For the last 16 years, part of my consciousness belonged to a little pug. From the moment I first saw him sitting in the corner of the window box not playing with the other dogs, I was hooked. What a calm docile dog, perfect for my 800 square foot NYC studio apartment. Nothing at all like the Long-Haired Chihuahua I had planned to buy to fit into my tiny apartment. This pug was a solid little creature with the wisest eyes.
I visited him every day, dragging my friends to look at him in the window. Every day, I asked: “How much is that doggy in the window?”
I was a broke college student, slaving away at a call center. The price varied based on who was working. I kept asking. In the meantime, I spent hours playing with him as he snorted in my face.
Then on March 12, I was on the way to see Return of the Jedi, meeting some friends on the corner near Citi Pets and I stopped in to inquire about the pug. There was a woman there who was going to go get her two pugs to see if they could be friends. As she walked out the door, I asked how much was that pug in the window? The price was right. I went to the ATM and pretty much emptied my bank account to buy the little pug.
I was off to the movies, so I picked him up the next morning. His name was David. I immediately changed his name to Chewie. He snorted in my face.
There were ups and downs with Chewie. He took over my FAO Schwartz giant dog and ate all my shoes. I moved my shoes to the top shelf of the closet where they fell on my head when I opened the door and he ate my records. He chewed on the ladder for the loft bed and cuddled with me on my couch. I went home between every class to walk him and was often held up as he wrapped around the legs of rookie cops forced to patrol Christopher Street.
After he was housebroken, he visited me at the call center during my overnight shift
s. It was great living, working, and going to school all within a few blocks. Chewie cemented my habit of not going above 14th Street. Often I’d come home from class and find that Chewie had pulled my magazines or the newspaper off the table onto the floor to pee on them.
Then there was the ex-boyfriend who told people I stole Chewie from him, showing photos and whining to strangers. Meanwhile, the one time I let him watch him, while I was on vacation (the ex called it visitation), he was locked in the upstairs apartment unwatched for days. The ex’s grandma let me in to claim my dog. There were no more visitations, but the ex still showed photos. After that, I traveled with Chewie rather than leaving him with friends.
Another ex told me he missed Chewie more than me–I’m okay with that.
We leaved in the West Village, Jackson Heights, Lower East Side, Williamsburg/Bushwick, San Diego, Santa Monica, and Seattle. Chewie loved the snow and the sun, hated the rain. He wanted to sit outside, but not near dirt or grass.
He traveled all over the Eastern and Western United States and even into Canada, taking quite a few trips to Disneyland. He loved to camp and hike and feel the wind in his pug hair from the rented convertibles. He never strayed from the trail except to climb rocks or wade in a spring.
He loved dog parks, but not to visit with other dogs, but to sit on benched by people. He loved to run in the sand but hated the waves at the beach. Somehow, no matter how large an area filled with any number of dogs, he always managed to find the Pit Bull (or a pack of them). He was fearless and lovable.
I have so many stories to tell of Chewie. He was a character. He was a bit vindictive. He would trick people out of their seats at a table in order to steal their food. He could scale kitchen counters to get to brownies. He always seemd a little more human than doglike (Le Mops is the dog in the family). He was my baby.
I can close my eyes and see him. I see him running down the street in Jackson Heights with Draven and I in full chase behind him, only for us to turn the corner and not see him–he was hiding behind the mailbox. I see him sinking into the snow as he ran, just his ears peeking out. I see him cuddled up next me on the couch. I reach for him even now.
In between it all, he had a MySpace page with thousands of friends, a blog, an advice column, a clothing line (Pug Life is a registered trademark), and a huge extended family.
He went peacefully–I hope–but assisted on March 2, 2013, around 1:15 p.m. He was 16 years and 3 months old. I still don’t know if I did the right thing. For his last meal, I made him gooey rich chocolate brownies. He sat up for the first time in a couple days and greedily, happily ate the brownies. He had so much energy, so much life at that moment, it killed me to know it was going to be over soon.
People keep telling me he’s in a better place, but there is no better place than next to me on the couch, cuddled up under a blanket. I just hope that if he is somewhere out there, that he saves me room on his couch.