For the last 3 weeks, most of my waking hours and some of my non-waking hours have been consumed by a Labrador/Golden Retriever puppy named Freddy. He arrived here 7 weeks old, weighing 9 pounds, at 6:00am after taking a United Airlines red eye flight from San Francisco. His first night away from his birth family was a little challenging. He woke up at 2:15am, and we went out to "hurry," the term we use for potty breaks. At 3:15am he realized he was in a strange environment and started whining. The whining slowly morphed into a full, howl grandioso. Occasionally the howl would revert to a whine almost stopping, only to crescendo again. Sadly, there was nothing to do but wait it out, for 90 minutes.

Freddy's life here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp has improved significantly after that first night, and he has had a very positive impact on this place. It's impossible for anyone to look at him without smiling. All four dogs are that way, but particularly this little guy who's still half the size of the others. He's reminded me of valuable life lessons. Here are only a few.

* If you find yourself in difficult or scary place, whining will not help.

* Everyone is a potential new friend.

* The bigger boys are just bigger boys. They are not to be feared, only enjoyed or attacked low.

* It's good to circle a couple of times before you poop or lay down.

* Youngsters can learn more than most people realize.

* Treats are much better than corrections.

* Leashes aren't that bad if you're doing what your supposed to do.

* Playing in the rain can be great fun, especially if the idiot on the other end of the leash doesn't have a raincoat.

* There is nothing wrong with taking lots of naps, if you can get away with it.

* When others make undue demands, it's OK to just say NO.