By Katy Cable-TWR
a 5 minute read
This week I'm deviating from my normal health tips in order to share how my passion for pugs began, and show you how something I completely resisted became one of my biggest blessings.
Anyone who knows me today is well aware I'm OBSESSED with PUGS! My adorable, fashionably-attired Pug, Olive is under my arm more than my Tory Burch clutch. 90% of my social media posts are dog-related, and I have more
4-legged friends & followers than 2-legged ones. Diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but PUGS are mine! Gush all you want over Channing Tatum, my celebrity crush is "Doug-the-Pug!" But it wasn't always this way.
It was thirteen years ago when my life drastically changed. I was completely jolted when I heard the dreaded words shoot out of my husband's mouth like daggers, "Let’s get her a dog!” He enthusiastically offered, when I asked what we should buy our daughter for her 7th birthday.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing! The betrayal I felt was gut-wrenching! I figured my obsessively immaculate home, my compulsive Type-A personality, the fact I broke out in hives at the mere sight of a dog combined with my love for all things delicate, luxurious, and expensive was a dead give-away. I was not a “DOG” person. -Quite the opposite.
I felt no connection to canines and wanted their shedding, drooling, stinky paws kept as far away from me as possible. That was the unspoken agreement in our marriage and now my husband was completely betraying me in order to please our little birthday girl!
I cried myself to sleep envisioning my home, clothes and life in ruins once my daughter had grown bored of "the dog" and its daily care landed on MY “to-do” list! No more extra money for fabulous vacations, fine jewelry and designer clothes. Life as I knew it was over!
I made numerous attempts to change our daughter's mind about the dog, offering every gift imaginable from Barbie Jeeps to a birthday party appearance from Hannah Montana. Nothing worked. The only gift she wanted was a dog. I finally broke down and agreed. But only on the condition that the dog was going right back to the shelter if she didn't care for it. I gave it a month tops, before I would again be dogless!
The next weekend we attended a dog adoption fair and fell in love with the same darling little Pug that everyone else attending the event wanted. For not wanting a dog, I sure went to bat to get that little guy. Applications were completed, multiple interviews were conducted and finally a lengthy home check was done to ensure we were suitable new owners for a needy, stray dog. Two weeks later we received the exciting news! WE GOT THE DOG! I couldn’t have been happier if I hit the Lotto jackpot! –And little did I know at the time, I had!
Karley named her new friend Raisin, which he resembled with his cute, wrinkly face. My face, on the other hand was swollen and covered in hives. I downed Benedryl tablets like M&M's then stocked up on Swiffers and Kleenex at Costco. It took less than a week before every piece of clothing I owned was covered in PUGORA (Pug fur). In addition to fur, dog beds, bowls, toys, and leashes adorned every room in my once meticulous, tidy home.
Raisin was more high maintenance than Mariah Carey requiring specialty vet care, a laundry list of daily medications, and a strict diet of home-cooked meals. In my household it was a rarity to find me cooking more than a can of soup and a frozen pizza. The great thing was, -I didn't care! I was having the time of my life with this little, snorting, shedding, bundle of fun!
Raisin quickly transformed me. He was always so filled with joy! Nothing made him happier than being with our family. I began to witness what "unconditional" love looks and feels like. I also began to appreciate what was truly important in life. The world didn't end if I put my cellphone down long enough to enjoy a short daily walk and a few tosses of a tennis ball. Raisin taught me to live in the moment and make the very best of it! I also began to see the goodness in others. Nothing garners more attention from strangers than a darling dog on a leash. A person can cut me off in traffic, steal my parking space, and take the last pink sprinkled donut, but if they have a dog at the end of a leash, (or in a carrier, or pictured on their cellphone), they are a probably a decent person and we share a common bond.
My daughter also got so much more than just a pet with Raisin. He was the catalyst in her emerging career which began shortly after we brought him home. While walking to school one day she was approached about training him to be a therapy dog. Within three months, a then eight year-old Karley had Raisin trained and together, they became the youngest therapy dog team in the nation.
Karley began taking Raisin to local elementary schools and working with struggling "at-risk" students. These children were more than most trained, mature teachers could handle let alone a child of roughly the same age. Seeing the students were not interested in reading they only wanted to play with Raisin, Karley decided to write a book about his “Wags-to-Riches” life.
"Raisin, -A Doggie's Tale..." is a heartwarming, funny story told from Raisin's POV. It taught students about being responsible pet owners and how to overcome obstacles. The book was such a hit with the kids, Karley prefaced what is now a huge trend, and published her book on Amazon then used social media to market it. Within a few weeks, she made enough money to donate funds to a local shelter and purchase a new computer. Her book also caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey and Karley received an invitation to the White House where the President received an autographed copy.
Over the years Raisin made hundreds of therapy visits. Not only did he visit schools, but hospitals, Alzheimer’s homes, and prisons. He participated in parades, community events and appeared in several TV shows. He became one of the first dogs to have a huge social media following.
In addition to my own, I witnessed many lives changed because of Raisin. Difficult, problem children began behaving and excelling in school. Sick children riddled with cancer healed. Alzheimer’s patients recalled happy memories of a beloved pet. Prison inmates softened, and people took their last breath on this earth while petting Raisin. He was very, very, special.
Raisin turned 13 years old in May 2015. The vertebrae issue discovered at his first visit to the vet had taken its toll and he could no longer use his hind legs. His chronic eye disease had cost him most of his sight and his hearing wasn’t sharp. He relied more and more on me to help him with his basic needs. I didn't mind since at the same time my daughter needed me less and less. I happily kept Raisin by my side as my constant companion so he felt safe and loved.
With the help of his wonderful vet and great pain meds, Raisin was still a happy guy who enjoyed going out for daily walks in his Radio Flyer wagon, then flopping on the bed watching "The Bachelor" with me. I saw his decline and knew the days with him were numbered. A neighbor noticed me putting Raisin into his wagon one day and commented, "When are you going to put that dog down...He can't even walk anymore!" It was the same kind of clueless comment I might have made, had my life not included a dog. Instead I answered that as long as Raisin was comfortable and content, I vowed to be there for him.
On August 15th, 2015, something was not right. Raisin was howling in agony and lethargic. His normal pain meds did nothing to bring relief. He wasn’t interested in eating or drinking and hadn’t relieved himself all day. I saw no reason for an apparent HUNGER STRIKE! I looked in his eyes and knew he was done fighting. I always promised myself that if at all possible, Raisin’s last memory on earth would not be the cold, sterile table of the vet’s office, so I found a fantastic home-euthanasia company to come out. That afternoon I made the call. In Raisin's favorite spot of the den, with the PGA on TV, we sent Raisin off to run free at Rainbow Bridge. The hardest thing we’ve ever had to do as a family is say goodbye to our beloved Raisin who drifted off peacefully while being stroked in my arms.
Losing Raisin came at the same time our daughter was leaving to attend college clear across country. It was more than I could take. The void in our then quiet, empty, spotless house was palpable! In an effort to heal my pain, I looked desperately for a new dog. I was in such despair I would've taken any dog that crossed my path. -Even a vicious, rabid one. Thankfully I found a darling little breeder dog who had been thrown out in the streets after having a litter of puppies. Olive was skinny, sick and scared to death but I was about to change all that.
Olive has helped heal my heart and given me a new purpose. I'm so thankful to have her. However, not a day goes by when I don't miss my Raisin. If I could bring him back happy and healthy I would in a NY minute! Because that's not possible I'm an advocate for other shelter dogs and help pet parents with my blog and events. Raisin's book continues to raise money for shelters and he is memorialized in a tree we planted in his honor. His photo is on my favorite commuter mug so in a sense, he does go with me everywhere. And part of me knows he sent Olive to me and is happy we have each other.
For a gal who once wanted nothing to do with a dog, I now cannot possibly live without one. R.I.P my dear Raisin! Thank you for rescuing me and giving me a new leash on life! 🐾💕