In the past six months my extended family has lost two much-loved members, and I’d like to pay tribute to both of them. In December, just a few days before Christmas, my sister’s family discovered their gentle giant Max, a Rottie, dead, most likely stricken by a heart attack. Just five years old, he had the sweetest disposition of any dog I’ve known. And manners-wise he put Pablo to shame. He wouldn’t dream of begging and often had to be coaxed to take a treat!
And just yesterday my youngest sister’s family made the painful decision to say goodbye to Abby, a rescued pit bull they’d shared their home with for more than twelve years, who’d recently been diagnosed with cancer. Abby was the elder statesman (statesdog?) of our family, a stout-hearted and fiercely loyal dog. True, she and Pablo couldn’t be in the same room (pit bulls are known for being extremely territorial), but they did meet once during Pablo’s puppyhood to romp in the park, a memory I cherish.
Losing one’s best friend has got to be one of the most painful experiences of owning a pet. I still haven’t recovered from the loss of my first dog, Duke, and that was almost forty years ago. So my heart goes out to both my sisters and their husbands and children.
RIP Max and Abby.
Pablo was looking particularly fetching when I snapped this photo just a few days ago. Need I add that it was prior to our current heat wave. Now, instead of snuggling in wool, he’s parked under the dining room chair in direct line of the floor fan.
by Christian Oth for The New York Times
Hey, pug lovers, this photo of Billy Joel posing with his pug Sabrina is from an article in Sunday’s New York Times. K is a big-time motorcycle enthusiast and has been on the fence about getting a sidecar for his Airhead. This photo made up his mind, so soon you might see Pablo sitting pretty in his very own sidecar. Of course, he’ll be wearing a pair of Doggles!
BTW–Don’t you think Billy Joel looks a bit like a pug?
Look closely at the photo. See a little dark smudge hanging off a tree branch? That, my friends, is a bat, and the latest visitor to our humble home. Yesterday morning started out uneventfully. I was sitting at my desk in my office, checking corrections for a magazine I’d been copyediting. I heard a few odd sounds coming from the light fixture above me, but I assumed it was nothing more than a trapped bug. I was wrong. How wrong became apparent seconds later when I heard a much louder noise, the noise of flapping wings as the bat–disturbed from its rest by the light’s heat–careened around my small office like a drunken sailor on leave.
Luckily, I had enough presence of mind to open the window and screen before fleeing from the office and closing the door behind me. (Thankfully Pablo and the cats were already downstairs.) Then I did what any 21st-century, liberated woman would do–I called my husband. He calmed me down some, and later I even managed to sneak into the office to retrieve my iPad.
That afternoon K returned home from work earlier than usual and went up to investigate. I’d like to say I went with him, but I stayed on the porch. K came back to report that the bat was sleeping upside down on a branch of my tree decoration. He took some photos (see above) and gently prodded it to leave. It yawned, opened its bat eyes, and refused. After a little more prodding, it finally flew out the window, no doubt grumbling at the shoddy accommodations provided by our bed-and-breakfast.
K thought the bat very cute and became quite enamored with it, even going so far as to wonder if they can be kept as pets. I’m fond of bats, as well. I know they perform a useful service keeping the bug population in check. But I don’t want another one in my house. Not ever.
It was bound to happen. One of the cats made a break for it–fed up, no doubt, with two meals a day, a multitude of cozy spots to cuddle up in, and an endless supply of toys and catnip. So when the window in the basement cracked and a piece of pane fell out, our prisoner escaped, hightailing it out the window and into the free world. Those who know our cats will be surprised to learn that it wasn’t the fearless Rita–she who roamed far and wide in her previous home in the country. No, it was timid OC.
I found OC many moons ago in Jersey City, camped out under a dumpster and meowing piteously. I scooped him up, took him home, and he’s been with me ever since–with absolutely no interest in the great outdoors (except when the cats sunned themselves on our roof deck in our previous house).
I didn’t discover the broken window right away. In fact, one night I heard cats growling right outside our living room window. I wondered why OC wasn’t down to investigate–and now I know. He was one of the cats, defending his territory from an intruder. I finally discovered the broken window one rainy morning when OC came to breakfast wet. A quick investigation revealed why. K boarded up the window and OC’s wandering days are over for now. He cried to be let out at first, but now he seems resigned that he’s an indoor cat again.
The Unrepentant Escapee
So Pablo and I are not as deeply bonded as I’d thought. Sob. According to a recent NY Times article on canine intelligence, one way to test if you and your dog are strongly bonded is to yawn and see if your dog reciprocates. Well, I’ve yawned until my lips ache and Pablo just looks at me as if to say, “What is that crazy person doing?”
Above is a shot of Pablo yawning–just to show that he does know how!
On my other blog, The Cath in the Hat, I review children’s books. It isn’t often that my two interests collide, but it’s usually a happy occurrence when they do. Case in point, Pug and Other Animal Poems, a picture book featuring verse by Valerie Worth and illustrations by Steve Jenkins. Jenkins uses collage to capture each animal’s portrait, and as you can see by the pug on the cover, he does a masterful job. I love the way the tip of the pug’s tongue sticks out, something that Pablo has taken to doing lately.
While all the poems are wonderful, by favorite has to be–you guessed it–the one entitled “Pug.”
With their goggling
Eyes and stumpy
Brows and hairy
Moles, they’re what
Might call plug-ugly;
Perhaps because, for
Dogs, they look
A lot like people.
This is Pablo at the start of his birthday festivities, so just imagine what he looked like after all the presents had been opened (and many consumed). Although he turned 12 on April 14, it wasn’t until this past weekend that we truly celebrated. Our party guests included my mom, my daughter (and Pablo’s big sis), and her boyfriend, who met Pablo for the first time. When introduced, he said it was like meeting a celebrity. Pablo could only agree since he firmly believes he’s a star and is often deeply offended when people on the street don’t make a fuss over him.
While we devoured our feast of grilled beef, noodles, and broccoli, Pablo had his Frosty Paws and then scooted over to beg for scraps. Later it was present time and he sniffed and pawed his way through packages of dog-boutique treats. I think the card my mother got him sums it up quite well, don’t you?
Today is Pablo’s 12th birthday so he’s officially an old geezer. As you can see, he’s just as handsome as ever (even if lately he’s been a bit stiff in the hind quarters).
We have beautiful spring weather and we intend to take advantage of it by grilling outside–Pablo’s favorite pastime. So they’ll be some steak for his birthday dinner and a Frosty Paws for dessert. Next weekend will be the true celebration when his sister and her beau and my mom come.
And yesterday was the third anniversary of this blog. Many thanks to all of Pablo’s followers and well-wishers!
Pablo likes to hang out at the top of the stairs and wait for K to come home from work. He knows K’s schedule better than I do. As soon as 4:30 rolls around Pablo takes up residence at his post.