On any given day, in the port city of Eilat, Israel's southernmost city, one could look out near Dolphin Reef and see Joker. This hairy mixed breed is cute and a little smelly and if you call his name, he will likely ignore you as he looks into the water at his friends, the dolphins. In fact, Joker seems to think he is a dolphin.
Five years ago, Joker made his way to Dolphin Reef, a beautiful beach where people swim and dive with dolphins. He carefully maneuvered the wooden pier and gazed out into the sea. He saw his first dolphin as it swam by. Followed by several others, the dolphin pod was just as intrigued by little Joker.
Staff workers chased the canine off, only to have him return the next day and every day that was to follow. Joker spent hours staring at the dolphins as they swam by. One day he summoned up enough courage and jumped into the sea. The curious dolphins were enthralled by the little four-legged creature from dry land, but after a few weeks, the dolphins accepted him as one of their own.
Since then, the little mixed breed has made the journey from his home to Dolphin Reef each day. He began by walking, but soon decided to accept rides from some of the pier staff who recognized him. He will also accept rides home at the end of the day. “I have a blanket in my car especially for him,” admits Nir Avni, the founder and manager of the beach. “I can’t refuse him.”
One day, he accepted a ride from the wrong person and ended up 160 miles from his beloved reef. Avni put an ad in a national paper searching for the missing dog, and finally, after several weeks, Joker was reunited with his dolphins once again.
If you visit Dolphin Reef, you are sure to see the little dog who loves to swim with the dolphins. He will be sitting on the pier for hours on end, baking in the Eilat heat and staring at his friends in the clear water below. Remember, he will ignore you unless you are offering a ride.