Ora the Comfort Dog!
This summer, Machaneh Ramah has its first canine staff member: Ora the comfort dog. Ora is being trained as a therapy dog, and is spending as much time as she can get this summer with our chanichim (campers).
On shabbat afternoons, Ora and her trainer, Jeff Ernst, visits the migrash (field), and typically has ten or fifteen chanichim crowded around her, petting her and giving her treats. She entertains them with tricks: she can sit, lie down, give high fives, stay, and jump over all manner of obstacles. She can also catch treats in the air. She also gives lots of kisses.
Madrichim can also sign up campers for one-on-one appointments with Ora. She generally has four or five appointments a day.
Her owner and trainer, Jeff Ernst, who is also on staff, says that Ora serves two functions at camp. The first is to help cheer up kids who might be feeling down, or homesick, or who are struggling with something.
But she’s also here to make everyone smile and laugh. As Jeff walks Ora around camp and the chanichim spot her, they call out her name, and she walks up to them with her tail wagging. They pet her for a minute or two, and you get the sense that the day is just a little bit brighter than it was. Which, perhaps is why her name (which means ‘light’ in Hebrew) is so fitting.