Thursday, January 18, 2018

Twist is Back on his Feet!

Guide dogs need their keen eyes, sharp ears, and four healthy legs to effectively do their important job.  Sometimes things go wrong, and expert veterinary help is needed to help a sick dog return to work.  When Twist's handler came home and found that his dog could not stand up and was unable to move his hind legs, he immediately called for help.   Twist was taken to the veterinary clinic at Kfar HaYarok where he underwent extensive examinations, including an MRI.  The examination revealed that the cause of the problem was a fibro cartilaginous embolism in the dog's spinal cord.   Since Twist could not work or return home to his owner's apartment, he was hospitalized in the kennels at the Center.  He was given pharmaceutical treatment and slowly began to recover and gain the use of his hind legs again. 
 After Twist was sufficiently recovered he was able to return to his handler's home and to engage in limited activities.   Twist is now working well, but hesitates when climbing stairs.   He is receiving  physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to help him grow stronger and recuperate.   We wish Twist a full and speedy recovery!  

2018 is now in full swing with the first training course that will begin next weekn and the first litter of puppies who were distributed to their adoptive families.  Best of luck to dogs, handlers, and puppy walkers!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bringing Home Trophies from the Sportiada in Eilat

This was the second year that the Sportiada - Israel's largest sporting event - featured a cycling race for tandem bicycles, and close to 50 tandem bikes from Canvelo and other groups throughout the country took part in the two-day competition.  Riders from the three Canvelo biking clubs, "Eynayim L'Shnayim" from the Upper Galilee, and "Galgal Ofan" from Kiryat Motzkin were there to tackle the rugged desert terrain in two competitive rides..  Many graduates from the Center and their teammates from all three Canvelo groups won trophies this year in all the age and gender categories.  After two days of competition the tandem bikers set out on a 20-kilometer non-competitive bike ride in the area of Timna.   Below: Canvelo riders together in the desert near Timna, riders from the center group and northern group displaying trophies won in the competition.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sharing a Tour of the East Side!!

I am writing a personal post this week to share my thrilling first tour of the new campus that I took with Dennis and my guide dog Dinka.  It is hard to believe that only last December we were standing amid rubble and dirt on the East Side pouring spadefuls of concrete into a hole in the ground at the festive cornerstone laying ceremony.  It is now eight months later and the East Side has been transformed into a state-of-the-arts guide dog school training and puppy development campus!

We began the tour at the place where the sidewalk of the present campus joins the new path leading to the new campus.  Here there will be a statue of a Labrador retriever and a dog memorial garden, and a new tree is already growing in the area. 

The New Kennel Building

Outdoor yeard in the new kennels

The simulated crosswalk with stoplight

Path to the new campus

The New Kennels

Walkway connectying the old and new campus

We continued on to the dog exercise run where there is a lawn and a safe fenced in area for dogs to run free.  This is a great area for trainees to practice letting their dogs off leash and teaching them recall as well as letting them relax and have fun. 
The training campus includes a new obstacle course with a shaded area for hot summer days or rainy weather, and a simulated crosswalk where trainees can learn how to navigate a city crosswalk and stoplight before they experience the real thing with traffic in town.  Dinka stopped neatly at the crosswalk and then had fun running through the elaborate maze – a challenging game for dogs to learn recall and find their way back to their handlers.

The old puppy house is now converted into an elaborate breeding facility with modern rooms and equipment for mother dogs to give birth and remain with their litters until the puppies are ready to leave for their adopted families.  Dinka eagerly explored the new kennels and building with its yards adjoining every two cells in the kennel.

The staff is currently getting organized to handle the additional work that the new kennels and additional dogs will entail, including hiring an additional staff member to help with dog care in the kennels.

There are many expressions of thanks to convey to many people, and we hope that many friends, donors, and supporters will be with us to dedicate the new campus next April!

In other news, last Thursday the staff bid a fond farewell to four of the six National Community service workers who have been an inseparable and valuable part of life at the Center: Inbar and Haviva left us after two years of dedicated work in the kennels, and Shani and Hilla who also worked in the kennels left after working with us for the past year.  Vered and Eden will remain with us. Each of the young women received a gift of a framed photo with one of the dogs she cared for, and there were many tears of sadness at the parting.  We wish to extend our sincere thanks to these young women for their dedicated work, and wish them all best of luck and success in whatever they pursue in the future!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

They're off! New puppies begin their year with adoptive families.

It's a big and exciting day when our puppies are ready to leave their mothers and begin their year with their adoptive families!  By the age of 8 weeks they have already been exposed to various stimuli, walked on different surfaces and stairs, and begun to explore the world.  Now they are ready to begin learning the skills that will prepare them to be guide dogs in the future.  Many of them will be raised by university students at various academic institutions, where they will learn to sit quietly in class. 
Last Friday puppies were distributed to their adoptive families at a special event on campus.  Before they left, some of our older, more experienced dogs showed these little puppies how it's done!  
Good luck to puppies and families, and we hope to see all these puppies as full-fledged guide dogs in two years! 
Ready to begin their year together: Puppies and adoptive families

Hobby, Ran Gornie's guide dog, with Teva, the puppy that will be raised by Ran's daughter

Orna and Hilla with puppy and guide dog in training: Showing them how it's done!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Getting to Know and Appreciate Our Volunteers

Volunteers have always played an important part in the daily life of the Center.  They help in the kennels and kitchen, provide leisure activities for course participants, help in the office, guide tours for visitors, run errands, and ride with the Canvelo cycling clubs.  Some raise puppies and foster pension guide dogs.  They are everywhere every day, and they deserve our thoughts and appreciation!
Gal Lee Danon, who is in charge of volunteers, decided it is time for us to show our appreciation of the work our volunteers do and to get to know them better.  She prepares a short PowerPoint presentation about one or two of our volunteers to be presented at the monthly staff meetings.  The presentations show each volunteer, what they do at the center and outside it, their hobbies, and interests.  This month Gal Lee presented two of our volunteers: Nancy and Eyal. 
Thanks to Gal Lee for her important work and for the thoughtful way of getting to know our volunteers better! 
In other news, work on the construction has been renewed and is progressing rapidly.  Against the background of construction noise dogs are taken to train in the early morning to avoid the summer heat, visitors from Israel and abroad tour the center as families take their children on vacation, and a special summer course will begin next week with three experienced graduates receiving replacement dogs.  We wish everyone success! Drink lots of water, keep cool!   Here is a short video taken by Noach.  As you can see, despite the heat, life at the Center is thriving!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

IGDCB Graduate Athletes Competing on Land and Water

Last Friday all three Canvelo clubs (Merkaz, Sharon, and Tzafon) took part in the first national championship competition for off-road tandem biking.  The race was held in the Grove for the Blind in the Ben Shemen Forest.    The race was organized by the Jewish Blind Institute and Canvelo and was sponsored by the Jewish Blind Institute, the Israeli Cycling Assosiation, the Israel Sports Association for the Disabled, and the National Insurance Institute.
The 50 tandem bike riders lined up at the starting line to begin the 9-kilometer race that took them through the forest along difficult routes that required not only stamina but extensive technical skill.  Riders raced up and down hills, along winding paths, and over rocky terrain that any cyclist would have found exciting and challenging. 
Trophies were awarded to the all-men and mixed couples who placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in three age categories: under 45, 45-60, and over 60. 
IGDCB graduates from all three Canvelo cycling clubs and their partners took home trophies.  Graduates who won places in the competition were Uri Basha, who completed the race first and won first place in the 45-60 men's category, Bracha Ben Avraham who placed 2nd in the over 60 mixed couples category, and Ruth Nachshon who won 2nd place in the mixed couples under 45 age group. 
And on the water…IGDCB graduate Achia Klein has also made amazing achievements in both international and local rowing competitions. 
Achiya Klein participated in the 2017 FISA International Para Rowing Regatta competition in Gavirate, Italy.  Achiya and Shay-Lee Mizrachi won the silver medal In the Mixed Co-Ed Four category, and Israeli rowers Shay-Lee Mizrachi, Simona Goren, Achiya Klein, Barak Hatzor and Leah Sas won the Bronze Medal.  This is an important competition on the way to qualifying for the World Championship.
IGDCB Graduate Achiya Klein with rowers and his guide dog Night

Cyclists at the Off-Road Tandem National Championship 


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The 5th MIssion to Poland

I am writing this week's blog after participating in the 5th Mission to Poland sponsored by the IGDCB who returned home yesterday after a six-day tour of historic sites .  The group included six graduates of the Center and their guide dogs and escorts, an additional blind participant and his escort, the tour coordinator, and guide.
During our six day visit to Poland we toured centers of Jewish life in Warsaw, Lublin, and Krakow, and visited  Treblinka, Majdanek, Auschwitz, and Birkenau.  Blind members of the group were able to perceive these places by touching and by listening to vivid descriptions offered by the guide and their escorts.  The group conducted a small memorial ceremony at the crematorium in Birkenau and  members lit a candle and read or recited names of family members who were murdered in the Holocaust.  The visit ended with the March of the living on Holocaust and Heroism Memorial Day on April 24th.  All of us felt that the visit was a difficult but meaningfuland   enlightening experience and that the six days that we spent together in Poland helped us to better understand this period in our history that was characterized by unspeakable evil conducted by the Nazis  as well as heroic deeds of Jews and those who aided them.

The group at Auschwitz with IDF Chief of Staff and IGDCB graduate Achia Klein

Remembering the victims at the memorial at Majdanek

The delegation marching from Auschwitz to Birkenau in the March of the Living