We had an unusual, fun and only-in-Israel day today – and brought our newest family member home. He’s sleeping now, so deeply that he’s snoring next to my desk.
About a year ago I contacted DogSense in Hod HaSharon about adopting one of their K-9 security dogs when they were ready to be retired (usually at around 7 or 8 years old). This was after our Ra’anana apartment had been broken into and robbed.
For those of you who don’t already know, we owned Shalom Kennels in Hermitage, TN before moving to Cleveland in 2004. We bred and trained German Shepherd Dogs in Schutzhund and for police service. Our last girl – Bonni vom Wilknitzkoff, a gorgeous sable GSD that we imported from Germany – was sold to Saffore Kennels in 2005 due to some circumstances that were beyond our control at the time and we have sorely missed having canine companionship and protection since then.
Fast forward 6 years and we are now living in the “West Bank” of Israel and I felt the time was right for Yisrael to learn how to handle a working dog.
After the terrorist attack in Itamar in which 5 members of the Fogel family were brutally murdered, the desire to have a protection dog in the house resurfaced. I couldn’t help wondering if that family had had a dog whether they might still be alive today – well trained dogs serve as early warning systems, as well as deterrents and protectors. So last Wednesday morning I sent a message to Avi at DogSense with our updated address and contact information and asked that he let us know when a dog became available.
To my surprise, Avi phoned me within a few hours to say that Max was available and we could come to meet him and bring him home at our convenience. Max is a Dutch Shepherd Dog – very similar to, but a bit smaller than, German Shepherds. He served in the Israel Security Service as an explosives expert (sniffing) at the Erez Border Crossing for four years and then joined the teaching program at the DogSense Training Ranch where he worked with children for a few years under the direction of his handler, Eran. It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t in Jerusalem checking the bus stop areas before the terrorist set off a bomb last Thursday.
We don’t have a car these days, so we rented one and drove out to the DogSense Ranch this morning and I’ve gotta tell you I am VERY impressed with their facilities, but even more so with the people who run the place and work there. Over the years I’ve dealt with many breeders and trainers in the US (and I can count on three fingers the ones I trust and have respect for), but never have I met a group of people as committed to excellence and compassion as I did today. It was obvious from the moment we arrived that the staff cares deeply for all the dogs in their kennel and that they are extremely conscientious about every aspect of dog care and training.
In the few hours we were there, they casually interviewed (it was obvious to me that they wanted to be sure we could handle and properly care for Max) and introduced us to Max’s personality, training and skills. It was a relaxed and pleasuarble experience. Here are a few clips from Yisrael’s first exposure to dog handling.
Part IV I can’t show you because we learned about Max’s history and secret work. Along the path to the training field we passed cows and horses (the horses actually watched some of the training) and beautiful fields – a very relaxing environment.
When we were finished with our training session, Max played in the water pail – we were told he’s very particular about having clean water and if it’s not then he washes his paws in it first! We met Avi and he gave me Max’s paperwork while a very nice young man, whose name I unfortunately didn’t get, arranged for us to pick up a crate from their supplier near Modiin – this was a huge help because every pet shop I had contacted told me that this particular crate was out of stock in the entire country! Avi even printed out a map and directions to guide us to the warehouse.
While the guys stayed outside and played with Max, I went into the DogSense Shop to pick up the essentials: leash, bowls, food, a few toys, heartworm prevention, etc. Their prices were very good and I felt I received wholesale prices on a few items (at least compared to the kennel prices I paid in the US). I was happy to learn that I can continue to buy from them via their web site and they’ll have my orders delivered to my door.
The nice young man then took me into the whelping room to meet a litter of Belgian Malinois puppies (sorry I didn’t think to take a photo) and we compared notes on whelping (dogs giving birth) and puppy care. I was starting to get the feeling that these people didn’t want us to leave, and I think the reason was that none of them wanted to part with Max! They each had a few “good-bye” moments with him and the young man who helped me in the shop stuffed a bunch of treats and a bottle of shampoo into the bag as his gift to Max 🙂
Thanks to the GPS in our smart phone we didn’t get too lost along the way. While we were sitting at an intersection trying to figure out which way to go, one of the men from DogSense phoned to ask if we made it to our destination safely and provided additional directions! Then when we arrived at the warehouse, 3 men helped Michael load the crate into the trunk safely and we headed home.
The many experiences today have taught me that THERE REALLY IS CUSTOMER SERVICE IN ISRAEL! You just have to look hard for it 🙂
Max was very well behaved in the car and went right into his new crate and fell fast asleep upon arrival in his new home. A few hours later he (and Michael) walked Yisrael to his music lessons and when I returned from shopping he greeted me with wagging tail. I gave him water and food on the mirpeset, took him “out” and then came in and sat down to check e-mail. Max had a different plan… he wanted to PLAY! He walked into his crate, picked up his Kong toy and dropped it at my feet 🙂
I went out onto the mirpeset and tossed it for him to fetch and each time he obediently dropped it at my feet and stood completely focused on it waiting for me to toss it again. He won – I had to stop playing before he did 🙂
He walked me to the conservatory and walked Yisrael back and then fell fast asleep in his crate – and I think it’s now time for me to do the same (but in my bed!)