Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ruby and Jack

About a month ago, I smiled to myself as I watched our pug, Jack, run full tilt through our backyard.  His running can be described as deer-like.  He prances more than runs.  Even our vet commented on this once.  His glossy black fur contrasted against the deep green spring rain grass.

I'm so glad we got this dog.  He makes me so happy.  Happy is good.  You have to look for happy and take it when you can.  Seems so simple and yet so many times we don't.

About a year ago, we had to put our pug, Ruby, to sleep.  She was fourteen and had gone blind about five years before.  She had chronic ear infections.  She moved about in a slow, stilted way that broke my heart a little every time I watched her.  She had developed painful skin rashes.  We had been running a pug hospice for about two years.  But it was when she started to scream at night that I knew I had to do it.

I'm ashamed to admit this, but I cried and mourned harder about this than the deaths of either of my grandmothers, both of whom passed away in the last couple of years. 

I loved both of my grandmothers and was especially close to my maternal grandmother "Nana", but I hadn't shared every day of the past fourteen years with them.

When we put Ruby to sleep, it was the hardest decision I've ever had to make.  I had three people offer to take her to the vet for me put her down, but I couldn't do that.  I owed it to her to be there.  Letting someone else do it would have been the coward's way out.


                                          My beloved Ruby with Anna while she was sleeping -
                                          one more reason I loved this dog.

                                                   And here she is again.  This was pre-marriage
                                                   and pre-babies for us.

Afterwards, I didn't think I'd ever want another pug.  But after a few months, I made some inquiries to shelters within a hundred miles that had pugs listed online, not certain why I was doing it.  I didn't entirely know how I felt about getting another pug.  I wasn't sure if I could do it even if one came along. I filled out some applications about who would be home with the dog and how we would train the dog.  I gave the names of references who would swear we would be responsible dog owners.  It seems a bit much, what some of these shelters expect from pet owners.  I get what they are trying to do, but really?  References?  (On a interesting side note, when we were adopting our other dog from a shelter three years earlier, my husband - who was supposed to dealing with our six year old and four year old - came up to me and announced in front of the shelter worker that he had misplaced our son for a couple of minutes.  He had apparently wandered into the store next door.  Surprisingly enough, they still let us take home a puppy.  Losing your child for a short period of time does not disqualify you from caring for a dog. But not having proper references will.)

Nothing worked out for months,  I was either a day late ("Sorry, but that pug was adopted two months ago.  I don't know why she's still on the website.")  or a dollar short ("Our minimum adoption fee is $500.") or shot down because we had another dog we had rescued (We really feel like Molly would do better in a one dog home.")

The stars just wouldn't align for us.

And then in November I saw Jack on a Facebook group my friend had added me to, knowing I was looking.  He was with a woman who had two pugs of her own.  She had rescued him from an older lady who couldn't handle looking after a dog.  She just wanted to find a good home for him.  She lived 20 miles away and wanted $50.

I was miserably sick with the flu, but I was not going to let this one get away.  We met them at a gas station halfway between our homes on a rainy, cold November night.  I was running a temp of 102, but I grabbed $50 of the Christmas cash I had.  We set out to meet them.

When she handed him to me through the car window I said, "We want him."  Done deal.

Once back home, I have to give my husband all the credit.  We had just brought this young, hyper pug into our home with two kids, two cats, and another dog.  Jack was not (and still is not) completely house trained.  He was lifting his leg everywhere.  The kids were squealing and running around.  The cats were taking off for parts unknown.  Amid this chaos, I promptly went back to bed.  I listened from our bedroom while the kids and the animals went nuts downstairs.  Danny dealt with all of it.

                                                  Don't I look great in this picture?  This is what
                                                  the flu looks like on me. And this is what a blue
                                                 sweater looks like on Jack.

After he got the kids to bed, he hoisted Jack up into bed with us.  This is one of the many reasons I love my husband.  He didn't even ask if this dog was going to sleep with us like Ruby had every night.  He just knew.  Jack bounced back and forth on the bed for a good five minutes, sniffling and snuffling as only a pug can do.  I moaned and rolled on over onto my side away from him.

Then he did something at that moment so familiar, it actually made me smile despite my wretched state.  He came to my side, circled three times, and plopped down wedged right into the small of my back.

It was something Ruby did every night except near the end when she was in too much pain to be close to me.  It was what she did while I read every night before going to sleep.  It was what she did when I was recovering from surgery in 2001.   It was what she had done the first night in the first house I had bought when I was single and we both had to sleep on the floor because the bed wasn't in the house yet.

After that first night, that's where Jack has been ever since.  If Dan is in bed before me, Jack will lay by him.  But when I get in bed, he abandons him and comes over to plop down next to me.  When Jack did this a few nights ago Dan said, "He is your dog, and he knows it."

When we put Ruby down, I went through a period when I thought I could not get another pug.  I'm glad I didn't go with that.  Jack makes me happy when I see him - his curly tail tucked over his hip and his fruit bat face.  How many things make you smile every day without fail?  He is a living reminder to me that you can't give up on happiness.  Take it when someone hands it to you through a car window. 

1 comment:

  1. Amazing what dogs do for us...and ask nothing in return.