I never thought I’d have to make this decision. I thought nature would run its course as nature is apt to do. When you get a puppy at 22, you don’t think about how it will die. Or at least I didn’t.
Eight years ago, I drove to a breeder’s house in Bradenton. I giggled under my breath when I stepped into her living room and saw that every nook and cranny of this crammed spaced was occupied by pug decor – pug figurines, pug Beanie Babies, pug signs, pug needlepoint pillows, pug illustrations, pug calendars …
She wore pug earrings and a pug T-shirt. Even her husband looked like a pug.
Her name was Paula and I saved her phone number in my cell as Paula the Crazy Pug Lady. The grunting coming from her kitchen would later become the soundtrack to my life.
I would become a crazy pug lady too.
She unlatched a baby gate and six puppies rolled into the living room in joyful pursuit of whatever it is puppies desire. Food? Play time? Endless affection?
I knew immediately which puppy I wanted. He was the biggest and shiest of the litter. Even at six weeks old, his chest was wide and his face was full. He looked like a bear cub, I said.
I scooped him up. He snorted like a newborn pig.
“That one loves to be held,” Paula said. “He’s my mellow boy.”
He licked my face. In his dark round eyes I knew I’d found the one thing all people look for when they pick a dog: a kind and loyal friend.
Two of the puppies had been spoken for. The bear cub had not.
“I’ll take this one,” I said, as if I were picking out a sweater at the Gap.
“Come back in a few weeks,” she said. “And he’s all yours.”