Sunday, April 29, 2018

An Undaunted Spirit pt. 3 - Israel Guide Dog Center

In the mid-1980’s Israel’s only trainer of guide dogs retired. From that moment Israeli blind and visually impaired people were told they needed to learn English and go to the United States to get a guide dog. Fresh out of the army, Noach Braun wanted to change Israel for the better and committed his life to creating a center for the training of guide dogs. Noach did not know blind people but he began a quest that took him to the United States, Great Britain, and back to Israel to learn how to train guide dogs and train others to do the same. Starting with next to nothing, today the Center has expanded to training 40 plus dogs a year with a goal of training 60 dogs a year within the next two to three years.

We have been supporters of the Center for over a decade so Michele and I decided to leave our group for a morning and visit the Center to see for ourselves the work they do. Of course the puppies were adorable. These puppies are four weeks old and will be sent out to foster homes in another 4 weeks where they will begin their socialization which will last about 14 months.

Upon returning to the Center,  the dogs begin their rigorous four to six month training to become guide dogs. Only 40% - 50% of the dogs are suitable to guide the blind or visually impaired. The vast majority of the rest are trained to be service dogs to people with physical impairments or  emotional support dogs for former soldiers or  terror victims diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Of course there is a small percentage of dogs who are not suitable to be working dogs and they are adopted out as pets.

After a long day of training the dogs get to play.

Noach Braun is one of my Mitzvah Heroes.

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