Attila the Pug: ?/?/2000 - 3/17/2009
In the summer of 2000, one of the owners of the animal rescue where I was volunteering at the time called to ask if I knew anyone who'd be willing to take a female pug puppy who'd been dumped by the breeder. Apparently, she had heart and lung problems and was going to die soon anyway. (And of course, the breeders THEMSELVES couldn't, y'know, nurse her, or call the damn vet out to euthanize her. Assholes.)
Hubby had been making noises about how he thought pugs were cute and maybe we should get one some day, so I talked to him, and we agreed to take the sad little puppy so that she could get some love and individual attention for the short period of time she was going to be here on Earth.
We took her home, along with her binky blanket and the portable plastic "puppy playpen" that prevented her from trying to run around too much. If she tried to run and play, she started to wheeze asthmatically. If she got excited, her tongue and gums would turn blue from lack of oxygen. On of her heart valves was malfunctioning, allowing blood to backwash with every heartbeat. She was a pitiful little thing.
I hauled the playpen around to whatever part of the house where I was working, and put it in the yard when the weather was nice and I was outside. We fed her and loved on her. Over the first couple of weeks she was with us, she seemed to perk up. The third week, she jumped out of the 18 inch tall playpen. Twice. By the fourth week, she was jumping up on the bed, and into the cab of my full-size pickup truck. She began to tear around the house and the yard like a banshee, seemingly tireless. The vet said her heart murmur was now virtually undetectable.
For seven-and-a-bit years, she enjoyed perfect health. Last year, she poked one of her big, protruding eyeballs on something; we never did figure out what. The vet rushed her into surgery. She saved the eye, but not the sight. From that point forward, she became affectionately known at the vet clinic as the "Unseeing Eye Dog". Or, occasionally, "Zombie Pug", because that eye really did look like something out of a horror movie, though it gave her no trouble at all.
She began to get sick occasionally. We thought it was a recurring virus at first, but eventually discovered that it was, in fact, her malfunctioning heart, coming back to haunt us. She went on heart meds, which kept her stabilized for many months. She began to get intermittent sinus infections, each one leaving her a bit weaker than the last. Yesterday, at mid-day, she had a seizure. She came out of it, lay there wavering for a few moments, then stood up, shook herself off, and wandered slowly and carefully into the kitchen to eat some kibbles.
I emailed my husband to come home from work. We called the vet, who came out to our house between a couple of farm calls she had scheduled in our area. I made up a big bowl of bite-size pieces of ham and torn up bread, soaked in homemade duck broth. I think she believed she'd hit the doggie jackpot. I sat feeding her ham and broth-soaked bread bites while the vet and her assistant held one front leg, found a vein, and inserted the needle of the syringe. I don't think she even noticed-- at least, she never looked up from the bowl of forbidden human food goodies. She collapsed in the moment between swallowing one bite of ham and reaching for the next, and was gone forever, leaving a pug-shaped hole in the house.
And that's the story of Tillie-- Attila the Pug-- whose breeder thought she was disposable because she wasn't born perfect, and was so, so wrong.( Baby Tillie Contemplates the Rawhide Bone of Enormitude )
Hug your pets, people. They're not always going to be here.