The connection between humans and ancient dogs (which evolved from wolves) began thousands of years ago. These dogs helped humans hunt and protected them and their possessions. The special bond has continued to grow and the dog is thought of as "a man's best friend". Dogs serve humans in many different ways: hunting, herding, transportation and guidance, defense and security, location, search and rescue, detection of drugs and explosives, aid to the disabled including guide dogs for the blind and even disease detection. In addition to individuals, dogs assist police and military security forces. These forces operate special canine units: the Israel Police Canine Unit and the IDF Oketz Special Canine Unit. These dogs go through a meticulous selection process from birth and later undergo significant training that requires great knowledge and patience.
Guide dogs allow blind people to be independent and increase their self confidence.
They are chosen from breeds that have proven over time to be suited to working with blind humans. In Israel most guide dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers or a combination of the two.
Dr. Rudolphina Menzel began training service dogs in 1937 and in 1953 she established the first school for guide dogs in Kiryat Haim. At the age of 6-8 weeks, puppies are given to foster families who raise them during their first year in order to expose them to desired behavior at home and in public and to instill them with the appropriate tools.
At age one year, the dogs return to professional training schools for an additional five months of training and assessment of their suitability. In the final stage, dogs that are found to be suitable train with blind people in preparation for their lives together.
Training guide dogs is very expensive. While there are approximately 26,000 blind people living in Israel today, only some 300 currently have guide dogs.
These dogs "retire" at age 8-9. If possible, they remain in their human partner's home even after a new guide dog arrives.
Search and Rescue
Search and Rescue dogs belong to various different breeds, including the Belgian Shepherd Malinois, which appears on the stamp. S&R dogs perform a large variety of tasks, including locating missing persons and people trapped beneath rubble. Dogs can move and maneuver quickly in places that are difficult for humans to access. Their sense of smell and hearing are much more acute than those of humans. Such dogs have saved many lives in disaster areas. They are loyal helpers and enhance their teams' operative abilities.
Special bonds are formed in these units between the dogs and their handlers, who treat them with warmth and love. When the dogs finish their service they remain with the family of their last handler.
These dogs are included in the praiseworthy IDF Home Front Command Search and Rescue teams that are deployed overseas in times of disaster and improve Israel's image.
Dr. Yoni Yehuda
PhD in Psychology A.A.T