Tag Archives: pugs

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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Pug Eye Health

Do you have a pug?

Does your pug have eyes?

Not a joke question. A lot of pugs are “winkies” (one-eyed), or have had to have both eyes removed.

The late, great, Hazel, is my favourite example of an awesome, eyeless pug.

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In the six years leading up to bringing wee Lola Pug home, I learned a *lot* about pugs. Among many things, I confirmed that pugs are, indeed, spectacularly awesome, and I accepted that a lot of my time and income would be going into keeping my pug healthy.

Well. Lola has turned out to be more awesome than I ever could have imagined, and I have, indeed, spent a sizeable portion of my income keeping her healthy. And as she ages, her medical needs have increased.

Which brings us to today’s post. And pug eyes.

Do you see what I see?

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Trick question – there are two things going on here. Ignore the obvious blob, and look further.

Lola and I are no strangers to the pug eyeball game. She has already had two eye injuries that required surgery to heal, so we know that corneal ulcers are not to be messed with. Ulcers are serious and fast moving injuries that can lead to blindness, or worse.

We immediately trotted over to see Lola’s eye specialist – who we had just seen a few weeks before for a routine eyeball health check up – to get the diagnosis and treatment plan.

Lola seemed to take the news in stride.

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To help an eyeball heal, you have to pull out the full Monty of treatment and care, and that’s just what we did. Meds, detailed and timed application of meds, and the dreaded CONE.

 

A lot of work, indeed. But you know what?

It’s working.

It’s working because we’re diligent with care – and with keeping the cone on – and because we got lucky.

Corneal ulcers are most common with stuffy faced dogs – Pugs, Bosties, Bulldogs, Frenchies, Shih Tzu’s, etc – but they’re not the only breeds – or species – to have these issues. So be diligent!

How can you tell if your pet has an eye ulcer?

A few symptoms that Lola Pug has experienced include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Wincing, winking, or closure of one eye
  • Red eyes
  • Pawing at eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

What can you do if you think your dog has a corneal ulcer?

Get. To. Your. Vet.

It will not get better on it’s own.

And besides. If you go to your eye specialist, you’ll likely meet a lot of coneheads who are in the same situation as you are, and misery loves company, right? (yes, that’s a cat in a cone in a crate, and boy, did I feel sorry for him)

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So. Pug eyes.

They require attention, time, and sometimes many vet visits to keep healthy and happy. Especially if your pup likes to go on sniffy adventures, or is aging.

Don’t overlook obvious symptoms, do exactly as your vet specialist tells you, and hopefully your pup will have a lifetime of healthy vision.

And as for that blob on Lola’s eyelid?

Well, that’s a whole other unfolding story. To be updated next time. I promise.

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Obey the Pug.

Keep your pet’s eyeballs safe.

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Tick Talk

I’m supposed to be studying today, so here I am writing a long overdue blog post. Because that’s what happens, right?

I blame Spring Fever!!!!

Lola P has been through the mill with health issues this winter, so we have been quiet for a while as we dealt with and recovered from our dramas. More about that in upcoming posts, perhaps, but for now, she is better than ever, and my goodness, have we been out and celebrating with little adventures!

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Spring has sprung in Toronto, and in addition to MANY more walks on the nature trails around Casa Lola, this means a trip to see Lola’s Uncle Deji to get her bloods done and pick up her heartworm meds for the summer.

This year, we have a new addition to her medicine cabinet, as 2017 is the year of TICKS IN THE 6IX*! (*clever title courtesy of Dr. Deji)

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Ticks are bad. Capital “B” bad. And they have invaded our fair northern shores in numbers not seen before (thanks, humans and global warming). Ticks carry Lyme disease and other dangerous fevers, and they LOVE to feed on the blood of dogs, cats, and their resident humans, causing many, sometimes fatal, health issues. So as much as I am not a fan of giving LP more meds, these are necessary.

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Thankfully, the tablets aren’t so gross to eat, apparently, so there were no hesitations from the Bean about her new monthly snack.

…and now we can venture out into the wilds of the Toronto Parks system again without (much) fear of LP playing host to these ghastly parasites. (I still have to worry about myself, however)

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Ticks aren’t to be messed with. They feed on all forest creatures – birds, raccoons, dogs, humans – and they wait on grass, dead leaves, sticks, even cement, to find a host so they can fulfil their gross and parasitic life purpose.

Talk to your vet. Learn more on trusted sites online. Protect yourself, protect your fur kids, and GET OUT THERE AND LOVE NATURE! Well. Love everything except ticks. And mosquitos. And black flies. But love the bees. And everything else.

Happy Spring, All!

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What Has My Pug Named Me?

Humans most often rely on talking to communicate, and I talk to Lola all the time. Of course, I answer back for her in what I think is her voice.

I tell myself this makes her mental, because I’m either capturing her feelings perfectly, or I’m way off. Either way, I’m pretty sure I piss her off a lot of times.

And if you doubt me, remember THIS?

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This meme has been making the rounds recently, and aside from making me laugh, it got me thinking…

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…what does Lola Pug actually call me?

In my human brain, she refers to me as “Mama”. In her more demanding moods, she calls me “Monkey”. (referring to my inferior-to-pugs status as a primate, of course)

…but what is she *really* thinking?

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And what names does YOUR pet call YOU?

Food for thought….

 

 

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Pug Houseguest

Apologies for our quietude over the past two weeks. I have been off on a couple of weekend quests to raise money for the hospital that helped Lola P’s angel grandma (more on those at the bottom of the post), so my computer time has been limited until now.

Lucky Lola P got to stay with her friends, The Fuppies, while I was away, and BOY, were they happy to see her! And I’m so happy that Lola’s Auntie Evelyn took so many photos to share.

Lola waited for me for a while by the front door of her temporary home…worried that she had been abandoned at Griffy Manor forever…

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She was so sad that Murphy came over to try to console her. Nice photobomb, Leo!

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And it wasn’t long before the promise of a lush lawn and some hardcore snuffling took over, and Lola P’s sadness was almost completely forgotten.

Murphy loves Lola SO MUCH…alas, it is very definitely an unrequited situation.

Admitting defeat, but still sitting by her BFF.

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By the time dinner rolled around, Lola was not only feeling at home, she was leading the Evening Vittles Brigade.

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And when I saw THIS photo, I knew that Lola P would never be coming back to her little tv-less apartment. Because…what is better than TV in bed???

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So everyone ends up happy, in the end.

And I apparently now have to start saving up for a giant, flat-screen tv. And cable.

Now that our schedule is a little bit more back to normal around Casa Lola, I think it’s time to start in on our summer adventures, don’t you? Oh, the sunshine and fun that awaits us!

 

NON-PUG STUFF!

Every year for almost a decade now, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, in Toronto, holds the Ride to Conquer Cancer – a 200+km ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls to benefit the cancer research and treatments that the hospital offers. I also participate in the Journey to Conquer Cancer – a 1k, 3k, or 5k Walk/Run that allows families and the slightly less athletically inclined to participate. I ride and walk to support the Head and Neck Cancer team, because they basically became family over the years, and they really are amazing. If you’re a cyclist, it’s a fantastic ride to be a part of – consider participating in 2017!

BUT WAIT! I saw two pugs on the ride route who were cheering us on, so I just HAD to stop and say HI to them. I STOP FOR PUGS!

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Filed under Adventures, Friends, Frienemies, Special Days, Traveling Pug

A Pug and Her Stinkle (A Trip to the Dermatologist)

You might recall that we visited Lola’s vet a while back to get to the bottom of her overpowering stink mouth. Now, pug dentals aren’t something I take lightly, so we wanted to rule out all other possibilities before she went in for a cleaning.

Lola Pug has what I refer to as a “stinkle” (stinky wrinkle), so Deji and I thought it best to send HRH to see the dermatologist about resolving her clam face issues (not something I talk about much, because HRH is rather sensitive about it) *before* we talked dental.

I mean – if the hot clam boat smell is really her face and not her mouth, the dental would be an unnecessary risk, right?

So off to the specialist we went!

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Have you ever seen a little pug so happy to be at the vet’s?

I really am the luckiest pug mama ever. And it’s not as if this is our first time at the vet specialist rodeo. I mean…look at the size of that file…

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Lola P has WAY more specialists on her payroll than most people do. Certainly more than I do, at least.

Our dermatologist proved to be a wonderful guy, and after a little bit of poking and prodding of the pug’s face and talking about “growing things in a lab” (another pug, please!), we found ourselves waiting to be discharged.

The waiting room is always an exciting place to be – it inspires me and makes me sad, at the same time.

This beautiful guy is a 14-year old Pibble who was in for a chemo session. A sweeter dog you will never meet, and he was raring to get back into the treatment area so he could see all of his human friends at the clinic.

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Of course, Lola P, being the social butterfly that she is, can’t go anywhere without seeing someone she knows, and who happened to be coming out of surgery that day, but her little friend, Sadie.

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Sadie has just had surgery on her larynx and nose, and her recovery is going to be on the longer side, so please go and wish her well on her Instagram page here!

We were handed a bag of various stinkle medications, and we were on our way back home, where Lola P could *finally* eat her lunch and catch up on her sleep after a very busy afternoon.

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Updates to come on the little clamboat and her stinkle. We get to find out what the “lab” has been “growing” next week, so if it’s anything even remotely exciting, I’ll keep you posted.

Until next week, stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay unstinky!

 

 

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Pug Dental Check Up

LP’s mouth has been smelling like the end of the world recently, so I packed her up and brought her to see her beloved vet, Uncle Deji, to see if he could figure out what was going on in her little Pacman mouth.

Lola adores her Uncle D, but she has never been a big fan of kisses, so of course, we smother her with them when she arrives.*

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Can you feel the love?

Wait. There’s video, too!

After the kissing nightmare was over (all 11 seconds of it), Dr. Deji turned his attentions to someone’s mouth.

One of the many amazing things about pugs is that they have such soft and flappy lips…that are amazingly strong and turn into Fort Knox when you try to lift them up to get a gander at the teeth underneath them.

Well.

We had limited success on both sides. The tooth mystery still lingers (like someone’s breath). So we stood and chatted about options while Lola P found a comfy spot to sort out the events that had just transpired.

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It’s all okay. She got lots of recovery time from the horrors of the kisses and the tooth exam (there might also have been a thermometer inserted into a more delicate place), but she received lots of treats, praise, and love…

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…and eventually she forgave us for the indignities that come along with ensuring a healthy and happy long life. A price we all must pay, I might add.

And so the saga continues.

 

*There’s been a lot of talk recently over whether dogs “like hugs” or not, which in one way has been a great way to make folks more aware of the many nuances of dog body language, and in another way, it’s been kind of headshake inducing. I mean how does everyone not understand already that dogs (and all animals) are individuals with personal likes, dislikes, and moods. And NO ONE likes being forcibly restrained in close quarters, right? I guess the obvious isn’t always so obvious to everyone.

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Belated Pug Birthday!

I carry all of the blame for this.

Lola P’s birthday was back in March, just before I started blogging again, and I realised only this week that I hadn’t posted ANY of the photos, and oh my god, how terrible, because they still make me laugh.

A true diva such as Lola Pug requires a bit of a splash on her birthday (11 years, dears – where has the time gone?!?), so the menus were planned, the (two) guests were invited, the party hats were unearthed, and the celebrations BEGAN!

Well. The photobooth was set up, is what I mean to say.

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Lola P is really *such* a pro.

The crazy and overwhelming joy felt in the photobooth was only amplified when the Fuppies came over and joined the party.

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Can you feel it?

Can you feel the love and joy and complete celebration?

I throw such amazing pug parties.

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Happy belated birthday, my little Bean.

I love you more than I ever thought possible.

And boy, do you ever look fetching in pink.

 

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Pug Squad Goals!

I do my best to keep Lola Pug’s social life as active as she can manage. She has her besties, who we travel far and wide to see, but I also think it’s important to introduce her to new friends, just in case there is a friendship spark there for her.

So when the opportunity arose to go and see two of her BFF’s, Miso and his sister, Leia, as WELL as a couple of new friends, I jumped!

Oh, hai, guys! What’s up? You have a guest over, eh?

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Well, hello, handsome Buddy! Lovely to meet you!

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Um. Lola. There seems to be yet another someone new behind you. You might want to turn around…

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What a funny looking dog! HELLO DOZER!

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Needless to say, we humans all sort of gently and collectively lost our minds when Dozer walked in. The dogs were rather blasé, but they kept their eyes on us as their new friend snuffled around and indicated that he clearly had the charm (and treat radar) thing down pat.

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So what else am I going to do but try to get a group shot?!?

SQUAD GOALS!

As expected, it was easier said than done.

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Ever the consummate professional, Lola stayed on her mark the entire time, while chaos reigned around her.

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Maybe more a bit more space, a bit more time, and a bit more jam (Dozer likes jam), and we’ll have better luck next time.

I could write forever about how fascinating it was to watch the dogs interact with Dozer, and how *different* pigs are from dogs – and how when you look into Dozer’s eyes, you see clearly that there is a complex, intelligent, emotional being inside that little pig body…

…but this is all about short adventures and photos, and besides, it’s time for a nap.

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Thank you for coming by to visit, sir! The pugs and Buddy and the humans all really enjoyed meeting you, and thank you for being such a patient and sweet little gentleman.

Now. How am I going to top THIS for Lola Pug’s ongoing adventures?

I’ve clearly got some work ahead of me.

**If you’re curious about the snazzy harnesses, collars, and bowties in the photos, those are made by the awesome Peachy Keen Pets. Dozer is the latest model for the line, so keep your eyes peeled for more photos of him on the PKP page, as well as my photography Instagram!**

 

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