Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ming the Pug: The lover of me

In China, pugs are referred to as "sleeve dogs" because the Emperors would carry them in their massive sleeves.

I can't imagine it.

The average pug is the heft of a bowling ball, at least in my house.

Did you know that the pug is the only dog which is bred purely to give companionship and pleasure to its owner? I read that somewhere.

It stuck with me.

Which brings me to Ming, my beautiful gyrating, snoring, shaking pug, who gave me love and companionship in spades.

She passed yesterday after suffering a disturbing breathing episode prior to dental surgery. The doctor said she wouldn't have survived the 90 minutes of anesthetic and so, sadly, I gave the order to have her put down. I was grateful not to be there, at the vet, as I had been two months early when we learned our retriever Hannah had cancer. I simply couldn't bear seeing my second dog in two months take the perp walk along the Green Mile towards oblivion.

Ming was already heavily medicated when she got the shot which finally eased her frantic breathing and gave her peace. For five summers I've had to sleep on the couch while Ming paced and panted until finally collapsing on the cool leather from her allergies. For five years I've contemplated putting her down but never had a good enough reason. I felt that I'd be putting her down for my own comfort and that she had lots of love to give, which turned out to be true.

But the recent heat wave reminded me that her breathing passage was getting smaller and more irritated and time had not been kind.

The trademark pug wheeziness which had been so cute at the start had turned deadly, and so her fate was sealed.

Ming served her ancestors well. If she hadn't been so fat, she could easily have enjoyed being hauled around in a silk sleeve. She was happiest sitting on my lap or at my feet or planting herself on top of my left hip while I snoozed on the couch.

Ming began life as Marissa's dog but it soon became apparent that she only had eyes for me. I've never been loved like that in my life, not by a man, not by a dog, not even by a child.

I was her "forever" human.

She was lovely and soft as a chinchilla with a hefty fawn and black coat that she left all over the house. By the time of her demise, Ming was virtually toothless and the rest of her teeth were rotting in the back, hence the dental surgery.

With age, she had become somewhat of a half-wit who had difficulty understanding commands. But she was swift as lighting when she bolted around the yard while our other ancient pug, Gordie, hobbled. And she could spot a bird half way down the block.

By the end of it, Ming had developed an odd looking mouth, which reminded me of one of those baseball greats who chewed tobacco. She had this brown guck coming out of her mouth and her wrinkles, which had to be cleaned daily.

But she could still "woo woo" for a juicy piece of bacon or ham. And that's how I like to remember her, as a sprite, barking her odd bark, and lifting her front legs like a see-saw.

Man, that was a sight to see.

The last night of her life, Ming gasped for air for hours, then finally sandwiched herself between Scott and me. Like Temple Grandin, Ming found comfort in the "hug" and collapsed into a deep sleep.

She went to the vet quietly, sitting in the back seat while Gordie shook and shat on the seatbelt beside me. I left her briefly to clean up the poo in the backseat and Ming tried to run after me.

Don't go, mommy. I need you.

In the end, I don't even think I gave her a pat, just tussled her fur as she and Gordie were led off to surgery. When you got to the vet, you don't expect to come home with an empty leash, right?

When we went to pick up Gordie, I sat in the waiting room with a brave face for about a minute and a half.  Then the tears began to well.

The woman sitting next to me looked at me strangely.

Wasn't I there to pick up my dog?

As the vet tech led us to the back room, I started sobbing uncontrollably and didn't stop until I went to bed last night. A margarita and a bottle of wine dulled the pain a bit but my lap was still cold and unattended.

Today, I feel better knowing that Ming is in a better place where her breath is calm and sweet and there is an endless supply of bacon and ham. Later, she'll take a run with Hannah and they'll shoot the shit and smell each other's butts.

That's how I want to remember them.

Together, forever. Waiting for me to get there.

So it's not goodbye, just so long.

See ya around Ming. Say hi to Hannah.

Be a good girl and save me a good spot.

Some place nice with a view.

Love you, both.

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