Pika the Golden Retriever

Fall 2022

All is fine now, but Pika had a major operation to remove a benign tumor (a thymoma) near his heart and then another to get rid of an infection that was caused by the first operation. Both were sternotomies (the entire sternum is cut). He showed his amazing ability to figure out how to please the "bi-peds" and never touched the incision or the various tubes coming out and going into his body. He was the star of the ICU at Tufts (Grafton) for five days. He healed quickly and is back swimming and being the best dog-friend of all in the Harvard economics department.

Summer 2022

Pika is 12 years old! And he had his official Littauer photo taken (drool air-brushed out). Isn't he gorgeous! He swims almost every week in a pool in Natick for dogs that need physical rehab and for lucky dogs that just love swimming (that's Pika). We think that swimming is keeping him in great shape. He will rejoin Pets as Therapy in the Fall and help the folks at the Dana Street Nursing Home be entertained (plus keep their floor free of food scraps and napkins!).



Spring 2022

Pika's world is now centered around Littauer again. No more Pet Companions since they stopped picking up in Cambridge (very sad for us). He goes swimming in the indoor pool in Natick every week and has returned to visiting the Nursing Home on Dana Street on Sundays with Harvard Students David and Gabby, where he apparently does a great job cleaning the floor. We are planning Pika's birthday #12. Spring is lovely but Pika misses the snow (we don't).

Summer 2021

Pika was 11 on July 4, 2021. Big celebration. He remains a healthy and active dog who goes to Pet Companions three times a week and swims in the Natick pool every other week. Pandemic life for Pika did not change much, except that he didn't spend his days in our Littauer office and he was furloughed from his job at the Nursing Home on Dana Street. We just spent the weekend at Dartmouth (actually Etna NH with friends). Watch gleeful Pika scamper across a meadow.


Summer, Fall 2020:

July 4, 2020 Pika is TEN years old!

PIka has not been able to work as a Therapy Dog during the pandemic lockdown. He's been our personal therapy dog  and we lend him out to any graduate students who need some non-judgmental affection (and also a lot of fur). He is an active ten year old and romps at the Harvard Law School every day (see the Pika video below). He goes to doggie day care at Pet Companions in Reading MA three days a week and swims at a dog pool in Natick once a week. We do some scenting work around the house. He's a love!


Watch the Pika video 


Summer 2019

It's July 4 and Pika is Nine Years Old!!!

It's been a long time since I added to the Pika-page. I think we got so excited about his Performance Scent Dog title that we retired into oblivion. But Pika has been an active therapy dog working with the amazing people at the Philips Brooks House Association (PBHA). The Gazette just ran a piece on the dogs and their handlers. Check out the pictures of Pika with Elizabeth Kinard, who was his Friday handler.

Fall 2017

Pika did it -- he got his Excellent Title in Performance Scent Dogs today (Oct. 21, 2017). I think he is the 9th dog to achieve that level in the nation (and the first Golden Retriever). Here's a picture of the boy with his final ribbons. He has so many (it is a ribbon-intensive activity) that I will have to box them up so he can pull out the box when he's an old man to reminisce about his youth. We now have to find a more advanced scenting competition and I think one will appear this coming Spring. Have to keep in shape for it -- more practice.



Winter 2017

Pika recently achieved his Advanced Title in Performance Scent Dogs. Plus, he has one Excellent title (in Distance). He needs just 8 more qualifying runs (in a host of different elements) to achieve his Excellent Title. That is really difficult and there is only one dog that has achieved that level. The sport is new and there will be more soon -- and maybe Pika. Here he is with his major ribbons -- the 5 element titles for Advanced, the 5 for Novice, the Advanced and Novice titles, the one Excellent element title, his CCA award from the AKC for conformation and his NW1 title from the National Association of Canine Scent Work. Lots of ribbons for a great working dog.

Pika, Advanced scent hound

Spring 2016

Scenting up date -- In April 2016 Pika qualified three times in each of five elements (buildings, exteriors, speed, distance and containers).  That means that he has finally completed his Novice Title in Performance Scent Dogs and is now competing in Advanced rounds.  Here he is "covered in glory" showing off four of his element titles and (the longer ribbon) his Novice Title.  So proud of my sweet scenter, who looked exhausted from a full day at a PSD trial.  I love PSD because the dogs have so much fun and the people are wonderfully supportive, kind and interesting to be around.

Winter 2016


Pika continues to be a sweet and smart dog.  He has switched his performance work to scenting,  Nosework, as it is called, is the sport version of drug and bomb detection.  Pika was recently entered in his first nosework competition trial and he qualified in four Novice elements (he needs 15 to go from Novice to Advanced).  Go Pika go.  Here you see Pika scenting various boxes and indicating which box has the scent by doing a "nose stick."  He's really good at "nose sticks."  But he is a Golden and not as fast as many other dogs.  Slow and steady wins the race. 

Spring 2015

Pika is almost five years old.  He has been a therapy dog for more than two years and enjoys his Sunday afternoons going to the Dana Street Nursing Home with his wonderful PBHS friends (most recently Kelly and Naomi).  After a good start in the competition obedience ring two years ago, he had to change his "sport" to Rally.  He had a tendency to get interested in the pretty "girls" in the adjoining ring.  Rally is on lead and he won't embarrass his handler that way.  He earned one qualification a few months ago and will compete again soon.  Perhaps his interest in "girls" will diminish with time.  He is shown, above, with his good friend Atticus.


Summer 2013

Pika went to Dog Camp in Marlboro VT (with Claudia, Emily and Bridger).  He earned his Therapy Dog International certificate and participated in numerous events including "lure coursing," as seen in this picture.  If you want more information about lure coursing (and about Dog Camp) just ask.  Pika has recently qualified in two obedience competitions and has been entered in several more.  During the school year he participates in the Pets as Therapy program at Phillips Brooks House.  He continues to be a handsome dude and a super companion.



Here is the story of our wonder-dog.

Gretna Green Faraway Pika was whelped (= born for humans) on July 4, 2010.  He has 2 brothers and 2 sisters and his litter is known as "The Firecracker Five."  Larry and I took him from San Jose CA to Cambridge MA on August 30, 2010 to begin his new life as our loving companion and performance dog.  Pika has an extraordinary pedigree of breed and performance champions (obedience, rally, agility, tracking, and field).  He is a happy, smiley-faced, confident, and simply adorable boy. He is just 8.5 weeks old but has already begun walking on a leash, doing sits, stays, and downs (all without much understanding). He begins puppy K-school on Tuesday 9/7.  We have high hopes for this pup.

Sept. 2010: This is Pika as we were leaving Orinda, CA where his pappa lives with Suzanne Bria.

Here is Pika with his two daddies -- Finnegan and Larry.  Doesn't he look like each of them?

Pika learns very fast, so quickly that I do a double-take every time I issue a command and he seems preternaturally to understand what I am saying.  Like when I tell him to "get in heel position," when I indicate that he should make sharp turns with me, or stay in a down position. All of these are difficult for a grown-up dog.  But Pika can do them as a little puppy. Amazing. Simply amazing. I will bring him to a private trainer soon to see what I can do to build on his brilliance.  Here are some recent picture of the protegy (most everyone tells us that he is cute, but I say "cute doesn't last -- good does").

Pika is a handsome guy:

He is also a funny and cuddily guy:

January 20, 2011: Pika is 6.5 months and a bit more than 50 lbs. He's still a pup in many ways, but he is a handsome, well trained and (generally) well behaved dog. Here are a few pictures of him in the snow.


July 4, 2011: Pika is a year old! He is about 63 lbs. and is a handsome, biddable, loving, wonderful, and occasionally silly wonder-dog.

April 2012: Pika is a gorgeous dog who is also super at obedience and tracking.

July 2012: My favorite two guys communing with each other.

July 2012:
Pika is two years old and weighs 65.5 pounds.  He was recently awarded a CCA (certificate of conformation assessment) and will enter obedience competitions this coming year, if I find the time.