Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20, 2009 - Waiting for Godot?


Pugs are, at heart, patient creatures. Sure, they get excited and want dinner NOW, not two minutes from now, and they'll hurry you along if they see a leash and you're not at the door quite yet, but still, the essence of the pug is patience. You see, the pug, as a breed, has been carefully bred for nearly 2,500 years to do nothing but be a pleasant companion to humans. They don't herd, they don't hunt. They may retrieve something, if they're in the mood, but it most likely won't be a fresh-shot duck or pheasant. They couldn't guard a sheep if their sweet little souls depended on it and are totally useless as "attack dogs." They are companions. That is their only job, and they do it very well.

The problem with being born and bred to keep humans company is that it requires a great deal of patience, both in the sense of waiting around a lot, and in the sense of being highly tolerant of behaviors that make absolutely zero sense to the canine mind. Nothing in their DNA or their canid instincts offers any clue about wearing sweatshirts, and particularly not sweatshirts emblazoned with "Mommy's Little Stinker." Yet our pugs, because it amuses us, wear them, sometimes in public places in spite of the snickers they probably draw from the more practical herding or hunting members of the canine family. They put up with scented baths (often after just getting their scent "just right" by dog standards,) and wear jewelry never seen in nature. Even some of the really nasty things we humans do to them, they tolerate. I've seen it in rescue - a dog that's been horribly abused still trusts the next human it meets, still wants to be friends. When they have every reason to fear and distrust anything on two legs, they don't. They still approach, sometimes shyly, offering affection. The patient heart of the pug.

And they wait. Lordy, how they wait. They wait for dinner, they wait for walks. They wait for chores to get done so somebody can play with them. When I emerge from the bathroom, at least two are lying in the hall, noses to the bottom of the door, waiting. When I pull into the driveway at the end of the workday, a little silhouette of a head in the window is the first thing I see, waiting.

All this sitting about and waiting would make most humans crazy, but not our pugs. Or, if we do exasperate them, they mostly keep it to themselves. They're just happy to see us, delighted to finally get their share of our attention. "You're home!" and they spin and dance and yip. "You came out of the bathroom! Hooray!" No judgments, no grief, no "Where have you been?" Just pure unbridled joy at being our focus again.

Yesterday, for example, was Santa In September, the big fundraiser we do each year to benefit Ohio Pug Rescue. Cj and I were gone most of the day. Normally, we take the pugs with us, a chance to play in the park and spend time with the mamas, even if the mamas are busy, but this year we left them all at home. Too much to do, too many empty spots on the volunteer schedule, to add pug-wrangling to the day's duties. (Freya always stays home - crowds make her twitchy and unhappy and she'd much rather have some pug-free peace and quiet guarding the house that day.) When we got home, they raced, first to the window to see us pull in, and then to the door, to wait some more for us to get unloaded and come inside. I might have felt horribly guilty at leaving them to amuse each other and annoy the cats while I spent the day in a sunny park with a hundred other pugs, but not one dirty look did we get from our own pugs. Nope. They spun, danced, jumped, squealed and yipped, ecstatic just to have us back home with them. We were dead tired, aching in every cell, but we didn't crash in bed - we sat and cooed and crooned and scritched ears and tummies because, well, who could resist that kind of greeting?

When I did awake this morning, I opened my eyes to Orrville, sitting quietly beside me on the bed, watching the cat and waiting for me to wake up. He could have taken off after the cat, across my head, jolting me awake, but he didn't. When I opened my eyes, he looked down at me. I reached up and started scratching his chin. His eyes started to drift shut and apparently he decided that this getting up business wasn't all he'd originally thought. He slid down, ending up sound asleep with his chin and one paw on my bicep, cuddled against my chest. Sometimes, waiting is nice.

I talk to my dogs, a lot. As I move through my day with my little furry entourage at my heels and often underfoot, we chat. They're good listeners, too, pugs, another trait bred for as part of their companion duties. I like to think it helps them feel included as I do things that really don't require puggy assistance, like the dishes (though I'm not sure I could do it without their help any more, so accustomed to it have I become, nor do I think I'd want to.) We talk about everything - what else needs to be done, what's for dinner, how work went. They seem to enjoy it but in truth, I don't know for sure if it really does anything for them or not...or if it just makes me feel a little better about worrying about mundane chores when I could be spending the time with these wonderful, gentle souls that surround me, waiting...

That's another day at the Shady Rest. Ya'll take care.

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