Ragin’ Cajen wins photo contest

Published 11:49 pm Friday, May 1, 2015



Jennifer Griggs was devastated in May 2014 when her cat, which was almost 20 years old, died.

“I really wasn’t expecting to get another pet right away,” she said.

Unknown to her at the time, four days after her cat died, a cockapoo litter was born in Whaleyville. In August, the puppies were finally weaned, and Griggs and her husband, Casey, saw an ad in the paper and decided to go see them.

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“I had convinced my husband we’re not going to bring one home, because we’re going on vacation next week,” Griggs said. “We came home with a puppy.”

The couple canceled their first-anniversary trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., because they couldn’t leave their new family member.

Cajen was named as a combination of the couple’s first names. The cocker spaniel/poodle mix is a “happy clown,” Griggs said.

“He loves to play with his toys and romp around the yard, and he loves car rides,” she said. “He’s just a happy puppy.”

Griggs said she doesn’t feel her lost cat is very far away.

“He’s black, and so was my cat,” she said. “He has the same personality. We feel like he’s reincarnated.”

Griggs said the poodle half of Cajen makes him “really smart.”

“He’s picked up really quick, and he’s really protective,” Griggs said. “He says, ‘I may be small, but I think I’m big.’”

Griggs’ hobby, when she has spare time from her job in accounting for Isle of Wight County Schools, is photography, and Cajen has no problems posing.

“He’s not camera shy at all,” she said, referencing the photo she entered in the Priceless Pets Photo Contest. “That picture was taken the first snowfall we had this winter.”

Though the Griggses weren’t sure how Cajen would react, he romped in the snow for hours, so much so that the Velcro on his vest came undone before she snapped the photo.

“He had so much fun,” she said.

Casey Griggs is a paramedic in Northampton County, N.C., so his hours are a little odd. But his wife said Cajen knows when to expect her home, since her hours are more regular.

“He knows what time I get home,” she said.

Cajen took first place in the photo contest, with 2,887 votes, through the “gentle harassing” from Griggs of her family, friends and co-workers.

“Social media helped a lot, too,” she said.