Citizen Canine: Comet, a Magnet for Community

by Barbara Gaines Winkelman
Posted 7/9/21

When thinking about adopting a dog, Chestnut Hill’s Daryn Ray was sure she did not want a husky.

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Citizen Canine: Comet, a Magnet for Community

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When thinking about adopting a dog, Chestnut Hill’s Daryn Ray was sure she did not want a husky. After all, the American Kennel Club recommends that huskies get at least two hours of daily exercise.

Back in 2018, when Daryn was living in Los Angeles, she was obsessed with huskies. She watched husky videos and read all she could about them. But what she read caused her some concern.

“I was really nervous about how much work a husky would need,” she said.

So she and her then-partner ruled out adopting a husky. But when they entered an LA County shelter toward the end of 2018, something changed. They saw someone from the shelter walking a ten-month-old husky mix on a leash. He did not seem difficult at all. That was Comet.

 “We decided to meet him in their meeting room. He was immediately so sweet. He put both paws around my shoulders and was licking my face and was so cute, and we fell in love.”

Daryn learned that Comet had been taken to the shelter twice.

“First, he got brought in as a stray and then somebody adopted him and they brought him back, and they said he was just in the yard, and not let in the house. I just don’t think they had the time or energy for him. (His) behavior issues were probably from boredom. He dug constantly and killed small animals.”

The American Kennel Club has reported an increase of huskies in shelters since the HBO series “Game of Thrones” aired. People who admire the Siberian huskies in the show purchased them as pets only to realize that they do not have the wherewithal to take care of them.

Luckily, Daryn was able to properly care for Comet.

“It takes a lot of energy to take care of him, but it’s definitely manageable because I work from home,” said Daryn.

Daryn is a magazine illustrator, and her work has been in The EconomistPlayboyVice and fashion publications. 

Comet has not manifested problem behavior. He’s so gentle that Daryn actually has videos of him watching baby bunnies in her yard.

“He loves it. It’s like watching TV. He doesn’t touch them.”

In LA, Comet “was like a mini celebrity,” Daryn explained. “People would stop me to ask to take a selfie with him and store owners would always ask that I bring him inside, even when I warned them about the shedding. Our apartment was close to a park where he had lots of doggy friends.”

In September 2019, Daryn moved from LA to Philadelphia. “Living in Los Angeles was an exciting experience, but I felt isolated. It was much better after I adopted Comet, but I still didn’t feel completely at home there.”

Daryn was born in Chestnut Hill Hospital and grew up mostly in Montgomery County. She was going to miss the dog community in L.A. and had no idea if she would find anything similar in Philadelphia.

“I was a little bit nervous when I moved. I thought I was giving that up,” Daryn said.

Daryn found a dog community on the very first day that she moved to Chestnut Hill, when she took Comet to the pet store, The Bone Appetit, on Germantown Avenue. 

Once inside, Comet started to “talk.“ Huskies make a distinctive throaty, whining-howling sound that Bone Appetit groomer Tara Mattis immediately recognized.

“She came out from the back and told me, ‘You should join our group!’” recalled Daryn.

The group is the “Husky Mafia” that has been forming in different iterations of husky owners and their huskies in northwest Philadelphia since 2016. Husky owners seem to find each other in the community. Wendy Ward, who owns a husky named Ekko, also found the group through connections at The Bone Appetit.

“It’s serendipitous with the pet shop as the nexus,” explained Tracy Gardner, who owns a husky named Taiga.

On Saturdays, the husky owners and their huskies hike together for hours in the Wissahickon. Currently, there is a seven-dog contingency from Chestnut Hill and a six-dog one from Lafayette Hill.

 “It’s an incredible social (experience). The people get as much out of it as the dogs do,” added Gardner.

Daryn and Comet have made contacts far and wide. When “Mare of Easttown” was filming in Pastorius Park, Kate Winslet approached Daryn and Comet, together with Wendy and Ekko, to admire the huskies. She said that she wanted to pet them, but could not because she was in the middle of filming.

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