Local woman rescues a dog from another country

SPENCER McCOY/THE EXPRESS
Joan Thiel of Avis recently adopted Sukkar (“Sugar”) from a rescue group in the country of Jordan.

SPENCER McCOY/THE EXPRESS Joan Thiel of Avis recently adopted Sukkar (“Sugar”) from a rescue group in the country of Jordan.

AVIS — This is a love story of sorts, one that began on the Internet.

Joan Thiel of Avis has rescued a dog named Sukkar, and she said she never would have found her newest dog without Facebook.

Sukkar, pronounced SOO-kar, means sugar. Sukkar is a Canaan dog, the national dog of Israel. She was found on the streets, beaten and abused. Her rescuers got her medical help, spayed her, trained her, and then sent her out of the country and out of harm’s way by allowing Joan to adopt her.

Joan calls Sukkar “very obedient… the sweetest, most delightful little girl.”

Like many dog enthusiasts, Joan visited the Pet Finder website at petfinder.com. At the time, she was looking for a whippet to add to her household. She then considered adopting a Galgo, an ancient Spanish breed that is sometimes called the Spanish greyhound. She found a Galgo rescue group, but discovered she would be required to have a six-foot fence around her property before being accepted as an adopter.

Eventually her search lead her to consider a Canaan dog from Jordan.

The search also raised her awareness of how dogs are abused in other countries, she said. Dogs in the Middle East are looked upon as unclean vermin to be destroyed, she said. The internet stories of dogs and their suffering touched her heart.

“It’s barbaric,” she said. “I don’t like what I see, but it is educational.”

A Facebook post on Dec. 16, 2016 from Jumana Tagqah was the beginning of this love story. The post said Sukkar was around 4 or 5 months old. She was seen limping and very thin. Jumana picked her up and took her to a vet where it was found that the dog had been abused, hit in more than one place on her body, and suffered having the bones in one leg “smashed,” Joan said. Sukkar’s road to health included an operation to place a plate in her leg and a battle with a wound infection, but her story was posted and Joan eventually became her proud American owner.

“I feel very privileged that I got her. There were a lot of people who wanted her,” she said.

Canaan Dogs for Adoption wants to get dogs out of the country, so it makes the process relatively easy for American adopters, she said. She had to pick Sukkar up at JFK Airport on March 21. The dog came with a crate, bed, leash, collar and sweatshirt and was already spayed, trained and vaccinated. Joan’s total cost was only $60, she said.

“I wanted to do something to help those dogs over there,” Joan said. “I’m not rich. I can’t donate to every shelter that needs it, but what I could offer is a home.”

Sukkar is now a part of her multi-dog household, which also includes two whippets and two retired racing greyhounds. One greyhound is 3 years old, but the other three dogs are senior citizens. All but one of them are rescues.

Sukkar plays and loves people, her owner said. She and the other dogs pay little or no attention to the parakeets inside the house or the chickens outside. Sukkar does dig holes — “the only bad thing,” Joan said.

Along her search that started on Pet Finder and ended at JFK Airport, Joan made many new friends, including Sukkar’s rescuer, Jumana; Leo Najjar, administrator of the rescue organization; and two women, one in New York and one in Levittown, who also adopted from Canaan Dogs for Adoption.

Someday, Joan said, she would like to adopt a Pariah dog from India. For now, she, Sukkar, and her other rescued dogs make a happy pack.

For more information about Canaan Dogs for Adoption, visit Facebook and search for these two pages: “Animal Welfare Awareness – Jordan” and “Pets for Adoption – Jordan.” (Warning: some of the things on these two pages are not for children to view.)

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