Tag Archives | dogs

A Writer’s Constant Companion

It is August, the crickets sing at night, and my pug is dying.Pug

I want to honor him while he is still here, which will not be for long.

My pug Igor, has been a constant companion the last ten years, even after turning blind, and lately, developing a limp in his rear leg.  He can no longer climb stairs and since my office is on the second floor, I've taken to working downstairs, carrying my laptop down and camping out with him in the living room or out back.

But when I was in LA last week, his problems became more apparent.  He awoke one morning and lost his balance, and at the vet they discovered that his kidneys were failing.  So he spent four days having them flushed, and when he got back home, suddenly he could no longer stand–his back legs were stiff and gimpy and after a moment or two of struggle he'd collapse again. When I got home from the airport on Saturday night, I flung myself on the floor beside him and he told me, in dog vocalizations, how awful it had all been.  Then he licked my face and hands until I was as slobbery as a little kid's popsicle.

When my Mom died a couple months ago, we had an amazing Celebration of Life for her.  It was the kind of thing that was so positive and life-affirming and wonderful that people said, "too bad we didn't do this when she was alive."  But the thing is, we did–we had a blow-out party for her 90th birthday two years ago and everyone who had ever loved her came and celebrated her.

So I'm celebrating Igor, even though he is not long for this world.

We got him by answering an ad in the paper.  We drove way out into the country west of Portland, finding our way to a double-wide trail in the midst of a muddy field.  Inside there was a big box of pug puppies on the living floor.  Four males were left from the litter and one of them jumped up as soon as we came in the room, wagged his tail and wimpered.  He was about twice the size of the other puppies and he wouldn't stop trying to get his attention.  I plucked him from the box and said, "We want this one."   So it really was a case of Igor choosing us more than we choosing him.  And we've never regretted it–he's been the best dog ever, bar none.  When he was a puppy he terrorized us all by rocketing around the backyard and he was a constant source of comic relief and entertainment.  In recent years he grew quite sedate, but was no less loving.  He quieted down and grew wisdom.

Every writer needs a dog.  A creature to lie at your feet as you work at your computer, an animal you can talk to when you need plot help.  A canine to get you out of the house and away from the desk once in awhile.  Igor has done all this for me and more.

And so I honor him while he's still here.  I lie on the floor next to him and tell him what a great dog he is and how much we all love him.  I feel his amazing energy and pet him and kiss him.  I love him so much and I'm going to miss him so much, I know.  I'm just grateful we have had him for as long as we have.

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And Now For Something Completely Different: Igor, the Blind Pug

Igor Doing High Five
Due to popular demand, I'm posting photos of Igor, the blind pug.  The photo to the right is a bit blurry because he is in the process of doing a high five, which he does because he thinks he is going to get food (note to new pug owners: pugs will do anything for food).   Igor learned how to do this all by himself–I'm not kidding–years ago.   Assorted family and friends were sitting around the dinner table with the pug on the floor next to me (he knows who the sucker who will feed him is) and I looked down at him and said, "Give me five, Igor," and he did.  I'm not kidding, that really happened.  It is his one and only trick, and it is a good one.

Igor started going blind a couple of years ago, due to cataracts.  Pugs do tend toward eye problems because their eyes are so bulgy.  You can get cataract surgery for dogs, but he is not the best candidate for it, as he has had breathing problems in the past.  One New Year's Eve day he had to spend an entire day in the oxygen room at Dove Lewis, the emergency hospital here in town. 

Our vet calls him the King of Pugs because he is, well, huge.  He used to weigh nearly 50 pounds but now he's down to his fighting weight of 45.  Its not fat, its muscle!  (The average weight for a male pug is about half that.)  But his father was very big, much as he is.   Here are a couple other photos of him:

Christmas 2007--New Polaroid 001
Christmas 2007--New Polaroid 032Christmas 2007--New Polaroid 028He gets around amazingly well in his blindness, he uses his head to bump into things and tell where he is.  Also uses his paw to reach out and feel the edge of a step he knows is there, such as when he is attempting to get off the back deck.

All I can say is, if you have ever thought about getting a pug–do it.  They are the best dogs in the world, comical, sweet, endearing, great companions.  The best dog a writer could possibly ask for.   

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