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Grief

I wanted to wait before I wrote this. I wanted to wait until I could offer words of comfort or wisdom or at least feelings of love to people when they come to face this dark place. I wanted to write a beautiful tribute with photos and memories and love.

But I’m not sure exactly when that time will come, and I’ve been working hard to get there, and it’s clearly not happening anytime soon, so I’m not going to wait any longer. I know there are others out there who are going through this same thing right now, so here it is.

If you follow my Instagram account, you will know that I lost Lola almost six weeks ago. Her death was entirely unexpected, and she was surrounded by an excellent medical team at the time. Exactly what happened remains a mystery, and I can’t help but think that perhaps, given Lola’s confounding medical issues during her life, her death was also, maybe, supposed to be a little bit mysterious.

But I still can’t really even fathom that she was supposed to die at all.

I know. Listen. I’m a mostly-rational, intelligent human being. I have lived and lost, and I know death intimately well. I know all too well how it works, and that none of us are getting out of this alive, least of all little pugs. But Lola P was my heart and soul. I loved her from before we met, and the depth of that love grew exponentially over the years. I built my minutes and days around her, and in return, I found a level of happiness and contentment that I never even knew I had been looking for.

I keep saying this “isn’t what I signed up for”, knowing full well that this is exactly what we all sign up for when we give our hearts and souls to a beloved animal.

Lola was my home and my love and my life, and I’m not going to pretend that everything is okay and that I’m all right.

Through minimal effort, or even desire, on my part, I am obviously still alive and able to write this, although this continues to amaze me. How did my heart keep beating when hers stopped? How can I still be breathing when her ashes are sitting in a box beside my bed? My brain is clear enough right now that I can sit down and write this, but I am working hard to not spend my days lost in grief and despair.

Just to be clear, I’m not all doom and gloom to the outside world. I can present as functional when I need to. But I am not pretending I’m okay. I’m not pretending that this is easy, and I’m not hiding how hard this is. I can laugh at jokes. I can empathise and have conversations with my friends and neighbours about their lives. I can eat food, although I truthfully don’t care about it or taste much of it. It’s just there to keep me going, and I have to keep going, because that’s apparently what is happening, anyway.

How am I supposed to explain what this is like? Sleep is fitful, if even at all. Waking up is a continual reliving of the nightmare of the phone call, and of not having her here. Memories are everywhere. Guilt pops up when you least expect it. Anger randomly creeps in, just for balance. The panic comes in massive, unexpected waves. Inertia constantly threatens to consume everything. The tears might stop for a while, but they only return again as sobs, and often in public places. I simply don’t care what people might think anymore.

Every effort to go out into the world and behave like a normally functioning human being is good and positive, but it is usually, eventually met by an equal force of grief that throws me back down the dark well of despair and isolation.

Yes. This is what happens. Welcome to the club. It’s awful here.

I loved Lola fiercely and out loud to the world, and I will grieve her with that same love, equally and unapologetically.

Lola taught me to be present with her in the world – how to stop and listen and experience life through her perspective. She leaves a legacy that has changed me at my core.

I will not stop loving her, and she will always be my little Queen.

I know, from people who are loving and supportive, and who understand, that these feelings will likely temper with time, that I will learn how to better live with the loss of my girl, and that this isn’t a permanent state, it is a painful shift to an unrequested, new state of being.

And when I’m closer to that place, I will write again, hopefully with supportive words of calm and wisdom so that others who are grieving such a loss will know there actually might be a light in this hellishly dark tunnel.

But I’m not there yet.

I love you, Bean. I miss you.

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Senior Pug Life

Living with a senior pug is simply the best – either with a pug you’ve known and grown with over the years, or a senior who has more recently come into your life.

Senior pugs, like the best senior people, know who they are, know what they want, and their personalities just shine. They finally grow into their full selves, which, in Lola P’s case, means being as sassy and sure of herself as she’s ever been. Also – the cuteness! Puppies are off-the-charts adorable, but nothing is as beautiful to me as a silver speckled senior snout (or snout-less, as is the case with pugs).

What also often comes along with getting older – for people and pugs alike – are medical issues. Alas, this is one reason why so many mature pugs come into rescue – some folks either can’t, or won’t, afford their pug’s, often complicated, medical care.

Lola is now 13.5 years old, and for a pug her age, she’s doing great.

Our walks are much, much shorter now, and our pace is often glacial, but Lola P is engaged, feisty, and full of the life and spirit that so completely defines who she is, and she continues to teach me and challenge me to grow.

Being the medical mystery and marvel that she is, Lola has been through the healthcare wringer over the past few years, and my life has slowly changed to accommodate her developing needs. These changes will likely sound familiar to other loving, senior dog people.

A shockingly high percentage of my social time is spent in vet hospital waiting rooms, chatting with veterinarians and vet techs, and sharing stories with fellow pet parents. I consider our home vet to be family, and not only because I speak with him more these days than I do my own family.

My travel, evening, and weekend plans have been curtailed, and are often cancelled if the weather isn’t right, or if Herself isn’t feeling quite well and maybe needs a more watchful eye to make sure she’s okay.

Let’s talk about the spending. New shoes? Nope. Fancy dinner out? Nope. With many vet visits come many vet bills – and some of ours have been hefty. But I am so deeply grateful to be able to fork over the cash to save or extend my little one’s life. We have an amazing (and growing) medical team, and they deserve every penny, and more, that we give them. And I would rather have a healthy, happy pug than a newer, bigger TV, or whatever other stuff I’m told I *need* to have in order to be happy.

Speaking of spending… There are folks who have told me (repeatedly, and without solicitation) that Lola is “just a dog”, and that I’m crazy to devote so much time and money to her care, but, to be frank, those aren’t my people. I have stopped trying to explain myself to folks like this (some of whom I am related to), and I just feel sad for them now. Doubly sad if they happen to have an animal in their home.

I know what is important to me, and I know where my time, money, and energy are best spent. The level of care that I give Lola is simply a part of the dedication and love that I believe inherently comes with welcoming any new family member into my home, no matter how many legs they might have.

Dogs are family. The love and connection that our animals bring into our lives is unmatched and irreplaceable, and that love just gets sweeter as their faces get greyer, and their bones get creakier. The only rotten part of the deal is that we don’t get to have them in our lives forever. And that is simply the worst.

I have been quiet on this site because I’ve been focused on getting Lola the best care possible over the past year and a half, and dealing, sometimes not so elegantly, with the emotional roller coaster ride that comes along when a dearly loved one starts to show signs of faltering.

Senior pug life is something that I think only the luckiest among us get to experience. It’s not for the weak, and it is growing and breaking my heart open in ways that I never thought possible, but it is also the sweetest and most rewarding part of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. …unless it’s the chance to do it all again from the beginning.

Cheers to the seniors. They are the best among us. May they all have safe, soft spots to sleep, and a kind person to love and care for them, and, in Lola’s case, at least, a quick and obedient mama who jumps at her every whim and command.

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Day 4: Pug In Nature Photography Challenge

Sometimes Lola P and I venture away from the water to find other bits of nature to root around in.

And sometimes, we meet other creatures who are also rooting around in nature.

The Pug was definitely deeply intrigued by her first meeting with this particular type of natural wildlife. In a sort of “edible” kind of way.

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I am pleased to report that with repeated exposure to these fascinating beasts, Lola Pug has become one with the chickens, and they now seem to be more intrigued by her than she is of them.

Day 5 of the Challenge is tomorrow, possums. Might we head back to the water again? Come back and see if we do.

 


What is the Pug in Nature Photography Challenge?

I was recently challenged by Lola’s Uncle Deji to post a nature photo once a day for a week. These types of challenges don’t usually appeal to me, but then I thought that the world might be a slightly lovelier place if there were more photos of nature floating around. And then I realised that it would be an even more lovely place if there were more photos of Lola Pug in nature floating around.

So over the next week, I happily present to you daily updates of Lola Pug. In nature.

Lola and nature go together like me and camping.

Which is to say, not at all.

So this might be fun.

 

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Birthday Girl Lola Pug

Ten years ago, a very special pug was born. This scampy, feisty, opinionated little girl would change my life in all sorts of wonderful ways, so it was not even a question that we would celebrate her 10th birthday in a memorable way.

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I promised The Bean a few things on her birthday…we would go to visit as many of her favourite people as we could, I would not open my laptop all day (cellphone didn”t count – I had to take photos!), and I wouldn’t touch her with my feet while we were cuddled on the sofa that night (she hates it when I do that).

The morning started with Birthday wishes from far away friends…

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…which she seemed to appreciate….

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We received a VERY special message from her friends in Illinois, Donald and Daisy. Daisy was clearly *deeply* impressed with the whole birthday wish idea.

After a little breakfast and a short constitutional, we trekked to the other side of the city to visit some dear friends who we haven’t seen in ages…and who also happen to make some of the most adorable and delicious cookies we’ve ever seen.

Not only was Lola Pug positively showered with love by the amazing team at Mad Batter Bakers, but she has her very own, personalised Lola Pug cookies now!

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Lola Pug was truly made to feel like the star that she is, but the Mad Batter team had cookies to make, and we had deliveries to set out on, so we had to tear ourselves away. But don’t worry – we’ll get back to the cookies in a little bit.

Our first stop on our way home was to visit Lola Pug’s amazing health care team and her beloved Uncle Deji.

She loves going to see them (so weird, but I’m thrilled), so we *had* to stop by for a quick celebration of treats and a rousing serenade of the Happy Birthday song.

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Lola’s Uncle Deji has eagle eyes, and he quickly spotted the personalised tag on the Lola Pug cookies.

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We left the team happily munching on the best soft gingerbread in the city, and we headed home to take a bit of a nap after a busy morning.

But first, we must take a closer look at these amazing cookies…

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I’d say the resemblance is uncanny. But Lola Pug’s belly can’t handle cookies, so she was sadly denied.

And before you say, “But I could never eat such a cute cookie!”, trust me when I say that you’d be missing out on a whole lot of baking goodness if you didn’t eat the cookie.

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I know. It’s unfair to talk about all of this deliciousness and not let you have any, Bean.

We settled in for a nap, and rested up for our next, big birthday day.

What? You think ONE DAY is enough time to celebrate with all of our best friends?

Wait until you see who we’re going to visit NEXT!

But first, we nap. …and maybe eat some cookies. I *might* have brought a bag (or three) of extra gingerbread home from the bakery, just to make sure I don’t eat all of the pug cookies we have for our human friends.

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10th Birthday Pug

I have been excited about this day for weeks now, which is odd, considering how much I dread Lola Pug getting older.

But today is a momentous day.

Today is the day that, ten years ago, this brilliant little light came into the world.

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The week ahead will be filled with all of the things that 10-year old Lola Pug loves most, so stay tuned for our exciting adventures! Well…our slightly subdued exciting adventures.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

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Pug Mail!

Lola Pug and I took a little break from blogging to deal with a few medical issues that came our way, but I am pleased to report that the little monkey came through everything with great spirit and we’re finally back and excited to share our continuing adventures and stories.

On the medical side, LP is fine. She’s a bit of a marvel, as she has been diagnosed with a few unlikely, but thankfully likely-not-life-shortening conditions, as well as some hopefully resolved dental issues, but all is well once again in our world.

After a few months of worry, it was a great surprise to find a package in our mailbox this week!

Lola Pug always knows when a piece of mail is for her, and she dove down to sniff out who it came from and what it might contain….

 

Sometimes my human hands come in handy, so I obliged….

 

It’s always lovely when cards come properly addressed. So many people just don’t understand how to do this anymore.

 

The Pug seemed to be slightly apprehensive about the contents of the letter…

 

…it was a card and a gift from Angel Payton’s people!

 

The card said that this was a very special gift from Payton’s own personal collection. Now Payton meant the WORLD to her Mum and Dad, and even though Lola and Payton never met, we feel they are soul sisters, so when something comes to us from her memorial collection, we know it’s something to cherish and love dearly.

 

…and to laugh our collective human butts off at.

My darling Lola Pug, you do, indeed, have issues. So many issues. As does your mama.

Thank you, Payton’s people, for sending us such a special gift and memory from your wee one’s life, and thank you for the laughs. Well. I thank you. Lola might need a bit more time to come around to the awesomeness of this gift.

Laughter really is the best medicine.

At least it is for pug mamas!

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The Shame.

Yah, Bunny…it’s safe to come out.

We all kinda feel the same way.

It’s just a game, for goodness sake.

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Lola Nightengale?

Lola Pug’s grandmother hasn’t been well, as of late, so we’ve been spending a lot of time these days at the family house.

Now – the pug is not known for her affectionate behaviour. Quite to the contrary, in fact. I mean, she likes who she likes, but *rarely* will she sit on a lap that isn’t mine (and I don’t count – I’m merely a convenient pug servant), or even really spend much time voluntarily touching anyone – even me.

Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I found her glued to my mother for three days straight.

And when I say glued, I mean…GLUED….

Nothing could move the little dear from her Grandma’s side.

This is a whole, new side to you, pug, and it’s lovely to see.

Thank you, little one.

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