Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Monday, April 15, 2013

The One Eyed Pug is gone



Over fourteen years ago, I placed a six week old, one pound Pug into a small basket and put him in my car. I'd bought him from a farm in Delano, Minnesota and on that cold winter day the first thing I did before I even brought him home was to drive to the hospital to show my mother - she was recovering from hip surgery.
I tucked him in well thinking the nurses might not let me into the room with a puppy, but one saw his huge eyeballs on his little face and they all came running in delight.

Today I laid his fourteen year old body in the same basket, and wrapped his red night blanket around him. I had driven him to the vet this morning to help him on his way. His time had come. But it still took strength to face the fact that I was driving him to his final breath. I know I did the right thing - his coughing was no longer helped by steroids, his back end was weaker each day from his compressed spine and he couldn't settle. I felt he had reached a point where sleep was his only form of comfort, but it was harder for him to settle into sleep. He could no longer make it outside on time, and had little eyesight and hearing left.

I kept believing he still had quality of life, since his favorite things had always been napping, snorting around for crumbs and sleeping on my lap. While he still was excited for breakfast, I knew I was keeping him around for selfish reasons at this point. He could have had a stroke or heart attack with the constant coughing and breathing issues.

But oh, he is missed already. To say the house is quieter is an understatement. Anyone who knows a pug understands - his snoring and pug sounds were a constant - as were the continual gas emissions. When he was gone, he let out a little bit of gas, and we did get a smile out of that.

I have always cremated my dogs, but I wanted to hold his body and bury him at Apifera. Maybe it was helpful after losing my mother and not being able to see her body in the end, to have this little pug to hold and cry over. I buried him under the lilacs in the front gardens and I'll scatter some of my mother's ashes there when I get them. My mother loved Billy and she also loved lilacs - each Mother's Day I had a ritual in Minneapolis of finding lilacs on park land and cutting some for my mother. It was a great game, risking getting caught to find the best lilacs for her - she used to joke that some day I'd get arrested over it. So it is fitting to lay Billy under the lilacs. As a child in Minnesota we often lived near lilac groves and I would sit under them and pretend I was in a vast empire of my own, cradled under the scent of their boughs, creating stories and future farms in my little head.

I don't know why death can come in groupings. It is the end of an era for me in so many ways.

When I brought Billy home today I let Huck and Muddy see him before I buried him. Huck licked Billy's face over and over, something he did every morning or night, usually when the pug was sitting on my lap. It was tender and sweet. But the dogs did not weep. They were at my feet with tails a wagging ready for games, food or companionship.

Billy's cushion in the stdio by the fire was covered in an old burlap seed bag. I took it and wrapped it around him in his grave. I placed a small figurine of a fox terrier that looked just like our old friend Louie Louie. I don't have to worry about him now. He is on his way to his eyeball - that is what I told him years ago,

"Someday, you will meet up with your old eyeball. Until then, your eyeball is safe up there in the full moon."

So every full moon, I'll be looking up at him.

Oh Pug! I loved you so!