Hank and the Ya Yas

Hank and Craig watching Jeopardy.

Hank and Craig watching Jeopardy.

Hank relaxing after his fourth walk of the day.

Hank relaxing after his fourth walk of the day.

Hank was alone for six hours yesterday. I am doing a self-esteem group at 11am on Wednesdays and had to leave earlier than usual. I mention the group because it’s such a silly focus for a group. Can one truly understand the concept of self-esteem in a group and can self-esteem be improved by a group. I will focus on that subject a little later in this blog. So, Hank was alone for most of the day. He is used to quality and quantity focused attention from me and Craig. I would say that Hank has excellent self-esteem. He has high expectations regarding what he appears to believe is his rightful due.

When I arrived home around 5:30pm (just missing Craig in the driveway), Hank greeted me as if we had not seen each other in weeks. I had taken him on two walks that morning in anticipation of the long absence. He jumped on me, nipped at me and then started to nibble my feet. There was no satisfying him. It was a long evening and I found myself feeling guilty about going to work and leaving him. My word, what has happened to us. Craig would say “what has happened to you Michele, not us.” Please refer to the first picture above if you have any doubt that Hank has  wormed himself into the Master’s heart and den.

Today turned out to be glorious. We went on four walks and it wasn’t until we were half way through number four that Hank became cooperative. We are both exhausted.

I was going to comment with more detail about self-esteem. I don’t think you get it from therapy or a support group. It has to come through real relationships and meaningful activity. You have to feel like there is a purpose in your day. Hank seems to feel good about himself. He takes a lot of pride in fetching balls. He even tries to train me to do certain tricks. I think he should feel proud of himself for training a human to do his bidding. It takes a lot of skill.

What Would Hank Say?


This is Hank at my desk in the “French Room”. He appears to be quite interested in literature which has led me to consider his thoughts regarding life in general and more specifically, the current government in St. Johnsbury. Two years ago, following Town Meeting, I started attending select board meetings. There had been significant changes in approved appropriations and newly elected select board members which signaled a change in the approach to town government. I kept a blog at the time called St. Johnsburyitsallpersonal to help me process my observations. The only information I am currently getting is through the Caledonian-Record and casual conversations with friends and acquaintances. I am teaching courses on Social Movements and community projects. It’s time to walk the talk and show up. So, it’s back to Monday night meetings twice a month.  I will include my reflections on Hank’s perspective.

First, Hank’s accomplishments need to be catalogued.

  • Hank will sit upon command (verbal and signal)
  • Hank will stay for up to 20 seconds.
  • Hank will sit by the side of the road when a car passes.
  • Hank will retrieve a ball and drop it upon command (not immediately, he has to think about it for a few seconds)
  • Hank waits for his people to go through the doorway before he enters. This is monumental since we were used to being run over by previous dogs.
  • Hank does not enter the tennis court when the ball is in play.
  • Hank will come to a full stop in the middle of a run when he hears his name. He looks and waits for a command.
  • Hank takes only 15 minutes to calm down when he meets new people.
  • Hank has learned to “soft bite”.
  • Hank is capable of rolling over but he is not asked to practice this skill on a daily basis.
  • Hank is improving in his ability to tolerate the leash. He needs more practice.
  • Hank waits to eat his food until the command “ok eat your breakfast/dinner”. We only ask him to wait for a second. It still counts.

Right now, based on newspaper articles and anecdotal information, Hank would probably say that it is crucial to identify the Alpha Leader of the pack. The Chair appears to be the Alpha but given the unease of the pack (the remaining members of the select board and community) this is not so clear. We need to observe the individuals in question Unfortunately, Hank will not be able to attend the meetings. Although I listed a comprehensive and impressive list of his abilities and accomplishments, he is not capable of sitting through long, boring, confusing meetings run by short-sighted individuals. I am getting ahead of myself here. It’s not fair to make these determinations without attending meetings.

Breaking Bad

Yes. Hank's name was inspired by the Breaking Bad character.

Yes. Hank’s name was inspired by the Breaking Bad character.

Hank is 18 weeks old and weighs 48 lbs. He posed for this picture.

Notes from the Garden
Learn from this year’s mistakes and do this:
Plant less corn (60 seeds plenty)
Plant more potatoes
No more eggplant
Use black plastic along sides of garden and plant the squash (terrible crop this year)
Forget the three sister’s idea.
Plant the beans in the traditional manner, in rows, in the middle of the garden
Plant more onion (25 plants would be great)
Plant flowers in one bed only
Tomatoes were abundant and gorgeous
Plant more carrots, beets and radishes

I read this book on the airplane to Boston The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. Tried the no knead Artisan Bread and Potato Leek Soup. Delicious and easy. Learned more from that book than any other cookbook in my vast collection.

Artisan Bread (four one pound loaves)
3 cups lukewarm water
1.5 tablespoon yeast (one package)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6.5 cups unsifted unbleached all purpose white flour

Combine water, yeast and salt in 5 quart bowl. Stir to mix. Add all flour at once with wooden spoon until dough is wet and sticky and no dry patches left. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature. If you are not using immediately, you can put in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To make a loaf, lightly sprinkle flour onto dough’s surface. Scoop a handful about size of grapefruit and tear away from the rest. Gently form the dough into a round blob. Dust the whole thing with flour or cornmeal. Let it rise for half an hour or 90 minutes.

About 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a broiler tray on the bottom rack of oven. Put a cookie sheet, pizza pan or baking stone on middle rack.

Slash top of bread with cross or lines. I used cookie cutter for nice design. Slide bread onto pre-heated cookie sheet. Carefully pour one cup of water into broiler pan. Close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for 30 minutes, until the crust is brown and the loaf feels light and hollow. Cool to room temperature.

I have made two loaves so far. Keep the remaining dough in the fridge. Use as desired. So good.