The valiant dogs of October 7

Opinion: Never before have so many dogs played so great a part in so terrible a war.; It's up to us to grant Man's Best Friend the kind of world worthy of their unconditional love
Boaz Gaon|
It's safe to state that in no prior conflict have canines played such a pivotal role as they have in this devastating war against Hamas. Let's take a look at a few examples: Our hearts were shattered when Bonita Cohen, the courageous former police dog, was tragically gunned down on October 7th. Conversely, our spirits lifted when Bella Leimberg, with her shaggy coat reminiscent of a bath mat, returned from her time in captivity, with a twinkle in her eye that suggested to all observers that she might know Sinwar's location.
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Our hearts were touched deeply when Rodney Brodetz, a dog as brown as a bar of milk chocolate, lovingly licked his human siblings upon their return from captivity as though they were sweet caramel treats. And even before that, when he sat in front of the Kirya defense headquarters alongside his human father, Avichai, who held a sign reading "My family was kidnapped in Gaza."
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אביחי ברודץ' בעל הכלב רודני שנמצא בכפר עזה על ידי לוחם מילואים
אביחי ברודץ' בעל הכלב רודני שנמצא בכפר עזה על ידי לוחם מילואים
Avichai Brodetz with family dog Rodney, who survived the massacre by hiding
Here's a touching example that stands out, particularly in these challenging times where emotions run high from dawn till dusk. The Israeli Dachshund Club, a Facebook group boasting 1,400 members, arranged a unique show of solidarity three weeks ago. The event, held unexpectedly in the lobby of the Herods hotel in Tel Aviv, served as a support demonstration featuring dachshunds, often derogatorily referred to as "sausages," for the displaced children of the Gaza envelope region.
The sterile lobby, which in its prime echoed with the complaints of waiters every time a coffee drop stained a tablecloth, was now brimming with affectionate dachshunds. These dogs, varying in length, color, and fur type, had one shared goal: to give as many affectionate licks to the children's feet as possible. As the children bent toward them, the dogs aimed for as many knees as they could reach. Then, they moved on to hands, faces and even tongues, repeating their message of unconditional love, time and time again, saying in their own way: "There is love in the world."
Incidentally, my spouse and I were present at the event. Daisy Gaon, the dachshund, was also there, dutifully participating in the gathering. Daisy's sibling, the seasoned red fox named Jimmy Gaon, remained at home on the cozy red couch, casting melancholic glances at the television. With one ear hanging low and the other standing alert, his gaze silently questioned: "Is the world truly this harsh?"
Perhaps that's the crux of the matter, or at least a significant part of it. The attributes we assign to dogs, who communicate solely through the warmth of their coats, the wag of their tongues, and their affectionate stares, reflect what we ourselves would express if we were more guileless. If we were less fearful of expressing love. If we found joy in simplicity like Charlie, the dog in John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charlie." If we were as loyal as Lassie, who continually returns to her human, Sam Carraclough. If we were convinced of the world's inherent justice and its inevitable triumph, like Pongo and Perdita in "101 Dalmatians." If we had the ability to rise above the recurring inclination to succumb to despair and depression, like Pierre Kaniuk, the character from Yoram Kaniuk's book "Pierre."
בעז גאוןBoaz GaonOsnat Ben-Dov
Certainly, dogs were once wolves, until a pivotal moment in their evolution when they chose to place their trust in humans. However, this trust in humans has since eluded us. We've also forfeited the certainty that reaching out to them wouldn't result in a bite. Instead of being a sanctuary for our dogs, a place they could always return to for love and protection, we now find ourselves seeking in the eyes of our dogs, on bended knees and with a wagging tongue, the love and innocence we've lost. We hope that they will eventually bring these qualities back home, with a wagging tail, much like the lost dogs of the Gaza envelope settlements. Perhaps then, we might feel a little less like forsaken dogs.
Therefore, I urge you to do yourself a favor immediately after reading this piece: If you have a dog, spend time with it. If you don't, consider adopting one and bringing it home as a rare symbol of innocence, the kind that's in short supply in all stores. Then, kneel down. Hold its face in your hands, gaze deeply into its eyes, and allow it to convey without words what we so desperately long to hear: "No, we are not wolves. Yes, there is love in the world. No, I didn't eat the sofa's upholstery. It was like that before."
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