The kids had the presentation ready to go by the time Paige and Matthew Holland got home.
The oldest son, Jake, was in sixth grade and had just learned how to make a PowerPoint presentation in school. The title: “Get us a Dog After Dad’s Inaug.”
It included all the reasons why Utah Valley University’s future first family should get a dog, including how the move hadn’t been easy on the four kids.
“They played every angle,” said Matthew Holland, president of UVU. “And then they capped it off with the final slide of, ‘how about it, Dad and Mom? Let’s get a dog after the inaug.’”
Matthew and Paige Holland decided on the spot that based on the kids’ cleverness alone, they’d agree to adding a dog to the family.
Hank, a 4-year-old Australian labradoodle, is the tail-wagging, face-licking first dog of UVU and the nemesis of ducks everywhere. At the most recent UVU party, he came in wearing reindeer antlers.
“He’s everyone’s favorite family member,” Paige Holland said. “He’s our fur baby or fur child.”
Hank has been in most of the Holland family photos since he was adopted.
“He really is part of the family,” Matthew Holland said.
But he isn’t the first dog who’s lived in the presidential house.
The first one, a little dog named Robin, wasn’t the right fit for the family. The final decision to give the dog away was made after the dog had an accident — inside the house — in front of company. The kids were upset about losing the dog, and then Danny Holland looked to his mother and asked, “Mom, when Dad dies, can we get another dog?”
The kids didn’t give up on their doggy dreams. For the next two years, they asked for a dog for every birthday and Christmas. Grace and Mitzi Holland even had a Doggy Wall of Fame in their room they filled with hundreds of pictures of dogs they cut out and put on the wall.
“I thought if we gave enough puppy eyes and used enough emotion, we could break them down,” said 15-year-old Grace. “And we did.”
The Hollands decided to do more research the second time around to find a dog that would better suit the family. They wanted one that wasn’t too large, and not too small. The dog needed to friendly and mellow, but also smart enough to train. It also needed to be hypoallergenic for Matthew Holland.
So they found Hank who was just right and provided more than enough fluff to cuddle up to.
“We used to tell people we got him at Build-A-Bear,” Grace said.
They named him Hank because, as Jake had put it at the time, he needed a tough name.
Hank’s a sweet, loving dog who has become Paige Holland’s shadow around the house and is sure to give the UVU president a big-eyed look whenever he goes to the refrigerator in the hopes of getting a snack.
He spends his day on top of the couch, or in front of a vent, or whatever new, cushy place he’s found. He’s also a fan of the TV.
“If he sees dogs on TV, then he barks and when the commercial goes away he thinks they kept going so he looks out the window,” said 12-year-old Danny.
He’s much more proficient at licking faces than he is at being a watchdog. Hank enjoys going in the car, sticking his head out the window and going on walks.
He’s even in a love triangle with two neighborhood dogs. Sadly, the one he likes doesn’t seem to be interested in him, and he hasn’t noticed the one who does have her eye on him.
The Hollands have even started a trend in their neighborhood with other homes also adding labradoodles to their families.
Paige Holland had one rule when he joined the family — that she didn’t want the dog in her bed. Hank sleeps on it every night.
She loves what he’s done for the kids.
“They come home, he is always waiting there to love them and they always have a friend in Hank,” she said.
His tag identifies him, which has come in handy when he’s out exploring.
“He’s usually pretty good about sticking around the house, but there has been a time or two when the entire campus police force has been looking for him,” Paige Holland said.
Students recognize and adore the presidential pooch and Hank is more than happy to return the love.
And even Paige Holland, who wasn’t raised with dogs like her husband was, has come to become one of Hank’s biggest fans.
“He has brought a dimension to our home that is really, really sweet and wonderful and we love and adore him,” Paige Holland said.
Even though the Hollands will leave the presidential house this summer when Matthew Holland becomes a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they hope to bring Hank with them. They’re not sure where they’re moving yet, only that it’s an English-speaking area.
The paperwork states pets are discouraged unless it’s an important reason, and Paige Holland sees the kids’ desire to keep Hank near as one.
“I’m not leaving if we can’t bring him,” Grace said.