The day after the war
As a dog photographer I am exposed to many stories and unique connections between humans and animals. In the case of these IDF service dogs from Oketz army unit, who served in the army alongside IDF soldiers. their bond is special not just because of fun friendships but more importantly, saving each others’ lives. This series is devoted to the dogs from Oketz unit who completed their military service and retired together with the soldiers. I want to dedicate these pictures also to the dogs who did not get the chance of coming back home, and fell in the line of duty. we should always respect their stories and cherish their memory as silent heroes.
This is not a series of politically criticized images, nor will we discuss the question of whether dogs should be used in an battlefield. This series of photos touches upon the true friendship between the soldiers and the dogs, a connection that continues many years later in their time of citizenship. Once the dog’s service in Oketz unit has completed its operational training he not only protects its owner soldier, but in many cases protects the lives of other soldiers in the unit and fights enemies attacks to save the lives of israeli soldiers and civilians on a daily basis. These dogs deserve the proper respect, because they are not exactly dogs, but rather a combination of Superman and your best friend. After recording these two dogs’ lives, veterans of the unit, and understanding their connection with their owners, I can tell without a doubt, neither the soldiers nor the dogs would hesitate to do everything in order to save each others’ lives.
Idan and Shackel
Shackel was born in 2006, in his military service he specialized in locating explosives. Shackel served in Oketz unit until 2012. When Idan ended his military service, it was clear to him that no matter what, he must take Shackel home. They have been together for eight years, in service and in civilian life. When I asked about their relationship, Idan told me that no matter how much he tried, it was this type of connection that could not be described in words. For Idan, Shackel is not a dog or a friend. He is much more than that. Idan says that the most special thing about Shackel is that he talks with his eyes. It was clear from the first moment they've met each other and to this day, everything Shuckel wants or needs can be understood from the look of his eyes.
Einat and Yogi
Yogi was born in 2008, and in his military service he was specialized in locating explosives. Together with Einat, they took part in many operational activities, almost with every IDF’s units. Einat tells about their relationship, that in the first week Yogi retired and came home, he was still feeling like a disciplined work dog. One time, the house was set up with a table full of goods for a dinner. When the guests arrived, her mother wanted to show off Yogi’s amazing abilities, and gave him the command "up" to jump in order to give her a hug. Yogi, who was more used to commands regarding specific obstacles from the army course, and less to jump in to hugs, jumped on the table and dropped everything on the floor. On later visits, the family chose to show off by his skills using the "sit down" command only. Since their army time, Einat and Yogi have not been separated.
Yogi passed away in Einat arms, during 2018. RIP.