More than fifteen years ago (I say “more than fifteen” because I’m bad at math and I’m too tired to try and remember exactly when and I’d be wrong and then my mother would be calling me and, trust me, it’d be YOUR fault, Internet), my family owned a Schnauzer named Shotzie. She started off one of the worst dogs we’d ever owned. She didn’t chew up our expensive shoes, or eat the crotches out of our underwear. Instead, if she felt you weren’t showing her enough affection that day, she’d build up enough crap in her body to take a sufficient dump on your bed. Imagine how much joy she brought us when she went into heat.
Yeah, Im’ma let that marinate with you for a minute.
We spent a full year getting her trained and knocking the alpha out of her. I don’t know what magic magicalness taps into the part of the dog brain that turns them from jerk to awesome, but this dog was the best dog I’ve ever had in my life, hands down, no exaggeration. AFTER the training. We were devastated when she died at 13.
My mother took it the hardest, especially because Shotzie kept her company after I’d gone off to college, and was with her after I brought home what would come to be a husband soon after. She vowed never to get another dog.
My mother is an animal lover so, of course, I knew she was talking out of the side of her neck. But to tell an animal lover they will love again is like telling a widow they’ll date again. Grief makes you say never instead of maybe.
A few months later, I adopted Bo from a reputable pug breeder, bringing my mother and stepfather along for the ride mostly for company and in case I got lost. (Ohio is notorious for their dog breeding farms in the middle of Absolutely Nowheresville.) The entire ride back to Cleveland, my mother was quietly fighting a losing battle in convincing herself not to get another dog while my new dog soundly slept in her lap.
A month later, she adopted this:
If you’ve never read up on the breed, pugs are the equivalent of Gremlins. Not these, but these. They break down often. Their hips are faulty, their joints are peace meal, their eyes infest easily, their wrinkles are pockets for leftover food and water, they can have allergies, sinusitis, asthma, and tend to overeat.
Like, Shut Down The All You Can Eat Buffet-overeat.
Five years into ownership, and I couldn’t have been happier with my purchase. Bo will probably outlive me. My mother, on the other hand, got The Gremlin. Anything that could go wrong with a pug, HAS gone wrong with this dog. Because of this, B.Fam has affectionately renamed him Lemón.
My mother HATES this name. HATES it. Does it help that I laugh whenever he says it? Probably not but people. THIS dog?! Can dogs reach the 100,000 mile mark? Can you trade them in for parts?
Jokes, people. Don’t start sending me hate mail.
Before we adopted Brutus, we’d read books about the Boxer breed. Ironically enough (overeating aside), Boxers have similar issues to pugs. In fact, they may be MORE prone to breakdown. The only difference is everything about them is ten times bigger. (Including the vet bills to repair their many issues – YEESH!)
I thought we’d be lucky. We had been with Bo and we knew it.
One hot afternoon, we sent Brutus to the back yard to eat dirt (don’t ask; it’s kind of a thing with him), and burn off some energy. I noticed he’d been out there a while, and sent B.Fam to replenish his
liquor water dish. I didn’t realize it at first, but he’d been gone longer than should be necessary to refill a water dish. After what seemed like an eternity, he returned to the house, with the dog.
“Um… babe? Could you come look at this?”
We’ve been through umbilical hernias, severe case of fleas, and two worm infestations. That was all within a month of ownership. We were certain this thing had leprosy.
Turned out to be an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Two doses of Benedryl and we were back in business.
I hear there’s this thing… “karma” they call it?