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Dahlonega residents see stray dog as community gem
Nugget has been roaming the city for many years, finding many friends
Nugget, a female dog thought to be around 12 years old, watches a customer Sunday outside of the Golden Pantry on Grove Street North in Dahlonega. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Nugget's Facebook page

For most stray animals, life on the street is lonely and difficult, never knowing where to find food or shelter.

Nugget is the exception. She sleeps in a doghouse outside of the Golden Pantry on Grove Street in Dahlonega. She is well-fed by the local restaurants and residents, and her medical needs are taken care of. She's even been spayed. Her life as a stray has been extraordinarily easy.

"She's been wandering these streets as long as I've been here. She doesn't bother anybody and everybody knows her and feeds her," said Angela Clark of Dahlonega.

For someone who sleeps outside of a gas station, Nugget is very popular. She has a Facebook page with more than 2,700 friends. Her friends call themselves "Nuggetheads" and post updates of where Nugget was last seen and what she's been up to.

Nugget the dog has become the topic of debate after the city received a complaint about a dog "running at large."

Rather than being taken directly to the animal shelter, the sheriff's office began looking for someone willing to adopt the animal.

"Someone stepped up and now the dog has a legal owner," Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said.

Nugget's new owners are in the process of taking possession and the sheriff's office has offered to assist in any way it can.

Jarrard said he's seen the dog around the city for several years but assumed it had an owner. He said the dog used to look both ways before crossing the street "just like a human does." But he has noticed the dog is starting to show signs of age.

"It could be starting to get older with her eyes and ears going. This could be a blessing to the dog because then there will be an owner and she could live a happier life," Jarrard said.

However, not everyone agrees that the town pooch should even have an owner.

"People don't want Nugget to be taken by one family," said Denise Ray of Dahlonega.

"She's been adopted by just about everybody."

Ray said children think the dog belongs to them and come up with their own names for her. She said she's seen people pull over in their cars because Nugget was lying on the side of the road.

"She has this really funny way of sleeping with her paws in the air. She looks dead," Ray said.

Ray calls the dog a "woman of a mysterious past." No one knows where she came from or exactly how long she's been roaming the streets of Dahlonega.

Rose Tompkins has grown close with Nugget over the years. She leaves leftover food for Nugget outside of the restaurant where she works.

"She doesn't have just one owner. Everybody takes care of her," Tompkins said.

"If you put her in a home she's just going to run away."

Tompkins said she fears the attention Nugget is getting will have a negative effect on her adoption.

She said she'd heard Nugget's new owner wanted to back out because of the publicity.

Plenty of other people would love to bring Nugget into their families. Clark said she would be more than happy to take Nugget home.

"If she needs a place to stay I've got a big, big yard," Clark offered.

Many of her friends on Facebook are involved with meeting Nugget's needs, be it a happy home or a trip to the vet.

"I think it's awesome how many people care about her. It's a 12-year-old stray dog and the whole town cares about her," Ray said.