I received the sad, yet not unexpected news today that Max, my beloved pug dies this past fall. My ex and I got Max when she was just a little puppy, 2 pounds of spunk and attitude. She managed to pack the personality and courage of a mastiff into her little body, making sure that everyone knew that mighty Max was around.
One of my favorite early memories of her was when she was around 10 weeks old. She could still fit in the palm of one hand. We came home and found her curled on a pillow on top of the couch. This was a surprise, as she had been placed in the bathroom with a babygate blocking the doorway. The gate was still in place, but the dog was not. Puzzled, we placed her back in the bathroom and sat outside the gate to watch. She climbed the gate as though it was a ladder, teetered on her fat little belly on the top, and jumped/fell unto the floor. She waddled towards us, so proud of her accomplishment.
She was a very smart dog (and extremely food motivated). I once taught her to “crawl” in the time it took my ex to take a shower. In her heyday, she knew the names of over 40 toys and would fetch the appropriate one. That same food drive got her into trouble. We only made the mistake of leaving a bag of food within her reach once. On that day, we came home to find a half empty 30 lb bag of previously unopened dog food on the floor with a very fat pug sleeping just inside the walls of the bag.
We used to take her camping, hiking, and swimming. Her enthusiasm and determination on these outings earned her the nickname “All Terrain Pug.” I’ll never know how her stubby little legs managed those tough trails. Catching deer was never her strong point, though; she would walk right by them and never even notice their presence.
She was our dog, but she was more mine. My ex moved across the country for work and it was 7 months before Max and I were able to follow. In that time, she and I bonded even more as we waited for our family to be reunited. She was with me through my entire marriage, my entire young adulthood.
When my ex left, I was not able to care for her or the other dogs. My friends and family helped to find homes for them. Max was the challenge. She was 14 years old at the time and already deaf and almost blind. The pug rescue group was full and she was not adoptable. I didn’t know what we were going to do; it wasn’t time to put her down, but I could not take of her myself. A wonderful woman stepped up and agreed to take her. She has provided a wonderful, loving home for my baby for the past few years. It was more than I could have ever hoped for.
Today, I am saying goodbye to my Max for the second time. I always thought I would be there with her at the end and it is hard to know that I couldn’t. My tears are for her passing, but mainly for the gratitude I have for her second mom, who gave her a home when I couldn’t.