- ABOUT US
Karlie Tipton, Associate Editor
Photo by STEVEN WALKER
By Karlie Tipton
August 7, 2014
When Plato first said “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder,” I’m pretty sure he was looking at a pug.
About six weeks ago—it feels like much longer—I was browsing Facebook when I came across Homeward Bound Pug Rescue’s desperate plea for foster parents. I figured, “I love dogs. Why not?” That day, I contacted the rescue to volunteer my services, and within a week my application had been approved.
On a warm Sunday afternoon just ten days after I discovered the existence of Homeward Bound, my husband and I drove to the rescue’s headquarters in Norman to pick up our first foster pug. We instantly knew we were in the right place thanks to a pug-themed mailbox, pug lawn statues, and other assorted pug memorabilia decorating the porch. As soon as we rang the doorbell, a chorus of yips and yaps broke out and, after a minute or two of wrangling pups away from the door, Homeward Bound president Gail Tucker greeted us with a one-and-a-half-year-old girl named Emma.
Little Emma looked up at me with her bulging, pointy eyes—she has eye ulcers, which have healed considerably over the past weeks but still give her pupils a milky glaze—and, as I bent down to pet her, she sneezed in my face and then licked me. It was a confusing introduction for us both.
Emma insisted on sitting on my shoulder the entire ride home. She may weigh twelve pounds, but she felt like much more while standing on my clavicle.
Once we arrived back at my house, Phillip and I quickly realized a few things that were special about Emma.
First is that she is unlike any dog I’ve ever seen. She’s more like an amalgam of creatures. Her wide-set eyeballs are reminiscent of a bird’s. Her extremely long neck and round head recall a turtle that has lost its shell. And the grunts and snorts that come out of her are more porcine than canine.
Emma’s sleep is interrupted only by the occasional grunt, which often surprises her into consciousness.
It also was immediately apparent that Emma is not what you would call graceful. In less than two months, she has almost tripped my husband and I by standing directly behind or in front of our feet no less than 761 times, run head-first into exactly 47 objects (some more than once), and gotten caught in her leash, my purse, a sweater, plastic bags, paper bags, and a number of other items that have given our other dog, Achilles, no trouble. Even when she’s sleeping—one leg straight back behind her, one bent uncomfortably underneath, both front paws splayed out on either side of her rib cage—Emma is a source of constant amusement.
Despite her jarring appearance and lack of coordination, Phillip, Achilles, and I also kind of fell in love with Emma that first day. When we return from any outing, no matter how long we were gone, she leaps four feet into the air, squeaking and yipping like she hasn’t seen us in weeks. During walks, she trots so close to her foster brother that she sometimes knocks him to the side (he sometimes pees on her, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much). During the evening news, there is not a spot on earth she’d rather be than cuddled next to my husband on the recliner. And when it’s bed time, you can always find her curled up in a tiny tan ball right next to my legs.
Emma is never far from Achilles. Although he’s peed on her a couple times, he loves having her around.
My husband, who hides his affection for animals in a shroud of cold practicality, sometimes acts like he wants to give her back to Gail, but he loves her just as much as I do.
“Every time I trip over her, I want to take her back,” he says, “but then she looks at me with her ugly turtle face, and I apologize for getting in her way.”
If all goes well, Emma will eventually leave us and live happily ever after in her forever home. I will cry. Achilles will cry. Phillip will begrudgingly cry. But until then, little Emma will continue to try our patience and make our lives a little more beautiful every day.