Last week I took my golden retriever, Morgan, to visit my alma mater, the University of San Francisco. It was a little shocking when I realized that it's been 35 years since I graduated. It made me think about the importance of my education and the opportunities it opened for me.
As I took a photo of Morgan with my old graduation cap atop his head I thought about how important it was to train him. Seven years ago Morgan came into my life from a rescue group in Los Angeles. He had been turned in to a dog shelter in South Central LA when he was just one year old. He was my first rescue and was in rough shape - undernourished and untrained, with no social skills. I had no idea what I was getting into.
I had raised my previous goldens, Nicholas and Willy, from puppyhood and their training was uneventful and fun. Nicholas and I trained for a whole year with the San Francisco SPCA. With Willy, I took what learned and trained him myself. But with Morgan it was completely different. Within the first week he bit me twice when feeding him. It was a real wakeup call that I needed help. This was definitely not going to be as easy as my first two dogs. Since Morgan had no training as a puppy he had the social skills of an immature dog in an adult size body. First Morgan had to unlearn his bad habits of barking at every dog that walked by and also trusting that not only would he be fed at a regular time but that there would always be ample food for him.