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The Canine in Conversation
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Photograph of Elvis at his Bark Mitzvah spacer
figure 1


bark mitzvah. A special canine birthday party.reference 1

This is not really about the dogs, of course. Instead it is yet another opportunity to use one's dog as a surrogate child. Based on Bar or Bat Mitzvahs (the traditional Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies for 13 year-old boys and 12 year-old girls, respectively). Sometimes the ceremony coincides with a date on which the dog is determined to have been alive for 12 or 13 years. As Melissa Maroff puts it in an eHow article on bark mitzvahs, “that is also quite a milestone—don’t ya think?”reference 2 For other pooches, the age is determined by dog years,” usually calculated as 7 to 1; this might be a second birthday.

Pet groomer Lee Day registered the term as a service mark in 2007. Ms. Day asserts that she has been performing these ceremonies since 1972 including for such notables as Joan Rivers.reference 3 Ceremonies are sometimes held at a synagogue. However, some rabbis and congregations find the practice distasteful, to say the least. In a letter to the New York Times, Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff of Temple Emanu-El states bluntly, “This is nothing less than a desecration of a cherished Jewish tradition and degrades some of the central principles of Jewish life. I urge readers to reject such practices.”reference 4

This is a cultural reference rather than a metaphor or simile and for that reason perhaps does not have a place in this collection. However, after several recommendations, I have decided to include it.

You can see a video of Lee Day's smooth-haired dachshund Dr. Doogie singing his Bark Mitzvah song on Roseanne Barr's television show here.

1. Barrett, Grant. 2004. Bark Mitzvah. Double-Tongued Dictionary. Accessed Jan 14 2009 from http:// index.php/ dictionary/ bark_mitzvah/.

2. Maroff, Melissa 2007. How to Give a Dog a Bark Mitzvah. eHow. Accessed Jan 14 2009 from http:// how_2031964_ give-dog-bark-mitzvah.html.

3. Day, Lee. 2007. Bark Mitzvah. Lee Day, Celebrity Pet Hair Stylist and Pet Entertainer. Lee Day Enterprises. Accessed Jan 14 2009 from http:// bark_mitzvah.htm.

4. Kroloff, Charles A. 1997. Letter: A Rabbi's View of a 'Bark Mitzvah' New York Times, Jan 19. Accessed Jan 14, 2009 from http:// gst/ fullpage.html? res= 9C03E6D 9173BF93AA 25752C0A961958260.


About the illustration: Figure 1 shows Elvis, companion of David Best, reading the Arf-Torah at his Bark Mitzvah in August of 2008. The photograph is by Molly Kravitz and is used by permission under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
see also: dog years Last updated: January 14, 2009
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