Meet Israel parliament's new, furry British guardian

Originally bred to unearth several species of truffles, Springer Spaniel Johnny has joined the Knesset's bomb sniffing canine unit and is already showing great promise

Sivan Hilaie|
The Knesset Guard's canine unit has a new member joining its ranks - a British Springer Spaniel named Johnny.
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  • The new furry guardian arrived all the way from Bristol, South West England, and comes from a long line of dogs bred to sniff out Tuber fungi, which includes several species of truffles.
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    The Knesset's new British Guardian
    The Knesset's new British Guardian
    The Knesset's new British guardian
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Johnny's grandparents were award-winning dogs, collecting trophies and medals in both England and Ireland. His parents, Rio and Lenny, are bonafide experts when it comes to tracking truffles.
    Johnny himself is actually a Tzabar. Born and raised in a therapeutic farm in the small community of Eliad in the Golan Heights, run by Eli Danbar.
    Up until he was two months old, Johnny was trained in sniffing out Tuber fungi, one kilogram of which cost up to 14,000 NIS ($4,000). The fungi secrete a special gas that the dogs are trained to identify, even if it's underground.
    Johnny was primed to continue the proud family tradition, but eventually took a different path.
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    אלבניה פטריות כמהין מלחמה בתוך היער
    אלבניה פטריות כמהין מלחמה בתוך היער
    A dog sniffing a truffle
    (Photo: AFP)
    David Kodeda, who works at the Knesset establishment for the breeding of dogs, came to the farm in search of a heir to Thomas, a bomb sniffing dog who was retiring from active duty.
    "We heard about Johnny's capabilities. We ran some tests and saw he had a talent for sniffing out explosives," he said. "We brought him in when he was four months old. Usually, it takes up to a year to train a dog for this kind for duty, but Johnny was faster since he was more developed when he came to us."
    With the 25th Knesset is sworn in, Johnny joins a well-trained canine unit that includes Oscar, Zoey and others that are set to keep watch for dangerous materials and other threats.
    The Knesset Officer Yuval Chen said: "The canine unit, which has been operational for the last 20 years, is an integral part for the Knesset's security apparatus. Their contribution is unique and irreplaceable. Johnny is already showing signs of fitting in with the rest of the dogs and we're hopeful he'll be a success story."
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