Lead role in Is­rael for lat­est olim pups

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JC RE­PORTER

WHEN FOUR new ar­rivals from the UK ar­rive in Is­rael later this month, they will do so with­out the cel­e­bra­tions that greet many olim.

But their con­tri­bu­tion to their adopted home is set to help dozens of blind and par­tially sighted Is­raelis gain the chance of in­de­pen­dence through the gift of a guide dog from the Is­rael Guide Dog Cen­tre at Beit Oved near Ris­hon LeZion.

The four labrador pup­pies Rocket, Rolo, Peanut and Sox, are fol­low­ing in the paw-steps of Maisy, Milo, Va­lerie and Vivi, who made the same trip in the sum­mer, and all eight were sup­plied to the cen­tre by the char­ity UK Guide Dogs. Once in Is­rael, they will join the breed­ing pro­gramme at the cen­tre, help­ing to en­sure a di­verse gene pool and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of healthy guide dogs.

Un­like in the UK, where the idea of guide dogs is long es­tab­lished, the con­cept is still gain­ing a foothold in Is­rael, even as the cen­tre pre­pares to mark its 25th an­niver­sary in 2016.

Jon Ben­jamin, chair­man of the IGDC in the UK, said: “The irony is that the wide­spread use of guide dogs be­gan in re­sponse to the ca­su­al­ties suf­fered in the First World War, but it hadn’t caught on in Is­rael un­til much more re­cently.”

The Is­rael cen­tre has in­creased its oper­a­tions, now sup­ply­ing 35 to 40 dogs a year to those in need.

Martin Se­gal, the IGDC UK’s di­rec­tor, said the eight pup­pies “will be in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant in Is­rael. It’s vi­tal for the health of the breed­ing pro­gramme that it in­cludes dogs from out­side Is­rael. In the past they have come from the US, Canada as well as the UK, but we are for­tu­nate to have close re­la­tions with UK Guide Dogs and are very grate­ful for their help in find­ing so many dogs for us.”

The cen­tre in Is­rael wel­comed Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis over the sum­mer, and bade farewell at a spe­cial re­cep­tion for out­go­ing Bri­tish Am­bas­sador Matthew Gould, who had looked af­ter two dogs pre­vi­ously at his res­i­dence in Tel Aviv.

Work is pro­posed to be­gin on a ma­jor ex­pan­sion and re­fur­bish­ment pro­gramme later this year, which will in­clude new breed­ing and train­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Martin Se­gal tour­ing the pro­posed new pup­py­de­vel­op­ment site at the Is­rael Guide Dog Cen­tre at Beit Oved

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