“If your dog were an artist, how would he express himself?” Waggleview with Nina Gaby a writer, visual artist, and psychiatric nurse practitioner.


The Dog Owner: Nina Gaby is a writer, visual artist and psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Nina Gaby author

Gaby-%22When I Was Japanese%22

Dog type and Name: Bentley is a Golden Retriever

Bentley gently protests



Q: Why did you choose this dog?

 When we found out that our desperately dear and wonderful 10-year-old Golden Retriever Chester was dying of cancer, we called the woman who had found him for us. Brenda is a local breeder of Goldens and had given us one of her retired breeders years ago. It gets eerily interesting when, as I was racing to retrieve the body of our Yellow Lab Toby who had raced with the traffic on the interstate and was hit by an 18-wheeler, Brenda was leaving a message on our phone that she had just learned of a “Chester” whose owners needed to give him away. We took Chester, and he turned out to be truly amazing. So when we called Brenda to tell her of Chester’s illness, she could not believe the coincidence. She had just that day learned of another Golden whose owner wanted to give him away. Of course, that was Bentley, and of course we took him, as soon as Chester approved. They were inseparable for the four months they had together. Last cuddle

Q: Do you talk to your dog? If so, what do you talk about?

 Bentley isn’t quite mature enough yet to handle the type of information I shared with Chester. Much of the time I am reminding Bentley that everything is going to be alright, as he is very anxious. Chester would always remind me that everything was going to be alright, as I am very anxious. Chester was not anxious; he was more of a Buddha-like rock. Sometimes I apologize to Bentley for having such high expectations of him. Most recently, I told him that while I am very grateful that he ate all the chopped cabbage I just dropped on the kitchen floor, I am quite surprised. Well, I guess anyone who eats deer poop will eat anything, even raw cabbage. Chester never ate deer poop.

Bentley learns to swim

Q: If your dog were an artist, how would he express himself?

If Bentley were an artist he would likely express himself in primary colors, in crayon, with some sort of color-by-number format.


Q: If he could talk to you, what would he say?


Q: If your dog had a job or career, what would he be doing?

We once had high hopes that we could make official therapy dogs of at least one of our Goldens. While Chester used to accompany me to my job as a psych nurse practitioner and my patients would whisper their secrets into his neck, even Chester wouldn’t have made it through certification. Bentley, I’m not sure, wow, the idea of him gainfully employed is unimaginable. He’d be more like the sweet dufus character slouching around a gas station in a 50’s sitcom.

Bentley ready for action

Q: What lesson in life has your dog taught you?

Five dogs ago we rescued a 75 pound unhousebroken terribly abused Black Lab mix who needed three rounds of Level One obedience training before we could even walk him around the block. He became epic, helped me run an old inn in Vermont, and our guests sent him cards and gifts for years. Life lesson-Patience, discipline, consistency. It’s a great life lesson that Bentley reminds me of every day, out of necessity.

Q: How does your dog inspire you?

One can never be depressed for long with a Golden Retriever at her side. Zoe and Bentley

Q: Where is your dog’s favorite place to go with you?

Up into the woods where the deer poop is.

Q: Who or what does your dog find the most interesting?

Do I even have to answer that?

Q: What is the most annoying thing other dog owners do?

 When they are not in control of their dogs, when they let them out in the neighborhood, when the dogs come into our yard, get our dogs riled up at the crack of dawn, wake us up, when the neighbor’s dogs make messes in our yard, and later in the day our dogs run out into the road because their dogs are running wild and then I get angry…and if neighbors who think it’s cute ……well that’s how feuds start.

Q:  What does being a responsible dog owner mean to you?

Not doing the above.

Q:  Do you ever dress up your dog? If so, as what?

Only therapeutically. I wrap him in a Thunder Shirt for car rides and tell him he’s swaddled like the Baby Jesus. The Thunder Shirt doesn’t work; it only changes the pitch of his screams. Chester loved car rides.

Q:  How has your dog changed your life?

My job is tough, the world seems off kilter, being an artist and writer is always risky as we put our hearts and minds out there, and there’s just so much we can expect from the humans around us, no matter how great they are. So the consistent and unconditional love from our dogs is crucial. One of the most interesting aspects of my relationship with my dogs has been how learning to train them has influenced how I organize other areas of my personal and professional life, parenting, and relationships. Our first dog trainer, Robin, told me, “It’s never about the dog. It’s all about you.” It wasn’t a compliment. But it made me a whole lot more reflective.

Nina Gaby 

Q:  Does your dog have a philosophy of life?

Love me. Love me. Love me. More. Where’s Daddy? Love me. Love me.

Q:  I love my dog because he is irresistible. Even though he’s not Chester. Nina Gaby and Chester on the bridge

Q:  Have you ever made dog treats for your dog?

Not intentionally.


WAGGLEVIEW™: These interviews are focused on leaders in business, the community, or at home. My hope in doing this is to present remarkable and respected people in their community with their beloved pets. Who can resist reading about pets and what these people do? This is a platform for people to display their talents; their own business, a new book, a deeply loved passion for a charity or their own job. It also shows their love for their pet!

Thank you Nina for taking the time to participate in the Waggleview™.

If your dog were an artist, how would he express himself?

Please comment below.                                

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  • Carol Strickland

    I loved Nina’s interview. Clearly she has a very special relationship with her Golden. I understand that at a deep level, as my daughter, Leah, is living with us and she brought her ‘baby girl’, Shelby, with her. Shelby is a beautiful Golden, and shares many of Bentley’s characteristics. Shelby will always have a ball or toy sticking out of her mouth–she’s very oral! My two chihuahuas have adapted to having Shelby around, and they all get along very well. If my two chi’s were artists, they would paint with their paws. They’d paint beautiful, multi-colored pictures that looked like original Picasso’s!! Their energy and enthusiasm for life is unbounded and they provide unlimited, unconditional love to me every single day. Kudos to Nina for writing beautiful prose and reminding us all of how special and unique our dogs are to each one of us!!!

    May 2, 2016 at 11:51 am
  • I love Bentley’s philosophy of life. I’m less excited about the deer poop. 🙂

    May 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm
  • What are those rolls/candles at the beginning of the post? They are gorgeous!

    May 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm
  • OOOhhhhh I can feel the love. Love for Chester that will always be there and Love of Bentley. I’m a dog lover too and feel like I know not only you Lori but your fur babies.:) As far as deer poop goes….a sweet little quirk of Bentley’s — lol!

    May 3, 2016 at 11:00 pm
  • Oh my gosh, Lori… what an absolutely delightful post! Bentley is so gorgeous, as was Chester, and the photos of Nina are quite stunning. Her artwork looks very intriguing. This post really brightened my whole day. I’ve never read one quite like it :)))) Linda. x

    May 5, 2016 at 11:27 am
  • Love all the pictures! So cute!

    May 6, 2016 at 1:29 am
  • Great interview.! Love looking at people through their love of pets.

    May 6, 2016 at 2:23 am
  • Hi All!
    Bentley is quite impressed at all the messages! The artwork is mixed-media: porcelain, photos, ephemera, vintage fabrics, text. This piece is called “When I Was Japanese” and I call the series 3-D Memoir. I have more pieces up on my website http://www.ninagaby.com, and an essay based on the Japanese series is a finalist in the DIAGRAM 2016 essay contest! Thanks so much for all the kind words.

    May 13, 2016 at 10:55 am

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