After the loss of my dogs in Saudi I took some time to come to terms with the reality that I would not be able to return to search for them. Visas are not issued to casual visitors and without a relative, company sponsor or suitable conference in the area that I might attend it was simply not possible. Even companies attempting to promote group tours under supervision found it difficult to obtain visas for potential tourists and halted efforts to promote tours.
I became interested in a welfare dog shelter in Dubai that I had chanced upon while looking for somewhere to house my Saudi dogs during the process of getting them to Australia. Australia did not accept dogs directly from Saudi Arabia due to poor rabies control in Saudi so they would have needed to stay in an acceptable place like Dubai for 6 months. It seemed to me from the photographs of dogs available for adoption that some of them were probably also Canaan dogs, picked up off the streets. I noted a number of them as such and had some contact with the kennel, K9 Friends, Dubai. I transited through Dubai a couple of times on trips between Australia and South Africa but only allowed a few days hoping to be able to visit the shelter with a view to adopting a dog. Unfortunately I discovered that without a pre-arranged appointment I was unable to visit. One of the dogs I noticed among those advertised as available for adoption and that looked like a Canaan was this one – Roxx.
Meanwhile I was considering a possibility of working in Nigeria with a South African pathology company or Ghana with a South African accredited one. The Company in Nigeria sent me all the papers we thought were needed for me to get a visa to visit them including a letter signed by the Nigerian director inviting me to visit and guaranteeing my financial situation and accommodation for the time I would be there, and a copy of the company registration in Nigeria. I duly submitted my visa application and passport to the Nigerian officials in Canberra. There was a charge for the visa, a charge for processing it and an additional charge for rapid processing. They insisted on using a postal order as the method of payment so I obtained one to cover the 3 costs and included this in my application. I also included, as required, a copy of my return ticket the company had sent me from Nigeria.
After a couple of days I attempted to phone Canberra to check all was in order but found it impossible to get connected. On the website was a message saying that they were experiencing problems with phones (something rare in Australia unless bills have not been paid) and an “alternative” number was given. When I checked this “alternative” was actually the same as the initial one listed. When I finally managed to get a call to them I was asked which of a list of departments they mentioned I wanted. Before I could answer the lady then said that anyway it did not matter as they all go to her anyway! When I asked about the progress with my visa application I was told it could not be processed because they needed 2 separate letters, one inviting me and a second separate one guaranteeing my financial status by the company for my time there. Then I was told that they also could not process my application because it was not a Nigerian company. It was and a copy of the company registration was included in my application. The company letter head said that they were associated with the South African pathologists at the head office in Cape Town. Also they said they could not process it because they needed 3 separate money orders for the 3 payments. I had no option but to call the lab in Nigeria and inform them I would not be able to travel on the booked flight unless they could do something to sort it out. The Ghana Company, after saying they would send an air ticket as soon as I had a visa and health certificate failed to do so
Meanwhile I had been planning to break my trip in Dubai to visit the kennel with a view to adopting one of their Canaan like dogs and they had invited me to give a talk on Canaan, which I had agreed to do. With my determination to get another of these dogs coupled with the thought of having to cancel an already advertised talk I decided a break in Dubai was something I could handle so made my own arrangements to go ahead with that. The talk went well and helped raise funds for the shelter. My intention then was to adopt Prince, a dog that had been used to publicise my talk or failing that Tiger who had been brought in to the auditorium at the end of my talk to show the type of dog. Yet again difficulties in getting things done by remote control while back in Australia resulted in someone else wanting both dogs as individuals wanting dogs had developed attachments to them.
Work in Australia continued in a position that took me to a number of outback towns in the Northern territory but the need I felt to have another desert dog in my life remained and I was determined to get one. People still working in Saudi were still unable to spot my dogs although of course even if they had found their way back they would certainly not have approached anyone.
Finally a number of things fell into place and the chance arose to include another visit to the Dubai shelter to find a Canaan and attend their annual fund raising ball, attend an International Canaan dog meeting, and visit a close friend from school days who had recently contacted me after many years of us having lost contact. He actually spotted my story of my Saudi dogs.
And so it was that after much travel I finally got to do see all these people and choose a dog. But how to select a dog from the several I saw with really inadequate time to get to really know any of them? All of the volunteers seemed to have their own favourite and I am sure any of the ones I saw would have been good for me but I had to make a choice. I spoke to the senior instructor volunteer and said I would be happy to take one that had been stuck there for a long time or that had any problems finding a home for any reason. She suggested Roxx.
Roxx was actually the first one I had been shown while he was out in the exercise area enjoying a cooling splash in a water pool. I only realised later that he was one of the dogs I had marked as being a Canaan years previously. I then spent more time with him both one on one in an exercise yard and in his kennel with the dog he was sharing with at the time. And so the decision was made to end the empty gap years and bring Roxx home to Australia.