In between elections for Knesset and chief rabbi, Israel will hold a contest of a different breed on Friday, when an international team of judges at the country’s largest ever pet festival will vote for the Jewish state’s top dog.
The three-day Festi-Pet, organized by the Israel Kennel Club, already attracted thousands of Israelis Wednesday to the event at the historic Mikve Israel Agricultural School in Holon. The highlight is expected to be the crowing of the festival’s champion dog on Friday at noon.
More than 3,000 animals were presented Wednesday at the festival, which featured horse shows, dog agility contests, dozens of cats, and more than 100 reptiles, including non-poisonous snakes that visitors of all ages are invited to pet and put around their shoulders.
There were Irish wolf hounds and great Danes, which are the world’s largest and tallest dogs, and chihuahuas, which are among the smallest.
For children, there is an inflatable amusement park, arts-and-crafts activities, and a cafeteria with kosher-for- Passover food.
Top judges have come from around the world, including Japan, Germany, the UK, Russia, and the United States. Visitors braved traffic jams to come from as far north as the Golan Heights and as far South as Eilat.
Micha Katz, a dog breeder and groomer from Efrat, brought his toy poodle Jasmine, who won a prize in her category. Katz, who gained expertise in poodles from his years as a breeder and groomer, said he likes them because they are small, comfortable to have around the house, do not shed, and are hypo-allergenic.
“It was very exciting to see Jasmine win in her first show,” Katz said. “We are so glad we came.”
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Israelis love their dogs. Nearly 400,000 pet dogs are listed on the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture’s National Dog Registry, and Tel Aviv has the largest number of registered dog owners in the country.
But Israelis aren’t content just to feed and shelter Lady, Lucky and Bonnie (the three most popular Israeli dog names). In the Israeli entrepreneurial spirit, they’re also working to keep canines everywhere happy, healthy and safe, using technology, innovation, and a great deal of imagination.
Whether it’s high-tech ways to get rid of doggie doo, unique training programs to turn pooches into Alzheimer guide dogs, new vaccines, or even special television channels for dogs, Israelis are leading the way to make life better for man’s best friend.
Here are some of ISRAEL21c’s favorite ways Israel loves dogs — things that will help you love your dog, too, no matter where you live.
The made-in-Israel cable TV channel for dogs went live in Israel on January 15 through the YES network, following a highly successful six-month pilot in San Diego, California.
In February, according to DogTV CMO Zuri Guterman, “we will launch with a big platform on the US West Coast, and later in 2013 we plan to expand nationally with at least four or five platforms around the US. We signed several partnership deals with international distributors in Asia and South America, and hopefully this will mature during 2013 as well.”
DogTV, also available online, is a 24-hour digital channel scientifically programmed to keep pooches stimulated, happy and comforted when they’re home alone. Three different programs were developed with input from Tufts University animal behavior expert Prof. Nicholas Dodman, “Animal Planet” trainer Victoria Stilwell and animal rights activist Warren Eckstein.
There are 46 million households with dogs in the United States, encompassing a total of 78.2 million pet canines.
Serial biotech inventor Prof. Oded Shoseyov of the Hebrew University came up with a novel pooper-scooper that gathers dog droppings and turns them into odorless, sterile powder within seconds after the dog-walker releases an activation capsule from a cartridge inside the unit.
Ramat Gan-based Paulee CleanTec, the company founded to develop this and related patentedproducts for cats and even humans, is working with engineers to finalize the design ahead of a product launch in the United States. It will probably be marketed under a different name, but for now the working name remains AshPoopie.
At the low-tech end of the same topic, Israeli inventor Israel Solodoch is awaiting patent approval for his lightweight plastic harness that attaches to the back of a dog and collects the waste in a pouch so owners can dispose of it without scooping or bagging.
Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CMT) is the most common infectious dog disease, carried by ticks. It can even be fatal. Until now, there has been no cure for CMT. Recently, Dr. Shimon Harrus and Dr. Gad Baneth of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in Rehovot revealed that they have a formula for the world’s first vaccine for CMT.
Commercial partners are now being sought to further develop and market the drug. Canine vaccines are the fastest-growing segment within the global veterinary vaccine market, which in 2011 grossed $4.23 billion.
Pro dog trainer David Sidman just opened Kelev (Dog) Land in the Judean Hills with partner Shmuel Edelblum. Sidman tells ISRAEL21c the doggie hotel is unique in the world as far as he knows.
“There are dog resorts elsewhere, but their activities don’t match what we are offering,” he says. “This is for people who want their dog to be exercised and learn and have fun and come back happy and tired.”
Accommodating up to 11 dogs in private, tiled, air-conditioned rooms decorated in colors dogs can see (with DogTV about to be installed), KelevLand has a saltwater swimming pool that conditions the dogs’ skin as they learn water rescue or just enjoy movement therapy. There is an agility course, obedience training and water hikes in the nearby Nahal Prat stream and nature park. A summer camp option also is planned.
Israel’s Service and Therapy Dog Center was the first in the world to train dogs as helpers for people suffering from mental and physical limitations, including Alzheimer’s, autism and brain or orthopedic injuries.
The training protocol was developed over four years by geriatric social worker Daphna Golan-Shemesh and professional dog trainer Yariv Ben-Yosef, using calm, sociable and intelligent female collie shorthairs.
Alzheimer’s patients frequently can’t leave home because they are easily disoriented, but they’re safe with a guide dog leading the way. As an extra precaution, a GPS navigation system is embedded in the dog’s collar. At home, the dog will press an alarm button if her owner falls and doesn’t get up quickly, or if she hears choking sounds from her master.
You’ll find Ada’s spa in the northern part of Israel. The big attraction is her collection of plants, which eat everything from insects and reptiles to small mammals. But for just $80 you can enjoy a wonderful snake massage. These king and corn snakes are apparently heavy enough to produce a kneading sensation and provide soothing deep tissue therapy.
Some of the regular customers at the spa claim the snake therapy helps to ease migraines and soothe sore muscles. And why wouldn’t it? Having a tangle of creepy, slithering reptiles crawling over my back, neck, and face would quickly make me forget about any other sort of ailment I might be experiencing at the moment. If I can choose between snakes and sore muscles, I’ll take the sore muscles. And for Valentine’s Day let’s just stick with a box of chocolates.
An Israeli research team has found a way to mate male prawns and increase yields and profitability for farmers. The revolutionary advanced gene-silencing biotechnology for aquaculture was developed in a lab at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
Prof. Amir Sagi, president of the International Society for Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, is celebrated for his extensive research on the regulatory role of the androgenic gland in sex-differentiation and intersexuality of crustaceans. Now his lab team is garnering headlines for its innovative biotechnology that will change the field of freshwater prawn farming.
Sagi’s team of researchers produced a cutting-edge biotechnological tool for crustacean sex reversal and mono-sex progeny production.
“This is the first time that the aquaculture industry will be able to use advanced gene silencing to increase yields,” says Sagi. “Since the males are faster growers, this discovery could help local farmers increase their incomes.”
The process was patented and licensed through BGN Technologies, BGU’s technology transfer company, to the Tiran Group, an Israeli shipping company with aquaculture farms in China. Tiran recently signed an agreement with Green Advances, a Vietnamese company, to advance aquaculture in Vietnam using the groundbreaking technology.
“Prof. Sagi has pioneered a number of techniques to increase rice and crustacean output in countries like Vietnam for years,” said Doron Krakow, executive vice president of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “As the world faces a challenging population growth and decreasing resources, [this] work provides sustainable solutions for developing nations.”