It started with Bowser.
Our sixth pug, who was the most recent addition to our grumble, passed away after being a loving part of our family for two years. He was fifteen and we knew it was coming, but it was wrenching just the same. We decided there would be no replenishing of the ranks and we were coming to terms with the smaller herd. Famous last words, right? Two short months passed and we got word of a medical case named Owen. An abandoned ten-year-old stray with Lyme Disease, Owen was thought to have a mass on his lung and one on his spine. He had trouble walking and couldn’t sit unless he had support propping him up. He was house trained, but couldn’t control his bowels. He knows when he has to go, he just can’t hold it in. His foster family was at a loss. He seemed hopeless and it was even a possibility his medical issues would make it necessary for the rescue to put him to sleep.
Well, I wasn’t having any of that…
We never intended to foster again, honestly, hoping to just be a home where pug friends could send us their fur babies to sleep over when they need someone to babysit. House guests are wonderful fun and they get to go home in a few days or weeks. No attachments. However, I couldn’t let this dog go to The Big Sleep without at least seeing if anything could be done for him. So, when Jodi told me about Owen, I said, “no rescue I’m involved in puts dogs to sleep without an eval. Take him in, let’s check him out.” After promising the powers that be she wouldn’t ask to adopt him, Jodi took the ride, collected Owen and brought him home. I was ready to meet a sickly, crippled, immobile, diapered dog who would hang out for two weeks before we sent him on his way, either to a forever or foster home…or to a merciful end.
Then, we saw each other. The music came up, like a bad 40’s Hollywood romance. He was tiny, only ten pounds with visible ribs. He was wobbly, with a little tongue that stuck out of his mouth. His head was overly large for his body, and he didn’t like to lift it all the way up, using his eyes to cover the rest of the distance. When I saw his grumpy little face giving me the “stank eye,” I was instantly aware of how large my heart had become. Then, something strange happened: he latched onto me. Let me back up a little: about 99% of the pugs that enter our home favor Jodi. We get mostly males. The few females we do bring in tend to come to me, but most of the time, it’s usually Jodi’s show. With Owen, something else clicked and this nugget of a male pug unexpectedly and instantly became my BFF. Let me give full disclosure here: the feeling was absolutely mutual.
Without warning, Owen and I shared a bond I almost never feel. I love all of our pugs, of course, but I generally don’t see the need to take them everywhere, dress them up or do whatever else crazy pug people subject them to. I don’t even like gathering them up for our yearly portraits. I mean, it’s a pain, amirite? Not Owen. This one is different. I want to take him everywhere. I look for little outfits for him (which he rocks, by the way – every single one), and even have a Baby Bjorn for him to hang in so I can carry him around. And yes, he and I took a Halloween portrait. Just us. Also Christmas. He follows me all over the house on his wobbly legs throughout the day. When we sit and watch TV, he’s attached to my leg. Shortly after arriving, my favorite Hongs, Yumee and Yeon-Mee, stopped by and met him. Owen was in Jodi’s arms and he stretched his body from her toward me (so great to have witnesses). He’s smart. I guess being so small, he has to be. He quickly responded to his nickname of “Mr. Nubbins.” He’s my little buddy, my partner, my funky little companion with the stank eye.
Finally, after a few weeks of snuggles and kisses and adventures, not to mention dozens of VERY popular pictures on social media, the subject of keeping him was officially broached. Jodi remembered her promise to not adopt him, but nobody asked me (or Owen). It was decided that he would stay and be part of our grumble, and that I would personally fill out the adoption papers for the first time in our pug history. Owen may officially belong to me, but I think it’s the other way around.
As for his medical condition, the original prognosis was wrong! No masses, however, he was born with some spinal defects that make it difficult for him to keep his balance. His paws knuckle and he sways like a drunken sailor. However, his bowel issues are no great shakes. He drops a maximum of three little Tater Tot size nuggets and if we pay attention, we can either get him to a pad or outside. Worst case, we just scoop them up. None of this slows him down for a moment. His spindly little legs run around the back yard and the house when he gets excited. And boy, is he cranky! While he usually listens when we tell him to go into his crate when we’re getting ready to go out, he growls with every step. However, as grumpy as he gets, he is impossible to take seriously. Whenever he gets nasty, I laugh, pick him up and kiss his little face repeatedly. Resistance is futile.
Regardless of his physical challenges, Owen “Mr. Nubbins” McIntyre will be happy and loved until his last day. Until then, there are lots of adventures in store for us. He is my cranky little curmudgeon, my pocket partner, my best friend.