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Canine Pioneer

The Extraordinary Life of Rudolphina Menzel

Edited by Susan Martha Kahn

Rudolphina Menzel (née Waltuch, 1891–1973), was a Viennese-born, Jewish scientist whose pioneering research on canine psychology, development, and behavior fundamentally shaped the ways dogs came to be trained, cared for, and understood. Between the two world wars, Menzel was known throughout Europe as one of the foremost breeders and trainers of police dogs and served as a sought-after consultant at Kummersdorf, the German military dog training institute in Berlin. She was also a fervent Zionist who was responsible for inventing the canine infrastructure in what came to be the State of Israel and for training thousands of dogs to protect Jewish lives and property in pre-state Palestine. Teaching Jews to like dogs and training dogs to serve Jews became Menzel’s unique kind of Zionist mission. Detailed and insightful, Canine Pioneer: The Extraordinary Life of Rudolphina Menzel brings to light an important piece of history.

Paper: $40 | Cloth: $80 | E-book: $39.95
ISBN-13: 9781684581221
Pages: 210 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: February 1, 2023
Screenshot-2023-10-11-at-16.51.58

Always alive to the context in which she lived and worked, this book expertly weaves together animal history and Jewish history to shine a light on an overlooked aspect of human-canine relations.

Chris Pearson
University of Liverpool

Reviews

  • This superb book explores, in fascinating detail, the remarkable story of Rudolphina Menzel. In engaging and accessible prose, Susan Kahn and her fellow contributors tease out the complexities and contradictions of Menzel and her remarkable accomplishments in the mid-twentieth-century world of dog breeding and training. Always alive to the context in which she lived and worked, this book expertly weaves together animal history and Jewish history to shine a light on an overlooked aspect of human-canine relations.

    Chris Pearson
    Department of History, University of Liverpool, author of Dogopolis: How Dogs and Humans Made Modern New York, London, and Paris
  • This book gives a fine picture of the extraordinary career and personality of Rudolphina Menzel, an Austrian cynologist who emigrated to British Mandate Palestine in 1938, and emerged as a foremost world expert on canine psychology, development and training. Applying what she had learnt in Austria, she organized canine training for police and military uses in the newborn State of Israel, and eventually sired the development of a new breed, the indigenous Canaan dog. For decades her major theoretical and practical contributions to the field went unrecognized. This volume – beginning with Susan Kahn's well-rounded, introductory biography – goes a long way to correcting this oversight.

    Benny Morris
    Professor Emeritus, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
  • ... a deeply contextualized account of Menzel's life, from her childhood as a thoroughly assimilated Austrian Jew, through her awakening commitment to Zionism, her training and early career as a scientist, and her career as an eminent dog trainer and breeder both in Europe and in Israel. It is a fascinating story--unusual from the perspective of Menzel's expertise, although not from the perspective of her experience of the darkening political atmosphere of Austria and Germany and of the need to become a refugee.

    Harriet Ritvo
    Arthur J. Conner Emeritus Professor of History, MIT
  • We have waited a long time for a heroine like Menzel. As thoughtful as she was daring, as courageous as she was kind. Driven by curiosity, Menzel straddled the different worlds of canines and humans at a time driven by violent division. Her biographer Kahn has done a masterful job providing us with a fascinating image of an important historical figure whose message resonates especially today - sometimes the characteristics that make us different are less important than the experiences we share.

    Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods
    authors of The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think
  • Rudolphina Menzel devoted much of her life to help our four-legged companions find their place in modern society. Her pioneering effort bears fruit in the present day to improve human-dog partnership.

    Ádám Miklósi
    Eötvös Loránd University, author of Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition
  • The book provides a fascinating
    and much-needed introduction to
    the monumental role that Rudolphina
    played in making the field of cynology
    such a respected and important field, as
    well as entwining dogs into the fabric of
    Israeli society...

    Jerusalem Post
  • A consistently eye-opening volume.... an outstanding academic book... If its contributors could find the right Israeli TV producer, Rudolphina Menzel’s story could be the basis for a series that would make her a household name around the world.

    The Jewish Review of Books
    Allan Arkush
  • [Canine Pioneer] chronicles Menzel’s life and career, exploring her seminal role in the development of cynology (the scientific study of domestic dogs) and modern Jewish, European, and Middle Eastern history. . . . Kahn details how and why Menzel transformed her love of dogs into a serious professional undertaking that enabled her to investigate scientific questions and solve societal problems.

    Jewish Boston

About the Author

Tammy Bar-Joseph

Tammy Bar-Joseph is a researcher specializing in the study of human-dog relations in Israel and the Holocaust. In 2024, she graduated with honors from her thesis at the Open University of Israel, focusing on the examination of numerous stories depicting the rescue of Jewish children during the Holocaust through the assistance of dogs and their relationships with them. Additionally, Bar-Joseph serves as a member of the steering committee of the “Forum of Human-Animal Relations Researchers in …

Rachel Koriat

Rachel Koriat was raised by her parents, Pnina (née Volanov) and Shmuel Tzvieli-Toretzky on Kibbutz Tirat Zvi in the Beit She’an Valley. From 1962 to 1964, she served as an education officer in the Nahal Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). After completing her military service, she left the kibbutz and began her long journey in education and teaching. She received a BA (with honors) in Hebrew language, Hebrew literature, and political science from the University of Haifa, and an …

Susan Kahn

Susan M. Kahn is the Associate Director at The Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School. She has published in science studies, animal studies and Jewish studies, and her book Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel (Duke 2000) won a National Jewish Book Award, as well as the Eileen Basker Prize for Outstanding Research in Gender and Health from the American Anthropological Association.

Binyamin Blum

Binyamin Blum joined the UC Law SF faculty in spring 2018. Prior to coming to UC Law SF, Professor Blum was on the Law Faculty of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 2012 to 2017. As a legal historian of the British Empire, Blum specializes in the relation between law and colonialism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Blum’s current book project, Forensic Culture in the Age of Empire, focuses on the colonial origins of forensic science. Building on the …

Myrna Shiboleth

Myrna Shiboleth has been breeding Canaan dogs since 1969 and has produced over fifty dogs that have claimed titles, including International Champion and World Winner. She is very proud that her dogs provide the basis for most of the Canaan dogs around the world. She is considered the world authority on the breed and has lectured on the Canaan dog in Israel, Finland, France, England,Italy, Kazakhstan, and the United States. She became a judge of Collies in 1971 and is now an Fédération …

Monika Baar

Prof. Monika Baar specializes in the history of East-Central and South-Eastern Europe, with a research focus on the history of disabilities. As Joint Chair, one of her main aims is “to work towards a more diverse and inclusive European history that pays attention to marginalised groups. Simultaneously, she hopes to raise awareness of the status and needs of vulnerable citizens in Europe and beyond.

Lea Lehavi

Lea Lehavi received her B.A. in world history and Israel studies and her M.A. in Jewish History from Tel Aviv University. Her master’s thesis, Rudolphina Menzel and the Military Canine Formation in the “Yishuv” during Mandatory Palestine 1932-1948, was supervised by Motti Golani. She also served in the IDF’s elite canine unit Oketz.

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