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We said goodbye to our sweet little pug Peggy today.  She was such a little love.  It's been a long time since my heart ached this much, but it was her time to go.
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Follow me below to read about her life for a few minutes.

She was only 2 years old when I picked her up as a rescue dog.  She was thin, a little scarred, and frightened.  (She kept a ghost of that her whole life; sometimes when I touched her unexpectedly, she would flinch, which just crushed me.)  She quickly gained weight back to normal, and her spirits perked up, but it was another two years before she was actually confident.

She loved affection, and giving affection; if you got close and scritched her, you were very likely to get a lick as a kiss!  She loved back scritches:

I kept her, with my other pug, through a divorce, and took care of them alone for a good while.  I would pet her to sleep on the bed at night in the dark, stroking her back slowly from head to tail.  It always took at least 7 strokes, but never more than 15, before she would turn and curl up next to me.

She was the most mild-mannered little dog, and she liked people much more than dogs.  Once when a male friend was over, she jumped up onto the couch next to him, started rubbing him, then flopped over on her back, exposing her belly.  You little tramp! we said, laughing, but she loved people and loved belly rubs, so everyone had to pay their dues at some point. :-)

She could be protective, though.  Once she and my other pug were attacked by a coyote (I managed to fend it off), and Peggy chased after it, barking!  It ran a few feet from her, at first.  She had a real "Oh, sh!t!" moment when the coyote stopped to face her.  I got her away - very close call!

She and I took dozens of walks in the park by our house, in other parks close by, and on the beach.  I took her to dog parks, too, but she never wanted to play with the other dogs; she only wanted to follow me.  So I would jog around the dog park, with her trotting after me, other dog owners smiling at the sight.  She loved going for bye-byes-in-car, and got positively frantic when I took her through the McDonald's drive-through.  "Two regular hamburgers, no toppings, only meat and bun, please!"  And she loved lying on the couch next to me...until I got myself a nice leather recliner.  It promptly (and I mean, the first day I had it) became HER recliner!  I gladly gave it up, it made her so happy to sit there, watching the rest of us.

I had her until I got remarried, and my wife was kind enough to take her into her heart, too.  She said Peggy was such a little love, it was easy.

Such a serious little girl!
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Six months ago, she developed a cough that wouldn't go away.  The vet initially prescribed antibiotics, and that seemed to take an edge off the cough, but it didn't go away.  Another visit, another course of antibiotics (plus steroids).  I finally went back six weeks ago, insisting they look for a collapsed trachea (which makes pugs cough awfully, and which is not uncommon).  The vet took a chest X-ray and found lung cancer instead, a very sizable spot on one lung, and involvement of the rest of the lung tissue, as well.  "That's not good," I said unhelpfully, and she nodded.  "How long does she have, ballpark?"  "Weeks," the vet said simply, but not unkindly.  I thanked her and drove Peggy back home.

Since then, I walked her when I could, though she went from walking through the neighborhood, to walking up the street and back, to walking out to the front yard, and fed her lots of beef, chicken, and fish, and lots of Pupperonis (her favorite and only treat).  I gave her hydrocodone and steroids for the coughing, which helped ease her discomfort.  It didn't ease her breathing, however, which got more labored as time went on.

I took her last Saturday for a walk/sniffie session at Mission Bay Park, where I'd taken her regularly when she was much younger.  She seemed to really enjoy the half hour there, but it totally wiped her out.  I'm glad to have given her that little bit, because three days later she had a series of three seizures.  The emergency vet that night said that most likely the lung cancer had metastasized to her brain.  She was so wobbly and disoriented, and spent the next 36 hours, straight, pacing around our place, panting.

She was panting and pacing the floor next to our bed in the middle of the night the second day after the seizures, and I finally decided, at 4AM, it was time to let her go.  Literally less than a minute after I made that decision, she plopped herself down next to me and went to sleep.  I took that as a sign it was time.

I called the vet the next day and made an appointment for the following day, and gave Peggy one last day of hugs, scritches, chicken, a last walk in the sunshine, and even a trip through the McDonald's drive-through.  She slept soundly that night; life had just gotten too hard.

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We took her to the vet today to say goodbye.  She slept practically the whole way there, and in the vet's office.  The actual procedure didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped (which just killed me), but in the end she slipped away peacefully with me, my wife and my sister- and brother-in-law watching, the people who loved her most in the world.

I was a wreck earlier today; my most crushing doubts revolved around whether or not I was doing this too soon; she was my baby, and she trusted me absolutely.  Her last day, she looked better, which gave me hope, but hope is sometimes cruel.  In the end, I knew, and I think she knew, it was her time.  She was 14 years old, just past her birthday of June 6.

I love you, Peggy.  You were such a good friend for twelve years of my life, and  I'll remember you always.

(PS - Dear Readers, if you feel moved enough to leave a tip, leave them not for me but for Peggy, and thank you.)

Originally posted to The Orchid on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 04:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by PWB Peeps.

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