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  • Writer's pictureJulie Finlayson

Pet of the Month: Berkeley

Berkeley with her human, Debra Simpkins

There's nothing quite like the love and affection of a dog--especially a Golden Retriever. At least that was my experience meeting Berkeley, our Fairfield Harbour Pet of the Month for February.

Berkeley is an enthusiastic two-year-old (a little over two, actually) full of affection and sweetness. And I was able to sit down with Berkeley and her equally wonderful human, Debra Simpkins, for an interview. (FYI, Debra is also our Creator of the Month)

(my questions in bold, Debra's responses below each)

So, how did Berkeley come into your life?

We had been without a dog for almost a year and my husband said we needed a puppy. I was totally against a puppy because of how much work they are but Eric had his heart set on a little ball of fur. I researched breeders in the area because I wanted to eliminate puppy mills and backyard breeders and found a wonderful breeder in Swansboro. He's very good with his dogs and can trace his lines back to the 80's. So I got Berkeley for Eric for his birthday in 2021.

So she's a full Golden?

Yes, she's 100% Golden Retriever. And 100% “Blond Bombshell”. She's really amazingly sweet and such a pretty dog. She's two and a half years old so she still a puppy in a lot of ways. My husband didn't do the very best training with her so I sent her to canine camp last summer and she really learned a lot of manners. She gets crazy with the “zoomies” and chases our two kitties and occasionally will sneak out onto the golf course behind our house to greet the golfers and steal a golf ball every now and then. Someone recently told me that Goldens start to settle down around age five. I hope I can survive till then! She can be so adorable and still be an idiot!

Where did the name "Berkeley" come from?

The internet. My husband saw a video of a bear named Berkeley and loved the name. When we went to pick her up, she just looked like a “Berekley”. Now she's Berkeley Bunny, Berkeley Baby Dog and Berkeley Bratso when she's been naughty and my dumb blond when she's just being goofy.

How long have you had Berkeley as part of the family?

We brought her home Thanksgiving weekend 2021.

My husband passed away in May 2023 and it was so hard on her. Since Eric was retired and I was still working part-time, they spent all their time together and were really bonded. I know she loved me too but she was definitely a “Daddy's Girl”. When he was in and out of the hospital she she was pretty confused. We took her to see Eric when he was in hospice unit so they could have some snuggles and she was very nervous but climbed on his bed and for an 85 pound dog, was very gentle with him.

After he passed, she slept in his closet for about 3 weeks. I thought, “Oh you poor little thing”. But it . didn't take her much time to become a “Mama's Girl”. And yes, she sleeps on the bed, usually with her head on Eric's pillow. She's such a sweet girl and I am so, so happy that I have her.

What are some of Berkeley's favorite things?

She loves toys that can 'tug'. She's very happy going for walks. She's not much of a foodie kind of dog. She's very different from our two previous dogs, Bernese Mountain dogs, who were total chow hounds and counter-cruisers (stealing food from counter tops). Sometimes she'll leave half a meal in her bowl. There is a wonderful holistic veterinarian, Dr. Joyce Gerardi, that has a “crock pot” diet for dogs but Berkeley wasn't too fond of it so to save myself a lot of work I just feed her a good kibble/wet food” mix.

I think Berkeley loves everyone and has never met a stranger, even if they're yelling at her to return their golf balls. She loves our son and when he's here she's usually on his lap. Berkeley might also steal your shoes if you come to visit but can be persuaded to return them.

Thank you, Debra, for sharing your sweet companion with us!

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