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A Dog Day Afternoon with Parker, A Pingry Pooch on a Mission
Sara Courtney

Geese, Beware. A new sheriff is in town. He arrived in Basking Ridge by way of Tennessee on a mission to search and destroy (chase, intimidate, interrupt). Did the geese think they could simply waddle across the pretty green fields of Pingry as if they owned them? Parker has some thoughts about that, thoughts not fit to print, but suffice to say, they are not SIT nor STAY.

At 2 years old, 45 pounds soaking wet, with the ability to curl himself up and disappear into the tiniest ball, an oft-explosive urge to bound across the grassy plains at breakneck speed, and a laser-like focus to hunt, curtail, nip, disrupt, and, oh yes, chasechasechase—ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Parker the dog to Pingry.

With that Border Collie intelligence, an abundance of puppy playfulness, and a touch of that adolescent scattershot excitement—Geese! Or was that a horn honking? Oh look, students coming to pet me! Wait, what’s in these chipotle bags?!—Parker arrived at the end of May and never looked back. He lives with Neil Spagnuolo, the gruff, kind, and bemused Grounds Supervisor at Pingry. It’s been 12 years since Neil last had a dog. Is he excited? “UHHHHH.” Did he expect that part of his job at Pingry would be to have a dog? “My job has…evolved,” he says diplomatically, and I wonder if he doesn’t have a future in politics.

Named after Parker Road, the first road The Pingry School was located on, Parker is of Scottish descent, his father hailing from Wales, and his mother from “somewhere in the Midwest”—already the kind of mysterious background that lends itself to legend. His work schedule is intense, which is to say, not nearly intense enough for him. He comes to work everyday. “There’s no sick days for him,” Mr. Spagnuolo says proudly.

Parker’s job is to be in hot pursuit, at all times, of the geese that would like to call Pingry home. At all three campuses. He makes his way from Short Hills to Basking Ridge to Pottersville, until the geese Get. The. Message.

This means Mr. Spagnuolo is now traveling frequently between the three campuses, with Parker in tow, riding along in a golf cart. “The hope is that, after a while, the dog will have done his job and we won't have a lot of geese,” he says, while Parker eyes swallow birds flying in zig zags across the softball field. “He’ll just have to do maintenance.”


I wonder aloud if his primary, or perhaps only job, is to chase geese? Both Mr. Spagnuolo and Parker look insulted. “Oh, no. He’s an ambassador for Pingry,” insists Mr. Spagnuolo, clearly offended. “He met a lot of people yesterday,” he adds, and left his mark, emphasizes Mr. Spagnuolo, “literally”: twice inside the Pingry offices; hundreds of times on trees and flowers; and on two unwitting humans, including, mid-interview, this reporter. “That means he likes ya!” says Mr. Spagnuolo apologetically, while Parker gives me a wink.

Parker is soft as a bunny, with very large, pointed ears that stick up like BatDog. His eyes are always searching, scanning, tracking, and there’s a friendliness and an intensity about him that convey that yes, this dog will fit in at Pingry. This dog is going places. He makes any field his field of dreams.

“This dog’s just a runner,” says Mr. Spagnuolo, tired from just watching Parker.

He doesn’t bark. He is the quietest dog. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything to say. When it’s time to stop chasing the geese, Mr. Spagnuolo hollers “That’ll do!” and Parker swivels and dashes back to him and sits, quite pleased with himself. He is a GOOD BOY.

So let’s all welcome Parker, Pingry’s newest freshman, a hard-working talent going places, and a soon-to-be Pingry lifer.

Like many of you, his high school years will be a (literal) blur. And he’s already made his mark.






Contact: Sara Courtney, Communications Writer