Summer 2017

by JEREMY SEIFRIED MAN’S B E S T F R I E N D Really! I had heard this cliché all of my life, but it never really sank in until about a year ago. My wife surprised me with a little bundle of joy, a 10lb, 10-week-old golden retriever pup- py. I never had a dog before, so everything dog related was new to me. My wife chose the dog, so I was able to decide on his name:I wanted him to be called Barclay. As the weeks and months went by, our bond became stronger and now I couldn’t imagine not having my little buddy around. I believe your first dog is like having your first child. You read books, magazines, online articles, and it can seem overwhelming at times. Some things we tried worked, others resulted in epic failure. Eventually, through hard work and dedication, we learned how to communicate with each other. I attribute a large portion of our successes with enrolling in puppy classes. In the classes, we were taught how positive reinforcement leads to positive behaviors. As soon as it was recommended, we started socializing him around town. I would often bring him to local pet-friendly businesses. At these places, he experienced meeting new people and some times other dogs. I believe the 2 local dog parks (Wiggley Field & Central Bark) were also instrumental in his social de- velopment. At about 9 months of age, he be- came increasingly involved with our day-to-day activities. This is when things really started to get fun. Last summer was one big adventure after an- other. Canoeing, camping, hiking, swimming at the pools, and festivals were all things he was able to experience for the first time. We en- joyed trying out new things together, and found out what works with having a dog and what doesn’t. Through trial and error, I found out we have the only golden retriever that doesn’t like water. So, this year when we go canoeing, we are going to attempt to stay in the boat. Over the winter, we also had our fair share of interesting activities. By far our biggest accomplishment was becoming family therapy dog team. I always felt this was something he would want to be a part of. As a volunteer at the Springfield Regional Medical Center, he continually meets new people and is able to support the staff on their mission to improve the health of our community. Every time we turn into the parking lot, he gets excited know- ing he is going to make many people happy. I look forward to all of the experiences we will share this summer and in the future. We are constantly looking for new activities to try out. Vacation planning now includes Barclay, which is a little challenging. We plan on at- tending many of the Springfield Summer Arts Festival events and Springfield First Friday celebrations. And, of course, many trips to the dog parks are in order. I never realized how strongly attached a person could become to an animal, but Barclay has proven it to me. He really has become man’s best friend. 38 | Summer 2017 ON A MISSION