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Sweet Baby James

Feb 23, 2018

I lost my first dog at age 18 and refused to have another for 37 years. Maria said “But everyone in Colorado has a dog!” (True, but…) We went to a pet store, but I was still against the idea until I walked past your cage and you reached out and swatted me on the head. “He picked me!”, I said. “I’m the winner!” Dude, I had no idea how much I had really won that day.

Maria always said you were an “old soul”. You were mature and wise beyond your years from the beginning. And how you could control us! Remember when you were a small puppy, how you would sleep on our chests? You made me get into the recliner and lean back so I could be your bed. Some nights that was the only way you would sleep, thought I didn’t get much rest. Later, you were so obstinate when you wanted something. You would just plant yourself and not move a muscle, no matter what we did.

We brought your brother pug, Baci, home when you were about one. You took him in, but that didn’t mean you were not the alpha forever! Over the years you went from taking care of him to taking his toys. One time he could not find any of the dozen chew toys in the house, and came to us for help. We couldn’t find them either. You finally stood up and there they were, all of them, under you!

Then the grandkids came, and you were even more protective of them than you were of us. And you were always so patient as they learned about other living creatures by touching you all over – peering into your ears, uncurling your tail and watching it spring back, counting your toes.

And when I posted that photo of you on the pug website – hanging upside down and looking like a demon spawn. Someone copied that into one of those “Pets Are Crazy” chain emails, and you went viral before it was even in fashion, bud!.

And how you loved your music. I couldn’t leave the house without putting on some jazz, though in a pinch the Rockies game would do to keep you company.

You were a mountain pug, that’s for sure. I imagine your friends, the elk who would gather in our yard up in Evergreen, miss you, too. You would run out of the house and sprint around their legs. They were so much bigger than you I feared one flick of a hoof would send you over the cliff like a furry football. But they never minded your antics. Then we moved down here, and although you adapted, you always were a country dog in the city.

You anointed yourself the official greeter of the house from day one – not a guest or worker could get through the door without meeting you first. I’ll never forget how on your last day, you could no longer walk, but still crawled slowly across the floor to greet Dr. Kelly Knoll as she came to ease your suffering. Because that was your job, dammit.

You gave us all the love we needed. whenever we needed it. You never felt that you met a stranger, just people who were most certainly future friends. You were strong, brave and funny.

I used to wonder why pug chests are so outsized, but you taught me the answer – it is to hold an outsized heart.

Sean McAfee

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