Yesterday, I drove with my friends Joan and Norma to pick up a pug that Joan had sold years earlier to a woman who could no longer take care of her. This woman's father is infirm and she is spending the majority of her time flying back and forth to Florida to care for him, while her pug, Sweet Pea, remains kenneled. Finding this unfair to Sweet Pea, she asked Joan if she would mind taking her back.
Sweet Pea began her life at "Pugdom," the affectionate name we have for Joan's house back in 2003. I know because I searched my scrapbooks and Christmas letters last night to discover the exact date. She was born in February 2003 on my lap in Joan's livingroom as the Grammy awards played in the background. We dubbed that litter "The Forest Creatures" (each litter gets a name) and called the sole black female, Narnia. A friend, who was losing her old black male, Bison, also one of Joan's pugs wanted another, so Narnia was supposed to go with her. While she grew and we waited for this friend to claim her, Narnia traveled back between Joan's house and Norma's, a loving well-adjusted, sweet-spirited pug. Finally, at a year-old, she went to her new home where unfortunately she did not hit it off with our friend's other pug, Beaudette. Beaudette hated Narnia and no matter what this friend tried she could not get the two to get along. Then stepped in Nancy who said she'd gladly take in Narnia.
We met her at an art exhibit in Bellows Falls. She had purchased Narnia, who she readily renamed Sweet Pea, an antique collar and her own antique "monkey crate" in which to sleep. The crate was a deluxe condo and Narnia/Sweet Pea took quickly to her new home. She demanded to be treated like a diva, sipping wine from Nancy's goblets that sat near her chair in the parlor and breaking several in the attempt, before Nancy realized that if she didn't want an alchoholic pug, she had better move the glasses.
Years later in an attempt to visit, we arrived at Nancy's home and not finding her there, we let ourselves in (okay, we broke in, kinda') and spent sometime with Narnia and her monkey crate, leaving Nancy a note so she wouldn't be concerned about burglars. Never did find out what she thought about these crazy pug people who had no aversion to trespassing.
Sweet Pea had many other adventures. Some not so good. It seems awhile back, being too curious, she had an encounter with a horse that did not go well. Getting too close to the beast, it kicked her in the jaw, breaking it. And, while it did not properly heal back together, the muscles hold it in place. Leaving her with a tongue that hangs out the side of her mouth and some difficulty in withholding slobber when she chews. It did not dull her sweet temperament.
Sweet Pea lived with Nancy until yesterday when we picked her up, complete with antique collar in Woodstock, VT. A mutual friend had contacted me when they heard Vader was dying to see if I might take Sweet Pea in, but after losing my pug Buffy, followed by 1.5 year-old Mira, and then Vader all in a span of a few years, I was hoping to get a younger pug whose chances at a longer life might be better. After meeting Sweet Pea again, I am not sure this was the best decision. Joan, however, willingly stepped in to reclaim one of her own.
Nancy was heartbroken to let Sweet Pea go and she came with a long letter of all her little quirks and idosyncracies which included the fact that Sweet Pea barks when onions or potatoes are boiling on the stove because she doesn't know where the sound is coming from. Nancy apologized for letting her get kicked by the horse, "It was my fault, I didn't know it was there," she wrote. And, "I hope you are glad to see her again." Reading the letter made me sob, so much was said, so much didn't need to be.
"What do you call her?" we asked before we drove off. "Do you ever call her Narnia anymore?" "No," said Nancy. "Sweet Pea, or Little Pig, that's what my grandmother would call me."
As our van sped out of the parking lot, Sweet Pea, whom I am now affectionately calling "Little Pig," looked out the window for Nancy before settling in Norma's lap. Nancy had tucked her dog bed (she long ago gave up the monkey crate) in the seat beside him hoping that Sweet Pea would find it comforting, but Tar Baby, one of Joan's pugs who was with us, greedily requistioned it and was soundly snoring even before we were on our way. We stopped at an icecream stand where Little Pig did her name proud by finishing off a doggie sundae, slobber pouring from the side of her mouth. We stopped at my house where she played with my pug Alfie before returning home to Pugdom where her life began. By midnight, she slept soundly in Joan's bed.