I was working at a group home (a job that taught me a lot), when I mentioned casually that I was quite fond of pugs. Never owning one, I imagined that although they were not as pretty as a golden retriever or as athletic as a greyhound they were blessed with a special kind of ugly cuteness and demeanor that would suite my personality. I had no idea what the next 10+ years of my life was going to entail.
My boss at this group home overheard my comment and informed me of a pug that she was trying to find a home for. Her family had become too busy to properly care for and entertain “King Pugsley.” Yes, that was his name. Now I had no intention of taking a pet home. My roommate had said with great directness that he did not want animals. He was allergic and, as I would find out much later, still emotional about the loss of a dog he once had. Still, I thought there would be no harm in accepting her invitation to meet the pug.
Arriving at her home, I stood outside as she called for him. Then, as fat as you please, this fawn-colored creature bounced happily from around the corner and immediately b-lined for me. This was a mistake. I saw his upbeat face and got tangled in his immediate displays of affection. Not since meeting my estranged brother had I had such an instant connection to any living thing.
The next thing that happened blew my mind. He shuffled off towards my car, where I had left the door open, and jumped into the driver’s seat. He was ready to go. No looking back. Was he on bad terms with the owners? Was this his way of flipping them off? It didn’t matter. It had been settled. He was mine as was the burden of informing the roommate that we had a new housemate.
Once home, I placed King Pugsley in the fenced in backyard. I got him water and food. Then, I darted back and forth from him to the recliner in a child-like nervousness, anticipating the roommate’s arrival.
When he got home, I said “So, don’t get mad, but I have something to show you. I’ll take full care of him and he can stay in the backyard. I promise not to let him in.”
He rolled his eyes and his shoulder’s dropped. “Did you get a dog?”
The introduction was anti-climactic. I remember a lot of sighing from him and a lot of grinning from me. I think he realized how happy I was, so he gave in. “But I don’t want him in the house.”
Yay! So, next thing was to change his name. It wasn’t that he looked like anything other than royalty, it was that “King Pugsley” doesn’t roll off the tongue. I could call him Pugsley. I decided I would ask him.
In the backyard, I sat on the ground and rubbed his fur. I asked “What should I call you?” His response was to get up walk over to our patio table and hike his leg. “Thanks,” I said. ‘That was helpful.”
I went back inside to work on getting something to eat, when I noticed Prince of Egypt was on tv. Moses was parting the Red Sea at this point. King Pugsley had just moved water by parting his legs. It was a sign.
I rushed back out, looked him in the face and exclaimed “I shall call you ‘Moses’.”
He didn’t care.
Weeks later, I come home from work to find that my roommate had made a little space on the floor near his recliner. There my roommate was, asleep on the chair. There was Moses, asleep on the floor. So much for that strict rule. Moses had worn down his defenses.
Over the next few years, Moses’ personality began to shine. We learned about his love of carrots after he dug one up out of the garden. Hugging him often made him belch. He loved having his hind leg squeezed gently. Sitting on your foot was his stamp of approval. Snow made him chipper.
In fact, we took him out to the country one winter. The snow was almost as tall as he was. Yet, there he was plowing through it with a little skip in his step. He wore himself out.
He was my buddy for over ten years and through 3 or 4 moves. He was the constant. For a guy who had attachment issues and spent most of his life grieving a loss, Moses provided me stability and an uncomplicated love / friendship.
After years of busting the bathroom door open while I was vulnerable, cleaning his poop from non-poop designated areas, and dressing him up like various characters for Halloween, his health began to decline.
It started with seizures, moved to trouble walking, and finally a loss of appetite. I spent all I could to help him, but he was 15 years old. I made the awful decision to have him euthanized. I cried so much and so hard. My friend was gone.
The only thing that soothed me, was having him cremated. He could still be “physically” with me. It was how I coped.
Moses was the best dog in the world.