Attention Jewish pet owners, this is for you…

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Attention Jewish pet owners, this is for you…

Canine charity, grooming, bark mitvahs and rosettes to be won

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Mason Bloom had his first visit to Israel Guide Dogs…..

“I’ve been the treasurer of Israel Guide Dog Centre UK for several years, but had never visited. So when the events of October 7 compelled me to go to Israel to show solidarity and volunteer, it was also an opportunity to see what goes on at the centre and how it profoundly changes people’s lives. There was another reason for going. My great friend Martin Segal, chief executive of the charity in the UK, sadly died in January and he gave me his blessing to go, which meant so much to me. I would loved to have made the trip with Martin.

The centre, based in Beit Oved, is specifically designed to help blind or visually-impaired people move around as easily and as safely as possible, and I was incredibly impressed by how much love and effort has gone into developing the campus. It is both an oasis of calm and a hive of activity.

The nursery is where breeding and whelping happens, and I was fortunate to spend time with a litter of 11 four-week-old Golden Retriever puppies – a heart-melting moment. There was also a cohort of Labradors that were in their final stages of training before being partnered.

The guide dogs train on an obstacle course and I experienced that blindfolded to see what it was like to walk with a dog – immediately realising how challenging it is to be blind.

There is also a unit set up as a bedroom, where service dogs are trained to help Israel Defence Force soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I witnessed a dog automatically going over to comfort someone having a panic attack or nightmare.

The puppy raisers with their wards

At Ben Gurion University, in Be’er Sheva, I met a group of students who have volunteered as puppy raisers for the centre. In the university grounds, I observed the centre’s trainers at work, guiding and encouraging the students into good behaviours with the puppies. It was amazing to see how well-behaved the dogs were when brought together as a group.

A highlight of the trip was cycling with the centre’s associated Canvelo tandem group. Cycling was one of Martin’s passions and he rode with the team on many occasions. I was in awe at how courageous the blind cyclists were as they sped down a steep hill on the back of a tandem, showing absolute confidence in their lead rider.

Mason Bloom with Dan Layani and his dog Roly

I also met one of the centre’s partnerships, guide dog Roly and his owner Dan Layani, who lost his sight in the 1982 Lebanon War. Dan explained to me the difference a guide dog has made to his life, giving him back his independence and restoring his confidence. I felt privileged to spend time with him.

The late Martin Segal who was so loved at Israel Guide Dogs


The centre wouldn’t function as it does without the incredible people who lead, work and volunteer there. I have never met such a wonderful group of individuals who, together, make such a positive difference to the lives of those they help. Martin had such strong relationships with the team and made such a positive impact that I felt their loss acutely when we spoke about him. Martin’s memory lives on with everyone at the centre and with the guide dogs and PTSD and emotional support dog users who have been helped by the charity. He lives on in my heart too.

Room for a Groom

Bathtime at Bark & Bubbles
Albus after his groom

Owners tend to follow the pack when picking a groomer, often settling for  a popular parlour rather than the best place for their dog. Remember, popular means busy, so your fur baby might be groomed at speed or spend too long waiting in a crate to be seen. That doesn’t happen at newly-opened Bark and Bubbles as the policy is one dog at a time. This allows groomer Amy to style a client carefully – so no nasty nicks – and hand out treats and cuddles. As the parlour is located at Mill Hill’s Waggingtons: Dog Day Care and Boarding (, a pup can spend the day with pals and leave groomed at pick up. With two Golden Retrievers of her own – Milo and Monty – Amy can handle dogs big and small, and she adores them all, so it’s like leaving your pet with an auntie as appreciative client Albus can confirm.  or call: 07436502100

Give a Dog a Home

Look at this line-up and try not cry. Every one of them needs rehoming and there are many more not pictured who need the same. Rescued by All Dogs Matter, the charity works in and around London to transform the lives of unwanted and abandoned dogs. They even rehome dogs from overseas and, in 2023, placed 331 dogs with new owners. Being passionate about dog welfare is what drives the charity which never puts down a healthy dog, nor do they discriminate against a dog’s breed or age. The team and volunteers are simply committed to making sure that dogs have happy and healthy lives and are determined to ensure the best outcomes. Of course the best of all outcomes is when a potential new owner arrives and a dog leaves with them for its forever home.

PAWS for Prayers

Rabbi Mark and the bark mitzvahs

A toast is long overdue to Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue for celebrating the role of animals in our lives. On one particular Shabbat, 32 dogs and their human companions attended the first outdoor Bark Mitzvah – “a joyful and supportive occasion” according to Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, who chose the readings, blessings and songs. “You would be amazed at how well behaved they were,” he said of the dogs that ranged from lap-sized to Alsatians. “We added a doggie Kiddush, with vegetarian dog snacks and another wonderful feature of the Bark Mitzvah is how it includes neurodiverse people, for whom their pet relationship is a special support.” EHRS has also done a Cat Mitzvah on Zoom with members at home. “That was lovely too,” added Rabbi Mark, with member Andie Lucas declaring that “the first Shabbat in Elul at EHRS has now been designated our Bark Mitzvah service.”

Dog Day Afternoon

18 May is the day for your pooch to parade at the Hearts of Arkley Village Fayre dog show. Rosettes and prizes to be won from 12pm. A beautiful spot for a bit of showing off your best friend.


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