On a mission

Israeli Avi Kuzi plays with Hoppa, his four-year-old mixed breed dog that was born without front legs, in the central city of Tel Aviv February 28, 2010. A prosthetic device was invented especially for Hoppa by a animal-loving art student, who hopes his wheeling device will improve the lives of pets born with abnormalities or with amputated limbs. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

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I am so thankful I discovered this story from New Tang Dynasty Television about disabled Hoppa. Avi Kuzi (shown above), Society for the Protection of Animals, rescued Hoppa and the 4-wheel invention by Nir Shalom, as shown in the TV news piece, has definitely given him more reason to smile.

Hoppa’s owner, Avi Kuzi, says that his pet was born four years ago without front legs. A Veterinarian in the dog’s birth town of Tiberias said the chances of survival were very low and recommended that Hoppa be put down. But Kuzi ignored the advice.

” He lived quite well for four years despite his disability, but today I am in contact with a student who is actually building a special device in order to allow Hoppa to live a much better life.”

Various injuries or birth defects can commonly cause a dog’s rear legs to be disabled, the absence of two front legs is quite rare. It was difficult to find an aiding device that meets Hoppa’s special needs.

During the years, Hoppa taught himself to jump around as a way of moving, but lately he gained the ability to move with almost no restriction. Using a special training device developed for him by Jerusalemite art student Nir Shalom, Hoppa wheels himself around and enjoys the new feeling of freedom of movement.

Israeli Avi Kuzi puts a prosthetic device on Hoppa, his four-year-old mixed breed dog that was born without front legs, in the central city of Tel Aviv February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Hoppa, a four-year-old mixed breed dog born without front legs, uses a prosthetic device to walk outside in the central Israeli city of Tel Aviv February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Hoppa, a four-year-old mixed breed dog born without front legs, uses a prosthetic device to walk in his home in the central Israeli city of Tel Aviv February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

But, the real find in this tail, was learning about Avi Kuzi through a vividly told March 2009 story/article at The Jerusalem Post.

Avi Kuzi, who looks like Rambo and goes to Ramboesque extremes to rescue animals, is tramping through the trees and brush at Abarbanel, the country’s best-known mental institution, looking for a runaway cat. The cat, a female named Kitzka, was being cared for by Holocaust survivors at Abarbanel under the supervision of their social worker, Hanna Yitzhaki, a zealous cat guardian who stays in close touch with Kuzi.

From behind a barred window comes the loud, hoarse, incoherent wailing of a patient who sounds like he’s trying to break out of a straitjacket. Kuzi, focused totally on his work, charges on, followed by Yitzhaki calling, “Here, Kitzka, come to me, Ki-i-i-i-tzka, Kitzkaleh, come, my princess…”

After half an hour of searching by Kuzi, Yitzhaki, a white-uniformed Abarbanel cook, photographer Jonathan Bloom and me, Kuzi spots Kitzka, who’s orange with tiger stripes, huddled in the high grass amid a network of pipes at the base of a wall. Ordinary people would never have seen her through such a thick camouflage. “Only Avi,” says Yitzhaki.

I had never heard of Avi, even though this article about him came out just about a year ago. It is quite magnificent, and I remain so moved by the story, told so well by Larry Derfner, at The Jerusalem Post. I reproduced the story so that I could have a permanent copy, fearing that it would one day no longer be found online.

So, I am thankful that the Hoppa story brought him to light again. Avi Kuzi is a guardian angel to many animals and animal lovers in Israel. He does not do what he does for notoriety. His motives are so pure that they make the rest of our efforts pale in comparison. If you do anything today, read the article by Derfner in its entirety.

We do not often think about the Holocaust or its survivors or realize the untreated and misunderstood trauma. Having this article reference the Abarbanel Mental Health Center in Bat Yam, however, made me wonder about these issues as well. Sadly, my search led me to learn about more sins than I could ever have imagined, Matt Rees’ Dark Refuge article, taking me to a place I never wanted to visit.

I wish I had experienced Matt’s Dark Refuge article before discovering Avi Kuzi’s work and mission. But, my soul has been enriched nonetheless.

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