Exactly one year ago we lost our first baby pug, Toby. He was only 6 years old. It was a really short life as far as pugs go, and ultimately we don’t know why he got so sick and passed so suddenly. He’d been sick briefly in September, but rebounded, then got much sicker in October and had extensive tests and a hospitalization. He rebounded once again and came home and while he had lost way too much weight, he was his normal snuggly self and we just hoped whatever the mystery illness was, it would disappear as quickly as it appeared. Ultimately Toby died of a stroke, but we strongly suspect that he had cancer as he continued to inexplicably lose weight.
I never thought I’d be a pug mom when I grew up. I had planned, since childhood, to get an english bulldog as soon as I could. Tyler knew this when we started dating and was in agreement. However shortly after we got married we met a pug named Pumpkin that slept in a big papasan chair and was adorable and playful and snuggly and we knew we were meant to be pug owners. When we moved to Kansas we started the search on petfinder. Hoping to adopt a puppy but committed to rescuing, not purchasing, a dog of our own. In April of 2008 we applied for and were approved to adopt a pug puppy from a rescue in St. Louis. I rushed around town buying a crate, toys, food, collar, etc. etc. To the point my credit card was frozen because they were not used to such shopping sprees and thought it had been stolen! I had to work that Saturday so Tyler drove the 4 hours to St. Louis to pick him up. There were 3 puppies to choose from and he made his pick and brought “Cinnamon” home to live with us. Terrible name for a pug, just terrible, lol. Toby snoozed in a box on the way home Tyler kept his hand on him to keep him calm when he got fidgety. He was only 3.3lbs. A teeny tiny baby pug all for us. Here’s the picture I took of my first look at him.
He was so tiny and snuggly and all puppy. Loved to play with toys and nip and your fingers and toes and then he’d just pass out in the middle of the floor and then wake up and pee on everything. He was so tiny he couldn’t hop up on the furniture so he’d just sit by the couch and cry and cry until you lifted him up. Then he’d want down and cry and cry to get down. He was too tiny to navigate the staircase to our 3rd floor apartment so we’d carry him out to potty every 20 minutes and he was like a fat potato you could hold in one hand. Just the cutest thing ever.
The first night was horrrrrrrible. He cried all.night.long. I cried thinking we’d made some huge mistake and just sure we could never have an actual baby if a pug baby was this hard. Tyler slept on the floor next to his crate with his hand in there to help calm him down. We tried all the tricks, including a warm water bottle (all that wallgreens sold was a hot pink “douchebag”) but he promptly popped it with his sharp puppy claws and then he was mad because he was soaking wet. Eventually he chilled out and came to love his crate and before he was even a year old you could say “crate” and he would run up to it and hop in and wait for you to close the door. Our world pretty much revolved around him.
He had (and destroyed) many many toys but his favorite was this random stuffed platypus. He loved her more than any toy ever.
About a year after we rescued him we moved into our house, and he loved the extra space and the window to observe the neighborhood.
So a few months after we moved in we got the itch to get a second pug. We figured Chubbs could use a playmate and hopefully they’d play and snuggle and be best buddies. Enter Betty Boop, or Boopers. We drove 4 hours down to Arkansas to get her from a pug rescue, I think you can tell from this picture how he felt about it.
they were not instant buddies
Eventually they came to tolerate each other and occasionally would play or snuggle but most of the time Boopers was not very nice to him. She didn’t like sharing the spotlight and Chubbs wasn’t fond of sharing either. Our nightly routine was to separate them so they got lots of one on one attention. Tyler took Boopers, I took Chubbs. Sometimes I’d rock him like a little baby and tell him he would always be my little baby pug.
Toby took MUCH more kindly to Gretchen when she entered the scene. He took on the role of protector and was a very sweet big brother to her. I have countless photos of him sitting right next to her during that first year of her life, especially before she got mobile. He loved to steal her warm spot in the boppy pillow if I picked her up, and if she cried he would bring her one of his eggballs, the toy he always sucked on when he was upset.
Gretchen still talks about Toby often. She will say things like “Toby is gone.” or “Toby was sick.” She will sometimes say “Toby is gone but he will come back.” I think as more time passes she’s understanding that he won’t come back but it’s hard to be sure. She loves to look at old pictures and videos of him and she will draw pictures of him too.
Toby’s favorite things: food, snuggling, sunshine belly rubs, sleeping in the big bed behind mama’s knees, cleaning up after Gretchen ate, his platypus, his eggballs, playing fetch and occassionally tug.
Toby’s least favorite things: the period of time between 2-4 pm when it was too early for dinner and he suffered from what we called “ETS” (empty tum syndrome), other dogs in the cul de sac, esp. Sally the Weimeraner, bags of all kinds, getting his nails or ears cleaned, change. Baby pug preferred that every day be exactly the same.