“ADOPT ME” was the sign that caught the eye of Chestnut Hill’s Lisa Howe. It was printed on a vest-type garment worn by a cute little dog with unusually big ears.
“Citizen Canine” is a column that will honor a local dog in each article. If you know of a dog we should spotlight, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
“ADOPT ME” was the sign that caught the eye of Chestnut Hill’s Lisa Howe while she was dropping off Michelle Delmar, her employee, at her apartment complex near Allens Lane in Mt. Airy back in mid-2019. It was printed on a vest-type garment worn by a cute little dog with unusually big ears. A woman was walking him right in front of Michelle’s apartment building. Lisa parked the car and got out with Michelle, and they inquired about this adorable, adoptable canine.
The dog walker was Jessica, a Ph.D. neuroscientist from Germany who came to Philly to take a job in spinal cord research at Drexel University. Jessica had seen a photo of a dog with extremely large ears on the website of ACCT (Animal Care & Control Team) Philly, an animal shelter in North Philadelphia, and volunteered to foster him. She then used her vacation time to stay home with the dog and get him acclimated to her.
But she ran out of vacation days, and the dog barked away the long hours while she was at work, causing apartment neighbors to complain. She told Lisa and Michelle that she was frantically looking for someone to adopt the dog and figured that the vest would get attention.
Lisa took a picture of the dog and posted it onto her Facebook page, as she frequently does with dogs in need of forever homes. A Facebook friend, John Derr, publisher of the Chestnut Hill Local, took one look at the photo and knew what to do. He showed Lisa’s post to his colleague, Len Lear, features editor at the Local.
“I knew that Len is crazy for dogs, so I showed him Lisa’s post,” said John. “This particular dog, because of his ears, just struck me as a dog Len would love.”
Len knew who Lisa was because she is co-owner (with Georgia Doyle) of Artisans on the Avenue, a store then just two doors down from the Local's office on Germantown Avenue. (Artisans has since moved from 8440 to 8434 Germantown Ave.) Coincidentally, Lisa’s husband, Art Howe, had been Len’s boss at another newspaper in Montgomery County many years earlier.
“I thought, ‘This was meant to be,’” said Len, who went to Artisans and asked Lisa to give the contact information for Jessica. There was a slight glitch. Lisa reached into her huge purse and tried to retrieve the piece of paper that she had written Jessica’s number on, but she could not find it.
“She told me to come back the next day at the same time,” said Len. Lisa found the slip of paper at home and then gave it to Len the next day. Calling it a treasure, Len has held onto it ever since.
It turned out that Len and his wife, Jeanette, live within a five-minute drive of Jessica in West Mt. Airy, so Jessica took the dog to meet Len and Jeanette at their home. They immediately fell in love with the big-eared pooch, of course, and Jennifer helped them adopt him from ACCT Philly.
And that is how the dog came to live with Len and Jeanette in August of 2019. It was within a month after Lisa and Michelle first laid eyes on him. Len and Jeanette named him Rocky because the tiny (nine-pound) mixed-breed was found on the street with no identification – no chip or collar or name tag. And they thought he must be a tough fighter like Rocky Balboa to survive on the mean streets of North Philly, where he was found.
It took no time for Rocky to adjust to his new home. “He hopped onto the couch and onto our laps,” said Jeanette. “He loves Len, who can do no wrong, according to Rocky.”
Based on the condition of his teeth, the vet guessed that Rocky was seven years old. The vet said that he was a terrier mix. Len thinks that Rocky could have gotten his big ears from a Papillon parent.
Len and Jeanette were so thrilled to have Rocky that they gave Lisa and Michelle gift certificates from the Chestnut Hill Business Association that could be used at any business member. They have also made donations to ACCT Philly.
About Rocky’s new home, “It was a love story from the get-go with the three of them,” said Lisa, “and Michelle and I are such dog lovers. It was so rew