Over the past two years, a dozen lucky pooches have had a chance to start over, thanks to SPCA NOVA and some good Samaritans working for the State Department in the Middle Eastern country of Yemen. Several Yemeni street dogs found their way onto the grounds of the U.S. embassy compound, where they were taken under the wing of some compassionate staffers. A number of those dogs, along with their offspring who were born on the embassy grounds, made their way to the U.S. to search for forever homes.

We first profiled some of our Yemeni adoptees in our Winter 2012 newsletter, and today we’re happy to report that nearly all of the former street dogs have been adopted into safe and loving homes in the U.S. These special pooches have impressed their humans with their intelligence, protectiveness, loyalty, willfulness and distinctive vocalization.

In addition to the inbred traits of this breed that some say was long ago used for herding, these dogs have innate street smarts that kept them safe in their dangerous situation in Yemen. Those smarts told them to forage at night and “hold it” until they felt it was safe. That habit was remarked upon by the adopters of Winnie, Sasha, Saber, and Darby.

Since the newsletter was published, the Yemen dogs have been through their first American winters. The girls loved the snow. The boys could take it or leave it. We checked in with Winnie, who, Karen says, is still timid but has taken training and agility lessons to boost her self-confidence. She and her cat sister have developed a playful friendship. Tiffany reports Morgan still hates change, is distrustful of “doorways he doesn’t know,” and hates motorcycles.

Snickers and Belle (formerly Blondie) were adopted together. They have grown quite a lot since they arrived but still think they are lap dogs. Belle rules the roost but is very cuddly. Snickers loves routine and reacts poorly to surprises. Their favorite treat is peanuts in the shell.

Lauren always wanted a wolf, and when she first saw Sasha, with her different colored eyes, she knew she had found her match. The decidedly un-wolflike Sasha is a sociable dog, who likes adults, children, cats and other dogs – especially small puffy dogs.

Lara had never had a dog before but she was drawn to an SPCA NOVA dog adoption after losing her beloved cats. She met Lucy and fell in love with her sweet disposition. She and Lucy have a strong bond of trust. Lara was surprised by how cuddly she is. Lucy is naturally well-behaved but don’t come too close to “her” house or come up on her from behind or her bark will let you know to back off.

When Suzanne brought her daughter Katrina to an SPCA NOVA adoption fair, Katrina was drawn to Darby. They brought her home and renamed her Sadiqi (“friend” in Arabic). While she is not very friendly with other dogs, she loves people and small children, and even tries to herd small children by nipping at them. Like the other Yemeni dogs, Sadiqi has a funny bark, but when she’s forced to do something she doesn’t like—like being around water or having a veterinarian clip her claws—she goes into drama queen mode and lets out a high-pitched scream before she’s even touched. This smart girl is protective of her family, and loves to chase squeaky tennis balls with her humans.

Training a Yemeni dog requires finding their motivation. While Snickers wants to please you, most of the dogs seem to reason the situation out. Their attitude is often “what’s in it for me?”, “Why do you want me to do THAT?” and “You better have something better than a biscuit.” Saber is particularly frustrating. You would recognize him as the class clown where all life is a game and calling “come” is a perfect excuse to play keep away.

Sawyer and his mom Felicia are still looking for their forever homes. Do you have room in your house for a smart and loving pooch?

SPCA NOVA is proud to have found loving homes for so many of these wonderful dogs. For more information about adopting Yemeni dogs, as well as pictures and updates from Yemeni transplants, visit the Adopting Yemeni Dogs Facebook page [no longer active]. There you can also see alumnus Simba demonstrate the distinctive “woo woo” vocalization that marks many of the dogs.

To learn more about dogs still looking for their forever homes, visit the Available Dogs page on the SPCA NOVA website.