Once on the lam, Shaggy’s now on a short leash

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Newport — Shaggy is gaining weight, seeing better and, slowly, learning to tolerate humans.

If he gets any better, he might just lose his name.

The Newfoundland mix, who captivated western Michigan last year by eluding capture for six months, got his name from his increasingly disheveled appearance.

This photo of Shaggy was posted to the "Help Shaggy" Facebook page on Feb. 01, 2015.

Now that he’s been at an animal rescue facility in this Monroe County community for 15 months, he’s become comfortable enough with staffers to allow them to groom him.

But we’re just kidding about changing his name.

Even if he looked like Chris Hemsworth, his legion of social media followers would still call him Shaggy.

“He has definitely captured their hearts, for sure,” said Melissa Borden, owner of the Devoted Barn animal rescue facility.

Domesticating a feral animal is a long process, and Shaggy isn’t done yet.

The final step is for the chocolate, 4-foot Newfie to get used to being on a leash, Borden said.

Staffers attached a leash to him two months ago, allowing him to run around with it without anyone holding on.

They eventually will begin holding onto the leash, Borden said. Once he gets used to that, he’ll be ready to go to a foster home.

Back in western Michigan, he has a lot of folks pulling for him.

“I’m so happy,” said Grand Rapids resident Connie DeAngelis, who fell in love with the pooch during his six-month sojourn. “He deserves to find a home.”

Whenever Borden posts anything about Shaggy on the Barn’s Facebook page, it will draw 100 responses from people, mostly from western Michigan.

When Shaggy arrived at the facility last year, he was underweight and had a droopy, right eyelid.

Volunteers fattened him up to 120 pounds, and a veterinarian performed surgery that fixed the prolapsed gland causing the cherry eye.

For now, the Barn continues to keep Shaggy in the barn.

He still has enough of the old Shaggy in him that, if he got outside, he might run away, said Borden.

His days are always the same: He sleeps in his kennel, runs around the barn with other ferals, returns to the kennel to rest and, at night, runs around with his buddies again.

There’s a reason why his days never change, said Borden.

Ferals don’t like surprises, she said. Rote actions soothe their jangled nerves.

If Borden leaves for a day or two, Shaggy will reprimand her with a few, well-chosen barks upon her return.

“Everything we do is predictable,” said Borden. “We never change their daily routine.”

Another way into the skittish heart of a wild animal is food.

Think McDonalds, especially Sausage McMuffins.

And there’s another delicacy Shaggy loves.

“His Kryptonite is peanut butter,” said Borden. “He will come up to just about anyone, especially if they have something good for him.”

FDonnelly@detroitnews.com

313) 223-4186

Twitter: @francisXdonnell