The Apricot Pug
The apricot pug needed a foster home. Would I help?
With four small dogs already, Lee had said “no more”, but I convinced him that fostering would be different. These dogs would only be with us temporarily before going on to their new homes. Foster homes are greatly needed and we would be doing a good deed. After all, it would be temporary. Did I mention temporary?
I met Orlando Pug Rescue in the Walmart parking lot and picked up Chuy. The apricot pug came with a belly band and two small toys. The belly band was needed, we were told, because he was not completely housebroken. His former owner said that he could never be trusted in the house. She kept him in a crate all day, and wondered why he went in the house as soon as he was let out. In addition, she told us, he suffered from severe separation anxiety whenever he was left alone, which was quite often apparently. Poor little dignified dog wearing a belly band. But his former owner said one other thing. She said he was the gentlest of souls, and did not have a mean bone in his body. She was right about only that.
Chuy is a beautiful specimen of pug-ness. In fact, he is a show-quality pug, special because of his more rare and “desirable” apricot color, who had been used as a stud dog. Being beautiful, however, had not served him well. Born in Arizona, sold to a breeder in Colorado, he went to pug rescue at least one time before he moved to Florida and ended up with his last owner in Orlando. At five years old, he had moved around so many times, been used as a commodity, and was the most depressed dog I had ever encountered. He watched and waited, no doubt waiting to be moved again.
I read later that stud dogs often fare far worse because they are only handled at breeding time. At least the females have their puppies. Chuy probably had no one. People were temporary. Not particularly unkind perhaps, but definitely temporary.
For the first several months, Chuy sat on the sidelines and did not play with the other dogs. He stuck to me like glue, and cried, screamed, whenever I left the room, even if just for a minute. He reminded me of a foster child who is afraid to bond with the family, knowing they will just be moving again. I had placed his two toys in the basket where I kept the other dog toys. It was heartbreaking to watch Chuy go over to the huge basket and carefully select only his own toy from among them, never playing with the other dogs or toys. Clinging to the only familiar things he had. He was just waiting to be moved again.
It took many months of care and routine for him to even begin to bond with the other dogs and feel at home. Francee was first, with her magical, Omega-dog routine, and she won him over. Little by little, he came out of his shell. For a long time, he preferred his own toys, but eventually, he chose others from the basket. He started to play chase with the other dogs. As for the “housebreaking issue” – doggie door, problem solved.
Chuy has learned that he can count on his family routine. He has become a different dog. “Choo Choo Pug” now sleeps every night on mom’s right hand side, licks mom’s nose every morning to wake her up, jumps down in the morning and barks for his kibble, and has the funniest “mad dog” run when he is feeling extra exuberant. He cleans Francee’s ears every night, and submits to Pearl’s face-cleaning, even though he clearly doesn’t like it. He still hates riding in the car, and I often wonder if it because he is worried that he is being taken away again. He remains the gentlest of souls, and yes, he is staying. We could not bear to move Chuy again, so we made him a permanent part of the Karma Acres family. Watching him play with the other dogs, playing probably for the first time since he was a pup, we know he is joyful .