By Stacey Kuhns
So a while back, I let you all know that I was getting a puppy, named Henson, who will be going through a two-year training program with me to become my certified service dog. This is Henson:
Henson is a Goldendoodle. His mother is a Goldendoodle and his father is a Standard Poodle. I have had a variety of animals since I was a young girl, have worked at veterinary hospitals, San Diego Zoo, and now volunteer in animal rescue. I have also rescued and trained dogs, but I must admit, it has been a very long time since I had a puppy.
Because of my medical conditions, I never thought a puppy was anything I would have again as it is physically difficult for me to take care of one. I brought Henson home on May 1, 2016, when he was a little under eight weeks old. He turns eleven weeks old this weekend and I am exhausted.
I love this little guy, but I am a slave to him. I follow him everywhere. Otherwise, I might find him with his head in the cats' litter box or eating their food. He needs to be brushed every time he comes in from outside. I have never owned a dog that had this kind of fur (everything gets stuck in it). He chases the cats around the house (trying to work on that), not because he wants to "get them" but he wants them to play with him. He is growing like a weed and is a very smart dog.
By eight weeks, he learned sit and shake. At nine weeks, he learned down, and at 10 weeks, he learned stay. He has a pretty mellow temperament for a puppy, which is good for a future service dog. He has times where he is a crazy pup, running around and wanting to play, but he just seems more mellow than other puppies I have dealt with.
Giving him a bath, for me, is like running a marathon. It is challenging. Next time, we are trying a shower. Henson has been sleeping eight hours a night, which is a blessing and surprising as he does sleep a lot during the day too. He is potty trained, which was a happy milestone. My pain levels have been pretty high since I got him, but surprisingly, I am too busy with him to let it get me down and I do see the fantastic benefit having him will be for my physical and mental health. (At least I keep telling myself that.)
I have basically been a prisoner in the house and have been home more than I can remember. (I cannot take him anywhere frequented by other animals until he has all his shots). On May 11, he had his first vet visit and just chilled on the exam table, waiting for the vet. He did great and got a clear bill of health. He is growing like a weed. His paws are still huge so hoping he will be a large dog.
I check in with the parents of his siblings and they are going through many of the same trials and tribulations with their puppies so that makes it easier on many levels. But he is a puppy and like a little kid, he gets distracted easily.
We walk to the mailbox every day (he is doing well on leash). One day it was windy and a leaf was blowing down the street. He almost pulled me over trying to run after it! We start our training on June 4. Hopefully, a leaf does not blow by during training, or a rabbit does not run across the lawn. Should be interesting.
I took him to my acupuncture appointment the other morning. I was feeling stressed about it but the staff asked me to bring him. They know he is going to be a service dog and feel he should get used to coming with me since that will be the norm once he is certified.
The acupuncture treatments are supposed to be relaxing but as I was laying on the treatment table and Henson was circling the room, sniffing, all I could think about was that he was going to go potty on their carpet and I would not be able to get up because of the needles in me.
Fortunately, once he was done exploring, he sprawled out next to the treatment table and was calm and relaxed as he could be for the entire hour. He never left my side when anyone came in to talk to me or check on me. I was amazed! So, he shows the potential to be a great service dog and that is what I think about as I pull seeds and rocks out of his mouth, panic when it gets too quiet in the house and I cannot see him, and as I follow him around, making sure he is not getting into anything.
In my next installment, I will let you all know how training is progressing. Thanks for the interest and you can see more about Henson on my Facebook page, Meet Henson.