Habibi and Friends by Mike Epstein

Habibi the Rescue(Wonder) Dog

by MIKE EPSTEIN for Cascade A&E
Several years ago my wife received a phone call from our daughter in law in Kuwait, where our son and his family were living while he was employed as an art teacher by the Kuwaiti government. It seemed that a little dog had been found in Kuwait City in a garbage can, badly beaten, starving and almost dead. Someone had taken it to a shelter run by an American woman who was nursing it back to health and at some point he would be needing a home.
His name was Habibi. Would we be interested?
The dog was still in bad shape. It’s lower right front leg had been broken and didn’t heal correctly, as well as his tail, so he had a crooked leg and a crooked tail. A lot of his teeth had been knocked out. He had obviously suffered severe trauma and was very antisocial.
Our daughter-in-law had not seen him but she had been told he was a miniature Schnauzer. This was of interest to us as we already had one Schnauzer(Scooter) and a Schnoodle (Olive) and thought that the guys might enjoy having one more buddy around the house. So we agreed to take the little guy sight unseen and he would accompany the family on the plane when they left Kuwait the following July to return to the states.
Turns out Habibi was not a miniature Schnauzer, but, as closely as vets can determine, a Morky, which is a cross between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Maltese Terrier. He was very cute and looked like a puppy, although his age is probably about ten. It was tough going at first with Habibi and our other two dogs because, although they were interested in being friends with him, he had no desire to reciprocate and just wanted to be left alone. He was not a happy camper.
Being in the habit of taking Scooter and Olive to the Butte daily for walks, we began taking Habibi along also, but at first we were very concerned not to overwork him since he was so small and because of his leg, which he always seemed to favor and walked with a noticeable limp reminiscent of someone who has had a hip replacement.
Initially we carried him a good deal of the way but soon found that he was a tough little trooper and could easily make it all the way up and down on his own with no help from us.
At first he would growl and act like a grumpy old man with other dogs that we met, but gradually he changed and now he loves to meet dogs and stands up and kisses them and just be a sweetheart.
Habibi rapidly became famous at the Butte and his story was told and retold by everyone who met him. He stole the show from Olive and Scooter. Before we got him, people would always remark how cute the other two dogs were, but after Habibi it was usually “Oh my gosh, look at the little white one.” More than once people have looked at him and called him an angel.
Habibi is an Arabic word used as a term of endearment such as honey, sweetheart, etc. It fits him to a “T.” Having this little guy and being able to give him a home and make him feel loved has been a terrific experience and he has given back every bit and more than he has received.
He is the most gentle, affectionate, loyal little companion one could find. If we were to give him another name I think it would be Angel. Having this little rescue dog I often have to wonder about who did the rescuing and who rescued whom?
Mike Epstein is a writer photographer who has been based in Bend for many years.  His work has appeared in publications around the world from Sports Illustrated to National Geographic. He is a firm believer the world would be a much better place being run by people from the animal world, rather than animals from the people world.

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