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Rupert The Dog

10/01/20 01:29:26 PM

Jan10

Eitan and Rebecca Markus


If you've been at FHJC in the past year and a half, you might have noticed an unusual, furry, four-legged congregant sitting in the men's section or hanging out at kiddush - his name is Rupert and he's a guide dog in training. What that means is that Rupert was sent to live with us for 12-18 months so he could be socialized and become used to a plethora of settings and environments. It has been our job to take him with us everywhere we go, just like a

person with vision loss might with a trained guide dog. We do not teach him how to look for traffic or lead a person to the nearest elevator, for example, but rather we simply take him with us when we do our daily activities. The guide dog organization calls us "puppy walkers".

As Jewish "puppy walkers", we came across a lot of questions that we don't think other puppy walkers might have come across: can we take a dog to shul? Can we switch out his chametz dog food during
Pesach? What if the noise at Megillah reading scares him? What should we do with him during a wedding, baby naming, or a shiva? What do you do if he swallows a piece of
Chanukah gelt? And can a dog last through all of Yom Kippur
davening?

These and other typical "doggy" challenges were things we had to deal with every day, and as an active and not-yet-mature puppy, taking care of Rupert was a full-time job. When bringing a dog to unusual environments for a dog to be in, we also learned that not everyone is as excited about
sharing a space with a happy
puppy as we were. This also brought up a lot of challenges as we tried to figure out etiquette for when your guide dog isn't your guide dog. We had to figure out what to do when a place we had to, or wanted to go to, wouldn't allow Rupert in.

That's one of the big reasons why we're so grateful to have seen Rupert welcomed at FHJC. From our doggy interview with Rabbi Elie, to curious children saying hello at kiddush, and to the adults who wanted to be educated and educate their children about the work Rupert is doing - we thank all of you for your acceptance and enthusiasm while we took on this commitment.

This Shabbos is Rupert's last Shabbos with us (and possibly ever) as this coming week he will be returning to the training centre for Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind in Manotick. If you're
curious to learn more about the
organization we worked with, please visit www.guidedogs.ca and if you'd like to learn more about the training process there is a great documentary on Netflix called ‘Pick of the Litter’.
Of course, we are also happy to answer any questions!

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom,

Rebecca, Eitan, and Rupert the Shul Doggy.

Sun, April 5 2020 11 Nisan 5780