Meet Nigel

At the end of August, before Hurricane Irma, I received a text message from a dog park friend asking if I’d like to look at a couple of Golden Retriever puppies. She said they’d been bought by a couple in Boca Raton, who realized they couldn’t care for the pups properly because they worked so many hours. So on a Sunday afternoon, I met Caren Griffin at the home of local woman who was trying to find homes for the dogs.

I was instantly taken by Nigel’s cool, calm demeanor in a household with three rowdy dogs. He climbed into my lap and if he’d been able to purr, he would have. His name then was Winston – didn’t fit him. Caren, who owns three dogs, was looking for a dog for her grandchildren and chose the other dog, now named Sunny.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a puppy. Nika was our last pup. We got her in 2011, when she was just six weeks old. Nigel, as we eventually named him, was 10 weeks when we brought him home. At first, Noah didn’t seem to understand who he was or what he was doing here.

During Nigel’s first week or two with us, we were hit by Hurricane Irma. Rob and I were able to watch some of the hurricane on our back porch, with the dogs. In between train bands, Nigel bounded outside to do his business and collected avocados that had flown off our tree and into the pool and the area around it. The wind scared him, but the rain didn’t bother him.

When we lost power for 36 hours, Noah and Nigel were miserable together. The heat and humidity were extreme and they were constantly panting and looking for cooler spots in the house. Once we got the generator going, they laid in front of the freezer, hoping we’d open the door, or sprawled in front of the floor fan.

In the days since then, Nigel follows Noah around, doing whatever he does. There does seem to be a teaching by example here. When Noah chases the Frisbee, so does Nigel. When Noah pees, Nigel mimics. When Noah follows Rob outside while he’s mending our broken yard fence, Nigel trails after him.

Noah now plays with him, chasing him around the front yard, knocking him down, running his teeth through Nigel’s fur.Here’s Noah, tryingf to tech Nigel about SQUIRRELS.

He’s still not fully house trained, but hey, he’s getting there. Meanwhile, Caren’s grandkids are ecstatic about Sunny coming into their lives and we’re going to get the two bros together for a catch up.

During all of this, we were trying to find a home for a neighbor’s German Shepherd who, for the eight months of his life, had been chained to a tree in her backyard or to an even shorter leash in the garage. The day that Irma approached us, the shepherd escaped and came tearing into our yard, so ecstatic to be free that she ran around in circles, lapped haphazardly at the bowl of water we put out, at the food, and then ran around in more circles. She was so starved for attention and affection that I kind of lost my mind and marched next door and told the owner off. I regret that.

But this was an ongoing issue. Neighbors have called Animal Care and Control on this man, the Humane Society, and he continued to keep this shepherd chained to a tree in his backyard. We threw the dog treats over the fence, she knew our voices, so the day she escaped, she knew where to come.

I’m delighted to say she has now been adopted by a family with two kids and another dog, where she’ll have a yard and the freedom to roam and sniff and be a dog. This evening, Noah and Nigel went outside and up to the fence and barked at the shepherd to respond – and heard only silence.

Look at this face, Nigel damp after getting hosed off at the dog park:


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7 Responses to Meet Nigel

  1. Carol McElheney says:

    My first dog after college was a Golden Retriever, back in 1974 when they were rare! I’m into dog sports and I’d take her to a show and there would be 5 or 6 dogs there; now there are 25 or 30! I have Bouviers des Flandres now. They are rare and cool dogs; kind of a giant Scotty, or a Dobie with a Poodle coat. A dog who retrieves avocados? Can I borrow him?

  2. C.J. says:

    P.S. Lauren, there’s an older couple here in our little city who share their lives with a Golden. Her name is Rainbow….appropriate, I absolutely believe, for her dedicated purpose that she, herself, seems to have chosen. Rainbow goes to hospitals, to nursing homes, and to Hospice facilities, and showers love onto the patients.The faces of the sick and dying humans light up whenever they see her coming through the door. She seems to intuitively understand exactly how to ‘treat’ each patient; those who need to be very gently touched, and those who need more and stronger interaction. She also intuitively seems to somehow instinctively perceive when a patient is near transition, and she will very softly lay her sweet chin on a hand, an arm, some available limb of the patient and stay very still, gazing into their eyes whether they are open or closed. When she does this, the caregivers and the family members allow her to remain with that patient until he or she has crossed over. There seems to be some kind of ‘language’ passing between the patient and Rainbow, and her presence comforts them.
    Every time I see a Golden, I am reminded of Rainbow….such a precious, precious gift
    she is.

  3. C.J. says:

    OMG, such a beautiful story with such a happy ending/BEGINNING! When the commercial comes on the TV that is sponsored by the SPCA, showing photos of the homeless and mistreated animals, I have to mute the TV and close my eyes and ask my hubby to tell me when it’s over. I simply can’t bear it. If I lived on a farm or in the country, I’d no doubt have ‘herds’ of animals! Nigel is precious, and Noah is raising him! Forgive me, please, for going off-subject for a moment. I don’t use Twitter or Facebook. Since we were directly hit by Hurricane Irma, our Comcast electronics have been iffy. Several email friends have told me my emails aren’t reaching them. I sent the MacGregors a lengthy email….too lengthy to put here on the blog….about the emotional lives of our non-human companions on the planet. Also for Trish and Rob to watch for a little book from Amazon to arrive in their snailmail box. Don’t know if those emails made it thru. Some are vanishing into cyberspace. Anyway, I hope you’ll both love the book as much as I did! It enthralled and fascinated me….I purchased my copy in 1974, and was shocked to see it is still available! So, Trish and Rob, ENJOY IT!
    BTW, how is Nika doing with her new “brother”?

  4. lauren raine says:

    So cute! If I ever got a dog (and with 5 cats, unlikely)……but still, it would be a Golden Retriever, or a Labrador. By the way, someone told me that the reason they don’t train Golden Retrievers to be police drug sniffing dogs is not because they’re not intelligent, but because they’re too intelligent – they just don’t always chose to follow orders.

  5. DJan says:

    I simply love this story, and the pictures! Oh, how cruel people can be to these gentle and affectionate creatures. I’m so glad to learn the shepherd has a new home.