"Fenway"/Jennifer and Brian Anderson
Our long search for that “perfect” dog led us straight to the Australian Labradoodle. We were looking for a playful, intelligent, non-shedding dog that our two boys could grow up with. After many lengthy emails (Curtis so graciously answered all of our many many questions) and a visit with Curtis and some pups, we wholeheartedly decided to adopt a Hudson Doodle. Once the puppies were ready for adoption, we asked Curtis to choose the puppy he felt would fit best in our family having met us all already. In September 2006 Fenway officially became a member of our family. I can’t tell you how many compliments we received on everything from his coat to his personality. He loved the attention and adored people. One neighbor actually said “he is just like a human.” Well, like children, if they are not disciplined, they tend to try and get away with everything! And that Fenway did – from greeting guests by jumping on them (I would make the excuse he was just trying to kiss the person) to trying to steal food from the table while we were eating! By October 2007 we decided Fenway needed what we call “Curtis Bootcamp.” One week back in NY and Fenway came home well trained. No more jumping on visitors. No more uncontrollable walks. And while we eat meals he is in a down-stay. Not only did Curtis train Fenway, but he gave us the tools to continue the training at home. Just recently we returned to NY for some more “Fenway Camp.” We very much needed to fine tune our training skills. Again, we came away with games that will enhance recall to fun tricks like giving us a high five. Our two sons have thoroughly enjoyed playing hide and seek with him, in fact, we have too. The positive training methods Curtis taught us have not only made us better parents of Fenway but have made Fenway a much better behaved and happier dog. Curtis not only provided us with a wonderful companion, but he remains an invaluable resource for tips on caring for Fenway in every manner.
Just tonight I sat down and immediately Fenway came over and placed his head on my lap. He then lay down at my feet and kissed my toes. Aaaah, life is good!
I found out about Australian Labradoodles after doing an extensive search for the perfect dog. After loosing two golden retreivers in a row to cancer and heart problems, the time was right to switch breeds. After finding out about Hudson Doodles, and speaking with Curtis, I was very impressed with his knowledge and demeanor. It was clear that I had found a person of integrity and character. After explaining what I was looking for, Curtis arranged to meet with me and introduce me to Finzi. To say that it was love at first sight would be an understatement. As I knelt down, Finzi came over to me, sat down, and looked into my eyes. That was it, I was hooked! This calm, woolly dog with a huge head was beautiful to be sure, but I was struck by his ability to read my emotions and respond to me so easily. I knew instantly that he was the dog for me. We agreed on an adoption date, and the night before I was scheduled to take Finzi home, my wonderful 91-year-old father died.
Curtis offered to hold Finzi for me until I was ready. This took me three months because of assuming the responsibility for my 87-year-old mother with Alzheimer's disease. In August, after bringing my mom to live in a facility in the Berkshires for people with Alzheimer’s, I was ready to bring Finzi home. Curtis and his wife, Lynn, were there, to help me and gave detailed advice or how to transition Finzi easily. Curtis and Lynn have very calm and knowledgeable dog sense and their helpful suggestions were exactly what was needed. Getting a dog from the Rists is truly like adopting a member of their family. They are so connected to each and every one of their dogs, that with the adoption, you feel like you are getting an extended family as well.
Curtis suggested that I consider attending training sessions at their Dog Bodega, to help with the bonding between us. Little did I know at the time, how valuable this experience would be. Curtis and Lynn's training sessions are a combination of great training techniques genuine joy due to their knowledge of humans and canines. Their classes transform generic commands into an opportunity for communication and fun. Curtis and Lynn always spend what ever time is needed to talk about what the point of the lesson is and why it is important, as well as breaking down the task into manageable steps so that the dogs quickly figure out what to do and take pleasure in accomplishing it. While Finzi is probably the happiest dog I have ever met, other dogs in class were exhibiting signs of happiness as well. Reluctant dogs began wagging their tails, and making dramatic progress in a short amount of time, and owners realized how to create a well-behaved happy dog, of any breed.
After adopting Finzi, he immediately became a vital part of my life, he joined my routine, and went everywhere with me. He visited the Rhinebeck Farmer's Market weekly, went to the gym and even came to school with me. Since my father's death, my new routine included frequent visits to my mom at the facility, and needless to say, Finzi joined me on each visit. Finzi was an immediate hit with the residents and he seemed to know what he was supposed to do. He would sit with me, and if someone motioned for him or asked him to come over, he did. He would sit next to them and wait for the person to stroke his head or talk to him. He seemed to know which people wanted a kiss on the hand, and which people just wanted to pat his soft fur. Every time we go, he brings smiles to people and provides much needed nonjudgmental love and attention. His visits are very therapeutic! Reluctant talkers always seem to find the words to talk to him, and appreciate his unconditional love. Each resident believes that Finzi is their own special visitor. While my mom introduces him as her dog, everyone else feels the same way. Finzi is perfectly happy to spend hours there, sitting next to dozens of people and repeating the same scenario over and over again. Of course my mom enjoys seeing me, but when she sees Finzi, her face lights up! She told me last week that she never had a dog and does not really know how to talk to them, and I reassured her that dogs know how to communicate with us, and that she was doing just fine. Finzi has helped me in innumerable ways, not only by providing extra love and support to me when I am feeling sad about not having my wonderful dad around to talk to, but also in helping me to provide support to my mother, and providing more interesting visits. A human is just another person, but when a dog visits, that is really very special!
Finzi, is a work in progress. He just keeps getting better and better. He is the result of excellent breeding stock, knowledgeable and passionate breeders (who spend a great deal of time perfecting their craft) and excellent ongoing training which is so much fun, and results in a relationship with a dog, I never thought I could accomplish.