Noah Brown, Consul General David Levy, Eli Yablonek and Glen


I was recently invited to attend a luncheon at the Israel Consul General’s residence to meet three special guests. I knew nothing about them or their organization and I was almost taken aback as I entered the bright, beautiful residence to hear one of the special invitee’ commanding voice: “Glenn, come here! Glenn! Glenn, stay!”.

Now I know Israelis are notoriously direct, to be polite about it, but I thought this was a bit much, no?

What I was about to realize, is that Eli Yablonek was speaking to his Yellow Labrador guide dog, Glen (I hadn’t noticed his commands were to a one N’d Glen, not to Ns!).

Glen and Eli


Eli, 67, is a retired businessman and former tank commander. He is a man of few words, with a no-nonsense attitude. He has excelled in business, hiking, tandem bicycling, swimming and skiing. Wounded in the Yom Kippur war in a tank battle in the Sinai, Eli lost his left arm and became blind.


While the first war ended for him the second war was his rehabilitation. However, for Eli, there are no limits. His guide dog gives him independence.

“There were no guide dogs in Israel,” Eli told us. “So I moved to New York to get my first dog and begin our training. It was very difficult not being home, away from family, with huge expenses.”

When Eli’s first dog passed away he decided it was time to start the Israel Guide Dog Center.

Glen is his first dog from Israel and Eli travels the world with him, promoting the centre.

“It is very important for the guide dog school to be located in Israel,” Eli said. “We can live and stay and train in our own country and train the dogs for their local customs and environment and language. Glen ‘speaks’ English and Hebrew. 

“We give 35 dogs to blind people and 35 more for special needs, every year. This is all free thanks to generosity through worldwide fundraising.”

The guide dog school, the only one of its kind in Israel, needs to replace and retrain its dogs about every eight years. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are the breed of choice given their adaptability.
So far, its clients have received more than 650 dogs.

“With Glenn, I’m not a blind person,” Eli said with great pride.

Eli and Glen were joined by Noah Brown, the founder of the Israel Guide Dog Center, some 35 years ago. “We are not just fundraising but friend-raising too,” Eli told the guests.

“How can you help? Adopt a dog!”

The Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind is the only accredited guide dog program serving Israel’s 24,000 blind and visually impaired individuals – and the only such program in the entire Middle East. They serve wounded IDF veterans and victims of terror, provide PTSD dogs trained to ‘watch your back’, help single parents and children at risk, and serve Israelis of various backgrounds and religions, secular, Jewish, Muslim and Christian. They nurture social integration and economic independence.

And why the name Glen, I asked Eli? “You want to name a dog Yacov in Israel? Everyone will turn to look at you!”

For more information call 416–577–3600 or visit www.IsraelGuideDog.ca.

Eli Rubenstein presents a book about the holocaust and the journey of a blind survivor and his dog
Rubenstein highlighted the juxtaposition of how dogs were used to terrorize and dehumanize by the Nazis yet now serve those very survivors as critical companions and guides

On hand for the visit was Canadian March of the Living Director, Eli Rubenstein, who also serves as a Canadian chairman for the centre. Rubenstein was in town to launch The film A Holocaust Journey Through Poland with Man’s Best Friend.

Consul General David Levy and his wife Maya have done a tremendous job of representing Israel across Quebec and throughout the Maritime provinces, since their arrival. They are passionate about their country and dedicated to strengthening the ties between our two countries. I applaud the Consul General’s gusto and zeal and was honoured to have been his invited guest for this fascinating encounter.