Iris and I attended our first ever pug rescue meet and greet this morning, mostly because I had this blissful dream a couple of nights back where Carl, Iris, and I were strolling through an animal shelter looking for the perfect pooch to bring home. I’ve been wanting a dog for years. First we were in no-dog apartments, then we were 6 months pregnant in a fixer-upper, then Carl was an invalid, and now it’s winter again. BAH.
I keep saying Mother’s Day sounds great, and Carl keeps saying my birthday sounds better, but either fore or aft of the summer, it will be this year. Woot woot.
Anyway, the plan had been to get a pug from a good AKC breeder with an eye toward breeding our own some day (it’s on the bucket list, so you know I’m serious about this). But that dream really got me thinking about animals and social responsibility, and maybe there are enough dogs in the world already without adding to the population. I don’t know the exact number of pets put down every year in this country, but I know it’s in the millions. That’s a pretty horrifying number.
Maybe, I thought, we should adopt.
Two seconds of research confirmed that there was a pug rescue network in Michigan. Fifteen seconds, and I had found a meet and greet scheduled for Saturday at our local Petsmart.
Intrigued and yet saddened about my vanishing dream for a pug farm, I clicked a few more links. HOLY MOTHER OF PUGS. You can sign up to foster pugs! You can be part of the mission of mercy to take pugs into your home until they can be placed with loving pug-obsessed owners of their very own! AGHGHGHGHGHGH!!!!!!
I don’t see us looking to foster dogs of unknown temperament until our goombas are old enough to defend themselves from googly-eyed nipsters (and old enough to respect doggy personal space), so that part has to go in the 5-10 year plan. But our first rescue pug is looking like a distinct possibility. I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this. I have been enamored with pugs for years. They’re so sweet. They look ridiculous. They were made in China. They’re couch potatoes. They like to sunbathe.
Because it was a balmy 55 degrees and also because Iris had screamed like a banshee the entire drive to Petsmart, I decided we needed a little more of a buffer between drives. We needed a walk down the little commercial strip. We needed Wendy’s.
The second your belly protrudes from pudgy to definitely-pregnant, people start picking you out of crowds in public. I never got a lot of those horror-story type comments or unsolicited advice from strangers—most people were just friendly, parentally clubbish, or (especially among the older generation) wistful and sweet. People definitely notice Iris when we’re out and about now, especially kids and grandparents, but I’d never noticed how different it felt to be toting her around alone. Usually we go places together as a family.
“Look at her,” a young business/professional woman said to her table-mates as I was ordering my food. Her tone was more fascinated than anything else. “She’s got her baby in a thing.” (Carrier). By the time I turned around to add a straw and napkins to my tray, the whole table was chatting about kids and the people they knew who had them.
“I always feel for people….” the rest of the words were lost, but a mom of older kids a table away gestured with her chin toward me, now lugging a highchair across the room. She and her friend talked about how hard it is to take kids out alone for a while while I fed Iris tiny bites of a chicken nugget. Do people really not think you can hear them? Is there an invisible sound-scrambling wall between tables? We were five feet away from her. It didn’t bother me (mostly I agreed with her), but it did make me think twice about the next time I feel the urge to chat about people in public.
A group of lunching ladies stopped by our table on their way out. Iris was wearing her zebra suit, and one of the women (middle aged and awesome) told Iris that she had good taste. Zebra stripes are super fab.
“Were you walking along the store fronts?” A grandpa-aged man asked me a little while later when he and his wife stopped by to chat up Iris too. “I thought we saw you. Your little girl is really cute.” How old? What’s her name? Old fashioned names really are the best, aren’t they?
The girl who took our order stopped by to clean our neighbors’ table a few minutes after they left. “Your little girl is so small!” She said, trying to get Iris to grin back. “Yep,” I said. “She’s a peanut.” Which is totally not true. Iris is almost exactly average, but what the heck. I’m 5’3”, but I must have had 4 inches and 25 pounds on the cashier. To be small is to be cute, right? Pretty sure she meant it as a compliment.
Later, driving home and hoping Iris wasn’t spraying her juice box everywhere, I wondered if people are more friendly to single (or at least lone) moms or if I’m just less observant when we’re traveling en famille. Probably some of both, but what really struck me about the whole episode (besides how much Iris likes apple juice and chicken nuggets. Will have to remember that) was how kind everybody was. Even the conversations that weren’t intended for me were sympathetic, interested, warm. Our political and professional worlds aren’t always very child-friendly. But our people sure are.
It was a nice reminder.
And in case you’re wondering what Iris thought of all the attention: she took it all in sober stride. She’s not flirtatious up front, but she is very curious and interested. By the time people are walking away, she’s just starting to warm up, and she spent the second half of our meal craning around to see the door where her audience kept disappearing.