Dear Readers

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Tears continue to fall as I sit at my computer, writing for the last time, words about my beloved grandpug, Mason. As Mason’s “transcriber,” it has been my privilege for these many years to give him the voice he so rightly deserved. His passing leaves a gaping hole in so many of our lives and a silence that is nearly deafening. Never have I known an animal in such a tiny body to have such a powerful presence. He was engaging, charming, demanding, funny, loving (on his terms), masterful, beautiful, courageous, tenacious, and all-consuming. His connection to my daughter was something incredible to behold and I feel certain there never will be such a bond between any human and animal.

Bringing him to life was a completely organic experience. He did tell me what he wanted to convey and always with a dry, sardonic, and somewhat jaundiced point of view. He was a gentleman but a glutton, a romantic but a pragmatist, a mastermind but an innocent. He was always a study in contradiction.

To say that he will be missed, is a huge understatement. In time we will all be able to share the many Mason stories that have become part of his lore and cachet, but not for a while. Right now we miss him too much and feel his absence too greatly.

I have loved sharing his life and telling his stories, and really grieve that there will be no more. I console myself with the knowledge that at least his voice was heard and loved by so many throughout the world. We all wish to thank you for your notes, letters, and comments throughout this very difficult time. Your words give us great comfort and peace, confirming what we’ve always felt about this little pug. Thank you for your loyal readership, support, and love.

Respectfully submitted,

Sue Newman

Mason’s grandmother and transcriber

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The Devil Wears A Onesie

What a summer it has been, dear reader, and my silence is due only to Grandma’s endless stream of guests visiting on Cape Cod. We were fortunate enough, however, to manage four visits and enjoy all of the pleasures this beautiful strip of land and sea offer. And while I would gladly regale you with tales of my chivalrous and exemplary conduct, I fear the opposite is more the case.

Returning to New York always puts me in a more– how should I phrase this?–aggressive and machismo state of mind. The mellowing and soporific effects of Cape Cod go by the wayside once we cross the Triboro Bridge and zoom down the FDR Drive to the Lower East Side. The difference is palpable and this old pug knows the route like the back of his paw. Living in Gotham requires a fortitude and quickness of reaction that is like nowhere else on earth…and so I become Devil Pug!

It is not something of which I am proud, but there it is, dear reader, a fact of my life.

I am ashamed to confess that I did the unmentionable, the unthinkable, the most abhorrent of all crimes…I bit the hand that feeds me, my dearest and most loving mother’s. It was on a Saturday morning when we always lie in bed and play – I, on my back with four little legs pedaling the air wildly and mouth agape, exposing the few little tooth like stumps remaining in my head – that I chomped down on her index finger like a Wolverine, never dreaming for a second that my bite had any teeth (so to speak). Well, blood came forth as my mother yelled in great pain. I am a monster, a devil, an evil creature with no means of atonement. And without prolonging the suspense, Mom ended up in the emergency room Sunday morning with a significant infection in her finger for which she received both antibiotics and a tetanus shot.

Another incident proving my satanic qualities is my seizure of the loaf of bread she brought from California for Dad. She, without thinking, thought the bread was secure (you will remember my bread episode of several years ago that sent me to the ER) and of course it wasn’t. It was laden with seeds, nuts, and other delicacies not fit for a pug. I proceeded to gorge until I was discovered. You would think I had learned my lesson but here is the thing about pugs, dear reader, we have no memories of unpleasant experiences…only of pleasant ones. I remember that bread tastes good but not that I was deathly ill from ingesting it.

I will continue on my hellish, bullish way, climbing over Lizzie as if she were merely a bump in the road and something to overcome. I will use her as a pillow or else ignore her completely. And while I am not the vilest of all creatures, I am certainly deserving of my sobriquet in today’s blog title.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

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Hold That Fiber

There was a time, not that long ago, that this senior pug needed to be mindful of the calories he consumed. That, however, is not the case now…au contraire…any extra poundage I can add to my frail frame without putting a strain on the old armature is desirable. I need a small reserve for any physical emergencies.

Well, dear reader, my loving parents, in all of their caring devotion to and attentive focus on my health and well-being, neglected to change my kibbles to Mature Adult from Adult Light. Light formulas, as you probably know, contain an incredible amount of fiber, which allows Butter Ball or Bella to eat an acceptable amount of tasty particle board without gaining an excessive amount of weight. How does that work, you ask? Ah, there is the mighty rub. Butter Ball and Bella poop prodigious amounts daily, at any time and without any warning sometimes.

For Mom and Dad, that meant keeping yours truly fully diapered at all  times and still having to deal with surprise droppings whilst changing said diapers. Poop ruled and ruined our lives. What went in, came out speedily. No wonder this old pug couldn’t gain weight. Our last visit to the Cape provided the wisdom we so sorely lacked. Grandma asked, in her assertive, no nonsense voice, “Why are you feeding this poor pug Light food and then complaining about all of the poop he makes?” Mystery solved, happy pug, and happy parents. Sometimes old people and dogs know best.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Here I am, freshly diapered and onesied, chilling on Dad’s legs.

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Food, Glorious Food

Proverbs 23:2 proclaims, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony,” but that directive seems a bit harsh to this venerable old pug. So the question in my mind is, “Is gluttony really a sin sin?”  I mean, if one reads the Old Testament closely, there are such heinous crimes being put forth as sins that gluttony seems small potatoes when compared to carving up babies, sleeping with or coveting your brother’s wife, or even murdering your brother.

All of which leads me to my most recent brush with the grim reaper. I find Monday mornings particularly rich in one regard…they tend to yield the mother lode of culinary street treats, leftovers, if you will, from the weekend’s bacchanalia. For a low rider, such as yours truly, these treats are easily obtained and always worth the small effort. On such a morning with Dad, Lizzie and I performed our ritual sniff, circle, and squat. Lizzie, of course, has no interest in the treasure trove the Lower East Side provides a true gourmand, such as I, but rather performs her tasks robotically with a mind always on the return to her bed. I, however, faced an unusually large, intact pizza crust in the middle of the sidewalk I was traversing. With no thought, acting only on pure instinct, I scooped it up and attempted to inhale it. Before I could even move this monster crust into my gullet, it lodged in my throat, blocking my air passage. I flopped onto the ground like a fish out of water, in full seizure mode. My eyes rolled back and my little legs stiffened and twitched madly. I remember hearing Dad say something about how he’d be damned if this was how I was going to exit this world, or maybe it was more like “not on my watch, mister!” In any case he reached into my gaping mouth, pulled out the offending crust, and threw it away. Recovering immediately, I hopped up and resumed trotting along, watchful for new orts.

My relating of this little tale brings us back to the question of gluttony and its sinful connotations. I realize gluttony is deemed a venial rather than mortal sin, but even that seems extreme. Was I, perhaps, lustful or greedy, rather than gluttonous? Or was my sin a combination of all three?  A pug is unique in this world in that once fed, he/she is ready to feed again immediately. It is in our DNA, our hardwiring if you will, but does that make us sinners? I don’t have biblical or even metaphysical answers to all of life’s imponderables, but I know I saw food, grabbed it, and Dad saved my life so that I could live to eat again.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Mom wresting my bone from me…

Doing what I love most…

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“Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” Dylan Thomas

Here’s the interesting thing about old age, dear reader, it cannot be anticipated no matter how hard we try, nor can its form be controlled. As humans, you acquire your puppy and are charmed by its youthful antics, its high energy, and evident good health. As you cuddle your precious, sweet smelling baby pug, it is nearly impossible to imagine this amazingly vital creature as a blind, deaf, drooling, limping, leaking, foul-smelling vessel of canine DNA.

For those of you who have followed me on my journey into old age, you probably are very aware of all of my physical changes and limitations but unaware of the daily toll it takes on my parents. I think humans get stuck on their memories of us as we were and find it very difficult to move forward into our new reality. My parents face a daily struggle, involving elaborate “pilling” twice a day, changing diapers regularly, and adding the protection of a onesie. These are merely the physical requirements. Add to this regimen, my constant barking upon waking, sleeping, walking, standing, and between breathing, which drives everyone crazy for some reason. And because I am obsessed with any and all food, I cannot relax for any period of time, lest I miss a crumb or morsel. There are also the unwanted accidents that occur during the diaper changing and the occasional nighttime diarrhea events, requiring a butt bath, change of diapers, onesies, and bed linens. This life stage has the power of erasing the wonderful memories of the preceding youthful years. Sleep deprivation is a constant in our house.

The irony throughout all of these changes is that my energy level and vigor remain untarnished, and in fact, are probably even stronger than ever. I can, on rare occasions, even interact with other dogs, twitch my tail gaily, and prance about as a young pup (see my video on Mason and Lizzie’s page on Facebook). Mom and Dad puzzle over this phenomenon regularly and I try to tell them by cocking my head and panting wildly that I am not leaving this life quietly or passively. This pug is going out on a rocket ship, with an earth-shaking blast that I hope erases the memories of these last few years.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Here am I, tearing into Little Bear as if he were my sworn enemy. Even in the onesie, I look fierce!

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Ode to My Dad, or I’d Take a Grenade for Ya

Dear reader, I apologize profusely for my long absence but there were several contributing factors which prevented me from sharing with you the trials and tribulations of this old pug’s life…1) There is little to nothing happening during the season of cold and darkness. 2) We’ve been experiencing very challenging legal issues with our building. 3) Grandma has been busy with her so-called life. At any rate, here I am, poised and primed for regaling you with tales of my life in the city that never sleeps.

I dedicate this particular chapter to my long-suffering, but dutiful dad. He is a prince of a human (and I don’t say this lightly). On a recent evening, he took Lizzie and me out for our post dinner walkies and toileting. In his haste to complete this task, he neglected to bring the required baggies for waste collection, and of course Miss Lizzie, being the dutiful little pug that she is, quickly deposited her offering. Poor Dad though, realizing his oversight, ran into the tailor’s shop directly across from Lizzie’s “gift” and procured only one bag. Having averted that disaster, he led us on our journey. I failed to deliver, however, the much-awaited offering and Dad had no choice but to shepherd us into our building’s lobby, admonishing me all the while. Once inside, out of the cold, I assumed the all too familiar semi-crouch fast walk, immediately recognized by Dad as my signal of imminent release. With the alacrity and speed of one long accustomed to such emergencies, my blessed dad scooped me up and caught the unstoppable missile in his open and bare hand before it ever reached the marble floor. There being no receptacles in the lobby, my dad had no choice but to carry his prize in one hand into the elevator with two pugs in tow in the other. Once inside the elevator, Dad realized that tenants most likely would be entering our confined little box and then he would be forced  either to explain his foul smelling hand or hide the evidence. He chose the latter option and found a way to conceal the offending object by a quick sleight of hand, turning an open palm into a quickly flipped, reversed closed palm, hidden behind his back. Fortunately no one joined our little “lift party.”

Entering our apartment, Dad went straight to the toilet and flushed away any evidence of my effort. Mom could only stare in amazement and then give way to uncontrollable laughter.

And so, dear reader, there you have it…just another day in the life of a pug named Mason. You must remember I have no control of my hindquarters, so the humor in this situation is elusive to me, but according to my mom, my dad is one in a million.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Laundry delivery day...note my louche posture in a fetching onesie. Lizzie, of course, is just embarrassing.

Here we are, wedged into our little wheelie, being transported to Grand Central Station.

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Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, or Oops, I Did it Again

Look at this face, Dad...eager and well-contained for the train trip

And here is the Village Idiot, sitting up on the sofa as if she knew what she was doing.

I know, I know, dear reader, that my lament grows tedious but there seems to be no end to the indignities I both must suffer and inflict upon those I love. As I have mentioned over the past two years, growing old is neither for the faint of heart, nor for sissies, and yet it is something both humans and animals must face. In addition to my growing incontinence, I have apparently lost my hearing. How do I know this, you ask? By watching the frantic and exasperated expressions on my parents’ faces while their mouths move and hands gesture wildly, I am able to ascertain that whatever sound they are producing does not reach my ears.

I do try to control what happens in my hindquarters but am rarely successful any more and yesterday’s accident set off my dad in a particularly alarming way. Since Mom is out of town this week, it falls exclusively to Dad for our care giving, and he is both thorough and conscientious; however, yesterday he failed to take us out before feeding us dinner and I was unable to stem my flow after inhaling my meager but long awaited meal. Dad then stepped in it, reacted violently by taking his urine soaked shoe and throwing it into the wall, opening up a sizeable hole. Lizzie and I could only stare stupidly (Lizzie’s normal gaze) in amazement. Since I am no longer of the hearing world, I could not actually hear his imprecations but I am pretty sure they involved my name.

And there was the ill-fated morning that I unfortunately released several unsavory offerings in the elevator and poor Dad had no bag to contain them. He, being a considerate and civic-minded pet owner, had no choice but to scoop them, run to the apartment, and flush them away, all the while invoking my name in a very derisive manner.  After explaining his anger to Mom, she asked where Lizzie was and of course it was clear one pug had been left behind. That’s right, folks, Lizzie was once again riding mindlessly up and down our building’s elevator just waiting to be rescued.

I must dedicate this blog to my dad who gives us such loving and efficient care on a daily basis, but like Job, must suffer the many trials I inflict upon him unwittingly and unconsciously. I love you, Dad, and wish my final years were not so challenging, but I have so much enthusiasm, energy, and lust for life that I am not about to bow out at this time. Bear with me and I will try my best to be a pug of fewer accidents.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

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