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Dog Who Thinks He's A Dolphin

There's a dog who lives in Eilat, Israel called Joker. Everyone there knows him. He's a hairy mutt. Cute, but pretty smelly to be honest, and he's not that keen on human company. But there's one thing very special about Joker - he's adopted a pod of dolphins.

In fact, he probably thinks he is a dolphin.

Five years ago Joker found his way to Dolphin Reef, a beautiful beach on the south side of Eilat where people swim and dive with dolphins. He trotted down to the wooden piers that jut out into the sea, and gazed at the dolphins swimming below him. It was love at first sight.

The staff chased him off. But the next day Joker was back, and the day after that, each time spending hours staring at the dolphins as they swam by. One day he summoned up his courage and leapt in.

The dolphins, being curious creatures, were fascinated by their new four-legged companion, and after a few weeks of daily swims began to accept him as one of their own.

Since then, Joker makes the trip to the Dolphin Reef, a few kilometers away from his home, every single day. At first he used to walk the distance. In recent years he's started hitchhiking.

He stands by the road in Eilat until someone recognizes him and picks him up and drops him at the beach. On the way back, he begs another lift from the staff, following them from the reef and then leaping in as they open the car doors.

"I have a blanket in my car specially for him," admits Nir Avni, the founder and manager of the beach. "I can't refuse him."

One day he took a trip with the wrong person, however, and ended up 100 kilometers away at a kindergarten in Kibbutz Yotvata. Avni put an advert in a national paper for a missing dog, and finally after several weeks absence Joker was reunited with his dolphins once more.

You can see Joker whenever you visit Dolphin Reef. He pads about the place as if he were the owner, sitting on the pier for long hot hours in the baking Eilat heat gazing at his friends in the clear blue water below. When the mood takes him, he dives in, and starts to play with his dolphin family.

If you see him, you can try to call him over. But he'll probably ignore you, unless you're offering him a lift. He's only really got eyes for his dolphins.

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