It is five-thirty in the morning and I am watching my dog, Toby, try to stay awake. He will not be successful. The only reason he is awake is out of loyalty to me. It is the same reason he was struggling to stay awake at twelve-thirty this morning. No matter how quiet I try to be or no matter how many times I tell him to go to bed, Toby keeps the same odd hours I do.
Toby is an elderly pug I received from my brother. Stephen lived with me for a while last summer and when he moved out, Toby stayed. The Pug Dog Club of America gives the following information about pugs:
The Pug is of Chinese origin and dates back to the pre-Christian era. They were prized possessions of the Emperors of China and lived in a most luxurious atmosphere and at times were even guarded by soldiers. Records show that three types of short nosed dogs were bred by the Chinese. They were the Lion dog, the Pekingese and the Lo-sze. The Lo-sze or “Foo Dog” was the ancient Pug.
Toby seems to have inherited his ancestors’ taste for luxury. While a playful enough puppy, his favorite activities include luxuriating on pillows and sunbathing. Two floor pillows and one bean bag chair have been taken for the cause, and it is nearly impossible to get to come inside during the summer. Toby, unlike some who may descendents of royal dogs, does not demand to be the center of attention. He is fine being a little left of center. For example, he is fine with me writing this paper because I reach down to pet him occasionally. He doesn’t need constant attention. However, when I become a little too focused on my Spanish homework, he will decide to take a nap on the textbook and papers. He also refuses to sleep without his plush dog that squeaks. She is jokingly named Girlfriend. When forced to sleep without her, he will whine and cry until she is with him.
A Pug’s character is unique in that he is a clown at heart with a terrific sense of humor but at the same time he carries himself with great dignity. They are not too delicate for fun and games. A pug is anxious to please, anxious to learn and anxious to love. His biggest requirement is that you love him back.
The preceding description by The Pug Dog Club of America is very apt. While Toby, who is solid black except for a white patch on his chest and white toes, seems to think of himself as a rather distinguished older gentleman, he will sometimes show the enthusiasm of a puppy. Toby’s eyebrows, eyelashes, and chin are turning white and he is nearly eleven, yet if one asks him where Girlfriend is, he will disappear and return in a flash with the toy. He especially enjoys playing with her after dinner, when he will growl at her, shake her around, and then settle into a long session of licking her face off.
As Toby has gotten older, he has become more possessive of “his” things. He fancies himself quite the guard dog. Despite his age, lack of any respectable teeth to speak of, and general tininess, he will chase golden retrievers off of the property. He is quite pleased with himself afterwards, kicking the grass fiercely with his back legs. (He also does this whenever he finds ground loose enough to make dust clouds.) He does bark at strangers and seems suspicious of males in particular. However, once he has determined someone as a friend he will sound a series of whines and barks as if engaging in conversation. He will then be quite offended if they don’t offer him a belly-rub or back massage. He is also quite possessive of me, and becomes jealous of my little nephews.
Many pugs have problems with jealousy and separation anxiety. Toby is no exception and I believe these problems may have been exacerbated by my brother’s divorce. As far as Toby knows my brother’s ex-wife and “his” human disappeared one day and was never heard from again. (Actually this is alarmingly close to the truth, but I digress.) Toby becomes jealous of other dogs and toddlers (not infants for some reason) and is anxious to see me when I come home. He also waits outside the bathroom door when I shower.
The funny thing about Toby is that his likes and dislikes are just as strong as any person’s. He prefers my mother’s bed to nap on, my father’s chair to sit on, and no toy is nearly as beloved as Girlfriend. And then there’s his favorite sleeping position: paws near my shoulders, chin on my forehead. When he can get me to sleep, that is.
Quotes from Pug Dog Club of America
Obtained on June 11, 2008