In the U.S., freedom to own a dog as a pet


Bruce Boguslav is a consumer advocate and friend I have interviewed on my radio program several times and someone with whom I feel a special bond through our heritage. Bruce comes from Orthodox Jewish lineage and his great-grandfather was an ordained rabbi.

For The Jewish Voice’s pet issue, I interviewed Bruce about his family’s long history with dogs, going back to his great-grandmother Ethel, a dynamic businesswoman generations ahead of her time. 

Bruce said, “My great-grandmother decided with my great-grandfather to have a dog as soon as they came to America. I think, in part, the dog was a replacement for my great-grandmother’s sisters, who stayed in the old country of Russia.

“As I was told, they felt that the dog was a symbol [of] making it here. It was also a symbol of freedom for my great-grandparents, as in the old country, dogs were work, like having cows. They could come to America and be free, and the dog symbolized that for them.”

He continued, “The first thing they did when they got to America was to go straight to Philadelphia, take pictures and then buy a dog. My great-grandmother always wanted a dog as she never had one in Russia.

“I learned from my grandmother, Ethel’s daughter, that it is important to not only take care of family and friends, but animals as well. As early as I can remember, dogs were a part of my family.” 

Bruce’s great-grandmother had a German shepherd. His grandparents also had dogs while they raised his mother and uncle.

From his early childhood, Bruce heard about dogs and saw dogs in all corners of his family – they had become a family tradition. He refers to dogs as “dogs,” not animals, in the same way that we call people “people,” not animals.

He said, “Dogs are their own special species and I can’t imagine my life without them. I went for five years without a dog in my middle adult years, and I wouldn’t do it again.

We now have two wonderful dogs again, our third Lhasa Apso and our first Havanese, named Benjamin and Franklin.”

Bruce, who is in his early 60s, has had dogs since he was 8 years old.

“When I was a child, my first dog was a Yorkshire terrier named Twiggy, as my parents went smaller. My cousins had larger dogs – bulldogs, shepherds and shepherd mixes.”

“Dogs have taught me how to be patient, how to listen, watch and learn. Dogs are also protective. They depend on us, but we also depend on them. For me, it is part of giving back … tikkun olam, repairing the world,” he said.

Bruce told how his mother insisted that he get a dog when he and his wife, Linda, married.

“My mother got the dog for us, a wonderful Lhasa Apso named Huey. My oldest’s first word was Huey,” he said.

“When our third child was born, we decided to add another Lhasa Apso, named Billy, to our family. Dogs have been in our family for five generations, counting our children, who lived with Huey and raised Billy, and claim Benjamin and Franklin as their own, even though the dogs live with Linda and me.”

I asked Bruce if he would get dogs for his children when they get married. His answer was an unequivocal “yes, and maybe before then.”

He added, “On holidays our male dogs wear yarmulkes and stay with us when we light candles. They are an integral part of our family, join our celebration of Jewish life and bring us great joy.”

PATRICIA RASKIN, president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., is an award-winning radio producer and Rhode Island business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.