Monday, June 17, 2013

Say "Hello" To Pookie

Last week was a killer...we picked up seven pugs. Four were puppymill survivors who are positively thrilled to be here, even the blind girl. The other three were all owner surrenders 10 years old and up. 

It started with a phone call from my friend, Leslie, who rescues in rural Missouri (ever tried turning back the ocean with a bucket?).

"I have three more pugs coming in", she said. I had already agreed to take two. "Can you help with all five?" I assured her all pugs were welcome. "Four of them are breeders. This last one is killing me. She's an 11-and-a-half year-old owner surrender. She just looks so confused."

My heart sank. Rescuing puppymill survivors is so rewarding. Breeder pugs have had it so bad, they're usually deliriously happy to be at my crazy rescue house. Between the company of other pugs, the pet door, the big, fenced yard, food, treats, chewys and toys - they must think they've hit nirvana after spending 24/7 in cages. But elderly owner surrenders are not so easily fooled.
They know they've been discarded.

Going from a puppymill to my house is a step up. But going from a home to a rescue house - that's a whole 'nother story. Better than a shelter? Yes, it is. But my house is a mutant cross between a real home and a shelter. It's not a quiet place with a few humans and one or two dogs. There's practically a turnstile at the front door where new furry faces suddenly pop in, and curly pug tails mysteriously exit for good.

Saturday morning, the four mill pugs took off with the anticipated excitement at their new found freedom. The little old lady went to my nice, quiet bedroom. 

She was in pretty sad condition, which told me her owners had not paid a whole lot of attention to her to begin with. The little black pug looked scruffy for a pug with a home  - her coat was rough and actually matted at the neck, something you rarely see in pugs. She had terrible dandruff, dental disease to rival an 8y/o mill dog and breath that peeled the paint off the walls. Overweight with tiny paws, her tail pointed due south. Her whole demeanor seemed to ask, "What am I doing here? Where is my home? Where's my hoo-muns?"

I called Leslie to see if I could get Pookie some answers.

"She was dropped off with one of my fosters," she said. "It was an older lady who said she was putting her husband in a nursing home, moving to Florida and she couldn't take the dog."  I felt my eyes narrow to pointed daggers. In our world, "can't" translates to "don't want to".

After my usual silent curse involving limitless pain and a state-run nursing home, I bathed the little pug, brushed her badly neglected coat, and resolved to help her the best I could. After all, there was no way to get Pookie back her home and family. After a lifetime of unconditional love and devotion, she had become inconvenient. I knew I could do better than that for her. The question was this: Could I convince Pookie?

On my bedroom floor, Pookie staked out a little bed with a blue blanket in it for her own. If another pug got in that bed, she would occupy a different one until that pug moved. Then she'd quietly pad on over to her bed of choice. The bed she preferred was against the nightstand where she could observe everything around her with the safety of  solid wood behind her. That night I brushed all the undercoat out and gave pookie a nice massage, which she seemed to enjoy. She sat on the bed with me for awhile, then wanted back into her little viewing post on the floor. Before I turned off the light, I saw that 10y/o Burl had joined her. Perhaps a bit of a winter romance, I thought with a smile. Burl had been dumped, too. But his owners hadn't bothered with a rescue or shelter. At least Pookie's had done that much.

Sunday I stayed home just to work with little Miss Pookie. We chopped up a very fine senior mix of "weight maintenance" canned food, Osteo-Biflex (crumbled), metacam and sardines which seemed to suit Pookie's palette just fine. Pookie held her designated outpost most of the day while I talked baby-talk to her and scratched her bony head at every opportunity. When we closed the bedroom door for a household chore, Pookie cried loudly. Clearly, we were NOT to mistake her reticence for a Garboesque need to be alone. She wanted to know what was going on in this crazy zoo of a house! Like all pugs, she wanted company more than she feared the fracas.

Pookie In Her Foster Home

Monday morning, as I prepared puggie breakfasts, I swerved around and, to my astonishment, there at my feet was little Miss Pookie. All on her own, she had made her way out of the bedroom, down the hallway and into the kitchen to see what all the She may as well have announced to the whole world that the pity party was officially over. No mistake - Pookie had joined the pack.

My roommate called me later that day. "Pookie keeps going over and looking down the hallway," he said. "She's looking for you."  

Yup, Pookie was definitely going to make it. At that moment, I resolved to keep the resilient little old ladypug with me, unless or until a permanent retirement home came along. When I came home from work that afternoon, the first thing I did was look for her. I greeted her with a singsong salutation.

"How's my pretty Pookie!" The tail that hung straight down came up for just a few seconds in acknowledgement. Soon, I knew, Pookie would be asking to be lifted onto my bed with the other pugs.

Nothing, I thought, can keep a good pug down. 

ADDENDUM: Pookie came around more and more, and surprised us all by being a very vocal ladypug! In my experience, about a third of pugs howl. Pookie is one of those. Pookie communicates in a gurgling, sing-song "roo-roooooooooooooh". We have discovered that she disdains having her crease cleaned and can get downright ornery about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an application from Jessica and Josh, a young couple who had fallen in love with our Pookie. They came to my house to meet her one day and, to my astonishment, Pookie howled at them the same way she howls when I come home from work! It was a joyous sound that told me the feeling was mutual. Pookie was unabashedly smitten! Jess and Josh are in the moving process but, as soon as they get settled, there is a place in their new home for little Pookie. This young couple has also expressed a desire to assist in rehoming elderly and "special" pugs. So while Pookie can look forward to a cushy retirement, I believe we, too, can look forward to a new pug angel in the IMR heavens.

NOTE: We have several senior pugs needing sponsors and forever homes. Please take a look at our Buddy Page and consider being a buddy, or making a contribution towards their care. Thank you!