Marshall is on the left, Mookie is on the right. Enjoying a lazy day with senior student Peyton Meader from Bethel. Submitted

BETHEL — When Denise Manning gets home from work, her golden retriever, Marshall, 2, will follow her around and bonk the back of her legs with a toy in his mouth as he always does. A young pup whose full of energy, loves attention, and is a therapy dog, Marshall always has a toy in his mouth.

His brother, Mookey, 5, also a golden retriever and a therapy dog, is sensitive. When he enters a room, if anyone is upset, he’ll find them and ensure they’re okay. If anyone is angry, he’ll stand in the doorway with a worried expression on his face.

Listening to Manning speak, the dogs are part of the family the way one would talk about children or parents.

The day they went to pick up Mookey was memorable. There were three puppies, two females and a male. The male puppy ran right into their son’s lap. Just like that.

“I guess you’re taking the male?” laughed the breeder.

The puppy’s name at the time was Moose. The breeder had a theme for every litter, and as this was her first litter in Maine, she wanted the name to have an ME in it. After mulling over names, they thought of the Stephen King adapted movie, ‘Stand by Me.’ Thinking of Stephen King, they thought of The Red Sox, and his favorite player, Mookey. That was how Mookey got his name.

Marshall was living with the breeder at the time, because of his under-bite. While at the breeder’s, he never was able to play with the tennis ball because the other pups got it first. When he got to his new home, he quickly warmed up to his family and new space. He loved always being able to play with the tennis ball and getting attention. When not playing, Marshall believes he’s supposed to be on the couch.

“There’s something about him [that’s] charming,” says Manning. “I try to remind Rob [her husband] they are dogs.” However, as she explains, their schedule revolves around Mookey and Marshall. If they are planning a vacation or to go away, the first question is, what’s going to happen with the dogs?

They certainly are part of the family. Rob structures his day around the two to make sure they have exercise. In the spring he takes them running; in the winter, he hikes up Sunday River and skis down with them running after him (Gould Academy’s ‘Earn Your Turns’). They have a camp, and they take the dogs swimming there. The dogs paddle board with them.

“Mookey didn’t want to get left behind,” Manning adds, regarding Mookey learning how to paddle board.

Her son, Alec, and Marshall have their own Instagram account together.

Both of the dogs are therapy dogs. In the past, they have gone on the Gould Academy Campus, where both Manning and her husband work. Manning explains the dogs are extremely intuitive. The dogs help lower the heart rate and bring the blood rate down, acting as therapy dogs for those who need them.

“I don’t know what we would do without the dogs,” says Manning. “They’re totally part of the family.”

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