Guide Dog Puppies at Technion

“Adopting the Dog Made My Life at Technion More Colorful,”

dogs2According to Eshhar Tal, a fourth-year Technion student who adopted a guide dog pup. Eshhar is one of 19 students at Technion who adopted guide dog puppy, which accompany them all around campus, to lectures and even the library

Those of you who have walked around the main campus lately, would have spotted an unfamiliar sight – cute Labrador pups accompanying students all through the day – to classes, during breaks and visits to the library. These students are raising the puppies and training them to be guide dogs for the blind. The project, operating at the Technion and at other academic institutes in the North, is coordinated by the “Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.”

According to Ella Matek, who heads the puppy program at the Foundation, “Technion has the largest concentration of dogs in Israel’s northern region. Approximately 20 dogs were given to students when they were about eight weeks old for a period of one and a half years. A puppy becomes a guide dog after a long training period, when it reaches the age of two and up. Students walk the pups all day, thereby exposing them to their daily lives, which include situations such as travelling by public transportation, walking around campus, studying in classrooms and at the library, and even accompanying them to their workplace for those students who work. We provide students with close guidance such as instruction on how to train their pups at home, on the street, and in crowded public areas. Choosing to adopt a puppy is a heavy responsibility and this is why I usually tend to work with families. At first I was weary about handing over such a great responsibility to young people, but now I see that I was mistaken. Students never cease to amaze me! They take the matter very seriously and invest many hours in training their pups.”

“The pups are given to people with a dynamic lifestyle so that they may experience a wide variety of circumstances,” explains Tom Shefi, a third year student at Technion’s Faculty of Biology. “Since these are future guide dogs for the blind, we have been given special permission to walk around with them everywhere – on public transport, on campus and in classrooms. Throughout the day the dogs are always by our side, accompanying us to lectures and workplaces. I really love animals and I’m glad I can contribute to a good cause. Over the past several years, students from the Technion have been adopting guide dogs and walking them around campus, but last year it really gained momentum. Many students are asking to adopt a dog and right now, the demand exceeds supply. Those responsible for caring for the pups at the Foundation, supply us with dog food every month and instruct us on how to train them and get them used to their role as future guide dogs for the blind.”

“After looking after them for a year and a half, students must part with their dogs. “I’m trying not to think about giving my pup up,” says Tom. “This is the best decision I made during my time at Technion. Whenever I’m upset or stressed out Yoshi puts her little head on my lap and this relaxes me. She really helps me cope with my studies.”

“My mother never agreed to raise a dog in the house,” tells Eshhar Tal, a fourth year student in the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “I really love dogs and always wanted to raise one, so for me, adopting a puppy for a year and a half is an ideal arrangement – I don’t have to dwell over what will happen to it after. In two months from now I have to part from Taz, and I know it’ll be hard but it’s for a good cause and I’m certain that they’ll take very good care of him.”

“All my teachers have been very agreeable about Taz attending their lectures. Sometimes, when he falls asleep they tease me, asking how can he fall asleep in the middle of the most important lecture of the semester and how will he make up all the material he missed! Taz is a good dog and fast learner. He is very well behaved and obedient, and I’m very proud of him. I’m certain that he will be an excellent guide dog and of great help to blind people.”