Meet Winston the Wonder Pug

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 in Rambles |

You’ve met Muse and Lunchbox.  Finally, my last addition to the Fawver Family, Winston the Wonder Pug.  First, some back story.

All my life I’ve considered myself a cat person.  I had no reason for this, really, other than I thought cats were cuter and less maintenance.  Growing up, I never had the responsibility of a pet – I don’t even know what breeds the dogs we had were.  They never felt like my dogs, or family dogs, and heck – I don’t even know what ever happened to the second one we had after my parents divorced. So I had nothing to base this “I’m a cat person” identification with, but my first 3 pets of any significant size were cats.  But a funny thing happened when we moved into our current house, which is owned by my dad, and I started working from home in 2008 – I had an unexplained desire to get a dog.

It took some convincing for Dominic.  He had a strained relationship with the cats as it was – he grew up in a somewhat rural part of Oregon where pets stayed outside, you fed them, and if they were a problem, you got rid of them.  Just a different upbringing and that kind of farmer culture where animals are for food and service, not necessarily for companionship.  So I finally convinced him that if we got a dog, I’d pay for obedience classes so we didn’t have an unruly pooch.

Winston at the Tri-Valley Animal RescueThere were a few non-starts.  At the time, his aunt was breeding AKC registered spaniels (I forget which type exactly).  We’d gone up for Christmas and there was a little girl that I was almost certain I wanted to bring home with us.  But money was a bit tight, and being AKC registered dogs she was going to have to charge me at least $400 for the dog (which was already giving me a hefty family discount). I was dragging my feet on making the decision and, since I’d fallen for the little runt, unfortunately she didn’t make it through the week that we were there, so that decision was ultimately made for me.  About a year later we were up there over the summer and she had another, slightly older batch of puppies.  The last litter she was going to have before having the mother fixed – she was done breeding and this litter was actually unintentional.  So she was willing to just give me one but, again, I just didn’t feel right making the decision on such short notice (since I didn’t know she had them until we were there) and I decided not to take that little puppy either.

2010 rolled around and I finally decided that I wanted a dog.  I was ready to go look for a dog I could love, and after talking to a friend, I decided that I actually wanted to adopt an adult dog – shelters find it harder to get them homes, and I didn’t necessarily want to go through the trials and tribulations of house breaking a puppy with this being my first dog that would be all mine to look after.  I ended up going to 5 shelters before finding the shelter in Dublin – the rest had mostly scruffy mutts I didn’t connect with or chihuahuas, rottweilers, and pit bulls* I didn’t want either.

Finally at this 6th shelter, there was a Yorkie and a Pug.  The Yorkie was friendly, excited to meet me and spend time with me, and adorable.  The pug was friendly, but stand offish when we tried to spend time with him, and walked a little funny.  So I decided to inquire about the Yorkie – but was told that the hold period wasn’t up yet and that a lot of people (including families with kids) wanted to adopt her.  So there would be a lottery, and no guarantee that I’d be able to adopt her.   went home to think about it, and talk to Dominic.  I’d gone on this epic hunt all over the shelters of the East Bay with Rachel on a Saturday, so I wanted to take Dominic back on Sunday to meet the dog I’d chosen.  We talked about it, and I decided that I didn’t want to get my hopes up about the Yorkie, and I’d rather not edge out and win over some devastated child who’d been dead set on getting her.  So I decided to give the Pug another shot.

They’d given him a temporary name – Winston – which I thought was the perfect, awesome name for a pug.  Very distinguished, like Winston Churchill!  When I went back the second day, he was MUCH friendly and more active because it was obvious that he recognized me.  He had just been kind of shy before, we gathered, and Dominic and I played with him in the yard and discovered that he already knew many commands – sit, roll over, shake, and high-five!  I asked the staff about his weird walk, and they told me that at his age (which they’d guessed to be 5) a little bit of hip displaysia was normal.  But, to ease my mind, they agreed to hold onto my adoption fee check and have the vet x-ray him before putting him under for the neutering – if it was a major problem that I didn’t think I could hand, they’d call me and I could call it off and come back and pick out a different dog.  So we signed the papers, wrote the check, and left Winston there to go to the vet the following week.

Dominic & WinstonThe day of his surgery and coming home came – November 16, 2010, and I was nervous.  I had already started to love him, and I was hoping his hip issue wasn’t too bad.  I had been told to expect a call around 11:00 am from the vet with the results of the x-ray.  When no call came, I called around 1 and was told he was already in surgery.  Odd.  I explained the special circumstances and the receptionist really had no answer for me.  I got a call at 4:00 pm telling me to come on in and get him to bring him home.  Uh, what?

Apparently the vet took a look and said it wasn’t anything that could be fixed, so went ahead with the surgery to neuter him and send him home.  They told me, based on his teeth, they thought he was actually about 6.  I walked him proudly over to the pet store in the same shopping center to get him a real leash, harness, bed, food, and some toys.  I brought him home and he became a Fawver!  A couple weeks later, I took him into the vet Lorenza works for to get his free check up.  It was supposed to be a general wellness check, but I did mention that he didn’t seem to be eating much, he wasn’t chewing on any of the bones or rawhides I’d given him, and I mentioned his gait again for good measure.  They examined him and immediately pointed out that a bunch of his teeth were rotten!  That’s why he wasn’t eating a lot or doing any chewing – it hurt!  They wiggled like a 6-year-old kid itching for some Tooth Fairy money!

Because I’d adopted an adult dog, and they said that was a very noble thing, and because I was a first time client and Lorenza’s friend, they cut me a really good deal to pull his bad teeth and get him all set up.  That was 4 years ago, and I can’t say he’s been in perfect health since, but it’s been manageable.  Winston’s about 9 or 10 now, and has arthritis in his elbows that makes it harder for him to run around (but doesn’t necessarily stop him from trying when he’s worked up) and his cataracts make him pretty blind on some days.  But he knows where things are and makes it work.  His vision mixed with the summer heat have lead him to bumble around our bedroom loudly at night, so he’s recently taken to sleeping at the foot of the bed (he’s lucky I’m short and there’s room!)

Winston in Columbia State Park, CaliforniaHe’s my little old man, a shadow that follows me around nearly all the time.  He knows the sound of my car & runs to the door to greet me.  When I’m gone, he lets his displeasure be known by peeing somewhere or digging into my trash, just so I know how much he was afraid I wouldn’t come back.  He looses his mind and barks EVERY DAMN DAY when the mail person lifts the squeaky brass mail slot in our door.  He’s like me in dog from in almost every way – wonky ankles that could go out at any time, overweight, not that sound on his feet, lover of French fries!  He’s my 24lb Chicken Nugget.  The Winstonator.  Win Stone, Private Dick.  The Frito Bandito.  Winstonion.  My bubbas.  My boogers.  He gives me high-fives, but doesn’t lick my face (which I’m so OK with).  He snores almost as loud as Dominic does!  I never knew I was a dog person until Winston set me straight!  Dominic even loves him and spoils him more than he ever thought he could love a dog, and tells Winston so all the time.  We keep saying that, eventually, we’ll get a female pug named Margaret (as in Thatcher)!

I have so many pictures of Winston, it’s been really hard to choose.  So follow Winston on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  He’ll share french fries with you if you’ll let him.


* Disclaimer: I have nothing against pit bulls as a breed, but they are larger than we have room for and, considering I was looking for rescue, adult dogs in the Oakland area primarily, I did not trust rescuing a pit bull whose history I was not 100% certain of.