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Letter: My guardian angel

a tribute to Nugget

On Thursday, Duke lost one of the best parts of its community. 

Nugget was special. She was an angel who touched everyone who got to meet her. No matter who you were, or what you were going through, you could always go over to her outside of Wu and pet her—and she’d come racing over to plop herself down in front of you and let you pet her. She was never nervous in the slightest, didn’t stop to sniff you first the way most dogs would. She simply sat right down with the biggest smile on her face and looked off into the distance majestically, expecting people to pet her and treat her like the campus icon she was, endlessly happy and incredibly spoiled by all of us. 

I only got to know Nugget for a short period of time. Still a freshman (well, rising sophomore now, I suppose), I only got to see her for a year. I tried hard to make the most of it, without knowing we had so little time left with her. No matter what I was doing, I would interrupt it to go pet Nugget. I made countless detours across the quad or mid-run pauses to make sure I got to say hi - even when that made me late for class. I thought it was bad luck not to pet her, and I stood by that. It felt like she knew me personally, coming right over from a group of people to sit down next to me and let me pet her, but perhaps she was that way for everyone. She loved attention in a way I’ve almost never seen before, and she was more worthy of it than anyone or anything I’ve ever met. 

It seemed like Nugget was always there when times were worst. I ran into Nugget multiple times right after leaving exams that went poorly, or in the middle of studying for three midterms in the same week, or when I had only gotten a couple hours of sleep and had seven things left to do before I could go back to bed. Every time, Nugget was there with that same smile on her face, that same unconditional love for everyone on campus. I firmly believe that at points this year, Nugget saved my life. She was a reminder of the good left in the world, no matter how tough the times got. Nugget was my guardian angel in times when my mental health went south, at times that I was questioning what the point of keeping on was. She helped the Duke community endlessly through times like that, and she did so in a way that she loved. For that, I will be endlessly grateful to her, as I know that countless others are as well. 

Today, she’s off in that majestic distance she stared into while an endless parade of hands pet her fur and scratched her head. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who managed to touch so many different lives and help so many people out. She was truly one of the highlights of our community at Duke. She didn’t discriminate between people, and absolutely nobody disliked her. She was the centerpiece of campus, something that brought so many people together when nothing else could. She was something I’ve talked to many people outside of the Duke community about, and even convinced some of them to come to campus just to meet her. 

But now, she’s getting her rest. I have muddied beliefs on an afterlife, but I know that somewhere out there Nugget is lying on a bench still getting pets from all kinds of people. She’s out there somewhere at peace, enjoying this next phase as much as she enjoyed her eleven years at Duke. So as hard as it is to let her go, it’s comforting to think about her living another life of luxury today, and to appreciate all of the good times that we got to have with her when she was around. It’s a reminder that we should appreciate what we have, while we still have it (and that we should hug our loved ones and remind them of how much they mean to us now, while we still have them). And hopefully someday, when he’s had enough time to grieve, Keith will get another dog—and let the spirit of Nugget live on at Duke. 

Dav King is a Trinity sophomore. 


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