“Come, sit, stay, pleease”

Twenty five years ago on March 31, I wrote this column about the first dog we adopted  from Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue.

It has been a year now since ‘Captain” came into our lives and he has made it a year unlike any other. On March 31, 1995, my husband and I adopted our first Golden from Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue. We had been members of the organization for years and had actively participated in many of its endeavors, but it was only after the death of our beloved Golden “Toby” that we decided it was time to adopt.

Captain had spent the first 2 1/2 years of his life running around the town of Munson, near Springfield, . He had been picked up by the local dog officer frequently and his owners had been admonished to keep him under control. Finally, when rather than pay a small fine, they preferred to have him put down, the dog officer turned him over to Rescue. And that’s where we entered his life story.

When we brought him home, he took a flying leap over the top of the sofa and subsequently was found standing on the coffee table. And to think we wanted an “older dogs.” because a puppy would be too much to handle…. now we had 70 pounds of undisciplined, unbridled energy to harness.

Captain proved to be a handful. Other than being housebroken, he had been taught nothing by his previous owners. Within 24 hours he was enrolled in an obedience class which he proceeded to totally disrupt. The first night he was a holy terror, running around and barking incessantly ignoring all of my commands .”Sit ? Oh no, this place is much to exciting. Down? Hey, no man, I gotta check things out! Stay? You’ve got to be kidding. Come? Forget it.”

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At the end of the first class I was exhausted,  Captain had vomited his dinner, having gotten so excited and we had taxed the tolerance of all the other owners and their we-behaved graduates of the puppy kindergarten class. But as Captain’s story made its way around the room, everyone became supportive and repeatedly commented, “How could anyone want to put down a beautiful young dog like that?”

Six weeks later, on “graduation day.” I held my breath. Would he watch me, listen to my commands and obey? He did and my wild boy was the star of the class.

Rescue Dog Walk

In October, we took him to the Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue Dog Walk kicking off YGRR’s capital campaign to raise money to establish a shelter. Captain was a good boy, and although I still had to maintain a firm hand, he behaved in the presence of 400 other Golden Retrievers.

Soon there after, Rescue began selling its 1996 calendars and there was our Captain – Cover Dog – in a beautiful running pose my husband captured at Heard Farm. We were “proud parents” when his picture appeared in Dog Fancy magazine, in newspaper advertisements and in other media outlets.

Through it all, did I happen to mention that this golden-copper toned, massive-headed, brown=eyed bundle of love is the most affectionate, sweet klutz on earth? When I had knee surgery, Captain lay quietly at my side oozing love and devotion.

Is he now a perfectly-mannered, obedient, docile adult? Heavens no!” Come” is still viewed as a request rather than a command and he still barks noisily at every new dog he meets, But he has learned to play with other dogs less aggressively and he has learned that he no longer needs to run round the neighborhood in search of love. Captain’s boisterous insecurity is waning., we have been enlivened by his exuberance and our female Golden, “Electra,” thinks he’s “Mr. Wonderful ,”

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Of course our home is no longer as neat as it once was – on snowy days – when Captain gets bored, he empties his toy box and our living room looks like a toddlers’ day care center. His long-feathered tail is still likely to sweep magazines off the coffee table and he has perfected the “coffee cup nudge” demanding pats while spilling my coffee.

There will never be another Toby. I still miss my gentle giant. But all “children” are unique and Captain is one of a kind. He brought us laughter  when there were tears and filled a far-to-quiet and far-to-clean house with his comical antics and long Golden hairs. How grateful we are for his “recycled” life and the opportunity we have been given to share it.

Note: We had Captain for nine wonderful years before he went to Rainbow Bridge