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.