"You can tell that he knows that he did something really cool," says his owner, Hailey Adair
A rescue dog who shares his owners' enthusiasm for hockey has earned fans for his excited reaction to scoring goals.
In videos posted to his TikTok and Instagram accounts, which both use the handle @darrelthedoge, Darrel can be seen happily nudging an orange ball into a net using a mini hockey stick held in his mouth.
Darrel's owner, Hailey Adair, who lives in Seattle with her husband, Nick Adair, tells PEOPLE, "He definitely knows when he scores the goal versus doesn't quite score the goal. It's absolutely adorable. You can tell that he knows that he did something really cool."
She adds, "He also just loves and lives for attention, and so whenever he scores, he automatically looks back at me, and he's like, 'Did you see what I just did?' It's the sweetest little thing."
Hailey first met Darrel in 2018 after a co-worker who was volunteering for a rescue organization in eastern Washington sent her a video of the pooch.
"He was with a whole bunch of other puppies, but he was the one puppy in the corner staring at the wall while all the other puppies were running around," she says. "He was just sitting there staring off into space. And so we saw that video, and we're like, we need that dog."
In March 2020, while Hailey and Nick quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic, they began teaching Darrel how to use a skateboard.
Darrel, who'll turn 5 in November, discovered his next sport after Hailey brought home a Seattle Kraken hockey stick and found the canine liked playing with the prop.
"He's always liked sticks in general, and so I was like, 'Okay, this is funny, let's test it out,'" she says. Soon, Darrel was practicing for a couple of minutes a day.
"It was a mentally and physically stimulating activity for him," she says. "And so we just built off of that, and slowly but surely, he started to get better and better, and he seems to just absolutely love it."
Last week, when given the choice to play with a stuffed animal or his hockey stick, he went for the stick, according to Hailey.
"I honestly think it's because it's a time that we're bonding together and a time for us to work on our communication," the pet parent says. "He really enjoys doing training in general, and this is one that he and I have that one-on-one time together, and I'm really trying to tune in and listen to him."
The pair now practice hockey for about five minutes a day. Hailey says seeing Darrel's proud reactions has been fun as he's become "pretty good" at his version of hockey.
Hailey began documenting Darrel's progress on social media a year and a half ago and says people especially love seeing his reactions to scoring a goal. He now has 172,600 followers on TikTok and 44,000 on Instagram.
"I've had people say, 'This is so wild that a dog's doing this,'" she says. "And then it's also just very sweet to see that he obviously is excited by what he can do."
She adds that there's been some debate over whether Darrel's enthusiasm is prompted more by the goal or Hailey's cheers.
"I am always back there, his biggest cheerleader, just like, 'Yes, Darrel!'" she says.
Hailey says Darrel loves a responsive audience. In fact, when they were invited on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in January to show off Darrel's hockey skills, he "wanted to go and just say hi to every single person in the crowd."
"Nothing excites him more than excited people," she says.
Hailey says Darrel’s latest challenge is learning basketball. He’ll jump on her back and shoot the ball into a basket at the top of the fridge. The pet also has a basketball hoop in the backyard, and Hailey thinks Darrel’s next hobby could be knocking a lightweight ball into the net.
"He is always wanting to be the center of attention, but at the same time, he's so compassionate and so focused on making people feel special," she says. "I know that sounds really weird, but he lights up the room when he comes in, and every single person he's ever met has said he's a one-of-a-kind dog. He's so just supportive. He's literally always by my side."
She adds, "It's really truly just a sense of comfort that he gives off whenever he's around."
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