The Just Love Project 011: Charlie and the Happiness Factory

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“I told myself I wasn’t gonna adopt another dog.”

It’s okay, Justin – we all say things we don’t mean.

In his own words, longtime Chicagoan Justin Hagman is “A 50 year old truck-driving bachelor, so I’m kind of a no-nonsense guy.”

So when heading to the adoption event that ultimately brought him Charlie, he admits that, “Yeah I don’t think anyone could have stopped me anyway.”

Just two years ago, Justin lost his beloved beagle Bailey after 15 years on the open road together. Today life with Charlie might cover less miles, but there’s no doubt the companionship is just as strong. And when it comes to the joy of mornings at Montrose Dog Beach, there’s nothing nonsensical about it. It’s quite simple, in fact.  

“People tell me Mardi Gras is the happiest place on Earth. But I’m not sure,” Justin insists.

Now working a night shift, Justin and Charlie’s 8am escapes to Montrose Dog Beach are like clockwork. Pure, uninterrupted, elated sandy clockwork.

“I don’t have kids. But watching him run around and play with the other dogs is what I imagine a parent feels like,” Justin says. “It’s without a doubt the highpoint of my day.”

For Justin, that highpoint is also a daily reminder of the simple truth that he’s experienced his whole life and works to share with any willing ear.

“Life’s just better with dogs,” he says, “There’s plenty of animals out there that need a home. Whether you’re a truck driver, a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor, whatever – it’s companionship you can’t really get anywhere else.”

After describing Charlie’s insatiable need to be at a good-boy-ear-scratch’s length at all times, Justin reaches the simplest, nonsense-free description of his four-legged friend possible.

“He’s the best dog ever. But he is a little needy.” 

Aren’t we all?

Justin & Charlie’s story is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans and their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone you know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at – we’d love to hear from you!