Originally published in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pugs.
Older Than God, Spryer Than Ninja
Roy, a fearless, independent pug, was one of the most amazing dogs of any breed I’ve ever met. I had filled out an adoption application specifying an older (10+) male. The rescue president called and said, “You wanted an older boy? I just got one in that I think would work. You wanna come over and meet him?” So Cj, my better half, and I drove over to the president’s house. She always has a bunch of fosters and newly-arrived “hold” fosters (waiting to be picked up by their foster homes) around, so when a little, gray-faced, senior boy came up to greet us, we asked, “Is this one ours?”
“Nope,” she said, pointing to the backyard, “See that little lump in the shade? That’s yours. I’ll get him.”
She went into the yard, came back with an armful, and set him on the floor in front of us. Cj and I looked at him. We looked at each other. We looked at the president. We looked at him. Standing in front of us was possibly the most ancient creature on earth. This dog might have run with the dinosaurs. 95% blind, 100% deaf, gray all over, and roughly 120 years old, he looked a bit like someone had wadded him up and tossed him. (When we later took Roy to the vet for a check, his official, professional, highly-trained opinion of Roy’s age was “somewhere between 17 years old and four years older than God.”)
“His name is Roy. The adoption coordinator named him for her father because he grumbles like him. What do you think? You said you wanted a senior,” said the president encouragingly.
“I think I want one that will survive the trip home,” I replied, with a hint of doubt. “What’s his story?”
He’d been dumped in a busy parking lot. Animal control had picked him up and called Ohio Pug Rescue, knowing he stood a less than zero chance of adoption at the shelter. The fact that he’d managed to not get run over was a miracle by itself. I really don’t want to understand the kind of mind that could leave any dog, much less one in his condition. I can only hope that karma has something especially unpleasant in store for whoever left him there.
I looked at him again. He grinned at me, head tilted because he couldn’t lift it up all the way. I sighed. Cj sighed. We melted, handed over the adoption fee, signed the paper, gingerly picked up the elderly beast, and headed for the car.
Once home, I rather expected a doorstop. At his age how active or interested could he be? But instead we got a dog that let nothing deter him. His attitude about everything was “Me do!” He didn’t like to be carried—he’d walk, albeit slowly, thank you very much. Beds were no problem; he’d ninja-roll off them by walking toward the edge, reaching out with his paw to verify where it was, and then stepping off into space. He’d hit the floor fully tucked, roll to his feet, shake, and walk off. I never saw him miss a landing. He’d chase our toes and nibble on them if we were slow with his dinner, and Roy had an impressive grip! Cj would dance around hollering, “Roy, let go!” while I would giggle and remind her that he was deaf and couldn’t hear her fussing.
He slept between us every night, and for the first two weeks, he’d wake me up with nightmares. He’d howl and shake until I’d pick him up, rock him, and soothe him back to sleep, reminding him he had been found and would never be lost again.
Adopting Roy turned out to be a great idea. He had a smile that could melt any heart, and he used it without shame. When I’d get home from work, he’d come toddling over as fast as he could, and he could get up some speed when he wanted! He’d get up close to see what shoes were coming and grin when he recognized mine. He had a loud, sharp bark that could shatter glass, but he only used it when his grumbling didn’t get your attention. We got to love and spoil him for about nine months before he slipped off to the Bridge. He left about two years ago, and I miss him still.