I have gotten a few questions about my dogs, and how I fell in love with pugs. I thought I would write this as a bit of a love letter to my pups, past and present. If you have ever been owned by a four-legged creature, you know that there is a bond that never quite goes away.
My love of pugs began the summer before I went away to college. I got a job in a puppy store, and it was pure heaven. The puppies were kept in kiddie pools filled with bank shred, and when the store wasn't busy I would jump inside and play. If you have never had a pool full of puppies crawling all over you while licking you cheeks and biting your shoe laces, you haven't lived!
The pug pool quickly became my favorite spot. They are like little clowns with their flat faces, playful snorting, and comical head tilts. I couldn't have any pets while living in the dorms, but I looked forward to holiday breaks and summers, when I returned to the job where I got paid to play with the pug puppies. I was more than a little obsessed.
Flash-forward to my first real job out of college. I was living in Atlanta, and finally in a good place to have my beloved pug. I started frantically scouring newspaper ads (it was 2000, a bit before you could find anything and everything on the internet). I found what I was looking for one state over in Anniston, Alabama. It was love at first sight. I picked the most playful and robust looking pug out of the litter, and he came home with me. I named him Turner, and we quickly became best friends.
Turner was my sidekick through many cities, apartments, boyfriends, and he even took a cross-country drive with me when I moved to the west coast. I trusted his judgement, If he didn't like someone, I wasn't too keen on them either. Plus, it was outstanding to always have someone so happy to see me when I got home from work. He was the kind of dog I could take everywhere with me, and I did. I spent most of my 20's with him, and we grew into real adulthood together.
Time passes quickly. Before I knew it, Turner's muzzle was beginning to gray. He was a bit set in his ways, being an only dog for his first seven years, and preferring the company of people to other dogs.
One weekend in January 2008, we brought Meatball home. He was a rambunctious puppy of nine months old, and Turner was not impressed. For a while, this was as close as they would get.
However, Meatball was persistent. He was an impressionable young puppy, and he wanted to be pals. Turner eventually grew to love Meatball, but wasn't really the kind of dog that knew how to play. They found their own relationship, and it worked.
When I took one to the vet for a routine visit, it was hard on the dog that was left at home. I was happy that we had settled into our own little pack, no matter how odd. Of course, all good things must eventually come to an end.
The day came that we had to make a decision about Turner. He was not quite ten years old when I found him lying underneath a table, not acting like himself. He had whimpered in the night a few times recently, like he was in pain, but it seemed to pass. This day he wasn't really interacting with any of us. He ate his dinner, but he wasn't right. We went to bed. Maybe it would pass, and he would be his old self in the morning. But early in the morning, he seemed to be in distress. I waited in agony to call my vet as soon as they opened.
Minutes seemed like hours. Our vet did some exploratory surgery on him and then referred us to a specialist. She met us there. I will never forget her pulling up in her Mini, and carefully carrying my dog who was under anesthesia and full of tubes, inside. We consulted with this new vet, and then they told us too leave while they tried to operate.
We knew there were a few scenarios of what could be wrong. When the phone rang, it was the worst one. His trachea has collapsed. We had two options, to either do a tracheotomy on him, or let him go. It was a painful decision, but we understood what the humane thing would be to do. We held him until the very end. My husband and I both took off the rest of the week, too distraught to leave each others side.
But it was Meatball who seemed to know what had happened as soon as we walked through the door. He was sad, despondent, and very clingy. I felt like he could smell the death on us. I took his picture a few days in, when we were all deep into our period of mourning. It completely broke my heart. I had to do something.