Must Love Dogs


Jags GM David Caldwell might be best known for his association with big cats, but his real love is rescued dogs.

David Caldwell began his career as a scouting assistant for the Carolina Panthers in 1996, and later went on to work for the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons. In 2013, he was named General Manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though he has spent his career working for teams named after animals, he never grew up around actual animals. That all changed when he married his wife Joelle in May 2002. “At the time, we didn’t have a whole lot of money or anything, so we decided that, instead of buying wedding presents for each other, we’d adopt a dog.” Nala (pictured bottom right) was adopted from the Indianapolis Humane Society when she was just three months old, and remains in the Caldwell family to this day, along with David Jr. (the couple’s seven-year-old son) and Coco (a boxer adopted from the Jacksonville Humane Society).

• Though he’s a big dog-lover, David didn’t grow up with pets. Nala was his first. Joelle, on the other hand, has had just about every pet imaginable. “We had rabbits, cats, horses, mom’s a huge animal lovers so she was always coming home with stray dogs.”

• The Caldwells recently added two new pets to the mix— Guinea pigs Kiss (six months) and Pinky (seven months). Though not rescues (they tried but rescued Guinea pigs aren’t all that common), they have added an interesting dynamic to the house. “The dogs like to stare at the crate, but I don’t think they quite know what to make of them,” says Joelle.

• Nala, almost thirteen years old, has had three knee surgeries, but still succumbs to what Joelle has deemed “the puppy crazies.” And though she loves to play with Coco on occasion, she’s not much for playing fetch. “She’s a unique dog. We always say we think we got the only dog that doesn’t like to chase balls,” jokes David.

• David and Joelle are chairing the 16th annual Toast to the Animals, a gala benefiting the Jacksonville Humane Society, held September 20 at the Terrace Suites at EverBank Field. Their two-year-old boxer, Coco, is the event’s official Homecoming Queen. “She’s basically the face of the event. We did a photo shoot the other day for the invitations, and she was not good in front of the camera. She turned around every time the camera was in her face.” Luckily for us, Coco and Nala were ready for their close-up.