About a month ago, I received a call from someone here in town who had a pug to surrender to rescue. He was, of course, "very sweet". I didn't care, we take all pugs in trouble. I swung by her house that weekend. Jan and Bruiser met me in the front yard.
As it turned out, Jan was not actually Bruiser's owner. Bruiser, as the story was recited to me, had belonged to a boy who left for college and decided not to take the pug he'd had from puppyhood. His parents, who clearly were not interested in having a dog, began looking for someone to take Bruiser. Jan, a concerned neighbor and animal-lover who had all rescued dogs herself, offered to take Bruiser home with her. Whether or not she originally intended to keep the pug, I'm not sure. But she saw a few unsavory issues - particularly a tendency to dribble urine - and called rescue.
What I saw in her driveway that Saturday, was a handsome fawn intact male pug, with a pronounced limp. As she lifted Bruiser, I reached out to examine a his paw to see if overgrown nails were causing problems. Bruiser immediately snarled and snapped at my fingers. As I pulled my hand safely out of reach, Jan commented, "Oh, she did say he doesn't like you touching his feet". Now you tell me, I thought. obviously, there was some pain involved here.
"I'll ask the vet to examine his leg while he's anesthetized", I responded. Then I asked, "Why didn't she keep him?"
"He belonged to her son," said Jan. "He left for college and couldn't take him. The mom said it was just too much for her to handle with Bruiser. She was looking for somebody to take him. I offered." Like most stories I hear, it sounded a bit fishy. I could feel simmering anger, but tried not to show it. Our Number One Rule is: Get The Dog.
"He's intact, " I said. "He needs a dental. Has he ever seen a vet?"
Jan shrugged. Don't know. "He marked a little here. Urine dribbles a bit when he walks." She wrinkled her nose. "I can already smell it."
"Probably a UTI," I answered. "Very easy to treat."
"She did ask me if she could visit him." She looked at me expectantly.
"No," I responded. "He's being displaced at nine years old because she 'can't handle him'? They haven't taken care of him - he's probably never seen a vet. And he'll cost considerably more than his adoption fee, if we can place him at all. Believe me, she would NOT (emphasis here) want to talk to me."
"She's dealing with a lot," said Jan-the-compassionate-neighbor. Then she told me the woman had lost her teenage daughter in a car accident a couple of years earlier. "She is still fighting depression." I actually remembered the accident - an awful tragedy - and my temper cooled considerably. Jan pressed $40 into my hand. "It's something," she said. I wondered why Bruiser's family had not provided decent care when the houses around me cost three times as much as my own. They could clearly have afforded it. Still, losing a child is a terrible thing.
I mulled it over and called Jan when I got home, leaving my number so the woman could make arrangements to visit Bruiser. I needn't have bothered. She never called.
Bruiser and I pushed bravely onward. A round of antibiotics took care of the UTI. Our veterinarians neutered him, cleaned his teeth, trimmed his nails, microchipped him, provided all vaccinations and heartworm tested him (thankfully negative). It was a Bruiser makeover. On examination, he was found to have a partial dislocation of the elbow and painful arthritis, so we started him on a quality puggie joint supplement. Bruiser became my little shadow, following me everywhere and sleeping right next to me, too. I knew it was time to send him to Kristen's house, where he would be one of three instead of one of twelve. He transferred gracefully and fit right in.
A week later, my friend Nadine emailed to tell me someone on craigslist was looking for a pug named Bruiser.
"Can't be the same one," I said. "This guy was an owner surrender. No one would be looking for him." Bruiser is a common-enough name. I dismissed it and went on to the next rescue.
|A Familiar Face Here|
"Hello I'm trying to get in contact with someone about bruiser, the 9 year old pug. I'm extremely interested and would like someone to get in contact with me right away. My name is Kira and my number is *******. I believe this may be my ex boyfriends dog and would take him. If you give me a call I can explain how I am familiar with bruiser."
It ended with a signature and her number again, along with the photo on the right.
"That could be him," I said. "I'm gonna call her."
I didn't take long to determine identity. "He has a funny-looking paw and he limps when he walks," said Kira.
"Yup," I nodded "This is definitely him."
Kira went on to tell me a somewhat different story about Bruiser's travels. She had, she said, lived with Bruiser's owner, Jeff, in a apartment in Missouri near the college they both attended.
"I was Bruiser's primary caretaker," she said. "We broke up, I moved out and I asked him if I could have Bruiser, and he told me no, I could not." Kira later found out that Bruiser had been given away to a stranger and was very upset. "I've been looking for him ever since."
|A Happy Reunion|
Kira's story had the ring of truth. "Bruiser's yours", I told her. I explained to Kira how we had gotten Bruiser and what I had been told. I explained how we had cared for Bruiser's medical needs, and how she could continue what we'd started. "He's microchipped, too", I said. "Register the chip in your name and you'll be Bruiser's legal owner." No one would ever be able to take Bruiser away from her again.
|Bruiser & Kira|
The little pug had spent most of his life with shallow people who abandoned him. People with no regard at all for what he needed or deserved, especially in the twilight of his years. But somehow life (karma?) brought him back where he belonged.
What goes around, comes around.
It made me feel pretty good to have been a miniscule part of that. But I knew that it was not my doing...not by a longshot! Pugs have a way of reaching into the lives of the good people and leaving lasting impressions there.
It was Bruiser's own generous nature and loving heart that brought him home.