A Dog in a Million: My Life with Connie by Hazel Carter
Hazel Carter's home-help tidies the house, does the washing and helps with the cooking, and the only payment she requires is a nice big bowl of dog food at dinner time ...
When Hazel was debilitated with crippling back problems, she found herself unable to look after the house so she used her skills as an animal behaviourist to teach Connie, her seven-month-old Newfoundland, how to do the work instead. Connie picks out items of dirty clothing from the laundry basket and places them inside the washing machine. When the washing cycle is over, Connie transfers the clean clothes to the tumble dryer. Hazel could leave Connie to complete the entire task unsupervised - if only Connie understood that dark colours must not be washed with whites. Connie also works in the garden, brings in the shopping and is happy to do anything from carefully carrying a basket of eggs to pulling Hazel along in a boat. 'At one stage all I could do was lie in bed and Connie would bring me a toy from her toy box for me to throw as I lay there. She quickly learnt that to have a game she must first bring her toy to me, a very valuable lesson. My idea was to keep her occupied and mentally stimulated while helping me at the same time.'
Underlying the story of this remarkable dog is a remarkable relationship with a remarkable woman: Hazel Carter. For almost thirty years she has been helping owners to understand and cure their dogs' behavioural problems with patience, gentleness and kindness.