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Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Chabadtzker and the police dog

This is way off topic, but it's a good story for a relatively quiet Sunday (Hat Tip: Pillageidiot via Soccer Dad via Twitter).
The menorah was lighted and Hebrew prayers chanted, while the officer watched from a distance with his dog. He figured he would let it all go down and then move in when the ceremony was done. The dog sat at attention, watching the ceremony with a peculiar expression on its face, a look of intense interest. When the ceremony was over, the officer approached the Hasidic rabbi.

“I’m Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police,” he said. “This is Miky, our security dog. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Miky, pronounced Mikey, is in a Diaspora of his own. He was born in an animal shelter in Holland and shipped as a puppy to Israel, where he was trained by the Israeli Defense Forces to sniff out explosives. Then one day, Miky got a plane ticket to America. Rather than spend the standard $20,000 on a bomb dog, the Helena Police Department had shopped around and discovered that it could import a surplus bomb dog from the Israeli forces for the price of the flight. So Miky came to his new home in Helena, to join the police force.

The problem, the officer explained, was that Miky had been trained entirely in Hebrew.

When Officer Fosket got Miky, he was handed a list of a dozen Hebrew commands and expressions, like “Hi’ sha’ er” (stay!), Ch’pess (search!), and “Kelev tov” (good doggy). He made flashcards and tried practicing with Miky. But poor Miky didn’t respond.

Officer Fosket (who is not Jewish) suspected he wasn’t pronouncing the words properly. He tried a Hebrew instructional audio-book from the local library, but no luck. The dog didn’t always understand what he was being ordered to do. Or maybe Miky was just using his owner’s bad pronunciation as an excuse to ignore him. Either way, the policeman needed a rabbi.

And now he had found one. They worked through a few pronunciations, and the rabbi, Chaim Bruk, is now on call to work with Miky and his owner as needed. Officer Fosket has since learned to pronounce the tricky Israeli “ch” sound, and Miky has become a new star on the police force. The two were even brought in by the Secret Service to work a recent presidential visit.

So all is well in the Jewish community here because the Hasidic rabbi is helping the Montana cop speak Hebrew to his dog. It is good news all around. The officer keeps the Capitol safe, and the Hebrew pooch is feeling more at home hearing his native tongue.

But the big winner is the rabbi, a recent arrival from Brooklyn who is working hard (against tough odds) to bring his Lubavitch movement to Montana. He has been scouring the state for anyone who can speak Hebrew, and is elated to have found a German shepherd he can talk to.
And no, that's not Miky at the top, but if anyone is in Montana and sends a picture of Mikey, I'll post it.


At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember these kind of stories from several years ago. Here's one from 2 years ago. I believe there are older ones.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I actually have a regular reader from Bozeman.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

We think of pets (dogs and cats) as being purely driven by instinct and to some extent they are driven by in-born programming. But they are also intelligent and show a capacity to learn and they can and do return love to us and I have a feeling they do understand what we say. Our relationship to them is a lot more intimate and involved than with their wild ancestors, who are dangerous predators on the planet.

What an inspiring story to read of a dog who understands only Hebrew! Thanks to Soccer Dad for relating it to us.

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so? wHY ISN'T he in Israel where he belongs, ? Why aren't I? I'll be on the caboose; I wanna be the last go.

Both Stern and this Montanan Rabbi should be in the cars ahead of me.


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