Dahlonega’s adopted mascot has gone on to the big Golden Pantry in the sky.
Nugget, the gas station dog, was put to sleep by Dr. David Orton Sunday evening as she suffered from a series of ailments associated with canine old age.
It was an adventurous life for the mixed breed dog who, until she was adopted by Michelle and Craig Codrington, was considered the community pet of a whole host of animal-loving locals.
“She was Dahlonega’s town dog,” said Michelle. “She really belonged to everybody.”
The Codrington’s took in Nugget in 2011 after an animal-at-large complaint was filed against the dog.
Prior to that, Nugget had gained the admiration of many as she displayed impressive street smarts and an uncanny knack for navigating crosswalks more efficiently that many downtown tourists.
Locals took turns preparing often extravagant meals for the dog, whose home base was usually in front of the Golden Pantry convenience store. She was the subject of a front page story in The Dahlonega Nugget and even had a Facebook page that amassed more than 2,000 fans.
Many of those fans united in 2011 when a citizen’s complaint to the city meant that the dog might have to be impounded.
City Hall was flooded with calls. “Free Nugget” T-shirts were printed. A protest was organized.
“It says a lot about our town,” said Michelle. “It was just an amazing thing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a town come together like that before.”
Sheriff Stacy Jarrard and Lumpkin County Animal Control officers never allowed Nugget to see the inside of a kennel though, as she was went straight to the home of Michelle and Craig.
Later that year Nugget even went on to serve as the Grand Marshal of the Gold Rush Days Parade.
Though a harsh early life made Nugget timid around crowds, Michelle said she saw her dog open up that day as they made their way around a packed Public Square.
“I was so worried because there were people on both sides of the road and I was afraid she would freak out,” she said. “She did the opposite. Her tail went up and she was as proud as a little peacock. She was like ‘These are my peeps.’”
Mayor Gary McCullough said that the warm relationship between town and dog really revealed the true nature of Dahlonega.
“We’ve always been a caring town,” said McCullough. “Not only for animals, but for people as well. I’m proud of us for being that way. It’s a good way to be.”
Michelle said she believes Nugget felt the same way about her many caretakers as well.
“I really believe that she in her own way was very grateful,” she said. “And I think she understood beyond a dog’s understanding what this town was doing for her. I don’t think there’s ever going to be another dog like Nugget. She was one of a kind. And we loved her dearly.”