Hank has been living with us for the past 3 weeks. He is our fifth dog and our third Golden Retriever. Hank is the first dog I am determined to train so that he becomes compliant and well-mannered. To that end, I have been reading several books about dog training/raising including one text by the “Dog Whisperer” and another old stand-by about raising a puppy you can live with. Hank sleeps in a crate every night which Craig calls his crib. It’s supposed to mimic the wolf caves from ancient times. Hank actually does love his crate and goes there during the day for naps. We put him to bed for the night around 8pm and he no longer cries.
I am vigilant about training Hank to do his business in the outdoors. His preference is to visit the lush carpeting under the pine boughs. His next favorite are the mulched garden beds. I take him through the vegetable garden every morning where he runs up and down the rows. We have not seen one rabbit or deer in the garden since Hank’s arrival. We’re hoping the rabbits moved next door.
Hank wakes up every morning around 4:30am. I take him outside and then back onto the porch. He falls back to sleep if I stay there, crunched on the small couch under a big blanket. If we’re lucky, he sleeps for another hour. Then it’s breakfast, another trip to his favorite toilette and I wake up. We go for a walk that has become a routine. Past the pond garden, around the tennis court, down the driveway (two deer ran in front of us today) and then back up the driveway. Hank sniffs around until he figures out that I am gaining. He runs to catch up and then starts sniffing again. We end our walk with an inspection of the vegetable garden. I have been picking cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, raspberries and blueberries. Hank runs around in the raspberry bushes and helps himself to a morning snack. We return home and he collapses for a two hour nap.
I decided to take him to work at the residential treatment center last week. Used the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” philosophy. The residents jumped up and down, squealed and took turns holding Hank. I had never seen them all so joyful, caring and loving. I had the best therapy session with my client who tends to ruminate about the existential hopelessness of the universe. She was positive and smiled for most of an hour. I have decided that Hank is a natural therapy dog. He’s been great for me. Gets me walking two miles every day, watching much less tv and generally soaking up unlimited affection.