“Shaggy”, the animal rescue people called him.  He didn’t have a name.  That is what the animal shelter called him while they were taking care of him.

He also didn’t have a collar, or tags, or a history.  He was a little homeless dog, found wandering the streets in Northeast Philadelphia.

Sometime in May 2013, he was captured by Philadelphia Animal Control.  Within 12 hours, they anesthetized him and neutered him.  Then they shipped him to Phoenixville, where a local animal shelter took care of him for a month.

—–

We had been looking for a dog for several months.

Friends who knew that we were looking, told us about an upcoming animal rescue event at a pet store in Pottstown.  We were skeptical, but we went anyway.  It was a “friend of a friend” situation.  Theresa knew someone, who knew someone, who volunteered at this place.  And they had a little guy that we might be interested in.

—–

“Shaggy” was a Schnoodle.  Part Schnauzer, part Poodle.  But no one really knew much about him, because he was a homeless dog.

He saw me.  He ran over to me, and jumped onto my leg.  I was kind of surprised, really.  I was looking at some other dogs, so my first memory of him was when he was trying to climb up on me.  I picked him up, and I could tell he needed some help.   His fur was totally matted.  Crusty, and kind of hard.  Sad, really.  He didn’t smell very good.  He was shaking, and making whimpering sounds, and he held on for dear life.

I didn’t put him down for an hour.

We walked around the pet store together-something I’ve never done before.  I asked him if he liked me.  He seemed to, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  This had to be good for him, as well as for us.

Somewhere during that pet store walk, that little guy turned into Darwin.

—–

Charles Darwin was an evolutionary biologist.  Born in 1809, died in 1882.

He is best known for his Theory of Evolution, described in the 1859 book, “On The Origin of Species”.

He once said ““It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.”

—–

Imagine being 16 pounds, and homeless.  Imagine surviving on the mean city streets, until you are captured by Animal Control.  Someone injects you with something, and the next thing you know, you’re covered in bandages.  Then you’re shipped out to Phoenixville.

That is a lot of change.

That is a lot to survive.

You really have to be a survivor to live through that.

—–

Somewhere along the way, we decided that our little survivor deserved a name that described his ordeal.  “Darwin” sounded right.

So “Shaggy” became Darwin.  And he became ours, and we became his.

On June 8, 2013, Darwin found a forever home.

—–

Darwin has some issues.  He is a damaged little puppy.  Living on the streets must do that to you.  He does not like other men, at all.  He doesn’t really like women much either, but he hates men.  Other than me.

If the truth be told, Darwin loves 4 people, and really does not like the other 7 billion of you very much.

I know what you’re thinking…”he needs some training”.

He has had training.  Courses, classwork, he even does the homework. He reads books, he takes online courses.  He passes the online exams.   But to no avail.  Darwin has a hyperactive “Kill Visitors” lobe in his brain, and we can’t seem to turn it off.

—–

On DD2 (Darwin Day Two), I took him to a local place for some grooming.  They had no openings for a week.  And then they took a look at him, and said “but we can’t let him go home like that”.  So Darwin got a total body shave, and a bath.  And he looked so tiny when he was done.

They cleaned out his ears, and his paws.  God, thank you for the ladies who worked on him.

I think they shaved a pound of matted stuff off of his little body.

Then we went home, and we celebrated.

—–

If you have a dog, or if you love dogs, you’ll understand the following questions.

How can such a little dog take up so much room on a Queen-sized bed?

How can such a little dog make such smelly gas?

How can such a little dog, make such a big impact on us?

—–

Our family likes nicknames.

We have nicknames for each other.

We have nicknames for ourselves.

We have nicknames for our sports teams, our neighborhood, classmates, colleagues, relatives….

Darwin must have 20 nicknames.

We have nicknames for when he’s good.

We have better nicknames for when he’s bad.  If I walk in the house, and Theresa says “YOU go deal with Mr. Bratty Pants!”, well, I know someone is in big trouble.

—–

Darwin has an argyle sweater.

He looks so handsome in his argyle sweater.  When he has it on, the neighborhood French Poodles swoon.  They say “ooh la la, Monsieur Darwin- you look so chic!”

People react the same way.

—–

We have a collection of squeaky toys.  Dragons, snakes, hedgehogs. (Do hedgehogs squeak?)

I like to walk around the house, and hear squeaking sounds.  Those sounds tell me “all is right with the world”.

—–

If you aren’t a dog person, you probably won’t understand any of this..

If you aren’t a dog person, you probably stopped reading this 3 pages ago.

I did not expect to find a friend when I went to the pet store in Pottstown two years ago.

I did not expect to increase the size of our family two years ago.  A full-fledged member of our family.

He counts in our decisions as much as I do.

Really.

If you’re thinking “it’s just a dog”…then you don’t understand.

Hal

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