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Is there a Dog-tor in the house?
By Ellen English

Adopted only an hour after arriving at the SPCA in Chesapeake, Dr. Nugget showed a determination to communicate right from the start. The Granoffs had been looking for a dog for two months, but when they stopped by that particular shelter one fateful afternoon, the 8 week old yellow Lab mix spoke to them: Nugget gave us a determined look that said Ok, go sign the papers, Im going home with you. Not only home, but as it turned out, to work as well. The couple didnt want to leave the young puppy in the house all day by himself and since Granoffs wife Ann manages his office, they decided to bring Nugget along.

In the beginning, Nugget often slept on Dr.Granoffs lap, adding a charming presence to the office. The adorable, sweet puppy was the perfect icebreaker with new patients and a great antidote to depression. As time passed, however, the friendly fellow decided to expand his duties by greeting clients in the waiting room and ushering them into the inner office. And as Nugget grew, the once-upon-a-time lap dog found the couch to be a much better spot to stretch out. Its there, sharing the couch with patients, that Nugget offers his special variety of comfort and reassurance. During sessions, Nugget is a calming influence, Dr. Granoff explains, patients are often uptight about what theyre going to say, but having him there puts them at ease. He helps them relax and open up. If someone is crying, he will lick or nudge them and he even gives kisses on command.

Clearly, the affection is mutual. Some patients even stop by the office to see Nugget on days that they dont have a session scheduled and most all of them bring him treats. Nugget has learned which patients bring his favorite ones and will bark or whine when they arrive. He raises his right paw to say please and will even bury his head, neck deep, in the purses of female patients to see what delicacies they may have hidden inside.

Once the greetings are over, theres usually a mad rush for the couch since Nugget is known to hog it and prefers the end closest to Dr. Granoff. After the session gets underway, Nugget may sleep through most of it, Dr. Granoff says, and he snores pretty loud! Sometimes its this dog just doing what comes naturally that provides much needed comic relief. During one particularly stressful session of marriage counseling, a couple was going on and on about each other and Nugget hit a really deep, loud level of snoring that caused the husband to say, its boring you too?!! When Nugget really does get bored with a session, he sometimes jumps off the couch and scratches at the door to be let out. He has trained those in the waiting room to open the door for him so that he can hang out in the business office or with patients in the reception room waiting for their therapy time. Somehow Nugget knows when Granoff runs overtime, because hell scratch persistently on the door to indicate that times up...hes got everybody trained!

A typical workday for the 6 year old Lab begins with the commute in his Mercedes SUV, specifically purchased for Nuggets comfort, followed by a ride up the elevator in their office building and socializing with all his admirers along the way. Everybody in the building knows Nugget and they always speak to him...many of them dont even know my name or acknowledge me, Dr. Granoff laughs. To make sure that Nugget is always welcome, he gets regular baths and the doctor even keeps a lint roller handy for the patients whove just had a close encounter of the furry kind, or as Granoff calls it, a fur fix. Nugget also dresses up for work everyday in one of the many bandanas hes acquired for every possible occasion and even has one from Harrods of London.

Starting about 9 am, Nugget sits in on just about every session during the day. Even those who profess they are not dog people are won over by the well behaved Lab who provides such a consoling presence. In fact, only one patient has declined Nuggets services- an older, frail lady who was unsure of physically sharing space with the 80 pound dog. Nugget can sympathize: hes had surgery on both knees and one for hip dysplasia. Nevertheless, when Nugget heads home about 5 or 6 pm, one of his favorite things is chasing the squirrels that seem to tease him in his own backyard. The squirrels throw sticks and acorns at him. Hes annoyed that they can climb and he cant! Dr. Granoff explains. Some of his other favorite activities off hours are laying on the chaise lounge on the patio (supervising Dr. Granoffs yard work), chewing rawhide treats and killing his toys, including a stuffed salmon and (of course) a squirrel.

So, how did this dog-tor get his unusual name? I have an agreement with my wife-she names the kids and I get to name the dogs, Dr. Granoff explains. I was just looking at him, trying to think of what name would fit and it hit me, hes a golden nugget. His patients would certainly agree...with that and with the definitions the dictionary gives his name: anything small but of great value or significance. A tidbit of wisdom.

Tail End:

For more on Dr. Granoff and his practice, visit his website.

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