February 19, 2020

Loving Man’s Best Friend

According to the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, there are about half a million dogs in Israel. In Tel Aviv alone, with a population of just under 450,000, there are more than 35,000 dogs. It’s hard to walk along a street in the center of Tel Aviv without seeing at least one pet shop. In Israel, it seems, dogs are trending.

For as long as she can remember, Yamit Kroizvirt has had a special relationship with canines. “My dad has a German shepherd, and when I was little, she used to sit alongside my crib.” 

Today, Kroizvirt has built a career, and her own company, EZDog, at the intersection of the growing fields of animal assisted therapy (AAT) and animal assisted education, where she trains and works with therapy dogs. Unlike service dogs, which are specially trained, therapy dogs provide psychological support.

Kroizvirt trains dogs, runs seminars and workshops with dogs and children in kindergartens and elementary schools and privately, and even uses dogs to teach English to children. “The kids aren’t afraid to make a mistake in speaking to the dog,” she explained. “They feel more secure, to be themselves, to make mistakes.” 

She especially loves working one-on-one with a dog and an individual to facilitate emotional healing. “Dogs are so helpful with people in post-traumatic situations,” she said. “The smallest, simplest interaction can make someone more calm and relaxed.”

Kroizvirt innately understands a dog’s unique form of communication, and how to translate this to humans. Whether she’s working in a classroom with children or at home training a dog for a family, Kroizvirt believes that the human-canine relationship potential remains untapped as dogs shift from task-based roles to emotional roles.

“In the end, it’s an animal that we developed through thousands of years. … If there were no people in the world, there would probably be no dogs. If there was no one to take the wolf and domesticate it, there would be no dogs.” 

Kroizvirt started her professional journey at 14 on Kibbutz Gesher HaZiv just below the Lebanon border, and a short drive from where she lives today on the Moshav Liman. She volunteered at a kennel as part of a school program and knew she had found her calling. 

After her military service, she enrolled in a relatively new program with the Kinneret Academic College, studying at Kibbutz Afikim in dog training and therapy dog instruction. She went on to work on Moshav Nir Israel, near the southern city of Ashkelon, for the nonprofit Magen Dogs for Humanity. She’s helped train emotional support and service animals, taught and facilitated in informal educational settings and served as a veterinary assistant. 

“The dogs let something else in, giving a chance to educate [people] in a different way,” she said. “This is something that dogs have that no human has: the ability to not judge.”

Discussing her future plans, Kroizvirt has many ideas that she wants to develop toward the canine-human healing relationship. Dogs provide “something that a lot of people in the world today are missing,” she said. “That simple bond of being loved unconditionally.”

Kroizvirt continues to spread love, one wagging tail at a time.