Video: Abductees handed over to the Red Cross28 Nov. 11/Documentation on social networks according to section 23A of the Copyright Law
Like thousands of families living in the western Negev, the Peleg family from Moshav Yebol locked themselves in the safe room for hours on that bloody Saturday on October 7. Along with five members of the family, the dog Chika was also in the safe room. A day later, the family was forced to leave their home and leave the moshav. "It was clear that Chika would be with us wherever we went," said Revital (Ravi) Peleg, the mother of the family.
Chika, a seven-year-old mixed-breed dog, grew up in the Peleg family home since she was a little puppy, and even after the evacuation she is part of the family and is with her everywhere she goes. "There are a lot of difficulties with her," Peleg said. "The changes and transitions are very difficult for Chika, but alongside the difficulty and challenging coping, it is always clear to us that she is with us." Her 12-year-old son Roy also appreciates Chika's special place in his life, which has taken a terrible turn: "When I'm scared, I hug Chika," he said.
The story of Chika and the Peleg family is one of dozens of stories of families and their dogs in the current war; Dogs that were with their families in the safe room, dogs that were shot dead by terrorists, dogs that were wounded, dogs that were left alone and then reunited with their owners, dogs that waited for their abducted owners and met with them when they returned to Israel, dogs that found themselves with their owners in a new and unfamiliar place. And of course everyone is familiar with the case of the dog Bella, who spent fifty days with her owner, Mia Leimberg, in Hamas captivity and returned home with her.
The dog Chika in the safe room with the child Roy Peleg Microp / Courtesy of the family
"Already in the first days of the war, videos began to appear on social networks of dogs carried by their owners or rescued by soldiers. People said they were looking for their dogs and asking for help. I was all interested in this," said Tammy Bar-Yosef. Bar-Yosef is an educational-therapeutic canine, a high school canine teacher, a member of the steering committee of the Forum of Human Relations Researchers at Tel Aviv University, and an expert researcher in the field of human-dog relations in Israel and the Holocaust. She recently completed a thesis with honors at the Department of Culture at the Open University on the rescue of dozens of Jewish children during the Holocaust thanks to dogs.
Bar-Yosef defines what happens in the relationship between dogs and their owners in the war in which we find ourselves as a "bang," and explains that, "There are processes that have been brewing for a long time, and reached a peak around the events of the war. This means that families treat dogs as family members, and now this has been put to the test of truth in the face of extraordinary situations of massacres, murder, kidnapping, shootings, fires, destruction of homes, fleeing, refugees and moving to new housing in conditions of overcrowding, discomfort and more."
In light of the wave of stories about the special bond between man and his dog, she began researching the role of family dogs in iron sword warfare and how to treat them as family members in every respect. "The study deals with cases of deliberate murder and dog abduction by Hamas, as well as families who did not stop looking for the dogs, working to save them and unite with them. The efforts of the various operations rooms that worked non-stop to locate and rescue the dogs and helped the families and dogs that experienced terrible trauma," Bar-Yosef explained. The scope of the cases is enormous and she collects and documents the stories.
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Dogs rescued from combat zones near the Gaza Strip / documentation on social networks according to section 27A of the Copyright Law
Already, she notices recurring stories, such as the many cases in which families who were besieged in safe rooms together with their dogs, said that throughout the tense hours, the dogs remained completely silent. "It's definitely something special," she said. She points to many cases in which people insisted and made an effort to leave the communities attacked with their dogs, even when there was a state of war, shooting and destruction all around. And when they couldn't escape with the dog, people went to great lengths to find it.
As with the response to many needs that emerged with the evacuation of the communities near the Gaza Strip and the conflict line in the north, in the area of pets, the initial response provided came from civil-voluntary bodies. In the south, a war room of the Veterinary Doctors' Association was established, which voluntarily treated injured dogs. Volunteers entered the destroyed communities and collected pets left alone, and worked to locate their owners or find foster families to provide them with temporary homes. Suppliers of food and supplies for animals donated products, and other volunteer organizations, such as Brothers in Arms, also mobilized to locate and care for the pets.
Dogister - a compound that guards the dogs of the workers at Ichilov Hospital during the fighting/official website, Ichilov Spokesperson's Office
The volunteer network even reached hotels on the Dead Sea coast, to which a number of communities from the western Negev were evacuated. The help provided by the volunteers there over the past two months allows the animals to receive veterinary, behavioral and emotional treatment. Volunteers provide indulgent equipment such as beds, quality food, snacks and toys. The volunteer system also allows the owner and dog time separately to guard or walk the dogs. "This is a system that contributes to the resilience of those who need this response. We are present and accessible to people through a family member who walks on all fours," said Maayan Sheizaf, who is part of the volunteer network at the Dead Sea hotels.
Maayan is a resident of Rehovot, a dog trainer, an animal-assisted therapist and a social work student. "People did everything to be with their animals. When the dog or cat was lost, they went looking for them. Cats are more difficult to transport and there are many people who travel from time to time to feed the cats left in the settlements. The animals became an integral part of the family and people could not leave any animals behind. It's amazing and exciting for me to see their investment so that the animals will have a good time, with the understanding that they are an inseparable part of what happens to families."
Sheizaf noted that the evacuated families live in conditions that require adjustment – families living with their dog or cat in a hotel room. "These are usually animals that got used to living in spaces and suddenly found themselves in a tall building, with elevators, crowded. It's definitely stressful and every dog reacts differently to it," she said.
The dog of one of the injured party members brought to the hospital where she was hospitalized/official website, Assuta Spokesperson's Office
The Peleg family's chica, for example, had trouble adapting to the changes. "There were stages when she screamed, scratched the door and whoever was with her, while someone from the family was missing she insisted on finding him. During those two months, there were unbearable but very compassionate moments with her. She was restless and licked her legs to the point of bleeding." Peleg said that one of the things that has moved her since they were evicted from their home is the openness shown everywhere they go with Chica; "In restaurants, in the supermarket, in the hostel in Masada - everywhere we went with her, there wasn't a single place we encountered a request for Chica to stay out. This is something that has become self-evident to both sides. It's exciting for me to see that an understanding has been made that a dog is part of the family and part of mental stability."
Bar-Yosef sees the openness shown by the establishment to the presence of animals as a significant change: "Here we are already talking about leaving the family framework and systemic recognition of the dog as a member of the family. At first, there were no clear instructions, and as with other things, here too the civilian bodies led, although it is important to note that IDF soldiers who from the beginning took part in evacuating animals. Then more organizations, institutions and hotels began to treat pets as family members. Hotels and hospitals allowed family dogs into hospitals for the first time. Hospitals have even been instructed to invite their pet dogs to the reunion meeting of the families with the abducted children, in recognition of the importance of this meeting for the children and families," Bar-Yosef said.
The dog Chika with the Peleg Microp family/Courtesy of the family
In a number of cases, these dogs and their families have become familiar in every home in Israel – for example, Rodney the Richback dog who was sitting next to Avichai Brodech when he began a protest strike alone demanding the return of the abductees. Rodney was also in the hospital when the children Ofri, Yuval and Uriah returned from captivity with their mother Hagar and met their beloved dog. Nine-year-old Emily Hand was waiting for Schnitzel, her beloved dog. There were cases when the dog waiting for its owner who was injured or kidnapped and returned from captivity was the only one left from the previous life. Painfully, some returned from captivity to find that their beloved dog had been shot dead; Liat Atzili was kidnapped from Nir Oz from her burning home where she was with her dog Rebbe. Aviv, her husband, fought with the alert squad and was killed in battle. "In captivity, I thought of a rabbi who was burned or strangled," she said. After she was released, she learned that the terrorists had shot Barbie and said she was relieved to know that she died quickly and did not suffer.
"Reality exceeded all imagination," Bar-Yosef said in light of the stories that have taken place in the relationship between man and dog over the past two months. The change in the dog's place during this difficult period is even more pronounced in light of past experience and research knowledge. According to her, in the past in wars, the phenomenon of dog abandonment would increase. She also points to research by Dr. Daphne Shir-Wertsch. As we can clearly see these days, Shir-Wertsch recognized at the time the blurring of boundaries and the treatment that pets are treated like loving and beloved family members, who are very similar to small children. However, she noted at the time that research reveals that many love relationships with animals are undermined when life changes occur and unexpected situations arise that pose obstacles to human-animal love. In these situations, humans may redefine or stop it.
Maya Leimberg is released from Hamas captivity together with her dog. November 28, 2023/Social media documentation under Section 27A of the Copyright Act, ahmad.ibraa
As mentioned, this connection as expressed in the war in which we find ourselves has not yet been studied, but it seems that a great change has indeed taken place in the relationship between man and his dog friend. Among hundreds of families whose lives changed that Shabbat, this is obvious, as Revital Peleg, whose family has been away from home for over sixty days, and despite Chika's difficulty adjusting to the change, she says that "all the time, it was self-evident that Chika stayed with us wherever we were. We help her and she helps us - her presence with us normalizes reality, Chika is something stable from the past."
- More on the subject:
- Gaza War
- Iron Sword War