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Guide dog taught Hebrew

THE OLD saying goes that you can’t you teach an old dog new tricks, but a young dog maybe… A three-month old English puppy is being taught Hebrew commands as he prepares to become the first Israeli guide dog trained in the UK.

Minty is set to fly from the UK to Israel when he makes aliyah on his first birthday to become a guide dog in the Jewish State next year.

The yellow Labrador is being trained by the Pinner Synagogue Action Committee to join JNF UK partner Israel Guide Dogs for The Blind.

He is the first puppy being trained by the committee to be a join the Centre. His trainer, Gillian Stoller, has worked with six guide dogs. She said: ‘I have puppy walked six puppies for the Guide dogs for the Blind Association in the UK, all of whom successfully qualified to become guide dogs.
‘The puppy walker has to socialise the puppy so that it is comfortable in all situations. This can be from visiting shops, travelling on a bus or train, negotiating busy town centres and accepting the attention of children as well as adults. I will also teach the puppy the correct way to walk beside his handler, walking in a straight line in the centre of the pavement and to cross the road properly.

‘Minty arrived at my home a few weeks ago. As the training in both countries is virtually the same, I will follow a similar routine with her as I have done with my other guide dog puppies. However, as she will eventually work in Israel, she will need to understand Hebrew commands. So, I am now busy learning all the necessary words and commands in Hebrew as all my communications will be in Ivrit.’

Meanwhile Labour MP David Blunkett, landed in Israel for the first time last week to visit the Israel Guide Dog Centre. He also attended a dinner hosted by the British Ambassador Tom Phillips who, together with his wife is a volunteer 'Puppy walker' for the centre.