You’re right; we’ve been here before. A rescue pug (or two) who comes to us with poor teeth that need a lot of expensive care.

This time, though, it’s the JCs – they’re not, strictly speaking, our pugs. We’re fostering them…but that’s beginning to feel like a much more long-term deal. The thing with pugs is, they make themselves at home. They leave hair on your furniture, the breathe noisily through the nights, and they sneeze in your face. And then, before you know it, you belong to them.

So, as foster pugs, they (and we) have to wait for charity funds to come through. And that can be a slow business. Charities have to work hard for their money and the kind of cash that gets two old pugs the care they deserve takes a while to collect together.

We got the word in early November: funds are in place and can we make an appointment? They’ll get a full workout – x-rays, medical, and any dental work they need.

We knew, from being breathed and coughed on regularly by both of them that they were both in for some major oral surgery.

I took them in on a Thursday, making my first drive to the charity’s preferred vet, ably assisted by The Student. June, as ever, is oblivious in the back of the car. Big JC shivers with anxiety. He is not a good passenger.

We get there, safe and sound, and a nice lady comes to meet us. She takes their leads, thanks us very much, and takes them away. I try not to look at their sad faces as they both look to us to rescue them from whatever was coming next. It’s not until I’m back in the car that I realized that I hadn’t even said goodbye to them.

It’s a sad drive back home. The mood is briefly lifted when we stop off for coffee and pastries, because that’s how the world works. It’s biology. There’s no fighting it.

The pugs are staying overnight, so we have the whole evening without them. We thought it would be fun – at least less work – and I guess it was. We only had two pugs to walk, two pugs to feed, two pugs to corral to the bedroom at bed time. But there was also a gap where one very large and one very loud pug used to be. 

The real action happened the next day.

Slowly, and unexpectedly, my wife started receiving photos from the vet: This is your pug doped out. This is his mouth before we fixed it. This is his mouth now.

It was all very gory and I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but afterward I appreciate the customer care. And now you can too.

As expected, they lost most of their teeth. I don’t remember the numbers on how many they started with and how many each subsequently lost. I remember that they ended up with 14 teeth between them.

We brought them home with bags of pills and pee pads to catch their bloody drool. Being a pug parent is not for people who like to be pristine all the time. Or ever.

On the drive home, I sat in the back of the car with the doped-up pups. Jordan, tiny and bendy, just curled up and slept. Big JC was more awake. Every now and again, he’d sit up straight, eyes wide open, and push his face into mine. I could almost hear him say, “Wooooh, maaaaan, cray-ZEE.”

After having gone through the same thing with Jordan, we felt we knew what was going to happen next, but every pug is a different experience and so we’ve been blindsided a couple of times. June and Big JC both developed coughs – imagine a trumpet made of grumpy frogs. That was the song we lived with for about a week. There is no sound like a pug with a cold.

But more trying was Big JC’s reaction to the pain meds/muscle relaxants he was now taking. Basically, the muscles that most seemed affected by the pills were the ones around his bladder. Before we realized what was happening, he’d accidentally dribbled on the wooden floor, the carpet, and the sofa. 

We reacted by (a) thoroughly cleaning everything and (b) learning about a fascinating and previously unknown new world of belly bands. JC has been in his doggy diapers for a few days now, and shows no sign of drying up.

We’re hoping it’s a stage but, if not, we’re going to need the vet to some up with a plan B! Or we just cover everything with pee pads for the foreseeable future. At this stage, that might be the easiest solution.

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