Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bring to you some bad news. A brave soldier, a God among men, a being so great that he was not even human, has passed on. The Hero that was, and the Legend that is Nugget "Nugs" Nickjay. At the tender age of 13 and 3 quarters, approximately 96 in human years, our old friend and confidant has moved on to his final resting place, better known as "Doggie Heaven". Now, if you are receiving this notification, it is because in some way, direct or indirect, this unicorn-esque creature has touched your life.
It all started back in 95. My folks made the mistake of taking my sister and I to a breeder's house. "I'll walk him every day!", "I'll feed him and give him baths too!" were the lies that I shouted as we searched for the perfect pet. Meanwhile, my dad stood nearby with a convincing head nod and smile. It was hard for me to know back then that he was really thinking "Oh God, am I really gonna have to take care of this thing for 15 fucking years?" Yes dad, you are. So we had narrowed it down to 2 candidates, Nugget vs Stupid Ugly Dog that my sister wanted. My mom was going to call for them, and the first one to run to her would then forever rank ahead of me on the Nickjay Family Ladder of Importance. Emotions were high as the dogs took off. Stupid Ugly Dog made it to my mom in seconds, Nugget navigated his way to a shaded area and found it an appropriate place and time to take a nap. I was devastated, but this was just a little hiccup. Clearly, Stupid Ugly Dog would not be coming home with us, that's not the way I would have it. I ran over to Nugget and proclaimed my love for him loud enough for all to hear (I cried like a little bitch until my parents gave in and let me have him)! Team Me/Nugget 1, Team Sister/Stupid Ugly Dog 0.
Once he found his new home, he fit right in. Not unlike his owner (myself), he led a rigorous lifestyle of laying around, eating, watching TV, eating, occasionally peeing outside, eating, occasionally throwing up, eating, occasionally wetting the bed, eating (ok, so his lifestyle was identical to that of his owner). He loved Nerf Wars (if you don't know what a Nerf War is, try going back in time to your childhood and enjoying it) just as much as the next guy. Teams were a bit lopsided when it was Jadidian, Rzymek, Cola (childhood friends) and myself vs. him, but he didn't seem to mind. He was a team player. Well trained from the beginning, he would even bring his owner the remote control. He might put a few bite marks in it first, run around the house several times, and insist that his owner chase him down and pry it from his gator-tight lockjaw grip, but he had good intentions. The remote was for a pay-per-view black box that his family was using illegally anyways, so in a way, by destroying the remote, he was just fighting crime (go fuck yourself McGruff).
And let's all tip our hats to the lad, 96? Wow! I never thought he'd make it passed his owner's High School days. My mom always jokes about the things that Nugget could probably tell her (which he wouldn't, because of course he always followed the strict guy code of "bros before hos"), but his silence allowed so many great memories to be made. If not for his code of ethics and cooperation, many of us would have been completely and utterly fucked, doggy style. Whether he was witnessing a nervous 14 year old boy try to impress a bunch of girls by taking his first shot of Tequila, only to spit it all over the wall, the girls, and himself (this man graduated from an ivy league school and now works for a very high-powered consulting firm, go figure), or watching his owner find out the hard way that if you replace too much of the vodka in the freezer with water, it will in fact freeze, thus foiling the original plan of inconspicuous consumption (this man later graduated from a state university, maybe not ivy league, but definitely not community college), he never lost his cool. Even when a tired (passed out) High School pal of his would steal his bed at night, would Nugget bark to wake him up? No way. Would he gnaw at his foot? Hardly. Instead, he would simply nestle up beside (on top of) him and gently lick his face (this man happens to be an up and coming Tulane Law student). When his owner would repeatedly trip over him night after night while fidgeting around in the kitchen at 2 in the morning because of hunger which I'm sure was due to natural causes, would he bark or growl in rage? Of course not! In fact, he would join his owner in enjoying a taste of whatever masterpiece he had so gracefully (drunkenly) created.
Some 8 years ago, during a period better known as "The Sophomore Haze", not only was Nugget a great friend to have, but he also doubled as a superb party host. Greeting people at the door (sniffing their asses), entertaining (wagging his tail), showing off his talents (lapping up spilt beer), and if that wasn't enough, if we ran out of cups, he would offer up his dog bowl in a split second (as long as he got first dibs)! And man oh man was he a heart throb, while at the same time managing to remain humble as pie. He would listen to girls drone on and on about how cute he was and how much they loved him (this particular girl is the only person to speak more human talk to Nugs than my mother, she now resides in Dunedin, Florida and goes to nursing school), even if all he actually wanted to do was lick his crotch and go to sleep. He had a heart of gold. It's a miracle that he was always still eager (able) to wag his tail through the years, having had it slammed in the door multiple times by kids who were a little under the weather (too high to function). Although at times, Nugs may have been equally as high, and I know that he, being a man of principle, would probably be the first to share the blame.
Even when his owner would sneak out, practically every night, not once did he bark. Now some will claim this is because he barely ever barked, and ultimately lost the ability to bark, or that he would sleep more deeply than a college kid on New Year's Eve, but this is not the case. Nugget's silence was for his owner's safety. He knew that if he made any noise and awoke anybody who really didn't need to be awaken, that his owner would in fact catch a vicious grounding. When his owner returned home one night, too tired (inebriated) to open the door, he actually jumped up and pawed it open! And if he had opposable thumbs, I'm willing to bet he would have been holding a cup of coffee for his owner. But he wasn't always silent, especially when he feared his owner's life to be in danger! So many times his owner would be enjoying a cocktail, or perhaps a California cigarette, on the back porch. The instant Nugs heard the garage door open, he would rush out back to alert his owner that figures of authority had arrived. This gave his owner just the right amount of time put his cell phone next to his ear and alert the curious authority figure(s) that he "gets better reception outside". Now if only it was as simple to explain the popcorn in the microwave, the bowl of cereal on the counter, the bagel bites in the oven, and the opened bag of carrots which appeared to have been dipped in marinara sauce before eaten.
One night, his owner decided to have a little too much fun (drink beyond excess), sneak out, wreck his car, and park it back in its original spot. It was actually Nugs' idea to go with the "somebody stole it, wrecked it, and brought it back" alibi. Although not his best idea, it was way better than that of his owner's, which sounded something like "Uh, I don't know what happened, I was sleeping". By 2004, at the ripe age of 10, Nugget was a master of deception, and a veteran partyer. Fearing that his dog's alcoholism and slight marijuana addiction may in fact turn into a full blown coke habit, his owner decided it would be best to move out and let "the Nug" (his street name) get clean. Yes mom and dad, you finally understand why I went to college. It was not so I could further my education and become a success in this world, or so that I could entangle myself in many compromising situations with promiscuous girls who could hardly be categorized as sanitary, it was so our beloved Nugget could kick his habits. And he did! At the age of 70, he had cleaned up his act, going cold turkey since the day his owner left.
His final years were his finest years. With his drinking problem tamed, Nugs went back to the simpler life of eating, sleeping, eating, watching TV, eating, sleeping. As for going to the restroom, at his age there was really no need to go outside. Some may argue that he lost control of his bladder and his bowels, I beg to differ. The man was clearly making a statement. I mean really, if you're 80 something years old, and somebody tells you when and where to go to the bathroom, I think you'd shit right on their floor as well. And by age 90, you have earned the right to piss wherever and on whatever you please! Hell, some of you (us) have been doing it on occasion (often) since High School. Who are we to judge?
Unfortunately, the time had come for our gracious companion to leave this world behind. Pain-free and happy, he went to a better place. He is sharing a cocktail (it's ok to start again in Doggie Heaven) and a laugh with the likes of other animal greats such as, Thunder (perhaps not in Doggie Heaven), Rebel, Mookey, and the kindergarten class hamster that passed on because I thought the clear ball he walked around in was a pool toy. And you better believe he will be the first one at the gate, with a bottle of Andre in his paw, a limo cap on his head, and a sign in his hand that reads "Duke, Cleo, Nikki, Welcome to the Party!" So friends and family, next time you pick up a drink, pour a bit out and share a memory about a great friend of mine and a great friend of yours! My Dog, My Hero.
NUGGET "NUGS" NICKJAY Sept 1st, 1995 June 1st, 2009