Dog Whisperer of Judea

Whether we like it or not, Israel has a habit of changing us. It is a place where “the dreams we really have do come true,” and it’s a place where we never would have dreamed we would be doing the things we do. There is probably no better example than Leora Hyman. A former retailer and make-up artist, USA-born Leora’s life has unexpectedly morphed from powdering pretty faces to training big and growling working dogs. On the odd occasion the religious, slender fearless 56-year old has been filmed being pulled over by the sheer strength and reckless instinct of our favourite ferocious beasts. 

Fifteen years in Israel, Leora and hubby Jerry have three kids who have all served as crack soldiers in the Air Force and Army. A fitness trainer for people with back injuries, Jerry has his own gym and physically prepares young people for military service. The family moved from Boston to Efrat in Biblical Judea. Efrat was the place they wanted to live. It wasn’t just the coming home and living in the ancestral homeland they loved the school system, the hill-top winters, and over it all were the endless blue skies. Content in her job, a couple of years ago Leora would never have foreseen what she would be doing now. It was just one of those things. It was in Efrat – of all places – where she stumbled upon a shelter for wild and stray Canaan dogs.

In between work and raising the family, she began volunteering, every free hour she could. It was a match made in heaven and it wasn’t long after that Leora’s social media started to flood with puppy videos. It was a great way of trying to help the dogs find a home. Soon there were videos of happy dogs licking the faces of their happy new owners. It didn’t stop there. Addiction is addiction. Next came videos of the dog additions to the family, the lucky few who snuggled into her family’s heart, won the lottery and ended up being doted upon and lounging around under those Efrat blue skies. 

For the Dog Whisperer from Efrat, working with dogs is more than a job. It is a daily lesson on personal growth. Leora is a firm believer for a dog to be healthy we need to love them in a healthy way. A wholesome love is a combination of boundaries and affection. One without the other stunts their growth and presents patterns and future problems. What is true for dogs is also true for people. Love and boundaries work both ways. Dogs and their owners teach each other to be patient. For Leora and for anyone who owns a dog, the relationship is an embodiment of unconditional love, faithfulness, and the greatest of pleasures that life has to offer.