My little buddy for the past 11 years, Zander the pug, passed this week. His photo here, in his younger days, before the gray hair set in. This picture has been my “avatar” for social network sites for years now, as well as my online character name in Call of Duty (in case any of you have unwittingly sniped me in the heat of combat).
With his expected, but still unexpected passing, I realized how much I would miss him greeting me every night when I came home from work. As well as his walks with me (which lately were more waddles due to his back & hip problems), and his incessant afternoon barking sessions, which the neighbor’s will grow to miss too I’m sure ;-)
His pedigree name was Tartan’s Braegar … yes, really… it didn’t usually come up in casual conversation. His name, just Zander, was usually called out to indicate we’d dropped a bit of foodstuff on the floor. Even in his old increasingly deaf years, he was pretty good about hearing us call his name or tapping a foot on the floor indicating a variety of tasty delights. And the sound and smell of popcorn turned him into a wily little jackal. Thinking back on it, he saved us a lot of mopping and sweeping when the girls were little. Until the very end, he was a fixture under the dinner table between our girl’s seats and he hoovered up countless bits of accidentally dropped or flung food, it was quite the life for a pug.
I know the mailman will miss him. Our mailman, Danny, is a dog guy and always talked to Zander and made sure the gate closed behind him after he dropped off our afternoon mail. It was the one time of day in the past few years when we knew Zander’s back legs would miraculously work and he would zip down the stairs to bark and spazz at Danny just like in his puppy years.
He never lost strength in his front legs and shoulders though. His
last walks were the usual pug tug and pull as he sniffed everything he’d sniffed a hundred times before and wouldn’t move until he was done. Which might explain the pain in my right shoulder that flares up as I get older, “pug pull shoulder,” eleven years of trying to get that little guy to move along has taken it’s toll on my tendons ;-)
One of Zander’s favorite words was “golf.” The others, not surprisingly, were “eat” and “treat!” Somehow “go on,” used when trying to get him to go, usually late at night when you’re dead tired, never ever seemed to catch on. Anyway, he would always perk up at “golf!?” as it meant a short car ride and a nice long walk in the woods with lots of smells and places to mark. And often came with friendly pats on the head, and the occasional treat, from real golfers. He was an intrepid hiker in his younger years and always so good about sticking close to me.
And once, when I use to take a few clubs with me on our course jaunts, he actually dropped my golf ball in the hole for me when I was putting on an empty green. It was an OMG moment. I never could coax him to do that again, if I could have, it would have won the grand prize on AFV for sure. His last walk up there, on a relatively cool day earlier this month, was a long one without me picking him up once to carry him, it was quite something given his weak back legs and hips, and one of the really nice memories I’ll have of him.
And one more thing. He could smell really good when he’d been sleeping on the couch at night. He’d be all soft and warm and there’d be this aroma somewhere between Fritos and warm corn tortillas. Given my penchant for late nite snacks he’s lucky I never poured chili and grated cheddar on him ;-)
I’m really going to miss you little buddy.