Murphy and Sachs Submitted

BETHEL — For Bob Harkins, his two golden retrievers are part of his family. They’re loyal companions that he takes on 3- to 7-mile hikes every day. There’s Murphy, 5, and Sach, 7 months. Murphy is social and easy-going; he hugs your side but when you need your own space, he will relax by himself. Sach is similar, though as a young pup, he often tries to challenge Murphy.

Harkins, Gould Academy’s Athletic Director, is part of Gould’s, “Earn Your Turns,” which is a ski club where you have to climb up the mountain in order to ski back down. Murphy loves climbing up after Harkins and running after him as he skis down. (All very early in the morning so no one is around.)

Murphy is a free soul. When Harkins takes him down to the docks, he’ll throw a ball or stick into the water, and Murphy, without hesitation, with race after it, at full-speed, and jump up and off the dock, catching it in mid-air before he dunks below the water, fully submerged, then comes up with a smile and whatever was thrown in. A true free soul.

Harkins will take the two pups on boat rides, fishing, and the dogs like to sit next to him, not on the shore. When they go hiking, the dogs never stop moving, always in their happy place, outside with their parents.

Harkins and his wife, Sally, have never used treats with the dogs for training. The dogs will naturally obey a command such as shake, sit, or stay; though the Harkins’ don’t command them in general.

When asking Harkins about favorite memories of his dogs, he says they’re part of the family, because like any other family, trying to chose a favorite becomes impossible when you are creating new memories every day.

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