My puppy makes me smile in dark times

Judy Silkoff’s mischievous new pet has cost her a fortune in vet bills but the love she inspires makes her worth it


Puppy love: Judy and and her cavapoochon, Miley

I am standing in my back garden waiting for our four-month-old cavapoochon to do her business — again. It is no exaggeration to state that in the weeks since she came to live with us, I’ve spent more time out here than I ever have before, winter or summer. And there have been plenty of other firsts too. I always knew that looking after a puppy would be a big responsibility, but I certainly didn’t expect to find myself digging stones, slugs and snails out of her jaws with alarming regularity or desperately attempting to wash out her mouth at the kitchen sink after she got hold of a laundry detergent capsule. I’ve also never spent so much time — or money — at the vet; all of our previous pets combined couldn’t rack up as many waiting room hours as our cheeky little Miley has over the course of the past few weeks (stones, slugs, snails and Bold 4-in-1 do not, it transpires, agree with a baby doggy’s digestive system).

Coming to live with us as she did, just a few short weeks before the October 7 pogroms and the outbreak of war in Israel, Miley has, however, also proven herself to be a great comfort and distraction. At a time when it’s been hard to think of anything but the terrible situation our people finds ourselves in both in Israel and all over the world, sitting quietly on the couch sipping a coffee and stroking her soft fur while watching something mindless on TV has sometimes been the only way to stop my thoughts racing and my stomach churning.

And puppies make great ice breakers too — Miley’s first emergency vet visit took place on 12 October, when the confusion and horror was at its freshest. My kippah-wearing husband was the only visibly Jewish person in the waiting room, but a spot of bageling by another pet-parent quickly revealed that every non-animal there that night was in fact a member of the tribe. We all got chatting, played a little light Jewish geography and expressed our mutual pain at what was going on.

Half an hour later, armed with a prescription and a chastened puppy, we left not only with our pockets lighter (the insurance hadn’t kicked in yet), but also our hearts, bolstered by the genuine sense of connection and caring we had just shared.

Walking Miley in the park has proven similarly unifying. Only this morning, a fellow Jewish dog-owner identified himself as “one of us” by referring to our furry friend as a sheine hintele (pretty puppy in Yiddish) an epithet I’m now considering having inscribed on her collar. And we’ve had more than one hilarious conversation with hitherto strangers about how much our respective doggies enjoy Friday night dinner.

I’ve heard it said recently that while, before the outbreak of this war, many of us in the Jewish community didn’t realise just how many people out there still hate us, we also didn’t realise quite how much we love each other. Our experiences of taking our little Miley out into the big wide world have certainly shown the latter to be true.

Which is something rather more pleasant to ponder while I stand in the garden with the poo bags, praying for better days to come.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive