missing his recently departed dog meant that there was lots of contact and body language play between us. Eventually I gained her trust, but it was a gradual process.

Assessing the situation,
the first thing to consider was her breed. She is a Baladi stray dog after all, even though also being a Huskey mix. Those wild ones are pack-oriented and tend to get territorial; without enough time socialising with humans as well as other dogs they wouldn’t learn how to become friendly, which happened to be the case. 

The following step was to establish my dominance as a pack leader. So when she slightly bit my hand on that first morning, I knew what was needed. A jog. In the snow. In the middle of nowhere.
I also showed no signs of fear or panic; just more determination to add her with some love.... and

I asked Teymour for the outdoors collar and leash, got them on her, wore my Adidas, gloves and beanie and headed out there.

Izzy The Egyptian American Doggo [Video]
Getting ready before that first run and commemorating it

From the sheer excitement and energy level, I could tell that Izzy had probably never been taken out for jogs before. Being confined to the house for long hours while the owner is out working is something I know quite a few things about. Just like us humans, dogs get bored and lonely and should all should get enough time outdoors. Though the house garden is not really considered outdoors. Again, because there is little to no socialising. 

For certain dog breeds, exercising is actually essential to remain healthy, sane, and most importantly, to feel useful. Running, walking, or hiking together can be also be a great and healthy way to bond. Not only because the furry ones need to move, but also because this is how they look up to you as a pack leader. Seeing your physical capabilities will earn their respect.

Besides, it’s pure joy to be outdoors with our canines; regularly connecting with nature is one sure way to sharpen their senses.

Actually I had done the same with the Saint Bernard Gentle Giant in Toronto a few years earlier. Though I had much more time with Shay, rather than just a few days with Izzy. 

That said, I made sure the run wouldn’t be too long, since it’s the first — maybe 2.5 miles or so. Once back home, she was visibly calmer and more docile.

By the second run she was adapting and clearly enjoying her time outside of the house. The enthusiasm and anticipation showed all over her eyes when she would hear the sound of the collar and leash. This time it was a bit longer.

The remarkable thing is that it was a two-way thing. As mentioned, I had just lost my Cocker Spaniel after 8 years together; for us, too, moved from Egypt to Canada. It was quite a love story. So as much as handling Izzy seem to have worked for her, the experience was almost therapeutic to myself as well.

Additionally, it was a way to start moving again, with a dog.
Following Canada and before being back to the States I spend six weeks in Egypt with no exercising and lots of yummy food — after being away for three long years during which I was cooking every single day. So I needed to get back in shape after regaining my health. 

Izzy The Egyptian American Doggo [Video]
Iz, Izzy yum yum, Biz, Bizzy, Bizznass, Zakia, Zakia-Hanem, and Stinker Bell were different nicknames

Izzy and I enjoyed three runs during this short stay in Birmingham. Naturally, this led to more bonding and more trust. She was slowly becoming more playful and less aggressive. She seemed happy as she would wag her tail, giving me her squeaking toy to play with. I showed her that, first, I’m not afraid of her growling. Second, that playfulness is indeed good and healthy. In fact, it is needed for a dogs well-being. 

The last thing I made sure to do is to let her know shes a good girl as often as possible. Because I know how Love is capable of changing everything.

As written in Things I Wish All Dog Owners Would Understand, when you reward your dog with a simple “good girl/boy” they really do act as a good girl/boy. In fact, researchers have found that social interactions make pet dogs release Oxytocin — the same “love hormone” that humans feel when they are in love or bonding with friends. So that was something I had in mind whenever I would come across her around the house.

You can see the progression in the video below: How at start she growled and barked after coming in from the garden so I can give her a treat. I didn’t take any of that, and using body language I showed her who is the dominant one. It worked and Izzy Iz submitted to what iz.

Later — the part where I was telling her story — the bared teeth still showed a little but she was much more playful and submissive, bringing me her toy to share. In fact, in the dog world this may be called a submissive grin or even smile. By the time I was comfortable enough to playfully spank her butt as I used to do to Caramella.

Then finally looking relaxed lying down with one paw tucked under, no teeth. Because she was a good girl.

Another day jog when Teymour was home and captured this shot

On a Friday, Teymour took me to Detroit for the day. While he spent it at the head office, he got me in touch with a hippie-minded friend of his who ended up showing me around the city.

She was a lovely Egyptian American girl who also had another American friend with her. Equipped only with a camera, we went Downtown, visited the Botanical Garden, and the historical Belle Isle Casino. I remember we met other people at this coffee shop; and when I shared that I am just travelling around without any plans, they sympathetically said: Auwh, he’s homeless. I had never thought about it that way, but yes, homeless it was.

Another day, Teymour and I went out to some fun party/exhibition when we double dated. It was followed by a fancy dinner somewhere.

By the end my stay, the bonding wasn’t just with Izzy or just with T, but with both. I left Birmingham without knowing anything other than my next destination: Denver, Colorado. In fact, only because Teymour suggested it as we chillaxing at home a couple of days prior. This was February of 2014 and marijuana legalisation there was just beginning. So considering that I would probably enjoy this new American Amsterdam, he shared the idea, and Denver it was.

I first had to head back to Sycamore, Illinois where my main luggage was — at a kind friend I had met online, Ahmed. Yeah.     

Once ready, I headed to Chicago and got on a train for an 18-hour ride to the Mile High City. It was a lovely the experience as it was my first time to sleep in a train. I had a tiny cute cabin, including dinner and breakfast, served at the “restaurant”. There, I met a Canadian couple and we genuinely began chatting. 

While I met Teymour a few times since then, it was the last time I saw Izzy. Just a couple of weeks ago, she went on her next journey, joining Caramella and Shay and all the dogs that have ever lived. Ah.

From Maadi to Michigan, this doggo was given a new beginning and a wonderful life. May her lovely soul Rest In Peace.

Izzy The Egyptian American Doggo [Video]

Izzy The Egyptian American Doggo [Video]
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