I used to go to this pet store every weekend in Stamford, CT because they let the puppies run free in the store. It was fun because you could pick them up and interact with them. I went every weekend with my friend Tara, who was my roommate at the time, in the early 90s. One particular Saturday, after breakfast at Bull’s Head Diner, Tara and I walked over to the pet shop, like we had done many weekends before to play with the puppies because they ran free throughout the store. We met a tiny little pug, the runt of the litter and she was running through the aisles playing and greeting everyone. She let everyone pick her up and once I picked her up, I immediately was taken with her. Tara picked her up and she gave Tara kisses and was very friendly. I was not planning on buying a pet but Tara and I felt that this little pug was special. We put her down, and noticed a little boy begging his mother to “please buy her.” They were there to pick out a family pet and were most definitely leaving with a dog that day. Tara quickly said to me, “If you don’t buy this pug, you are crazy!” I said, “I never thought about buying a dog, it doesn’t feel like something I am ready for.”
I picked up this tiny creature again and I felt an instant bond. I was scared of the commitment that a dog required. My only experience with a pet was with a crazy deaf white long-haired childhood pet cat named Snowball. I wasn’t familiar with dogs, although my father and grandmother had dogs. I couldn’t deny the immediate attachment I had towards this 8 week old pug and decided to call my friend Chris, who grew up with pugs, and asked him if he would mind driving over to give me his expert opinion on her. He immediately drove over and played with the little pug and said,”she is very playful, social and has a great temperament.” He then said, “You would be crazy not to get her, she’s a good one.”
I knew pet stores weren’t the greatest way to acquire a pet because of the puppy mills, but while I held this little pug, I felt she belonged to me. The owner of the store told me she was “on sale” and she was $645. I thought that was low for a pure bred pug, but at this time she had snuggled in to my arms and I was taken. I bought her “on sale” with no dog experience. I brought her home and it was the best journey I have ever taken to date.
She was stubborn and had a ton of personality. I named her Roxie because it rhymed with Moxie, which she had in droves. Potty training her was an ordeal and she was defiant. Eventually, she trained and was on her way to becoming a happy member of our large home that we shared with 4 other people in Greenwich, CT. We lived on a Cul De Sac and Roxie became a regular in all the neighbors yards. She ran free and visited and played with the neighborhood dogs and people. Everyone knew her, loved her, and allowed her to play in their yards, and enjoyed her. I would go outside and call her name loudly at dinner time and she would come bounding down our Cul De Sac full speed with ears flying, smiling and ready for her dinner. I never worried about her running away as she always stayed on our street, and always behaved. She was fully trained as Tara taught her to do several tricks, paw, lay down, high five, and stay. She learned quickly and eagerly. She loved the process and the challenge.
Tara then adopted a big black lab named Mac from a family member, and at this point Roxie was about 2 months old and Mac became her mentor. He taught her to be lab like, gave her a laid back mentality. Roxie adopted the fetch gene from Mac and would chase toys eagerly running back with them to be thrown again. She was also a ball buster and would jump and nip at Mac’s tail. Mac was a good sport and let her do this although he occasionally found her to be a nuisance, however, he grew to love her playful teasing. They became best friends. Roxie was with him until she was about 1 1/2 years old. She became a lab-pug. I was able to bring her everywhere I went peacefully. She always behaved, and was ready to accept any person or pet the minute she met them. She was sociable, hilarious, and courteous.
She would sit on my lap content and never got impatient where ever we were. She sat on my lap at Atlantis, and outdoor Greenwich restaurant bar, and everyone would pet her, hold her and play with her. She was always welcome. At 4, she became a regular at Greenwich Polo and everyone knew her name. She loved to watch the horses run and would run into the field, and I would run to grab her. The crowd would swell with laughter and the announcer would say, “there goes Roxie!”
She has lived with so many different people over the 15.5 years I was her momma. Everyone fell in love with her. We shared a large home for about 6 years in Greenwich and would occasionally switch out roommates and everyone loved having her around. One temporary roommate bought a pug because he loved her so much, but he moved out and I had to give the pug to a friend because it was zoo like to have two young pugs, and one was all I could handle with my other life responsibilities. Roxie loved to visit with Pete and Knute, two French Bulldogs I would watch for my friend’s friend Wheatleigh. Roxie was not territorial, and the more people and dogs the more fun she had. Some of the roommates swore Roxie understood every word of the English language. I would laugh and say, “I’m not sure about that, but they swore she did.” When I wasn’t home, the other’s would have a pet to keep them company. No one ever complained about her and they all fell in love with her.
I tried to breed Roxie with a fat boy pug because she was so special to everyone who met her. We weren’t successful. Roxie was the runt of her litter and the pug was big and fat and needless to say it was awkward, and I decided to spay her. She eventually developed mass cell tumors and with each every tumor I saw emerge, she underwent surgery to remove them. She eventually endured 7 surgeries, but it never got her down. She remained energetic, thoughtful and friendly. She had a large tumor from her foot removed to the bone one winter, and each time I had to bring her out I had to put a plastic bag on it, and she sat and waited for me to put it on, never complaining. I changed her bandages and dressings daily and eventually new skin grew back and she healed beautifully.
We moved to a place of our own in Greenwich and one day I was walking her in Portchester in very cold weather to run an errand. Her leash expanded unknowingly while I had looked down for 2 seconds to shield the wind from my face and I felt the leash pull quite hard and immediately looked up to find her tumbling beneath a driving car. I panicked, screamed and dove, the driver stopped the car, I retrieved her crying and freezing with dirt all over my face and in my mouth. The driver didn’t speak english but motioned for me to get in the car with her. She drove me around the corner to my place and I got in the car, held her on my lap as I drove, dirty, freezing and crying to the ER Vet in White Plains. They xrayed her to discover that she didn’t sustain one injury. Her coat was filthy, she was happy, smiling and calm. I drove her home and she was completely normal and happy. It took me much longer to recover emotionally from what had happened. I kept hugging her and holding her but she wanted to play.
We moved around a bit, and one time I couldn’t have her until I could find a place that allowed pets and my sister took her to live with her. I couldn’t bear to be without her and found a place where I could have her again and went to go get her from my sister 2 months later to bring her to her new home. My sister loved her so much that she bought her own pug to replace the void that she missed with my taking Roxie back. She now has two pugs.
Throughout the years Roxie has met so many of my friends, old and new, and one biker friend Krit, who owned a Rottweiler loved her so much that she went out searching for a pug that would be as cool and cute as Roxie. She got Zoey the pug. Never in a million years did Krit think she would want a small little dog, but Roxie had touched her heart so deeply that she wanted one too!
Throughout the years Roxie met so many people made such an impression on people. Everyone loved her. I was doing craft shows and one time at a school, King Low Heywood, I turned my back for one moment setting up my tent and Roxie darted towards a group of little kids to go say hello. I panicked and had no idea where she was and discovered her about 100 yards away where the kids formed a circle sitting down and Roxie was in the middle playing, rolling around and making them all laugh. As I called her name she got up to look and the kids all screamed, “She’s over here!”
Roxie didn’t fear any person, pet or distance. She always came back, always knew where I was, and never ran away, but would go pretty far to visit others as long as she could see me. People would line up to pet her at craft shows and each child and adult who came into contact with her spoke of happy and cute she was. She knew it, loved it, and welcomed every pat and kiss she received. People looked forward to being able to see her and touch her at shows. Roxie was a healer, and a friend to everyone she came into contact with.
My father, who was 6′ 4″ always had manlier dogs but really grew to love Roxie and my sister’s pugs. He would drive with a Rottweiler and my sister’s pug around town in his pick up truck. We would talk on the phone and he would say, “I really love pugs, and I think I want one of my own.” He passed away a couple months later suddenly, but Roxie and my sister’s pugs made him a pug lover.
About 5 years ago at 1o years old, Roxie had a grand mall seizure out of the blue and I was living with my boyfriend at the time, and we didn’t think she was going to make it. It took a lot of energy for her to come back from it. She had several tests, an MRI, and a spinal tap. It was concluded that Roxie had congenital hydro encephalitis on top of re-occuring mass cell tumor cancer. The doctor told us that it was surprising that she survived it past three years old, because 90% of pugs born with this condition don’t live to see 4 years old. The doctor said she was a miracle. She was put on seizure meds. The doctor also told us to be aware that this brain condition may very well take her life at any time and we were going to be lucky if it didn’t take her soon. She responded well to the medicine and eventually bounced back to the same loving, energetic dog with no more grand mall seizures. She had intermittent focal seizures and we watched her closely, but she survived them all and kept on ticking, playing, watching television. The seizure took away some of her physical ability to jump up on beds and couches, but it never took her spirit.
At 14, one winter, I had her in my arms on my back porch, with her pink coat on, and for one moment I let go of her to grab a key and she walked over the top of the stairs and fell down 10 very deep, hollow stairs. As she tumbled, I screamed and cried because I knew I couldn’t catch her and I closed my eyes because I was afraid to watch it, and she hit the bottom. I opened my eyes, could barely see from the tears, and in my blurry haze saw her pop up and wag her tail! I was shocked! Not one injury! She was a wrecking ball! She looked up at me as if to say, “Come on Momma, let’s go bye bye in the car! I brought her upstairs, took her coat off, was shaking, thinking something had to happen. She began to play with me! I couldn’t believe it! I was crying and holding her and she was ready to party.
She had water on the brain but acted normally. Vets were continuously warning me that as she progressed in age she might get aggressive and go crazy from the pressure on her brain. She never did. She was always the same loving dog. She never wavered, changed and loved to watch television. She loved movies and would react to them like humans would at the exciting moments. While watching the wrestling movie with Matt Modine, she jumped up and barked when he won his match! When Godzilla was on and being aggressive wrecking cities she would jump up and bark. She watched them in their entirety reacting appropriately and responded to human emotional moments. She loved to watch Too Cute on Animal Planet on demand.
She loved watching the dogs grow up on the show and her favorite parts were when they were mischievous and playing. She would get up from laying down and jump up and bark when they played on tv as they grew into older puppies.
She loved Nat Geo Wild lion and hyenna episodes. She would look at me when snakes were on, bored. She needed 4 legged animals with fur to be happy. I would have to search for a show that would give her that, and until I did,she wasn’t content. She would grow bored watching reptiles and would turn to me as if she was saying, “Really? Snakes? This isn’t cutting it.” Once I put on a show with 4 legged animals with fur she would delight and watch closely. Each morning as I readied myself for work she would run to the couch and demand that I put her there and turn on her On Demand Shows and would watch, and bark while I was in the other room getting dressed. She watched television contently barking in the living room by herself as I was in my sewing room working away. Jackie would laugh and couldn’t believe how Roxie would watch tv happily while we sewed in another room. We would hear her bark and pant at the dogs on the television for hours.
At 14.5 she developed a fatal eye condition. The doctor told me she had ulceritis, from chronic drying of her eye. A condition familiar to pugs. It had graduated to a severe condition that would require surgery. Surgery was $4K. The doctor also told me that it was dangerous due to her brain condition and that he couldn’t guarantee that she would come out alive because anesthesia would create a grand mall seizure while she was coming out or going down from it. I struggled with the decision. She was 14, already old for her breed. If I didn’t have her undergo the surgery, her eye would have a hole in it, and she would be in severe pain, and was in pain from the ulcer already. She would have to be put down if I let it progress. I took the chance and went with the surgery. I paced and paced, Cornell Vet in Stamford called in their head anesthesiologist and concocted the best possible cocktail given her brain condition and meds for her seizures. 4 hours later, I got the phone call as I paced praying to god I made the right decision. It was a lot of money and my brother passed away months earlier and I needed Roxie’s comfort. The vet called and reported, “SHE MADE IT!” She is doing fantastic! I went to pick her up with her grafted eye in an Elizabethan Collar! Her eye all bloody and crazy, and I was scared. She now had to make it through healing and rigorous care, with drops in her eyes every 3 hours, and had to come back from the anesthesia. The vet said,”She may never be the same, and her brain might not recover fully, and she may not be the same dog. She fought to get better every day. She had some days where I thought her will wasn’t strong enough to endure the pain of the surgery or the anesthesia. The minute she got home she ate voraciously and asked to watch tv. She got right up and yelled at the dogs on the tv! She was artificially strong from the numbing of the anesthetic and pain meds. The journey to get her back after it wore off was arduous, however, she never gave up. I rigged the whole house to conform to her healing, and her sight. It was an infirmary, a mess, with forts, and beds, blankets, towels, everywhere. She rebounded fully, and completely with a lot of work. Up around the clock, drops in her eyes every few hours. The vet was impressed and couldn’t believe her will to survive and be so friendly, cute and patient with every check up appointment, every week, then every 2 weeks, every month and eventually she was out of the water! Full Roxie pug. I knew I had to retain her sight because she lived for television and eating!
Hurricane Sandy came, the power went off and her tv wasn’t there. She was cold, bored and on day 3 she had a grand mall seizure at 4 am. It was freezing and dark. She passed out in my arms and I thought she had died. I struggled to get dressed holding her limp body to get her to the vet in my cold dark home. She re-gained consciousness and made it to the vet and we had her meds re-evaluated. Again, she rebounded into full Roxie! I got a generator so she could have her tv, be home, and comfortable. I couldn’t believe it. She made it AGAIN!
Then on December 22, at 5 pm she began having an unusual cough coupled with gagging intermittently. I called Nicole, asked her what it could be. As I held her Nicole did internet search after search. Congestive heart failure, ammonia, allergies. It could have been anything. I gave her meds, benadryl. Rocked her and held her, she fell asleep and her breathing seemed labored. I decided I would wait the night and monitor her, she feel asleep peacefully then would awake, and breathe erratically and then normally. I sang to her, held her, spoke to her telling her I would take her to the vet in the morning. I stayed by her side. I then put her in bed in the kitchen around 1 am. I awoke to her scream, found her on her side picked her up, and noticed she was ready to pass away. I held her in my arms and cried and cried. I called her daddy, and put him on the phone and said, Roxie is dying, you need to get here now. He drove in the car from Greenwich, I kept him on the phone and I was on the floor holding her, kissing her telling her I loved her. He drove as fast as he could at 2 am being woken up from a deep sleep without speeding passing cops. I put him on speaker phone and he said, “I love you Roxie. I am coming” and she let go and passed.
He arrived and he took her lifeless body out of my arms and layed her in her bed and we cried until the sun came up. He carried her body to the car while Nicole called cremation places, and I cried and cried, and we had in her in the car, both of us crying, and Nicole crying and calling places for us. We brought her to Stamford. The woman looked at her and said, “Oh my god, she is SO CUTE.” We said, “We know.” John cried so hard as he brought her back to the room, we both kissed her a dozen times and the big Russian man broke up as he watched another man cry over this little baby pug who lived to be 15.5 years old. He looked at John and said, “I can’t have pets because I can’t handle it.” The man teared up. We get her ashes Monday.
The craziest part of this story is that in March I had my friend Nicole come over, a month after Roxie’s eye surgery. I thought she was going to pass away. Nicole said she’s ok, she isn’t ready. I then got a pet psychic number from Nicole, Susan Deren. I called her, I said I need you tell me what my dog is thinking. Is she suffering. I was desperate. I didn’t know what was going on, the surgery was hard on her. The psychic required a picture and that was all. She began to read for me. She said the following:
Roxie has a lot of joy. She isn’t ready to go. Roxie said she has lived in many places with you and it’s been a crazy ride, but she found it interesting. She said Roxie loves her daddy and she acts like a little harlot around him. She is something. She has such as big personality. Roxie is no where near ready to go. She then said Roxie wants you to know that she isn’t going to put you through the pain of having to put her down. She wants me to tell you that you won’t have to make the decision, and that she will go in her sleep or have a heart attack but it won’t be until after 5 months or so. Roxie is so very joyful and has a lot to live for and she is grateful for everything you have done for her. She has always been happy with you. She loves her grandmother and loves the beach. Roxie also said she didn’t like getting old and didn’t want to be old.
Roxie told me she wasn’t ready through the psychic. So I believed her oddly enough because she pinpointed her personality to a tee. She was right about EVERY LITTLE THING! I trusted in it. Although I was very nervous as she grew older and older, and I didn’t know when the time would come. But in Roxie style, she did everything she was supposed to do on the day she passed. She ate her 3 meals, she went pee pee out side 3 or 4 times, no mistakes. Her cough came, and within 8 hours or so she was gone. She had all her faculties, saw me, felt me, and passed in my arms in her home, peacefully, and naturally just like she told the psychic she would. She had 9 more months of joy and life in her! She passed on Dec. 22, 2012. She knew where she was, she could walk, eat and do her business outside. Her sheer will was absolutely astounding. She taught me patience and unconditional love. She brought me so much joy and survived things no other dog had a right. She was a miracle pug and she will always be remembered for her fighting spirit, happiness and love. I am so grateful to have had her as my baby for so very long. She outlived so many other healthier dogs— SPIRIT, WILL, and courage.
She was always polite and would wait for me to go first all the time, and or looked back to make sure I was coming when ever we left the house. She was the most unbelievable dog and I feel so very lucky. She is so missed…. She would have tried to live forever for me, if her body would have let her.
I will be calling that same psychic in a week or so to communicate with her about what happened to her and how she felt during her passing. I hope Roxie’s story is inspirational because she inspired me each and every day she was mine. This was very healing for me to write. Thank you for reading it. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed her.