Periodically over the years during one dog crisis or another I found myself wishing that things would just get back to normal.  But what is normal?

It wasn’t until the morning after I let Maggie go that I realized how involved and time consuming our normal had become.  That morning it took me just 10 min to give Tani her pill and eye meds and feed her breakfast. Over the past three months Maggie’s breakfast routine had evolved into 30 min or more.  Getting pills in her, figuring out what she might eat on her own, syringe feeding her and cleaning her up.  And that was just breakfast, dinner was the same routine, and there were the sub-Q fluids every other day also.

Normal is really relative.  I had gotten so used to the marathon of meds and feeding that it became our norm.  I even had the alarm set 15 min earlier so I wouldn’t be too late for work.

When I think about it the state of normal is constantly changing for us. I have, after all, been owned by pugs for eleven years.  Here are some random thoughts about our ever evolving definition of normal.

When you have a pug it is normal if:

Your dogs go to the eye doctor more often than you do.

You have more business cards in your wallet for vets than your own doctors.

When you have a cancer or otherwise sick dog it is normal if:

There are more than 10 kinds of dog food, baby food, meat, and cheese in your refrigerator- all for the dog.

There are more meds and supplements for your dog than for you.

You do a load of wash per day when you are single and have no kids.

You cook more for your dog than you do for yourself.

You have to wear an apron when you feed your dog.

When you call the vets office you don’t have to give your name, they recognize your voice.

You track the amount of food you get into your dog by the teaspoon.

Part of the back room decor is a pole rigged to hang the bag of lactated ringers.

You shop in the incontinence aisle of the drug store before you turn 50.

All of your furniture makes crinkle sounds when you sit on it because it is lined with incontinence pads.

When you have a Tripawd it is normal if:

You don’t have just one throw rug as an accent piece on your hard floors; they are covered with a mish mash of rugs.

You have a stroller in the garage.

You ask for a discount at the groomer because there are only 12 nails to trim.

You can discuss the pros and cons of the Ruff Wear harness vs. the Help ‘em Up Harness vs. the AST Get A Grip Harness.

You consider ice cream the answer to all good news.

Missing Maggie

Now I have decided that a separate page is not the place to post about missing Maggie, I will do it here on her main page.  Here is what I wrote a couple of days ago:

I let Maggie go three days ago on Wednesday June 2, 2010.  I have been thinking about updating her blog and our signature in the forums, but I’m not up to it yet.

I thought I would start a new page in our blog to detail this new part of my life’s journey without Maggie.  I don’t know how long I will post on this page, but I wanted a separate place to talk about losing my companion of 11 years and how Tani and I are adapting.

When I got home with Tani on Wednesday night the house seemed quiet.  It was an odd feeling because it was never that noisy with both of the girls around.  I guess I was just feeling the void left by Maggie’s departure.  I immediately got rid of all of the bad stuff related to the last couple of months- I cleaned up the meds, got rid of the last bag of sub-Q fluids, and put away all the incontinence pads and rags I had strategically placed in all the rooms of the house.  I left her bowl, beds, and blankets out.  All of the toys remain too, Tani is the one who plays with most of them anyway.

Friday evening I took Tani for our first walk alone together since Maggie was recovering from her amp.  We ran into a couple of people we know at the park- well we know their dogs, I don’t know most of humans names.  One of them looked at me walking only with Tani and she said “oh no”, and gave me a hug.  Some things don’t need too many words.  She lost her long time companion in March to lymphoma and is now trying to get used to her new young dog.

I know I did the right thing by Maggie on Wednesday, but that knowledge does not make it any easier or less sad.  All that will fix this is time.

Here are a couple of pictures I took last weekend.  The quality is not great because I used my cell phone.

This is Maggie at the park on Sunday, May 30th:

Actually the grass is in focus, I guess I need more practice with the camera.

This is a picture of Maggie with the Mag Tag from the set of RENT.

I helped build the set at the local College and the designer let me put this up.  Read the story in the original forum post.

Maggie- the early years

In honor of Maggie’s 11th birthday, and because she is such a cool pug, I am posting some pictures of Maggie through the years.  As I started looking at pictures I realized I would have to do installments, you can only look at so much cuteness at one time.

Here is the first installment- Maggie’s life BT (before Tani).

Maggie has many facets to her personality – many influences melded her pugness in her early years- actors, cowboys, outdoorsmen, builders.  She was born in a big city, but grew up in the suburbs.  She was an only pug for a couple of years, then had to adapt to a little sister.

Maggie was born in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, Ca on March 26, 1999, one of two girls in a litter of four. Although she didn’t spend much time in LA she always maintained a bit of big city sophistication about her.  And this must be were the drama queen side of her came from.

That is Maggie on the left, her mom is Cordila.

We went to LA to get her in June when she was 10 weeks old.  This is our first meeting at my uncle’s house- that is my uncle Chuck on the left.

Mag was usually pretty confident and not too afraid of things, even though she weighed only 4.5 pounds at our first vet visit.  She was very playful, and VERY obstinate- a true pug quality.  She often liked to play with or drag around things bigger than her (what wasn’t bigger than her?).  She once dragged an abalone shell through the dog door at my dad’s house.  It was so heavy that when she picked it up she had trouble keeping her back feet on the ground!

Maggie at 6 months old in a reflective moment with one of her then favorite toys- the red Kong.

When she was about 6 months old I took her on a trip to Montana to my uncle Mike’s ranch outside Bozeman.  The horses are lucky they are in the corral or who knows what a suburban pug might do…

Around 10 months old she developed a drinking problem.  While Murphy’s is OK, a true Irish pug must drink Guinness!!

There is a great park and lake near our house that we used to take the pugs to all the time.  Although pugs don’t tend to swim well Maggie always liked the water- and would swim sometimes to try and clear the debris out of the lake (aka pug Nessie).

And her exits were always graceful

Several places in the park allow cattle grazing.  We had to keep her on a lead around them- she always wanted to get close.  I think she would have chased them if we let her. I’m not sure what the cows would do- can cows laugh?

My dad and I like to do construction projects together.  We have built five decks, stair railings, that sort of thing.  Maggie has always been a good construction dog, getting in the way, barking at the power tools, and taking anything she could carry

Mag is between a year and two years old in those last four pictures.

Next installment: Who said I need a little sister?

Barney Comes to Livermore

Barney came to visit us in Livermore, California from Gerry in Madison Wisconsin.  Read the whole story in the official Blog of KILLBARNEY:

Since Maggie has not been her usual energetic self (for a pug),  Barney’s visit turned into him just hanging out as part of the pug pack.

He had dinner with us, and took naps

He went to the park with us

He arrived in time to watch the  Super Bowl (yea Saints!)

He checked out the toy box

He met the wabbit of video fame

Maggie has always been very gentle with her toys- she showed Barney her first Beany-Baby pug she got when she was a few weeks old.  We have to put it away now because little sis Tani’s mission in life is to find out what is inside toys…

Mag thought it would be fun to see Barney in the angel wings that Caira Sue’s dad Adam gave her-

Mag says too bad they won’t fit in the box…. but what would fit is Maggie’s new harness.  She couldn’t wear it until the stitches from the last tumor removal came out.  Now she can wear it but doesn’t like it very much.  I think it looks great on her (my dad calls it her handle)

Mag tried to give it to Cemil at the last Tripawds Nor Cal meet up:

But that didn’t work.  She really wanted Barney to have it, as her parting gift to him…

But we already got Barney a parting gift- something he will need where he is going next…

Barney was here through President’s day weekend, and we got some really good early spring weather.

Here is Barney in the fountain at my parent’s house (the pug girls second home)

And looking west waiting for the sunset-

But no trip to California would be complete without some pool time.  So at the risk of perpetuating the stereotype of California in the winter, here is Barney soaking up some rays-

And yes that is SPF 30 sunscreen for his delicate purple skin.

I hope Barney enjoyed his California vacation.  I have a feeling that the next stop will get him back into the KILLBARNEY scene where he will have to fear for his little purple limbs!!

Maggie’s Opinion

One thing about pugs- they are usually always hungry, and they will usually eat just about anything.

So there is another unique thing about Maggie the tri-pug.  She has always been a bit more picky about food than any pug I have met.  And now, with her new issues she had become picky to the point of loosing weight.  Now I know that there have been some stomach issues in the last couple of months.  She is eating OK now, but still refuses some of her favorites.

This video shows Mag and her sis Tani in true pug form.  Waiting patiently for lunch (a hold over from the chemo days when she had to have pills, and now sometimes one of the main meals she will eat), and for ‘School’, where my dad has them do a few tricks for additional snacks.  You will see school is a little loose, and Tani anticipates which tricks she is supposed to do.

NOR CAL Tripawds Party

We attended our third NOR CAL Tripawds party on Saturday January 9, 2010, at the Mill Valley Dog Park in CA.  For the second month in a row we had seven tripawds playing at the park.  While not a very warm day we still enjoyed each others company and celebrated birthdays, ampuversaries, and meeting new friends.  We got to meet Max (and Linda) who were up with their pack from SO CAL, and Montana, who is in NOR CAL but we had not met before.   We also got to meet Bob and Emily who recently had to say goodbye to Angel Cherry.  It was so great to meet them in person, and hopefully we provided some amount of relief for them, if only for the afternoon.

I think I have heard everyone say at one time or another that this meet up is one of the highlights of the month- that is definitely true for me.

I am still working on my video skills.  One thing you will notice is that I cut off almost every one’s head, unless they were sitting or kneeling.  As I said earlier- when you have pugs you learn to aim low!!

Oh well, this is about our tripawds anyway.

Maggie and the Wabbit

When I first got Maggie we lived in a small house that had a couple of acres of open space behind us inhabited by all kinds of creatures including quail, cottontail rabbits, squirrels, foxes, and feral cats.  The rabbits lived in a bush pile near the back fence.  Maggie liked to chase the rabbits although she usually couldn’t see them if they were more than 20 yards away and sitting still.  I would say “rabbit” and Mag would just start running toward the brush pile.  Eventually the rabbit or rabbits would take off running and Mag would catch site of them and give chase.  I don’t think she ever got closer than about 10 yards from one.  She would lose interest pretty fast and find something else to sniff.

Now that she is nearing 11 years old her interest in chasing things has diminished a bit, but she still has that hunter instinct.   That is what remains of the instinct after  1000 years of breeding pugs as lap dogs.  We have a wabbit that is almost as big as her that she likes to put in its place once in awhile.  It is not clear to me why it sounds like a duck when you squeeze it, but Mag doesn’t care because she doesn’t hear that well anyway.

With apologies to Spirit Yoda here is Mag’s version of a Wabbit hunt:

Christmas Day

My girls have always LOVED opening presents- especially those in bags.  We have to be careful about what we put on the floor, as both of them might try to open something early if no one is watching. For Christmas we always bag up a few new toys to watch the girls open them, and to entertain ourselves.

Tani seems to be really interested in the contents, while Maggie likes the process and like most little kids, she is happier playing with the wrapping than the toy.

Here is the first ever Pug Girls video:

Pug Girls Christmas 2009

Yin Yang Pugs

We have been very busy lately- the time of year I guess.  With everything going on its hard sometimes to remember what is important in life.

Well leave it to the pug girls to remind me.  Not only do they make me laugh everyday, but they provide daily examples of how you should conduct yourself and live your life… as Jerry says  “be more dog”  (was that Jerry?).

Pugs have a hidden spiritual side (hidden by snorting and snoring) that they occasionally let out.

Here is their demonstration of the Yin / Yang principal:

yin yang pugs

Maggie’s new ride

One of my aunt’s is staying with me tonight, she lives in Chico and came down to have Thanksgiving with the family (21 people yesterday at my parent’s house!!).  She is recovering from a stroke suffered last spring.  I had a pretty invasive knee surgery last winter so we have been re-hab buddies.  Last spring we both set a goal to be able to walk farther than a ten year old, 3 legged pug!!  It took me six months but I finally was able to walk farther than Mag last summer.  It took my aunt a little longer- but she got there today!!

This afternoon we drove over to the park with the dogs.  My aunt still uses her walker on longer walks, and it allows her to do her other leg exercises during her stroll.  Well Maggie heard and saw the wheels and I think she thought it was her stroller!! So she kept sitting down by the wheels (which is how she tells me she wants to ride in the stroller).  So we put Maggie on the seat of the walker- and she was happy as can be.  My aunt pushed her all around the park and finally met the rehab goal of walking farther than a now 10.5 year old, 3 legged pug!

Of course I didn’t have my camera at the park, but we took a picture in the driveway when we got home.

Mag on the walker