Chewy — Introduction

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California / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography

Chewy 041118 Blog

November 4, 2004 — Fremont Older Open Space Preserve, Cupertino, California

We first saw a labradoodle in Castine, Maine on the Fourth of July, 2003. Sort of goofy looking and elegant at the same time. Jet black. Affectionate and intelligent. Patient. Gentle. Full of energy and mellow at the same time.

What kind of dog is this?

Labradoodle. Mix of standard poodle and lab. I was scratching the back of her head — base of the skull. She loved it. Her hair was like fleece. Neither my wife  — the Muse — nor I could tear ourselves away. Even the allure of char-broiled mooseburgers with bleu cheese at the core of the patty couldn’t pull us away. The Muse said, “If we’re going to get a dog, this is the exact one I want.” She was channeling my thought.

Fifty-one weeks later…

I was in Stockton at a college reunion.

The Muse was visiting her sister in Shingle Springs in the Sierra foothills. They decided they needed entertainment, so they went down to the feed store — which was sort of a community center, which says a lot about Shingle Springs.

On the bulletin board was a 3 x 5 card. “Labradoodle. Free to the right home. Male. Neutered. Two years old. Has all shots.” And a phone number. She stared. She caught her breath. She called the number. (I was in Stockton without clue number one.) The call was long. It was like a job interview. The Muse was the applicant. It was a tough interview. But it seemed to go well. She was invited for a second call.

We met at home the next evening. She told me, with a bit of trepidation. I was ecstatic.

We made the second call. It was a sad story. She had six dogs and had to lighten her canine load. She had three with behavior issues and she know no one would want them. She had to find homes for her three angels. Chewy was her favorite. She had rescued him from a neighbor who has a poodle and a lab. Chewy was an unofficial labradoodle. An F-1, as they say in the breeding world. The guy took no care at all of the pups and she rescued them. They were all in bad health and ridden with ticks. She got them all back to health and found homes for them. She kept her favorite. Chewy. Now she had to find a home for him. She’d been interviewing people for six months. None had been acceptable to her. After a long conversation, she asked if we wanted to drive up for a meeting on the coming weekend. We did. Saturday came and we made the three-hour drive.

We met in a park in Shingle Springs. Chewy was introduced. Same size as the one we’d met a year earlier. Jet black. Fleecy hair. We talked. Chewy knew something was up. He was nervous and clung to her. To us, he was diffident. He preferred not to be touched. He would just quietly move away.

After forty-five minutes or so she told us that we seemed like the right people and asked if we were interested. We were. On the way back to the parking lot, she was having a hard time keeping it together. Chewy was visibly confused. In the parking lot there was the awkward moment of Chewy trying to get into her car and being directed to ours. He was shaking. She was holding back tears. We were sort of numb.

It was 364 days after we’d first seen a labradoodle.

On the way home, the Muse tried to comfort him. He was stoic. A brave soldier. We stopped half-way to give him a chance to do his business. Not interested. Offered him a treat. No thank you.

The Muse and I discussed the name she wanted for him: Charley. She didn’t really like the name, Chewy. I argued that he’d lost his home, his human pack, his canine pack, his territory, his familiar smells. At least let’s let him keep his name. He remained Chewy.

We got home at around 6:30 p.m. Time to do your business, Chewy. No thanks. Food? No thanks. Water? A little bit, please. Thank you. We offered him a dog bed. He chose the floor. We got the feeling that in addition to his obvious unease, he was trying to be polite.

Bed time. Do your business? No thanks. My God, it’s been hours. Are you sure? I’m sure.

We slept the night.

The morning came. Outside to the designated relief area. Nothing. I got the distinct impression that he didn’t want to offend me by desecrating my ground. But Chewy, this is the place. A beat passed. Inspiration. I unbuttoned my jeans and relieved myself. He watched for a few seconds and then let go. An eternity later, he was done. He looked at me gratefully. Our first bonding moment. He did eat the breakfast we offered him.

That morning we got him a proper collar and leash and took him for a walk at the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve. There he engaged in part two of relief — but we noticed something interesting: he went far off the trail to do it. He very obviously didn’t want to dirty the trail. Being very considerate, he never failed to do this. (The photo above was taken on the same trail a few months later.)

When we got home, we again offered him the bed we’d gotten. No thanks. The floor is fine, thank you. We left the room to do other things. When we returned a while later, he was on the bed.

He was home.

(To be continued…)

(Canon PowerShot Pro 1, Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. Of all the bonding with the new dog stories I’ve heard, this is the best. And, yes: that expression does hold just a touch of goofiness.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve told a good story. What will part 2 bring?

    Your post brought back a tangential West Coast memory. In 1978 I’d flown from Austin to Portland to visit someone in Corvallis. One day at a college there I noticed an index card on a bulletin board announcing a 1963 Plymouth Valiant for sale for a few hundred dollars. The owner wanted to sell the car to someone she felt would appreciate it. On a whim I called and ended up passing the test. I cashed in my return plane ticket, bought the car, which the owner called Prince (for Prince Valiant), and took it to Tacoma, Vancouver, and Victoria before turning around and driving all the way back to Austin.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Parts two through seven: who knew? I expected only part two.

        Unfortunately my indestructible Valiant lost its “in-” a few years later when I was driving at 40 or 50 mph and an oncoming driver not far in front of me suddenly turned right across my path. He was held responsible for the accident, of course, but that didn’t save the car or my forehead (the Valiant didn’t have seat belts). The car was so old the insurance company gave me pitifully little for it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m really sorry to hear that. I’m glad you survived. If that had not happened, the Valiant would probably still be going.


  3. I’ve always appreciated that many rescue people put prospective adoption folks through some tough questioning and critiquing. As you argued about a name change, we can only imagine what these kids have been through with a succession of change all of their lives. To find a forever home is the ultimate for all of us. I understand your story, and it’s still fresh for me, missing my Mr. T so recently, but also thinking of so many of my beloved companions in my life. I look forward to reading more about your story with Chewy. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am very glad that she grilled us. We made the conscious decision not to stay in touch with her because we thought it would probably tear her to pieces. She would have been proud, however. We gave Chewy a great life, and he immeasurably enhanced ours. I decided months ago to do this series, culminating on what would have been his 18th birthday. Your heart-wrenching, and -warming, story of Mr. T reminded me that it was close to time to get started.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I admire you for taking time to collect thoughts and memories before writing Chewy’s story. I seem to need to share my emotions before I can begin to move through the grieving process. When there is a real connection and relationship with animals (of any kind), there is growth for both in the experience. It is very satisfying to find that other’s have understanding about the depth of life with other living species.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. Chewy went on to his next adventure four years ago, so I’ve had quite some time to collect thoughts. The Muse and I are both animal people. There is a commonality of spirituality and all life that makes the connection very easy and one is open to it. A very early blog post of mine is about a hummingbird who apparently recognized that I was having a hard time getting a photo of him and led my eye and camera to a perfect pose. It’s hard to believe that it was anything but a cooperative effort.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Chewy what a face and I’m partial to black dogs…Emmy Lou Harris has a great black dog rescue song too…have a joyful day Michael 🐕‍🦺🖤💫 smiles Hedy

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ……so very well written, so well said. In our B.C. Canadian neighbourhood, dogs simply don’t go about on their own. I was gardening at 7am and felt a forceful bump, sending my crouching self into the tulips, and there behind me was a large, curly, light-brown dog obviously in the mood for play, tail wagging like mad, willing to allow anyone be his best friend. It happened same place, same time for a few days before I figured out he belonged to a neighbour’s visitors, and for some reason found its way outdoors in early morning. Not a single sound did he make, but bounded about in great leaps, full of–and as large as–life itself. I was smitten, and being mastered by our Bichon, ‘Elmo’, I’m not usually taken by large breeds. I love this account of ‘Chewy’ (though, yes, at birth I’d probably have chosen ‘Charlie’, heh heh).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Three of our four beagles have been rescues. The first was dumped, the third abused and Bentley just couldn’t be cared for as he deserved. Murphy, number three, cried and cried when he was left with us. The dogs always sleep with me and he did also but cried for hours. Finally Mary Beth came in and that’s what he needed. We had to wait quite a while for Bentley. His original owner was given him as a present after losing her previous beagle. She worked twelve hours a day and there was no one to care for him. She put him up for adoption and then withdrew him. But a year later did again. We expressed our interest but she still hesitated as she did love him. Eventually that love told her what was right for Bentley. He’s home for good.

    Chewy has a sweetness about him that is unmistakable. You haven’t mentioned that but I am sure it is yet to come. And so well-behaved. Bentley has never learned to lift his leg but squats. Maybe I need to show him as you did. 😀

    Someone once said that we should be assigned a dog for life. Wouldn’t that be nice. OTOH, we have loved all four intensely and if there is a rainbow bridge where they wait, what a reunion that would be.

    Eagerly waiting to get to know Chewy better in the next chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Steve. I knew you would like this. There’s lots to tell. It didn’t take long for Chewy to start sleeping on our bed with us. Amazing how a 50 pound dog can take up 1/2 to 2/3 of a king size bed. We called him the space monster because he took up so much space. Wait till you see the skunk story. Chewy squatted when we first got him. He learned to lift his leg by watching other dogs. He learned very quickly when he considered it to be in his interest. If it he considered that it was not in his interest, it took a while. But he had exceedingly good manners, no matter what.


      • Not that I am trying to outdo you, but it is also amazing that a 25 lb dog can do the same. It’s only a queen size but there is only him and me. I have a hard time convincing Bentley to move over and not stretch out side to side. We have been lucky regarding skunks. Only Cassie, number 1, did anything with them and that was when I wasn’t paying attention while walking here. She decided to roll in some leaves which just happened to be hosting a dead half rotted skunk. Bath time!
        I follow a few photographers on YouTube. You may want to watch this video and see a spirited someone who resembles Chewy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am quite aware of the beagle sprawl. My brother-in-law has a beagle named Percy. He is wonderful. But boy does he sprawl. I will watch the video.


      • As you might imagine, as a woodland photographer I find his work very inspiring and the vlogs informative. Meg often steals the show and if you watch some others you’ll learn that she is very therapeutic for him as well. I do watch the videos for his words and wisdom but also for Meg’s enthusiasm and antics.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a rare foray into your personal life Michael, I absolutely loved your story and Chewy, it seems, is an incredible find and a perfect addition to your family. I’m sure he feels the same about you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tina. Aren’t I weird? I’m sure Chewy does feel the same about us, but unfortunately no longer on the physical plane. Stay tuned. There’s a lot more coming up.


  8. Pingback: Shoo Fly – Exploring Colour

  9. Oh I just loved this! He is so beautiful .. Hey chewy! What a story . What a pooch! I’m so pleased he is yours .. I bet he is too! Looking forward to episode 2 👏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The eyes says it all, Michael. Chewy was utterly loved by you and your family. All the dogs I have had…the friendship they offer and the unconditional love. We owe them. We owe them wonderful lives, and I know Chewy got that. Thank you for directing me to these posts – forgive me if I cry some…loving and recognizing tears though. As with children, you cannot love one of them more than the other. You love them differently.
    My Mille was the most special dog I have ever had. Eccentric, I would say. And he would never give up, never told me he wanted to go. He had many injuries (a wild one until the end), and my husband used to say he had ADHD…in the end he got diabetes, and could not be saved. In a couple of weeks it was over. Last year my children had a painter do a painting of him, standing in the water at our summerhouse, where he spent his summer days every year. Every person who met him loved him – and people at our summer house still ask about him as they remember him playing in the water. He left us 2014.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I understand, and I know you understand. I’m glad you came by and saw these posts. Any deep relationship is composed of every emotion conceivable. Yes, there is love, there is joy. There are also tears. It’s all part of life, and if you say you love life, you buy the entire package. But in the end the joy outweighs the tears by a considerable margin.


      • I must agree – you put it so well, Michael. Although, my father always had dogs and was a hunter too – but as he grew older, he stopped hunting and stopped having dogs. He told me he could not stand losing them anymore. I don’t think I will end up thinking like that…I could never live without animal company.

        Liked by 1 person

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