An Old Dog's New Tricks

Gentle Pooch Helped a Hasidic Girl Overcome Fear of Dogs

Lisa Anchin

By Judy Brown (Eishes Chayil)

Published February 04, 2013, issue of February 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

When I was a little girl, there were things as clear as sunlight, as the sea God had split just for the Jews. One of those things was that dogs were despicable creatures. They were scary and dirty, with teeth like knives, and paws with claws, ripping flesh off bone, the way they’d done to Jews in the Holocaust.

Dogs were impure, unclean and ferocious, their eyes — so dark around the pupils — like those of a demon. Only gentiles liked dogs, taking strange comfort in the animals; good Jews stayed far away.

The first time I came close to a dog was in fourth grade. It was a bright, fall afternoon, and I’d skipped off the school van cheerfully, humming a tune to myself. As I pranced down the block, I looked up at a tree gracefully shaking off its fall leaves,and it was then that I had the fright of my 8-year-old life: I nearly crashed into an old lady and her terrifying dog.

I looked down. I screamed. I dropped my satchel. I ran down the block and around the corner, never once looking back. I ran until I could not breathe, and then I stumbled behind a neighbor’s bush. There I crouched, begging God for mercy. After several moments of silence, I peered out from between the branches. I saw only the bright leaves twirling in the wind. The old lady and her dog were gone.

I ran back home.

The next day, I skipped off the van, nearly just as happily. But I stopped my humming to look cautiously around, just in case.

I was safe. I jumped on the piles of leaves under the old oak tree. I did this with such joy and relish that I never noticed the old lady, or her terrifying dog, until I nearly jumped on the dog’s paw.

I yelped. I stumbled over the fence of our house and rushed up the porch steps. Good heavens, Dear God of the Universe; those things were everywhere.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.