Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Never Trust A Thing They Say ~ Why Pugs Are Useless and No Help At All (Just Ask Big Dog Moe!) and Why I Absolutely Will Never Be Without Them & A Special Thoughts on Adopting Seniors...

"The pug is living proof that God has a sense of humor."
~ Margo Kaufman ~

This is Sam (12) and Harvey (11). Sam was the
2nd pug to come to the cottage after my precious
wee little black girl Babs whom I lost in June at
nearly 16. Sam came in September 2007 and the
ever irresistible Harvey one year later. Sam is my
"velcro pug" and usually attached to my body but
he likes to snuggle and sleep with his little bro',

So, I was thinking, here are these two strapping puggy boys who surely because of all the good food, tons of love, toys, extra beds everywhere (I can't seem to pass up a good deal on a dog bed. There are currently 4 dogs in the house and something like 10 dog beds. Well, you see, I like to put them in every room because my little people are all elderly and they like to be wherever I am which might be in any room in the place so I provide lots of comfy places to sleep. I'll be hitting the new year's sales and Sam's for more beds soon!), good treats, buckets of squishy nose kisses, and general all out adoration. I figured that that might buy me a little help around the house now and again and all I wanted was help taking down our 8'+ tree with 165 strands of lights and upwards of 2 million ornaments (Well, I didn't put that many ON but believe you me they multiply like the dickens when you're not looking so that by the time you are ready to take the tree down there are so many it's like being caught in a Christmas tree horror story. I am terrified of my tree and I need HELP!).

So, I looked cheerfully at my 2 smiling adorable boys and said, "Howsa bout helping mommy take down the tree?" (I sounded over-enthusiastic and they weren't buying it.) Between one blink and the next this is what I saw...

Big Dog Moe, the elder dog in the cottage whom we adopted at less than 3 months old from the Humane Society and who is now over 17, and who never liked the idea of pugs anyway, just rolled his eyes, shot me an "I told you so," look, and went back to sleep. He was mumbling "Pugs are useless and unconscionable interlopers..." as he trailed off to sleep. He thinks they are alien beings from another planet (He may not be far off!), and it was absolutely UNnecessary to get one in the first place never mind 3 in 3 months and a total of 4 in one year. It took a long time, with me alpha-dogging it and studying The Dog Whisperer like some people read The Holy Bible (I'm sorry folks, my Bible is right here too but there was narry a chapter or verse on problems with big old dogs and incoming elderly pugs...) and finally after our beloved vet and I who had both tried everything threw our hands up in despair, medicating him with anti-anxiety medication was the only solution to prevent a bloodbath of Biblical proportions, and finally we have a peaceable kingdom here and Moe and I are both happy as 2 kids eating cotton candy at a street fare now that we are BOTH properly medicated!

Big Dog Moe

So I shrugged and decided it might be best to get some clothes folded. I went looking for Sam. Sometimes he helps by making me fold REALLY fast before he lays on things and covers them with fawn pug hair. Alas he beat me to the idea of laundry and had already shoved them around in a pile with his little wisp of a nose and was sound asleep right on top. Sigh. Well, I don't think anyone would recognize me without pug hair all over my person anyway. Guess who doesn't wear black anymore? And now on the odd occasion that I am actually leaving the house I have to shower and get all ready except for the clothes until I am ready to leave whence I dash into the bedroom, bolt the door, get dressed and then am out of the house and into the car like a streak of lightning. It's the only way to arrive anywhere not dripping tufts of pug hair like Pigpen in the old Charlie Brown cartoons who had dust clouds poofing up around him wherever he went. People wonder why I seldom leave the house. If you had to go through this routine every time you were going to go somewhere, you'd only leave the house every year or three too.

Sam "helping" with the laundry!

I knew better than to ask Coco to help. She is the eldest pug here now at a little over 15, the only little girl dog here, consequently she is treated like The Fairy Princess that she is, and I learned long ago not to even try to ask her

The only thing she wasn't supposed to "help" with,
the fiber art project I was working on!

But in the end NObody can resist that face which
is even more chubbily adorable in person and
perfect for squishing with multitudes of kisses.

These 3 1/2 years with the pugs, all senior citizens (I only adopt the elderly or infirm), has been quite a series of mostly wonderful lessons for me. I have learned, even more deeply, as I have always known with dogs of all sorts since I was a little girl, that dogs are the only unconditional love I believe we will ever know. I have also learned the difficult lesson of putting someone else's needs above your own. 

When you commit to adopting seniors -- and I wouldn't have it any other way, and there is such a need because the seniors and disableds are usually the last ones adopted -- you are committing to take into your home and heart a little elder-bundle of love with whom you will fall head over heels with, be swept away on an ocean of a kind of love you have never heretofore imagined (Puppies and younger dogs are just adorable but trust me, without exception every single elderly dog that I have adopted came to me with a look in their eyes that said, "Thank you so much for taking me. I didn't think anyone would ever want me. I will love you with my whole heart until the day I die..." And they do, and it is the most profound thing I have ever experienced.).

Another consideration about adopting seniors is that vet bills will be a real consideration. Pugs have a lot of potential health issues anyway and as they get older, these multiply. Henceforth I will only be speaking about pugs because, though I have had many more breeds and mixed dogs in my life from rescues, it wasn't until I met pugs that I fell really head over heels in love with a specific breed. I will be involved with pug rescue for the rest of my life and will continue to help them and adopt as many more as I'm able along the way which won't be awhile because we have reached the time when vet bills are climbing, it's not fair to Moe, and to give each of them the time and love and care they deserve I will only adopt again when our numbers here, heartbreakingly through attrition, have decreased. I will never have more than I can properly care for. And back to the vet bill issues with seniors. I thought I'd add a few bits about this issue before closing because it is a big consideration for people and the reason a lot of folks don't adopt the old folks.

In the beginning I had the home, the heart, and the desire to share my life with these beloved angels but I had to have a little help with out of the ordinary vet bills and I am very grateful for the help I did get, but that time has passed and following is how I work it out now, give or take. At least a few thoughts and ideas from my own experience (And of course everyone has their own reasons and opinions for doing things. These are simply mine...).

First of all, committing to doing everything you can to meet their needs before adopting is key. Some good-hearted folks who love animals and mean well adopt and love their dogs but never do any vet care and this can cause serious and heartbreaking problems. There will be expenses, sometimes they will be high, but sharing your life with animal companions is a life choice, not a form of entertainment, or when you feel like it, and sort of minimal care when you don't.

There will be vet bills. Know that. Think about that hard before you adopt. Do right by them or don't have them. That is my firm feeling.

Next and perhaps most important is to find a very good vet. I have been blessed to have had the same wonderful vet nigh on 2 decades. She comes here and takes care of everyone. She was my shelter vet when I ran a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots and other domestic birds and she is now vet and Fairy Godmother to our puggerly crew. I am fortunate in that she allows me to make monthly payments toward the bill and I would talk to vets about that before adopting. I'm hearing of more vets who will do house calls AND more who allow payment plans and this has been necessary and a godsend for me. 

In June my beloved first pug Babs died after several months of intensive care that could not save her. A couple of months ago my heart-child/velcro pug Sampson had to have surgery and had several type 2 mast cell tumors removed which means he will have medication and regular care for the rest of his life and I will cherish every moment. This next week both Harvey and Coco are going in on Thursday to have surgery, both on the same day for different reasons. I obviously have to drive to their clinic for this and it's a distance so I will take both at once and then there are the surgeries, after-care, and whatever they will need for life, and I am dedicated to seeing that they get everything that they need. And they do and they will.

My first little pug, Babs...

I find that the best way -- for us -- is to have routine checkups for everyone every 3 months or so. With all of them on various meds and with heath issues that need to be checked this way we stay on top of things, assure that they have steady care that meets issues as they arise and before they can get bad or be missed and end up with a problem that might have been fixable but now isn't. Sadly with the best of care and intention some things will seem to come out of nowhere and a sudden and untimely end will be devastating. We just focus on the best care we can give and all the love a heart (or a houseful of hearts) can hold. So steady she goes and I am like a nurse in a little nursing home, taking care of now 11 animals here at the cottage every day (7 are parrots and require care, cleaning, love, and feeding but not the kind of intensive care that my senior dogs do...). 

I do want to tuck in one note here. A support system is key especially when you have elderly or disabled rescue dogs. My go-to group is the wonderful rescue that my four pugs have come from and they are a very large and an exemplary rescue. I can't tell you how many times I have been talked through hard or scary times and the Yahoo support group is a real heart-connection. You really should at least see their site. Click here to visit the rescue's site:

Every morning I am up about 6 to get all of the dogs out. They get a little treat to tide them over and we go back to bed until about 7:30. I would NEVER have to set an alarm clock because at 7:30 on the dot and not a minute later Harvey sounds the alarm that IT'S BREAKFAST TIME AND WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU STILL DOING IN BED FOR HEAVEN'S SAKES??? And one of the most adorable things about Harvey (at least to me, his Mama! :o), is that if he doesn't get what he seriously wants/needs immediately he does not bark, he does not howl, he actually cries loudly sounding very nearly exactly like a human baby. It's absolutely pitiful and the most adorable thing to me. I hang over the bed, nose to nose with Harvey whose nose touches mine and say, "Alright little fella, Mama's getting up." To see that little puggery tail wag back and forth at top speed side to side like windshield wipers is enough to make me climb mountains for him, for all of them, for now there are a crowd of waggles and woofs and Big Dog Moe's nose is being shoved in for kisses and there is always only ONE nose missing. 

Sam is NOT a morning person. He is the only one who actually sleeps in bed snuggled up with me and I pick him up and carry him out at 6 so he will go but then he doesn't want to get up again. When everyone else is eating breakfast Sam will woefully leave our bed but go to our big chair and go back to sleep. I eventually join him with my coffee but there are miles to go before that first sip of coffee.

And so this is our life here and these animals are more than my companions. I am an interfaith minister who through life, chance, and circumstance am now rarely able to leave my home so I have opened my little cottage doors, heart and hearth to those wee little ones in need. They are both my congregation and my teachers. They are my confessors and my counselors. They are fellow pilgrims on this journey in life and most importantly they are my family. I am deeply blessed and thank God for them every day, even if they won't help take down the tree or do the laundry.


Karen said...

I love hearing about how you came to have your pugs. Do you still have to medicate Moe or is he used to everyone by now?

Sisko said...

Pugs are quite a dog. We see them a lot at the dog park and each time I just laugh.

Wonderful you adopted an older dog :)

Con Artist Trickster said...

What you've done is really admirable. You're the saving grace of those senior pugs.

insurance quotes. said...

This picture is very beautiful.

tammy said...

We also have 2 pugs ages 4 and 3 and they have changed our life. there not just little dogs but very smart and compassinate to how humans feel. i would never own a different breed of dogs.. pugs are the best!!

snore stop said...

This picture fantastic.

insurance quotes. said...

Lovely picture,I love hearing about how you came to have your pugs. Do you still have to medicate Moe or is he used to everyone by now?

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