For Whom the Bell Tolls, or Just Call Me Pavlov’s Pug

Lest you become inured to my frequent musings, I should assure you that with Grandma transcribing, there will be great periods of drought…but not at the moment. I am compelled yet again to reveal the inner workings of a highly adaptable, intuitive, and intellectually evolved pug, to wit: last night’s bedtime quandary and this morning’s quick response.

As you loyal readers are aware, I am a wearer of the “nighttime cloth” due to the weakening condition and lack of control in my hindquarters. This single clothing item has saved bed linen as well as my relationship with Mom and Dad. Last night, however, presented a serious dilemma. At bedtime, when the donning of said item takes place, Mom and Dad discovered the diaper was with the laundry, which had not yet been delivered. The realization of what this implied drove Dad to blame Mom and Mom to blame Dad. Why do humans always traverse that path? Like a spectator at a tennis match, I watched as the words flew back and forth. I hoped it might mean a costume-free sleep…but no, Mom had several solutions. One involved a hair elastic holding a piece of cloth together, another involved the wrapping of long scarf around and around my girth, and the final one solved the problem. She selected a cloth napkin, which she fashioned quite charmingly at either side of my slim flanks. I have attached a photo so you can see. Not only did it work, it also worked exceedingly well. It was, as they say in medical terms, a “clean catch” when Dad made his morning inspection. I would say the only down side to this improvised garment is that it does not leave my fetching little tail free, but that is a small point over which to quibble when so much is at stake.

Freed of this rather distasteful burden I scampered about as Dad prepared his breakfast of toast and peanut butter (a particular favorite of yours truly). And this is where you will understand the full impact of my title.

As the toaster bell chimed its cheery “Ding” I immediately went into a wild and frantic barking mode. Dad quickly queried, “What are you, Pavlov’s dog?” All I knew was that food was forthcoming and I needed to share in its ingestion. My barking became so frantic and demanding that Dad had no choice but to put me up on the counter with the toast as he prepared it. It afforded me the desired viewing and management position I obviously required, as well as quieted my straining vocal chords. A bite was offered and I accepted greedily.

Just another night and day for this pug living in the Lower East Side of New York.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Here it is, as I described. I think its colorful stripes suggest summer wear, don't you?

Look how cunningly Mom "packaged" me...I do have a slightly hang dog expression though.

Here I am, eyes agog, assisting on the counter.

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“Oh What a Rogue and Peasant Slave Am I” HAMLET, William Shakespeare

My inner turmoil and struggle are nothing compared to those of Hamlet, but like Hamlet, I do tend to work myself into an emotional frenzy. One of two things serves as a trigger — food or Lizzie. I am quite sure that Lizzie is the more formidable agent of the two.

Recently I laid bare, what I consider, a very revealing incident/olfactory response to you, dear reader. I am assaulted daily by such conflicting emotions. I would like to punish Lizzie severely, and at the same time, bury my nose in her tantalizing flesh. I spend my days staring fixedly at her, sending out subliminal messages, exhorting her to vanish. And then instantly, like a schizophrenic rat, my pupils turn from hellish red to soft brown, shaded with longing and desire. I am beset with such constant mental instability that I can no longer enjoy those long coma-like sleeps of yore. In west coast lingo, my mellow has been harshed.

If she weren’t so ingratiatingly cheerful and content – which I suspect is due to her significantly lower IQ – I would have an easier time hating and reviling her. No matter how tempestuous my moods or aggressive my behavior, she just slinks quietly away, waiting for a gentle touch or soft voice. Which brings me to the second of my triggers…food. As a result of Lizzie’s toxic scent, I must assuage my fixation with F O O D! I have become even more of a growling, barking, whimpering, demanding beast than before. If I see a dust mote, I attack it like it is my last hope of sustenance and my job is to bring it down swiftly. No human escapes my quest for crumbs, and I fear I’ve made everyone’s life a living Hell. Oh woe is me – a lost pug in Manhattan, struggling to combat my daily demons.

Perhaps if Lizzie is bathed she will lose that atavistic scent and I too will lose my desire for her. I am a monster.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Lost...lost in her scent. I cannot escape.

Here we are together, as always, lying in Dad's bathroom doorway. Look at her staring vacantly into the camera...nothing there at all. I don't get it.

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Scent of a Pug, or Missing the Obvious

Sometimes, dear reader, it is possible to be so involved with the minutiae of living, or at least what passes for living, that we miss what is literally right under our nose. I like to think of myself as a fairly observant and perceptive pug – one who does take some time to smell the roses, and do bear with me on this smell metaphor, but it seems I have overlooked something rather obvious. Let me explain.

Yesterday, while Mom was performing her usual morning ritual of bathing and grooming (why she does this, I have no idea since, to me, she looks and smells divine all of the time). Lizzie was seated in her frog-like position, propped against the bathroom door and as I walked past her I was assaulted by her perfume. It literally smacked me in the face…high notes of kibble, dried saliva, ear oil and low notes of city streets and pug butt. How can I even begin to describe such a heady, intoxicating aroma? Was there ever a pug to smell so desirable? I was lost, dear reader, lost. My senses were on overload and my head spinning. There was nothing for it but to explore every nook and cranny of this delectable creature. She, the once scorned and much maligned Lizzie, was compliant and accommodating for my request, offering up her spindly little legs and maneuvering her bullet-shaped body into positions of acquiescence. I was wild with desire and she innocent of my yearning. Throwing myself against her in complete surrender,  I cuddled as I’d never cuddled before, hoping to absorb her essence into my skin. When Mom left the bathroom and found us huddled together in such fashion, she could only stare in amazement and confusion.

I can offer no explanation. This foolish little creature has lived with me for nearly three years and I’ve never felt compelled to seek her out. How have I been so blind? What if she, a seemingly guileless simpleton has cast a spell on me? What if she is really a sorceress and I her willing victim?

I have no satisfactory answers, dear reader, but perhaps you will. Lizzie –enigmatic or malevolent?

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Frog Lizzie

Lost in her scent

They say couples resemble one another as they age

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Dead Pug Walking — Part Deux

Since I’ve left you all hanging on the proverbial cliff with my tale of cruelty and betrayal, it behooves me to quiet your pounding hearts and offended sensibilities. Yes, this Christmas incarceration was shrouded in gothic and Machiavellian overtones, and yes, I was sorely hurt by my family’s duplicity, but remember, gentle reader, how I’ve sung the praises of Cape Cod Animal Hospital over the years. Do you honestly believe my humans would put me in harm’s way or in a situation where I would be treated poorly?

Because I am a pug who is used to receiving the lion’s share of attention, love, and food I saw no reason to believe those rewards would not be mine at the kennel. Aside from being forced to share the “matrimonial suite” with that loser Lizzie, my stay was surprisingly pleasant. We were fed at a respectable hour each morning and then let out into a large grassy inner courtyard where the four of us had private play/exercise time together.  Our living quarters were cleaned while we exercised, our bedding fluffed, and water refreshed. If we didn’t wish to watch the other “guests” have their romps in the yard, we were free to nap. But being the gregarious pug that I am, I preferred positioning myself so I could view all of the activity. The time passed so quickly that before I knew it, dinner was being served, followed by more exercise. The icing on my cake was the large cookie we were given at bedtime. This seems a very sensible and worthy practice for all pug owners, Mom.

Of course I haven’t mentioned the endless stream of visitors that yours truly received. Since I am a bit of a celebrity at this establishment, you can only imagine how many people stopped by for a chat and visit. Lizzie naturally assumed they were eager to see her but I quickly disavowed her of that notion, pointing out that no one in his or her right mind had any interest in such a foolish little creature, which caused her to cuddle even more desperately.

I would, however, prefer that Mom and Dad not be let off the hook easily, so to speak, since I wasn’t consulted about their decision to kennel me.  While it was hardly the Christmas of my fantasies, it had an element of adventure, excitement, and hospitality…much like a friendly canine B and B. Since we are, of course, preferred guests, our treatment was exemplary. What appeared grim, gothic, and forbidding was, in truth, rather pleasant for the four of us.

Cheers and respectfully submitted,

Mason

Grandma insists I include this photo of my Albuquerque cousins, Ricky and Lucy. She thinks they are adorable and I frankly don't get it, but here they are.They are Shih Tzu's so I don't see any connection to my tale. Grandma loves them and I have no say, it would appear.

 

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Dead Pug Walking

It was always my intention to save this particularly grizzly exposé for a day and time such as this, rather than divulge it immediately after its occurrence. And because we in the northeast are experiencing a true “winter of our discontent” this seemed a fitting time to unfold, what is sure to be, a particularly macabre and medieval tale.

Ah, Christmas, that most celebrated, anticipated, and dangerous of holidays, by this old pug’s reckoning… Lizzie and I anticipated its coming with great excitement, and since we were already at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, knew (at least we thought we did) Mom and Dad would be arriving in advance of the holiday. We had visions of Christmas presents (for us) under the tree, Grandma baking up delectable treats in the kitchen (with our needed assistance), cozy fires in the fireplace (where we’d be napping) to ward off winter’s chill, and long sleeps (with Mom and Dad) on top of flannel sheets and under fluffy down. How very wrong can one foolish pug be? That Currier & Ives picture was never to be our reality. Ours was, in truth, truly Dickensian in every aspect.

No Mom and Dad arrived on the Cape, but rather we four dogs were taken to “the big house” for “lockup.” Yes, you must gasp with horror and reel with shock. It is true. Our bedding, sweaters, and comfort objects were hauled into the kennel at the veterinary hospital, where each of us was told goodbye, have a merry Christmas, and see you in a week. Not one to ever believe the worst of any person or situation, I put on a brave and manly face, trotted off thinking it was a joke, and that we were being taken to a room piled high with biscuits, treats, and marrowbones. Oh no…not by a long shot. This was a reality far from any life experience I could imagine.

Down a long cement corridor with cells on either side, far from the cheery front room with its crackling fire in the fireplace, and the welcoming techs and receptionists, were we lead. With little ceremony and no apologies, Lizzie and I were shown into our “suite,” with the echo of the slamming door sounding like our death knell. Yes, dear reader, yours truly was being locked up in a concrete cage with loathsome Lizzie for Christmas vacation.

To be continued…

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Look how happy and carefree we are at the vet's...

Same image but our Christmas reality

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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, or Pretty is as Pretty Does

How many of you have heard these expressions tossed casually into a conversation and have later wondered what they truly mean and how they apply to you? My great grandmother was particularly fond of peppering her speech with these old saws, and while they have a certain rustic charm, I find them a bit dismissive and confusing. Which brings me to an expression one hears frequently…pug ugly. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I, for one, am offended.

Pugs are bred for our singular appearance: a flat face, bulbous eyes, and short curled-up pig’s tail. We did not request these features, which frankly offer endless health issues, but rather you humans decided to breed these into our DNA because you find them so appealing. Why then, should we become the butt of “pug ugly” or “pugly?” It makes no sense to me.

You might say these are only words but to a sensitive pug or human, words are invested with great power…power to heal or to hurt. I contend that what is beautiful to one is not necessarily to another, but that using the object in question as the derisive adjective is cruel.

The expression, “pretty is as pretty does,” offers the less attractive individual or pug hope, in that physical beauty doesn’t necessarily equal beauty of the soul. My great grandmother used it as a verbal punishment and admonishment to her children when their behavior tested her patience. I believe she wished to instill humility in her brood but she probably wasn’t very successful. I’ve used similar techniques with Lizzie, who, quite frankly, tests and tries my patience daily. I love to remind her that her “grill” resembles nothing more than a random toss of a few Chicklets and her body would appeal only to a sausage maker. I’ve suggested that now would be a good time to consider developing a personality, instead of believing she has the kind of looks for which males of all species hunger. Lizzie is a delusional fool most of the time and it is my responsibility to remind her of her limitations. I digress.

Some of us are truly blessed to possess both beauty of body and soul, and for that I am grateful. I do caution you, however, to think before you thoughtlessly refer to a pug or person as pug ugly. There are better words.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Indolent, slovenly, and unkempt...poor delusional Lizzie

A truly beautiful speciman, in both body and soul...the gold standard for pugs.

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A Pug’s Wish List, or What Pugs Really Want for Christmas

Because you humans attach such significance to holidays, it seemed appropriate to address the age-old question of what to get the pug. First of all, I need to dispel the notion that we actually care about receiving a present as we watch you tear madly into your excessive haul. We do, however, enjoy the excitement it engenders, and we really love walking around in the aftermath of strewn papers and ribbons. That having been said, I feel obligated to share with you what we, of the pug breed, most love at this time of the year.

  • Cuddling on the sofa, in front of a roaring fire, with one or both of our parents. If a nap ensues, then even better. If you’ve no fireplace, no worries…we are still happy for your undivided time and body.
  • If you’re baking Christmas treats, let us stand with you in the kitchen and be your taste-tester. If a few crumbs fall our way, then we are also happy.
  • Long, leisurely walks in newly fallen snow (or not), knowing that a nice dog cookie is our reward at home.
  • A fresh marrowbone or oversized biscuit is always a welcome gift.

What we really don’t like at all, but you love giving as gifts:

  • Hand knit sweaters, fleece jackets, hoodies, booties, and any item of apparel you find adorable on us.
  • Christmas costumes of any sort, including reindeer antlers, Santa beard, hat, and coat, elf outfits, jingling bells, Christmas tree lights, and baby Jesus swaddling. We hate all of this and endure the indignity of wearing it because it pleases you enormously and you want that Christmas card photo so desperately.
  • A new baby puppy. Enough said.
  • Wrapped presents because you think it is great fun watching us struggle with unwrapping  them.

We pugs were put on earth just for your pleasure and we are the consummate people pleasing dogs, and so, if you would like to please us this holiday, consider giving us what we really want.

Happy holidays from a wise old pug, and respectfully submitted,

Mason

Here we are, all suited up and ready to brave the cold for our hike.

We look like extras from a sad circus in our colorful sweaters. I understand we needed some outer garment due to the extreme cold, but why do we have to look so garish?

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

What a glorious weekend for this remarkable old curmudgeon of a pug. Traveling with Mom to the Cape on Friday was only the beginning of our journey. We surprised Grandpa at his art show opening and then celebrated his birthday on Saturday. Even though the temperature was quite cold, we enjoyed a hike through the woods at Eagle Pond, my favorite destination. The smells were particularly pungent and I wandered unfettered off the trails, exploring each scent that took my fancy.

Sunday was the icing on the proverbial cake, though. It was the annual Christmas party at our Cape Cod vet’s hospital. When the four of us trotted into the waiting room, the audible ooh’s and aah’s gladdened my attention-seeking heart. People were visibly moved by the spectacle we created and naturally, I garnered the lion’s share of this acclaim.

I quickly assessed the situation, ascertained that the popcorn machine was running smoothly, dog biscuits were plentiful, and human food covered a huge buffet style table. All was well. I knew we’d have to earn our rewards, however, because Santa was sitting in front of the fireplace waiting to hold us for the taking of pictures. Ah, what price fame! We were four highly compliant canines and the results are nothing short of spectacular.

Mom happily threw popcorn and dog treats into our snapping maws while people came to admire our catching skills and general cuteness. Grandma, however, always the voice of reason, started to “harsh my mellow” by suggesting that perhaps we’d had enough since she would have to deal with  the consequences later in the evening. I flashed my glistening eyes in Mom’s direction, beseeching her with a silent eloquence, that she should ignore Grandma and just keep feeding us. Mom unfortunately decided it was time to go since she had to catch a train in Providence for New York.

That night, sleeping in Grandpa’s office, I was awakened several times by stomach rumblings and distress. Even the trusty but loathsome diaper could not contain what my bowels were producing. When Grandpa came to fetch us this morning, my diaper was in the corner and evidence of my discomfort left a vivid trail around his office. I felt bad but unfortunately there was no help for it.

They say it is the season for giving and receiving. I received and I gave.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Have you ever seen more fetching beasts? I think the photo would be significantly improved, however, if Grandma would crop out the three others.

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A Pug On the Edge, or Climb Every Mountain

For those of you who follow my Facebook postings, you know that my day of thanks was splendid. The most excellent Rachel, mother of sissy Otis, and chef  extraordinaire, had prepared a canine feast befitting a king, and certainly a pug of my breeding and standing. Unfortunately Lizzie and Otis had to share this gourmet extravaganza of chicken, carrots and sweet potatoes…all cooked and seasoned to perfection. I say it was casting pearls before swine, having to include those two peasants. But I digress.

This morning found us, once again, in the care of a single parent since Dad left for Milan last night. It is always with some trepidation that I face these separations…not because I don’t adore both of my parents…but because with two humans, mornings are efficient and flow seamlessly. Honestly, Dad seems to run like a well-oiled machine and Mom operates in a jerky kind of fits and starts way. She has my heart and always will but I’m being painfully honest now.

At any rate, this morning followed her usual pattern of care giving, and while we were walked, fed, and medicated, it was done in a way that makes me less eager to cooperate. Because Mom’s bathroom is upstairs within their bedroom, she left Lizzie and me in bed while she quickly showered. This is not how Dad does it, so I was immediately thrown off. She assumed we would lie quietly in bed until she was finished and dressed. That slug Lizzie was only too happy to comply, but I, however, decided to explore a bit. At the foot of their bed is a bureau, which I am embarrassed to say contained all of the clean clothes delivered from the laundry which they had not put away. They made a formidable mountain and it seemed the best way to reach Mom was to climb that mound of clothes. I quickly realized the error of my thinking when I found myself hanging tenuously by a very small article of clothing. I began my frantic warbling, which then became howls of pug terror. She flung open her bathroom door just in time to catch me from a very serious fall. I must say that going down the stairs and then outside for a walk was the last thing I wanted to do after that near brush with tragedy.

Mom, I will try to be more compliant this week. Dad, I’m counting the days until your return.

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Here I am on the dreaded pile of clothes before they were hauled upstairs...the site of my near mishap.

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A Pug Gives Back and Gives Thanks

I won’t take time and space apologizing for the dearth of blog entries…suffice it to say Grandma has been occupied with other endeavors. But as this season of thanks and giving approaches, I did convince her that my loyal readers need to hear from me.

Tomorrow we travel to East 13th Street for our day of celebration, to the home of my male human alter ego, the man I referred to many blogs ago as “an oak of a man” (May 5, 2009), his wife, and bulldog Otis. The plan is to enjoy the fruits of Rachel’s magnificent culinary skills while lounging about in pajamas (not Lizzie and I) and drinking adult beverages. This is an outstanding plan from a pug’s point of view and one which I wholeheartedly applaud. Drinking plus eating on a couch equals sloppy, careless behavior (on the part of the humans), which leads to great rewards for vigilant and alert pugs.

Which brings me to Otis. He is a beast of an English bulldog physically, but a timid pussycat emotionally…a disgrace to all canines.  I, however, discovered soon after meeting him, that with only a look and a threatening growl, I had the power send him running while simultaneously vomiting. Can you imagine my shock and satisfaction when I first witnessed his response? Now, whenever we meet, I immediately recreate this phenomenon. I know, you think I am behaving badly and immaturely. And yes, you are correct but the pleasure it gives is second only to acquiring food surreptitiously. I am already beside myself thinking about the joy tomorrow will bring to this old pug.

I am thankful for: spending time with a real man, Matt, cadging treats and scraps from the feast, teasing Otis until he barfs repeatedly, and ignoring Lizzie. I hope all of you, dear readers, have an equally bounteous day.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Mason

Here is the referenced "beast" on Grandma and Grandpa's boat this summer.

And yours truly...magnificent and powerful.

 

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