On Pug Eyes

If you visit the Austin Pug Rescue site – and, if you’re in Austin and looking for a pug, you really should – you will notice two things. First, there are a lot of old pugs looking for new homes. But, second, there are a lot of pugs with one or both eyes missing.

It’s a pug thing.

We were in a small town at a weekend fair and two little kids came up to us. They loved the pups – of course – but were especially surprised with how they looked. One kid said he’d seen a lot of pugs but this was the first time he’d seen two with their eyes intact. Which, you know, was a little disturbing.

So, when our most beloved Reverend John Henry developed a weird little smudge on his eye, I was worried. Overly worried. I took him to see one of his most favored people in the whole world: his vet. He loves his vet. She makes a fuss over him; she feeds him treats; she sticks a thermometer up his bottom. I don’t know how much of those things he approves of, but he definitely approves of her.

She didn’t take long to make a diagnosis. It was, in fact, the third such diagnosis she had made that day. He has a “corneal ulcer” – a little abrasion on his eye. With his protruding eyes, it could have happened any number of ways. He is not shy to push his head into thick bushes in search of a particular smell…he has regular boxing matches with Ms Jordan Underfoot…in fact, he takes life face-first most of the time. And now life had given him a little nudge back. Nothing too serious.

We got drops, he got treats, and off we went.

The Rev does not like eye drops. He does not like any kind of drops, barring the kind of air drop that gifts pieces of bacon magically on the kitchen floor. Earlier this summer, he needed ear drops as his little puggy ears get yeast infections in hot weather. He did not like being held while a tube was pushed into his ear. He hates being held while liquid is dropped into his big, sad eyes.

And we have to do it three times a day.


My wife and I are not always in the apartment together for each administering of the drops, so we both have to do it alone. When the veterinary assistant showed me how to do it, it looked easy. Point him away from me, grip him with my thighs, tip his chin up, drip in the drops. So how come, when I do it, it looks more like a child’s wrestling match? And one-to-two-drops end up being half the bottle dripped all over his face.

As these were antibiotic drops, he was sure to be unusually clean for the period I was giving him eye drops. Which is something, I suppose.

On the follow up with the vet, I think she decided to show off. “Have you seen this?” she asks as she brings in some heavy equipment. I had not. She is, apparently, going to drop a luminous solution into JH’s eye. Then she turns the light off and shines a black light on his face. The outline of his eye glows an extremely cool luminous green. I want to take a picture but this doesn’t seem like the time. I make the right kind of impressed-sounding noises instead.

His eye is fine. A small graze still there, but it’s healing. He doesn’t need any more drops or any more visits…until the next time he thinks sticking his head through thick branches is a great idea.

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