The Puglet

In April, 2005, when I was working at an animal hospital in Brooklyn, a man came in with a ten-week-old Pug who’d been born on Jan. 31st. He’d bought her two weeks earlier at a pet store in Brooklyn. During the two weeks he and his wife had her, they came to realize she couldn’t walk. He told me they also had an adult Pug, whom they’d gotten as a young puppy and was unsteady on her feet initially, which is why it took them a couple of weeks to realize the new puppy couldn’t walk. The man was crying, saying how much he loved her, yet he couldn’t dump her fast enough! Hey, he’d paid for her and she had a couple of parts that didn’t work right. All I wanted to say to him was, “If your kid couldn’t walk would you givehim/her away?”

When I was studying at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell most of the students and faculty had a three-legged or blind pet, animals who’d been donated to the school, treated, and then adopted out. I didn’t adopt any of them because I had too many cats as it was and I knew that when I got to senior year (’97-’98) I’d be adopting any shelter animals that came under my care, such as the ones we operated on the first time we did spays and neuters. I still have my first neuter, a very sweet black short-haired cat with a crook at the tip of his tail whom I named Pye (after Pyewacket). He’d been found wandering around a building in Ithaca and someone had brought him to the shelter. I’ve always wondered if he was someone’s cat who’d gotten lost and then a “do-gooder” brought him to the Tompkins County Animal Shelter, “disappearing” somebody’s pet! Back to The Puglet. The man who brought her in also brought an xray that had been taken by his vet on Staten Island, where he lived. It showed that Puggy had four malformed vertebrae, which explained why she couldn’t support herself on her back legs. She was the cutest thing I’d ever seen with a very adorable personality. Her front legs were/are perfectly normal and she’d scoot around real fast, following the two dogs that lived at the hospital. She always slept curled up against their bellies. When I’d be in the exam room with clients and their pets, she’d come to the door to see what was going on. Everyone fell in love with her, including me, of course.

I named her Puglet because when I first saw her she reminded me of Piglet, with her ears sort of sticking out and her big, round belly. Those eyes, though. Those amazing eyes. There is so much soul there. After a short time I brought her home. She’s been living on my bed ever since. My cats were horrified at this bouncing thing that made noise. For a while they all refused to come into my room. Gradually, they all came back, but only one of my cats, Foofie, lets her chew on him.

Soon after adopting her, I took Puggy to a neurosurgeon, who said he’d give her only a 25% chance of walking after back surgery. That nixed the idea of surgery. He didn’t think she’d live very long because, based on the location of the malformed vertebrae, as she grew there would be so much compression on her spine that eventually she wouldn’t be able to breathe. He didn’t think she’d live a year. So, I took her back home, figuring I’ll keep her happy for as long as she’s got and when the time comes, I’ll have to let her go. Well, as luck would have it, she didn’t grow!! She turned out to be a midget!! She turned five years old on January 31, 2010 and she’s only seven pounds! She’s smaller than my cats and is the joy of my life! We are VERY much in love. She sleeps with her “arms” around my neck. She has the best personality!! As I type this she’s sleeping with her chin on the back of my hand and snoring. I’m telling you, she’s the cutest thing in the world! When I sing to her, she tilts her head back and forth. (She does this only when I sing to her.) Her favorite song, appropriately, is “Thumbalina”, from “Hans Christian Andersen” starring Danny Kaye.

For those too young to have grown up watching Danny Kaye’s movies, here are the words:

Thumbalina, Thumbalina, tiny little thing,
Thumbalina dance, Thumbalina sing.
It really, really doesn’t matter that you’re very small,
When your heart is full of love you’re nine feet tall!

This photo was taken when she was five months old. She grew only a little after that and her face remains the same to this day. I have a permanent Pug puppy! I honestly don’t know how I manage to ever turn my back on her and walk out the door! I tell her to stay, be a good Puggy, and I’ll be home soon. She never gets into any trouble. She’s totally perfect! I’m so lucky she came into my life!! Long live The Puglet!!

Nancy J. Allen, DVM
November 12, 2010

On August 5, 2011, The Puglet crashed. All we could find was a high white count of undetermined cause. I treated her aggressively for five days, during which time she rallied beautifully. Then, on the evening of August 10th, she crashed again and was gone within five minutes. We were together on my bed as usual.