On October 19, 2003 the "heart" of our family passed away. During his life Dickens touched each of us in ways that are even now hard to explain. Dickens' story is a tapestry that weaves his life and the lives of our other boys with that of our family over the last fourteen years. Our connection with Dickens was spiritual...it was that powerful. Life's greatest secrets and lessons are revealed by living every day with a companion animal. We hope to honor the many gifts he gave us, and to encourage everyone that reads this to value the life of all companion animals. Care for those entrusted to you and contribute in whatever way possible to your local shelter so others might live.     

He chose us.
 On January 2, 1990 we were shopping for a refrigerator at Greengate Mall near Greesnburg, Pa. Actually Maureen was shopping for a refrigerator. Shelly & I were browsing in the Deb-Mar pet store. From the bottom row of carefully stacked cages a little dog stood up and began waging his tail and pressing against the bars, desperately hoping we would see him. We did....and as I bent down to offer the puppy my hand he almost seemed to be saying "OK let's go home...you found me". He was cute...what puppy isn't...but in an unusual way. You could tell he was part terrier...but he looked as though he'd been "assembled" from spare parts. Deb-Mar offered dogs of mixed breeding from local shelters and private homes.  We already had two dogs...Hector and Scout. Maureen would never allow a third. So we walked on and the puppy again laid down, ignoring all the other shoppers. As we passed his cage to leave the store he again leapt to his feet, pressing against bars and waging his tail. He seemed sure we were coming back for him. But instead we simply said goodbye and left the store. I found Maureen exiting a collectibles store. She had given up the search for a refrigerator and was now looking to add to her Department 56, Dickens Village Collection.  Of course we were only politely interested. I insisted she come to see the puppy. As we entered the pet store we could see him curled up in a ball in his cage, ignoring the activity. As soon as he saw us he again rose to his feet, frantically waging his tail. "Yes, he's cute but we don't need another dog." The discussion was "pitched", but for the moment Maureen's logic prevailed and we left....much to the total disbelief of "our" little terrier. As we drove away from the mall, I persisted...I really felt this little guy was supposed to be with us. It only took a few minutes before Maureen gave in...."Ok, let's go back and get him". "But I get to name him" Maureen said .."and since I didn't get my Department 56 collectible, this puppy will be my Dickens". The name was perfect. My heart raced as I turned around and drove frantically back to Deb-Mar. He just had to still be there. What would we do if he were gone?  Of course he was still there, curled up in his cage ignoring the holiday whirlwind of activity...until he saw us. And when he did, he sprung to his feet and as the clerk opened the cage door, he walked into our lives....forever changing our entire family and the lives of our other companion animals.  

Receipt from Deb-Mar


Dickens with Scout shortly after joining our family

Maureen & Dickens asleep

Our little "pack" now included thirteen year old Hector, two year and a half year old Scout and of course Dickens. When Scout joined our family in 1987, our veterinarian had assured us that the young blood and activity of puppies would be good for the aging Hector. He was right. It's as though we had given Hector a purpose...teach the "youngsters". Hector thrived in that role until his passing in 1992 at the age of fifteen.

Scout, Maureen, Dickens & Hector January 1990


In the spring of 1990, the "Dickens" persona began to emerge. 

Dickens' philosophy was simple; everyday was the best day of his life. There was never enough time for mischief, play, barking and being around his "human" family. Dickens had a way of "attaching" himself to his everyone he met....canine and human alike. He bonded with Scout immediately. When Beamer joined the family in 1991, Dickens' role became that of an older brother. Beamer followed him everywhere. 

Is he OK?
Dickens never followed the routines of our family or the pack. At first we thought he might be...well "slow".  As a very active puppy he was constantly bumping his head…had he hurt himself… permanently?  He just didn't like to do what the other dogs seemed to do instinctively. He decided at an early age there was no need to go outside to answer a "call of nature" especially when the weather was bad. After all there were so many marking opportunities inside the house where it was warm and dry. After many exasperating months and several trips to the vet to make certain he was OK,  Dickens finally accepted “house-training”. Still, he just didn’t seem to understand simple instructive commands like “come”, “sit” or “stay”. He just wasn’t bright….or so we thought.





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