Monday, January 20, 2020

My Pug Died

I buried my soul-dog, Artemis. It feels devastating!

My 14-1/2-year-old Pug died, a week ago today. Before now, I could not even speak of it because it really feels like I buried part of my own soul. His passing seems to have sucked away all my joy.  Even now, when I think of him, I too easily burst into tears. Saying "goodbye" has been just so very painful! 

Fact is? This dog went everywhere with me. Even when over-exertion is very dangerous for Pugs, I'd take him hiking and would just get even better exercise myself because soon as he'd start breathing heavy I'd pick him up and would carry him (muscle heat causes Pugs to wheeze). Artemis was always just so glad to be with me - he would tolerate riding on my shoulder or being jostled around in my arms.

Even while Pugs are not designed to be very athletic, they do have the heart of a lion so they will push themselves to exhaustion and can suffer a medical collapse just from their desire to keep up with you. I'd heard many stories about Pugs who died from overactivity so I remained hyper-focused about his health all these years. I must admit - he's been a terrific travel companion - always willing to go wherever I did. Carrying him never felt like a burden because I still love him so much.

While Pugs don't tolerate hot weather very well, my sister Kelly bought me the above-pictured stroller for him. As a result, I pushed my dog on many beaches, and on many shopping expeditions. In this dog-stroller, my Pugilicious had shade and that meant he could go on many shopping sprees, where we could not have gone if he had been on a leash. (Note: I always carried plenty of water for my dog whenever we hit the trails or went to town).

In 2011, a soft and squishy tumor appeared on Artemis' head. It felt like it might just be a fatty tumor but when the vet removed it he said the tumor was all dark inside (suggesting cancer). The vet wanted me to run all sorts of tests then ... but when I asked "if it's cancer, what can we do for my dog?" (Radiation and chemotherapy still seem very barbaric to me and I would never put a dog through something like that.) The vet had no other treatment options, so I chose not to run the tests and instead started supplementing my Pug's food with Turmeric which is anti-cancer and has anti-inflammatory properties. NOTE: My dog lived 8 years after this surgery with zero signs of cancer. I celebrated his life every day as I always felt lucky to be his companion.

One year, around 2013, my daughter Christina was in Vegas so I drove over from L.A. and snuck my Pug into the Trump Hotel, where she and my sister Mary Jo were staying. Even while dogs are not allowed in that hotel, we brought my Pug. To get past the elevator's security system - my sister would flirt with the guard as I whisked my Pug past them to get on the elevator (I had Artemis in his stroller with a baby blanket over the top and he was silent enough wherever I took him to make it all work). The hotel was never the wiser because even after we grew tired of sneaking him outside for potty breaks, I finally just told him to "go potty" in the stone floor shower and then washed and cleaned up after him. *Now that Trump is president, this memory seems all the more hilarious to me.*
As I mentioned earlier, Pugs are not designed to tolerate a lot of heat. On one trip that I made to Palm Springs (see photo) Artemis really struggled to breathe. I had suffered from severe grass allergies in the past myself and knew for a fact that I could stop my own asthma attacks by drinking black coffee. I also know that coffee can be completely toxic to dogs ... yet when Artemis was really wheezing, and I already had him in the shade but could not otherwise get him out of the heat, I gave him just a little bit of my iced black coffee from Starbucks (I poured a little in the plastic lid). After drinking a wee bit of coffee, he immediately started breathing better. NOTE: DO NOT DO THIS TO ANY DOG WITHOUT IT BEING AN EMERGENCY AND TREAT THE COFFEE LIKE IT'S MEDICINE/not water! Coffee opens the bronchia in humans, so I imagined that's what it would do for my precious dog.

One of the most remarkable things about living with a Pug is they enjoy being dressed up and celebrated. My Artemis was no exception and he filled my heart with glee as a result of him being forever adaptable. I dressed him up for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day. You name it! In the above photo, he became very popular wearing the "backward-walking-baby"  costume that I made for him so we could participate in the first-ever Long Beach (California, USA) Zombie-Walk. Part of me always wondered if he liked being dressed up because it would mean that people swooned over him (Pugs love attention)

Three years ago, when my Artemis grew deaf, we still needed to have a dog-alarm when someone came to the door. So we fostered a feral dog that had been running the streets in California. Yoda (on the right) was completely terrified of people, he was far too skinny to undergo neutering surgery, and the rescue staff who found him had not been able to get Yoda to even come close to them; not without them first using professional dog-catcher techniques.

Fortunately for me, Artemis made my introduction to Yoda happen and after a couple of months we adopted him. I'm so very grateful that Yoda had Artemis for these past few years to help him segway into a domestic living situation. Artemis got along with every dog we ever met because he acted somewhat aloof, greeting that dog but then giving it whatever space it wanted for itself. In Artemis' recent absence, Yoda is now an immense comfort to me, and I hope I am returning that favor to him.
This is Artemis celebrating my birthday with me back in 2013. We took the fairy to Catalina Island and explored that lovely small community together. While the Ferry crew had said I could bring my dog along when I first booked my birthday trip, once at the ferry the staff said that my dog had to ride with the luggage (so I sat with him back there).   

Before all of you think Artemis was so very spoiled that he never got a chance to be a real dog, think again!

Farewell, for now, my beloved *pet*. It won't be too many years before I join you on the other side of this veil that now separates us. When I finally pass, we can be together again <3

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