This week I yapped with Rocky Janke, a big, easygoing Goldendoodle who works with his Mom at a place called Camp Haven. I was thinking, since it was a camp, there’d probly be a lake an, maybe, canoes an marshmallows, but there weren’t. It was this long building with lotsa doors in a row and the office up front.
We knocked. This real frenly lady opened the door, and there Rocky was, tall, giant paws, thick gold coat an a snazzy red bandana. He came right up for the Wag-and-Sniff.
“Welcome to Camp Haven, please come on in. I’m Rocky Janke and this is my Mom, Lalita.”
“Great to meet you both,” I replied. “I hafta admit, I was piksurin’ a different kinda camp. I can’t wait to hear all about you, an I appreciate your time.”
Rocky smiled. “It’s my pleasure. We are an unusual camp, as you can see. So where would you like to start?” He got comftubble next to me, on the floor.
“Well, first off, tell me how you found your Forever Family.”
“Mom had a German Shepherd for a long time. When it went to Dog Heaven and she got through being real sad, she decided she wanted another dog. But, cuz she’s working here all the time, she ree-lized she needed a pooch who’s more easy-going than a German Shepherd.”
“What DO you do here?”
“We help homeless humans who wanna work and not be homeless. They usually have PROBlems, and while they’re livin’ here, they learn how they can not be so sad an hopeless, how to Plan an Be Responsible, an also how to get ready to find a job. I’m the Camp Haven Unofficial Therapy Dog. Don’t tell, but I get paid Under the Table. (Mostly snacks an people food from the residents.)
“Woof! That’s very Important work!” I exclaimed.
“True. Anyway, my human sister Anjali saw pictures of Goldendoodles an fell in love with our breed. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? Speshly when we’re pupsters. So Anjali told Mom and Mom picked out a puppy. It was s’pose to be for her, but Anjali’s kids Alex, Ian an Luke wanted to keep it. Mom was duh-termined to get her own Goldendoodle, so she searched an searched an discovered a piksure of ME on Craigslist. My owner had lost his job an couldn’t keep me. Mom and Dad (he’s Walter) went to Loxahatchee to see me an, well, everything worked out great. I was just 7 months old.”
“Woof,” I said. “It’s a good thing your niece and nephews kept that other pooch.”
“Fer sure. There was just one tiny problem. Mom an Dad already had a pet. YumYum. An Only Cat. She’s a rescue who’d ruled her former home and now ruled her big new home. Well, here I was alluva sudden, this curious puppy, disrupting her life. I’d sniff her an chase her cuz I wanted to play, but she was Not Amused. It was kinda a cat-tastophy.”
“So, how’d you figure it out?”
“Mom put YumYum Upstairs and me Downstairs. There’s a gate at the top so I can’t go up. An I don’t wanna, anyway. And YumYum totally doesn’t wanna be anywhere near me. She sometimes peers ominously at me through the banister, when I’m snoozing on my couch.
“Another thing I had to learn: See, me an this other pooch grew up on a farm. We were outside all the time. Didn’t even know what Inside was. Did Our Doodie outside, too. Didn’t have to ask permission or notify anybody first. So, when I got to Mom and Dad’s house, I looked all around an there wasn’t any ground or handy bushes or anything, nothing that looked like where I usta Do My Doodie, just a buncha square flat things. (Later I found out it’s called tile). Well, I thought that must be where I was ’spose to go. So I did. But it wasn’t. Took me a little while to figure it out. Mom an Dad helped.”
“I expect they did,” I smiled. “What’s life like Downstairs?”
“Fun! We have a big family an when everybody’s here it’s real exciting. But I remain calm. When things get too loud, I go somewhere quiet, like my couch. I even have a blanket with big paw prints on it, like mine. I also enjoy restin’ in the shower, cuz it’s nice an cool.
“On my leash walk, sometimes little dogs get scared cuz of I’m lots bigger. So I scooch way down for the Wag-and-Sniff.”
“That’s thoughtful,” I commented.
“I try to be, speshly here at work. I help humans become more responsible. Mom tells ’em it’s their turn to walk me so I can exercise and Do My Doodie. Sometimes they don’t want to. But Mom’s firm. She tells ’em I’m their responsibility during my walk. They also get to learn Patience cuz, as Mom says, I’m a ‘Potty Dancer.’ It’s just that I hafta find The Right Spot, an it’s not always easy, it takes time. But the humans always come back feelin’ happier. When Mom’s in her office talkin’ to people, I can tell whether they’re Okey-Dokey or not. It’s an Instink. An if they’re not, I let ’em know. Not in a mean way, just firm, like Mom.
“Mom says walkin’ me (she akshully says, ‘bein’ dragged by an 87-pound Goldendoodle’) is also good for her. She calls it a Total Body Workout. I like walkin’ with Mom, too, ’specially at night, cuz there’s lotsa bunnies where we live. I like bunnies. Mom hasta hold on really tight when I see those bunnies.”
“I imagine she does,” I commented.
“My special human friend here is our Program Director Jeremy. He just started taking some really strong medicine called KeyMo, which he hasta take for a long time (even longer in Dog Time). It isn’t easy At All. So I’m gonna do my doggonedest to keep him All Cheered Up by leaning against him a lot and stuff like that. An doing a good job helpin’ the humans who live here.”
Heading home, I was thinkin’ about how Rocky cheers up the humans at Camp Haven, and promised myself I’d do an even better job cheerin’ up my Very Own Mom when she’s feelin’ Gloomy.
Till next time,