Unconditional Love Is a Pug

I’m up early today. Woke up just after 4:30 this morning. This is when I used to get up religiously but haven’t been able to this past month. Not having a reason to get up in the morning isn’t conducive to leaving the comfort and warmth of my bed. I did have help waking this morning; the pug was walking around after pooping in his bed.

I haven’t written about the pug in any detail, have I? Maybe this morning is a good time for it. The pug has been the only constant in the past five and a half years. His name is Pugsy. He’s fifteen years old. He’s fawn color with big, black eyes like huge coal pieces; I call him my little snowman because of his resemblance to one.

Little man, poop machine, the Pugger, these are the names I call him besides Pugsy. He seems to have loose bowels because he leaves little presents for me in the house. I’ve seen him walk away from his food bowl after a meal and just start pooping on his way to the front door. He hunches over and shakes when he does this. There are times when he’ll stay outside after such an incident and I have to coax him back inside.

We—meaning my ex and I—adopted him when he was ten, back in 2012. We had been discussing getting another pug as a sibling for the pug we already had. He was eight years old, black and lazy and lovely and completely belonged to my ex. I constantly looked at the Pug Rescue of New England’s website and when I saw Pugsy, I just knew. My heart melted. We went through the entire process of being interviewed and inspected and questioned and prodded to make sure we would be good parents. As soon as we were approved, we drove down to the Connecticut shore, spent a half-hour with the little man and took him home that day.

We found out over the coming weeks that Pugsy was a mess. He whined constantly. He had bald spots in his fur. He would not stop whining. He had explosive, bloody diarrhea, which I imagine is why the family had given him up. He would not stop whining. He would flinch whenever we went to pet him. Did I mention that he would not stop whining? The next few weeks were trying. If it wasn’t for my ex, I might have thrown Pugsy out the window. But, my ex was always patient with broken things and Pugsy was part of that group.

Eventually, Pugsy’s coat became full and soft. His whining calmed quite a bit (although, he is still the most vocal dog I have ever known, which works out well for the two of us because we tend to have conversations). He still has bloody diarrhea; I have been to many vets and he’s been through many tests to try to find the cause but there hasn’t been anything they’ve found. And, he still flinches when I go to pet him but I’ve learned to be gentle and start petting him from below his face.

When the divorce happened, there was only one thing I wouldn’t budge on and that was Pugsy. She took our first pug and my sweet, little, old man and I could stay as a family. About a year later, we moved into the tiny cottage outside of Concord and we’ve had a good run of things.

Pugsy is getting older although most people can’t believe he’s fifteen when they ask how old he is. He’s fairly deaf and almost completely blind. His airway is constricted which gives him a persistent cough (vet says there isn’t much I can do). And each time I go to the vet, they tell me that I’m doing all I can for the little guy, which makes me feel good.

He is the one thing that I’ve done right in my life. Sometimes I feel like I get everything wrong or fuck up in one way or another. But, adopting Pugsy, becoming a family, caring for this creature, has made me grow as a person. I know a dog cannot compare to having your own child but, since God did not grant me with the ability to have children of my own, my fur baby is as close as I can get. I love him unconditionally, even when I come home and have to scrub my carpets and floor, wash the blankets, and clean up crusty shit from his bum after he explodes over the house (he’s got a dog walker so he’s not cooped up for hours at a time).

My heart bursts for the Pugger. I don’t know how many years he has left. He wobbles quite a lot now. The coughing comes more frequently. But then there are days when I can still see the puppy I imagine he once was. When he plays with his stuffed animals or rubs his face into my leg or barks when he’s excited. I’ll be a little destroyed when he is gone. Just thinking of it brings tears to my eyes.

When his time is up, I will have known that I made the world better for one creature on this earth. And he may not know this but he made my world better too.