By Daniel Mahoney
In March 2010, a group of University of Scranton students devoted the better part of a Saturday to walking the dogs at the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter. These students were members of the University’s accounting major club, and the day at the Shelter was one of their “service activity” days in which they take time out of their own busy schedules to volunteer with a local not-for-profit organization. As the faculty moderators of that student organization, my friend and colleague, Professor Brian Carpenter, and I showed up to help the students with their dog walking and to offer our support to their worthy cause. Before proceeding, I must note that I come from a family of dog lovers. My siblings and their spouses, and yes, my own wife and I, are all people who hold a tremendous amount of love and respect for animals, dogs in particular. Thus, when I appeared at the Shelter that morning, I knew there was a good chance that at least one of the dogs would steal my heart away. My wife had cautioned me about this threat before I left our home, and since we already had two other dogs at the time, the prospect of bringing home a third one seemed more than a bit daunting. Still, it’s hard to walk away from someone (even a stranger) who needs you, and I knew that each and every dog I would encounter would be very much in need of a good home. To my surprise, I was quite resilient during the first couple of hours. Along with all the rest of the University of Scranton people, I walked quite a number of dogs that day. While I wanted to take each one of them home, I convinced myself that each dog would find the right home and that my wife and I were plenty busy with the two we already had. However, toward the end of the day, “it” happened. A young couple drove into the parking lot and exited their car carrying an adorable little dog. While I’m more of a lab kind of guy, the little dog had a look about him that just seemed to be calling out to me. I approached the couple and struck up a conversation. They introduced the dog as “Squeaky” and stated that they could no longer keep him in their home as their newborn baby was displaying an apparent allergic reaction. “Well, we can’t have that,” I thought, “but this little guy needs a healthy environment, too.” With each passing second, I could feel my heart and mind conspiring in such a way that left me with just one course of action. I told them that I would talk with my wife, Elizabeth, and keep them apprised of our plans regarding Squeaky. After bidding farewell to my students and colleague, I returned home to share the experience with my wife, Elizabeth. She, of course, wanted to know all about him. I explained that he is a “dorky”. Naturally, she didn’t recognize that breed, so I explained that, as best as I could tell, he is a mix between a dachshund and a yorkie – a dorky. Within minutes, she was immediately on board with the idea of adopting the little guy. By the next morning, we had arranged to adopt Squeaky. I called the young couple to let them know that they no longer had to worry about what was to become of him. He would now be a member of our family, and I assured them that Squeaky would receive a lot of love and excellent care. Before long, we were able to take him home and introduce him to PJ (our little sheltie) and Candy (our rather large black lab). There were the awkward moments, but all in all the introductions went rather well. There was, however, one issue that commanded immediate attention – Squeaky’s name. We just didn’t like it, plain and simple. I had always wanted a dog named “Gus” and, in the little dorky’s case, the name just seemed to fit. Elizabeth agreed. “He looks like a Gus,” she said. OK, another issue had been addressed. About three years ago, we had to have PJ put down, but Candy and Gus are still very much with us. In fact, we’ve since adopted another beautiful Griffin Pond animal, a totally bonkers lab mix whom we named “Cookie”. (I now realize that “Kooky” would have been a more fitting name for this loveable lunatic, but that’s a story for another day). Suffice it to say that Gus settled in very quickly and that he is now a very happy dog, much like Candy and Cookie. I don’t know whether it was fate or just pure happenstance that brought Gus and me together that day four years ago, but I do know it was a meeting that proved hugely beneficial to him and to my family. We love the little guy, and he’s a deliriously happy little dorky. All introductions should have such a warm and happy outcome.