The Pig in My Blankets

No, this is not a scandalous tale about a man in my bed. Sorry to disappoint you. The pig I refer to is actually female, and she’s not really a pig. She’s a dog. A pug, in fact.  A pig-pug.

The beginning of this relationship dates back to 2011 when I lost my favorite pet ever – a 16-year old terrier/poodle mix named Chuckie. After I mourned him for several months, I began the search for the dog I always thought I wanted…a pug puppy. There was just something about them that had me fooled. For one, they are so ugly, they are adorable. I always liked the fawn ones, which is a fancy word for beige. So that’s what I set out to find for myself in the Summer of 2012.

Mistake #1 – I bought her on eBay. What can I say? I Googled “pug puppies for sale in Indianapolis” and that’s where I ended up, inputting my credit card information and paying $350 for the puppy, sight unseen. She was not AKC-registered, but did have papers from another much less reputable source verifying her purebred status.

Once I had paid for her, I told the family and showed them her photo online. This led to lots of excitement among The Precious Pair who were ages 3 and 8 at the time. They wanted to go ahead and name her, so that led to a brainstorming session. It had to be a name that meant something special to our family. Cheese. That was important to everyone. Chunk of Cheese seemed fitting as she was chunky. CiCi would be her nickname. It made sense and it stuck.

The girls and their dad went to pick her up on a hot summer day while I was working. They ventured to an unknown area of town on the near westside of the inner-city. They got lost in a less than desirable neighborhood and had to stop for directions at what my oldest daughter remembers simply as “a knife store.” They eventually found the home of the breeder and picked up the eBay puppy. Thankfully, it had not been a scam.

Here was this sweet tiny dog – of Asian descent from a Latino family. We loved the diversity of this adoption! Amazingly, she had even been born on Cinco de Mayo, and she came to our suburban home right around the 4th of July. God Bless America, and God Bless Our Puppy!

Mistake #2 – We mistook her homecoming as a joyful occasion. Puppies are sweet and adorable. Oh, yes they are. That’s why we dog lovers buy them and adopt them – time after time. They are also royally inconvenient and stinky and disobedient. All the above applied to our Chunk of Cheese known as “CiCi.” Honestly, it took a full three years to potty-train her. Now she does smartly scratch at the backdoor anytime she needs to go, except in the mornings when she insists on getting a walk on her leash out on the front sidewalk. There’s a particular landscape rock she loves to pee upon. But it took us a long time getting here and a lot of carpet cleaner. She does have occasional relapses, like during the recent Polar Vortex when she basically refused to step a paw outdoors. There were several mornings I stood out in the subzero temps pleading with the dog to relieve herself. When I reached the point of cussing at her, I really hoped the neighbors weren’t overhearing my one-sided conversation with my canine.

Mistake #3 – We failed to focus on her discipline. Aside from a few weeks in PetSmart Behavior Class, her training was non-existent. This explains many things such as her habit of jumping on your chair if you get up from the dinner table without pushing it in. If you make that fatal mistake, your dinner will be gone, or at least your main entrée. CiCi has snagged many a hamburger or turkey sandwich or slice of pizza this way. And then there was the time she ate an entire box of Rapid Release Junior Tylenol Tabs. That snack required an $800 trip to the 24/7 vet clinic. Before and since, she has eaten crayons, Legos, and lethal amounts of chocolate, including a full box of Thin Mints, among other forbidden foods and non-edibles. This animal has Guts of Steel, as we call them. But her greatest weakness – and I can relate to this about her – is PEANUT BUTTER, one of the truest gifts to the universe. And she will do anything for PB. Thank God we figured this out. It’s our only hope for controlling her.

Mistake #4 – We took her to $5 Nail Trim Wednesday at Uncle Bill’s Pet Store. If there’s one thing CiCi despises, it’s getting a pedicure. Unlike our peanut butter alignment, I do not understand this quirk about her. I adore a great pedi. On my most recent trip to my favorite nail salon, I chose a sunshine yellow color. When I flipped over the bottle, I read the name of it –  “Happily Ever After” – and this made me smile. But back to the dog story…we have been banned from Uncle Bill’s after getting CiCi a $5 nail trim that cleared the store due to her screeching from behind the scenes. Now the only place we can take her to get her nails clipped is the vet’s office where it costs me $46 each time, more than the price of my own pedicure. And the invoice from the vet always states “non-compliant patient” in the memo area, and that costs me extra.

Mistake #5 – I let her in my bed. I have not been sleeping well in recent months due to some life changes I’ve made and the corresponding stresses I’ve endured. Among those changes and as my title implies, I’ve started allowing the pig-pug to sleep with me. I’ve noticed articles on Facebook lately that swear “Women sleep better with dogs in their beds” – really? Who are these women? And who are their dogs? I can promise you, they are not pugs. Because that involves snorting, snotting, sneezing, incessant licking, itching, snoring, and slurping throughout every. single. night. This woman does not sleep better with her dog in her bed…

Yet, I can say she probably doesn’t wake me up and keep me up at night. That’s my own racing mind, riddled with worries, fears, doubts, and ideas, doing that to myself. In fact, when I’m lying there wide awake, CiCi is usually snoozing somewhat peacefully. It’s at that point when I reach out to her, usually only inches away, and give her a few pats or strokes of her silky “fawn” coat. She usually doesn’t budge, but sometimes she will roll over onto her back and expose her “Chunk of Cheese” belly to me, the ultimate sign of trust from a dog to her Master. Obligingly, I will rub her belly and she snorts in approval, and I feel safer and I experience a rush of her unconditional love. In those middle of the night moments, I appreciate her most. She’s a protector. She’s a loyalist. She’s a mess. And she’s ours. Every night, I thank God for her and the piggy, silly, ridiculous creature she is. She’s been here for us for almost 7 years. This year on Cinco De Mayo, my oldest daughter has requested a Taco Party in her honor. It seems CiCi deserves that. Maybe even a Peanut Butter Taco.

Mistake #6 – I have purchased another puppy, this time on Facebook. Honestly, what? My poor judgement has led me to believe that two daughters should translate to two dogs. This time we’re bringing home a pup of British descent with Southern roots – a Welsh Corgi born in Kentucky. It will be my youngest daughter’s surprise 10th birthday gift this Spring. Surely it’s a decision I will regret when I face the same challenges described above – potty training, discipline, vet bills, and overcrowding in my bed. You all will certainly hear about this experience as Part 2 to this story, so stay tuned.

Pets represent our quirkiest family members. Another article I’ve read somewhere, sometime stated that losing a pet is often worse emotionally than losing a relative close to us. I’m not sure that’s true for me, but I can say I still miss my Chuckie, all these years later after losing him. I sometimes look at CiCi and dread the day she will leave us. So we will continue to overlook her character flaws – all the Mistakes I have described above — because she is like all of us. We are hopelessly flawed. We have bad habits. We lack discipline. We are slow to learn sometimes. We throw fits. We eat what we shouldn’t. We snore. If we can forgive these weaknesses in ourselves as humans, I can certainly let my dog off the hook.

Pugs Not Drugs,


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