Of the cast of characters who play in my dog walking pack, the one that entertains me the most is the Pug. I won’t use his real name here, not so much to protect his identity, but because it is a mouthful, a dissonant hodgepodge of letters that don’t go together belonging to an obscure Reformation theologian, perhaps a heady wish by his owners that he would be an intellectual sort. The name could not fit him less nor could it be harder to say, so I just call him Pug-Pug.
He is a roly-poly little bundle of energy, stubborn as all get-out, with a tail that uncurls when he’s running around like a maniac. He’s a good-looking Pug, if you like that sort of smoosh-faced alien thing. Pug connoisseurs are always commenting he’d make a good show dog, but were he ever to go that route he would be disqualified as only one of his testicles ever descended, lending him one of his many nicknames, The Uni-baller.
He is a quirky little guy, and has gone through many stages of odd behavior, including standing and staring at the floor in a corner, then pouncing suddenly at nothing, also going through the house and scratching at closed doors, and eating dirt, twigs and rocks as we go on our walks. I couldn’t quite decide if he was a neurotic special needs pup with pica, or an eccentric misunderstood genius.
When he got his sole testicle removed, he had to wear one of those embarrassing Elizabethan collars for about a week to keep him from pulling out his stitches. Most dogs cower in the big pathetic plastic cone, but not Pug-Pug. He used the satellite dish on his head to his advantage in the game of fetch, knocking other dogs out of the way and cupping the tennis ball to the ground so no other contenders could get to it. It was things like this that led me to believe he might be smarter than he let on. But the following incident proved that theory wrong.
Pug-Pug has a buddy in the pack, a large Doberman Pinscher who uses him as a chew toy, gnawing on Pug-Pug’s juicy neck rolls. At first I was afraid Pug-Pug was getting mauled, but he always went back for more, kind of like a little brother who dotes on his older sibling so much he’ll take attention anyway he can get it, even if it means getting pummeled. Once Pug-Pug’s neck was protected by the plastic collar, however, the Dobie had no interest in him. Pug-Pug followed his every move trying to get his best buddy to play with him, but to no avail. It was at this moment I witnessed how dim he really is.
Tagging along at the much larger dog’s heels, Pug-Pug crashed into his ankles with the cone as the Dobie came to a sudden stop. Pug-Pug looked up and sniffed with great interest the nether-regions of the Pinscher, who I saw begin to squat and hunch his back in the “about to do my business” stance. Pug kept sniffing away, and sure enough, “Plop!” a gigantic Dobie doo as big as Pug-Pug’s head landed on the brim of his cone. I saw panic in his eyes, and he began to retreat, backpedaling as if he could get away from this offensive intruder into his personal space, but everywhere he went it hotly pursued. He backed himself into a wall, and stood there, paralyzed by the inescapable poo.
After making sure someone else had seen this to share in fits of laughter and cursing not having a video camera for what would be a sure thing on America’s Funniest Home Videos, I helped Pug-Pug out, ridding his cone of the consequences of his curiosity. I thought for sure, he’d learned his lesson, but the very next day, cone-free after a week of confinement, Pug-Pug perched himself at the tail end of his best friend for round two of his exploits into dog doodom. This time he stood back carefully until he thought the Dobie was done, then leaned in to investigate the steaming pile on the ground, only to receive the second helping square on the back of his empty little head.
I never again overestimated his powers of reasoning. The moral of the story is that you can judge a pug by his collar. That, and carry a camera. And handy wipes.