Here you will be able to follow the diary of adorable puppy Herkules on his journey to hopefully become an assistant dog when he grows up. His temporary pawrent Amanda will take care of him and provide the foundation before he is ready to go into training, and we will have the amazing opportunity to follow his adventures, from moving to his new home to all the challenges a puppy encounters during its first months. You can also follow Herkules journey on his big brother Simbas Instagram account @tollaren_simba
24/1 - visiting Herkules and his family
Amanda tells us a bit more about Herkules and his background:
Herkules is a hunting labrador born the third of December 2021. On the 28th of January he will be 8 weeks and I will finally pick him up!
I have been planning to get another dog for a while now, but I haven't been sure which breed to choose. I have been thinking of labrador for a while, so when I found out I could provide home for a hunting labrador pup, it felt so right. He is from Hundhjälpen, and hopefully he will pass all the tests when he is older, and then he will be an assistance dog. This means I cannot keep him forever, but at the moment it feels OK - I get more experience with the breed, learn more and provide the foundation of training for a dog while doing something good for someone else.
I have always dreamt of a black one, but when I visited the litter for the first time, Herkules bit my socks right away and wouldn't let go of me. He wanted to climb up and kiss my face all the time and the other people visiting didn't get a chance to say hi to him because he would not leave my side. So he stole my heart and I chose him "even though" he was yellow!
Herkules is the smallest in the litter, he weighs almost a kilo less than his brothers and sisters, but he loves food, just like all labradors.
28/1 - Herkules is home!
How was the journey home?
Everything feels so right! He was sleeping the whole journey home, and he and his big brother Simba has already started playing together.
29/1 - First day in his new home
How was the first day in his new home?
Herkules is a very cool and tough little guy, not afraid of anyting and at the same time he already feels at home with us. The first night was above expectations - we went out at 23, 03 and 07, and each time he told me that he needed to go out. So far no accidents has happened indoors, but it is of course just a matter of time still.
He loves is big brother Simba, but Simba is not as excited when he climbs all over him like crazy. Simba prefers when Herkules is tired and cuddly. But Simba is always kind, patient and fair to him, which is amazing to see.
And Herkules LOVES petgood! So far, we are on start of the transition, so he is just given a small amount, and also as treats!
8/2 - Herkules visits the petgood office
The petgood crew was lucky to finally met Herkules and Amanda in "person", and got the chance to get to know him and his future job even better.
Now it's been a week, how would you describe this first week?
Fast-paced, eventful and a little crazy, but very funny and cozy too! The most positive has probably been that Herkules and Simba likes each other so much and that they can both play together and sleep together. That's probably what I think is best and something I was not sure would happen.
How was it when you brought home Herkules, was Simba at home?
Simba joined when picking Herkules up, so they got to meet right away when I went out to the car. Simba was very happy, he loves puppies but Herkules got scared in the beginning when Simba was running towards him. But then they said hello calmly and we went home. As soon as we were home and inside the apartment there was no issues, then he loved Simba again.
How has it worked with housetraining? Getting sleep can be a challenge in the beginning, right?
In the beginning, Herkules would go out every two hours, even at night, but now for almost a week he has actually slept all night and then he does not pee at all. So it's very luxurious. I actually have a puppy pen for him that he sleeps in, but Simba usually lies outside it and keeps an eye on him. He must guard him and make sure he is alive.
Have you already started training him to be alone?
I did not leave him completely alone yet, only when I just went to another room, but then he is with Simba. It went well, he did not care because he was busy terrorizing Simba. Simba as a puppy was very "needy" - he needed me in a different way. But Herkules is very confident in himself. So they are very different personalities in general.
Is there anything important for you to think about when it comes to a potential assistance dog?
To train being in different environments, so that he gets used to being around people. But the requirement for training is just that you do different every-day activites with the puppy, so that the puppy will learn and like to cooperate with people. They do not have a requirement to obedience-trained, as long as the dog enjoys cooperating with humans. Also, he is not allowed to be on sofas and beds. This is because the person who buys him later may not want him in the bed and then it is easier if they never get used to it. For us, it has been good, because then Simba has somewhere to escape when he is tired of his little brother. Also you are not allowed to throw balls or sticks, as retrievers can be a little manic with that. Then you have to find other ways to activate the pup.
Are there several puppies in that litter that are supposed to be assistance dogs?
Yes, there were 8 puppies in the litter and several are out with temporary owners to hopefully become assistance dogs. The parents are dogs that are bred for this purpose. And I also think that's why Herkules is so safe and confident. He has it in him.
Do you have any tips for those who are in the process of getting a puppy?
Before buying, do your research and check what you can - both which breed to choose but also so that the parents are health tested. Don't just choose a breed because it's cute - a border collie should for example have a lot of stimulation and activity, so pick a breed that suits your lifestyle.
The new puppy owner, what tips would you give to them?
Then I would most say, be patient. It gets better. And enjoy the time because they also grow so incredibly fast.
14/3 - Herkules is wagging his tail through new challenges!
Herkules is now 14 weeks old, and the last weeks has been a bit messy since we were moving - but he is taking all changes with a wagging tail. He is a very happy and curious puppy with a very positive attitude to new things. We have been to a puppy course, which he thought was a lot of fun and he kept a good focus on me despite there being a lot of fun puppy friends there too. Training is also easy with him because he LOVES his petgood food and would do anything for it, I can use it as treats both indoors and outside.
He is also now staying alone with Simba at work while I'm in another room, and he is taking it with such a relaxed, chill attitude and is sleeping next to Simba. He is practically house trained already too, and he sleeps all night. But one challenge is that he is also full of creative ideas for shenanigans... He will chew on anything that gets in his way. In this way he is very different from Simba, who nevere broke a thing, but now I have to work hard to keep the home "puppy-safe" for him...
/ Amanda & Herkules