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Zen and the Art of Animal Waste Management

So you’ve undoubtedly seen the pics on my sidebar of the gang of pugs.   We used to have four and then our beloved 13 year old pug Biggles passed away last November.  The current lineup includes Xiu Xiu and Pancho & Lefty.  Seven year old males from the same litter.

Yes, we’re crazy.

Every pug we’ve had was a gift from the Hubby.   Diamonds are not this girl’s best friend.  Man’s best friend are.

I’ve wanted a pug ever since a high school Theater Department cast party where the host had an adorable, rambunctious pug.  I knew then I’d have one some day.

It wasn’t easy convincing the hubby.  He’s the rational one.  He let a little thing like apartment living get in the way of the pug dream.  For about a millisecond.  I wore him down.

I went out and got a copy of Milo & Otis.  It’s a classic in pug circles.  When it’s mentioned, pug aficionados smile, nod, and give that knowing look.   It chronicles the adventures of a pug and a cat.  It’s led many humans to be owned by pugs and it sure did the trick for me. Hubby and I watched on Friday night and Saturday morning we were at the pet shop.  That pug tilty head thing was too much for him.  He couldn’t deny it or me. Mission accomplished!

Wing Commander Biggles

We brought home little Wing Commander Biggles. This was before children, so we didn’t have any of the essentials.  Hubby went out and got the basics while I sat home with “the baby”.  After that, I found myself strolling the aisles at PetSmart and PetCo looking at cute little sweaters  and toys for my little fur kid.  I was never going to be one of those people who put clothes on their dog.  I’ve since graduated to Halloween costumes.  But that’s another blog.  It deserves several paragraphs.

I carried a doggie “diaper bag” which included toys, extra water and treats, wipes, plastic poop bags, etc.  We had birthday parties complete with party hats.  For us and the dogs.  I’d show you the pictures, but I can’t have that floating around the internet in case
I ever come to my senses.  I’ll just put this out there:  Even if your dogs really love those carrot flavored Nylabones, don’t make them a carrot cake and then feed it to them.  The resulting intestinal nightmare is not worth it.  Yeah, I know you’d know better.  But sometimes we let our good intentions get in the way.  Oh, okay, our stupidity.  Is that what you want me to say? Stupidity!

Pugs love their humans, but Biggs’s humans had day jobs, so he needed a friend.  Enter Empress Xiu Xiu Wu.  I’m not sure if they were husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, brother/sister, or just good buds.  But they were a little unit.  When my contractions started with my first son and I was off to the hospital wincing in pain, the Hubby was at the door begging me to hurry up before my water broke and where was I?  I was hugging and kissing the pugs “Mommy will be back in a few days with your new brother or sister.  Ow!  Mommy will miss you…..Oh SHIT, OW!…Mommy LOVES you……..”

Empress Xiu Xiu Wu

Our little outlaws are named Pancho & Lefty – after the Townes van Zandt song made famous by Willie Nelson.  They really live up to the name.  They’re little curly tailed outlaws.  Was it ill-advised to get two male puppies from the same litter? Of freaking COURSE!  But we love them soooo much.  We used to pug sit for our friends’  pug Louie and I went through  separation anxiety for this little black bundle of pug love, that the hubby broke down and surprised me with a little black pug puppy of my own.  I cried.  My mother, who witnessed this, stood there looking at me like I had an orange traffic cone on my head.  I was sobbing uncontrollably like I’d won the Oscar.  

His name was Pukka and we named him Puck.  Puck died at 11 months old of Pug Dog Encephalitis.  Didn’t mean to go all Debbie Downer on ya.  But I will say that I think little Puck showed up to help me through a tough time and when his mission was accomplished, off he went.

Pancho should actually be renamed Houdini, because he is an escape artist.  We got really tired of chasing him down the street, getting phone calls from the bar across the street where he would end up (that’s my dog, alright.  I’d run to the nearest bar too) and since we have Mexican neighbors, I was a little worried about having to shout at the top of my lungs “Paaaannnccchhooo!!!!! Pancho, get over here NOW!”

To say that the age gap was a bit of an issue is one thing, but trying to house train two puppies while you’re dealing with two sort of already trained dogs is another.  Pugs are notoriously difficult to house train and since Biggles was a pet shop pup, he had the lovely habit of eating his and everybody else’s poop.  Believe me, we tried everything; that powder the vet gives you that you pour on their food, hot sauce (I thought that was kinda cruel and stopped), even Adolph’s meat tenderizer.  Someone suggested this to me and I found it odd.  What does it say about a meat tenderizing product when it’s supposed to make shit taste bad?  The dog obedience teacher told me it was actually good protein for them and that her dogs eat her horse’s poop all the time.  Cool.  Sparky ain’t kissing me, got it?  Anyway, nothing worked and Biggs ate poop til the very end.

People who have pugs tend to have more than one.  They’re like potato chips.  I’ve known people who’ve had as many as seven at a time.  We can’t stop.  Four is a handful – a delightful, yet stressful handful at times – especially in the poop department.

Pancho & Lefty (Little Outlaws)

Animals are supposed to help you live longer, aren’t they?  These wonderful little Chinese lap dogs are calming, cuddly, a joy, a comfort.  But it stresses the hell outta me that somebody’s gonna piss on the couch or drop a nugget in front of the stairs.  Sometimes I think I should get a utility belt that holds paper towels and Nature’s Miracle and wear it on my person at all times.

The question was how to provide them with a secure area to do their business without having to actually be out there all the freaking time in the rain and snow, waiting for them to sniff and circle the area 12 times.

Then a friend gave me a small Zen garden which I keep in the kitchen.  One morning I was drinking my coffee, raking the sand and I looked out the window at the poop scoop, the stones, the little nuggets of poop.  Hey, we scoop that stuff, we rake the stones around.  Dang, we’ve got ourselves our own little Pug Zen Poop Garden!

The pugs love to spend time out there contemplating…their next meal…how great that last greenie was, even if it only lasted 10 seconds and what the dog in the next yard is up to.   And even if they don’t, hell, I enjoy it when the weather’s nice, cause that’s time they’re not spending marking my new Pier One chair.  Hubby and I take turns raking up the nuggets of joy and try ever so hard to imagine that since these are Chinese dogs, after all, we are participating in some ancient Chinese ritual and calming ourselves.

Sounds like a lot of shit, doesn’t it?  It is.

You wouldn’t believe how much shit three 18 pound dogs can produce.

Pug Ballet: Pugrishnakov


I think their little piece of real estate has had a profound spiritual influence on them.  They started doing these crazy little “formations” as they defecate.  Graceful,  little ballet moves even.  There’s one where they actually form a yin yang.  Have you heard about the elderly couple who’s pooch spells out words on their grass in poop?  Something to aspire to.  Perhaps proverbs.  You never know.

I guess our little Pug Zen Poop Garden is working out pretty nicely. I feel a little calmer knowing they’re not excreting on the living room rug and I’ve only stepped on a couple of land mines out there.
One must learn from one’s mistakes.

I like to think they are achieving a certain oneness with the Universe…a lightness of being (even if it’s only because they’ve just dropped a major load).  I think they like it out there.

And as Confucius said: “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”


  1. April 5, 2012    

    I adored this post so much I’
    m printing it out for Dave. I could write you a comment as long as the above with all the similarities we have going on in our houses, but I will spare you, except to say that now that Pugsley is in his golden years, I occasionally actually do walk about the house with Lysol and paper towels stuck in my waistband. He has developed a tendency of doing what we not so affectionately call “turd bombing”. Not to mention that my dining room is literally carpeted wall to wall with a double layer of wee wee pads (this being their room of choice for God knows what reason). I thin, you and I could write a book called “The Snarky guide to Pug Owning” with subtitle – What the so called experts won’t tell you about your lovable little bastard. :)

  2. April 5, 2012    

    PS – Only says Mary for my comment – you probably know a million Marys like everyone else, so I will add Lepping onto that :)

  3. April 7, 2012    

    Thanks Mary! Great book idea! We MUST write it. Pug lovers everywhere will thank us. We can sell it on QVC with the Pug Doo Doo Cleaning Holster. Turd bomb – I love that. Around here it gets nuclear. You’ve got to bring your babies over for some meditation in the Poop Zen Garden.

  4. April 7, 2012    

    PS My mom and sister in law are both named Mary, but you rank higher because you have pugs. ;)

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Hi! I'm Linda Roy. My nickname is elleroy. I'm a humorist, musician, writer, mom, and the female Larry David. I'll criticize your parallel parking to prove it. I write about where I've been, what I'm doing and where I'm going. If anybody asks, tell 'em "elleroy was here".

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