I wasn’t ready to let her go.
Lola was such an adaptable little pug. She moved from Grand Bay, Alabama to River Ridge, Louisiana, from house to apartment, just to be with my husband and me.
She didnt mind our odd work hours, and we enjoyed her limitless energy. She made the long trip with us to Gainesville, Florida charming strangers along the way. We moved from house to apartment to house. She was my first baby, my little pug baby.
She was not perfect, but she was exactly what I needed. She was fiesty, noisy, stubborn and demanding. She once tried to pick a fight with a St. Bernard because he dared to sniff our mailbox.
But she was also sweet and snuggly, and did anything for attention. She was a funny little pug, with all the snorts and grumbles pug owners love.
She wasn’t one of those TV dogs who instictively knew when I was sick and stayed by my side ’til I was better. No, she’d bark at me to make me get out of bed and take care of her, no matter how I was feeling. It was good practice for when I’d have a baby.
When I did get pregnant, she became a bit gentler. She stayed by my side as I wretched in the toilet for three months and slept next to my belly at night. But when the baby was born, she barked at every cry until I wanted to throw both her and the baby out the window. (I didn’t.)
So afraid I’d forget to feed her during the newborn haze of motherhood, I overcompensated by feeding her every time she pawed her metal bowl. I think she ate five meals a day for two months.
When we moved to our third floor apartment in Raleigh, Lola’s energy began to slow down. When she was recovering from dental surgery, I had to carry her up and down the stairs. After anestesia wore off and she was fully recovered, she still insisted on being carried, at least on the way down. Even after we moved into our house, she still didnt want to walk down the porch steps.
Before I ever had a dog, I had a bit of a pug obsession. Their round faces, short noses and curly tails made them my favorite kind of dog. But when I met my Lola, it was her cleverness, her boldness, her determination that made her my favorite kind of dog. Even in her old age, she would spring into action to chase a frog or a rabbit. Of course her puggy build prevented her from ever catching her prey.
I knew she wouldn’t last forever but I kind of had this odd fantasy that I’d have enough warning to make her last day special. I was going to cook her a steak, take her for a long walk, maybe even let her stand on the kitchen table.
Instead I scolded her for barking and left for work in a hurry only to come home and find her limp and lethargic, barely able to lift her head. She showed no interest in food not even for a French fry. I had not prepared for this.
I knew in my gut it was time, though I still held on to a shred of hope as the family loaded up in the car to the emergency vet. I held her on my lap as she gently wheezed.
I thought about how she snuggled into my lap in the car the first day we brought her home. She was so much smaller and lighter than I had expected.
Now she’d never felt so heavy. I was not ready for this. I was not ready to explain it to my son. I was not ready for my husbands heaping sobs or my own. The rest of the night was surreal.
We came home without a dog.
The next day I went to work, a dull ache in my right arm from where I’d been supporting her the night before. The ache worsened throughout the morning, a physical manifestation of my grief. At lunchtime I lost control of my emotions and had to come home.
You don’t realize all the subtle ways a dog changes your life. The way I open and close doors, the way that I eat, my morning routine, my bedtime routine, all changed.
And now I am left with that terrible feeling of now what? I can’t get another dog. She was my favorite.