Monday, June 7, 2010

Vito Marino Enters My Life

Hello blog world! I really have no idea what I'm doing here but I enjoy reading other pug blogs so much, I thought I (and Vito of course!) should take a stab at it! This first post is going to be a long one!

Vito Marino came in to my life for the first time in September of 2009 when I got a call from my mother, who lives in Southern Missouri, 3 hours from where I live in St. Louis, saying that she had done something crazy. She had been called by a lady in her small town pleading with her to take a two year old pug who belonged to her neighbor. His owner had gotten him when he was a puppy, and had no idea, nor interest in learning, how to take care of a pug. She was one of those people who just saw a cute puppy and did no research. He lived in his crate all the time, and the lady who called my mom (again, his owner's neighbor - it's all a little confusing!) would go over a couple of times a week to take him on a walk around their retirement community. His owner never had him neutered, and she would hit him with newspapers. He never went to the vet past his 6 week shots, and he lived on table scraps.

My mom is definitely not an indoor-dog person, but she couldn't leave a dog in that situation. She also knew that I had always wanted a pug, so she called to see if I was ready for a pet. YES! I immediately re-named him Vito Marino (I had a dream years ago that I had a dog named Vito, and I'm a huge Dan Marino fan), and my mom picked him up from his owner, who was not sad at all to see him go. She brought him home to their farm. She said that he was in terrible shape – it took her hours to get him clean. I planned to go pick him up a couple of weeks later when I had a free weekend to make the trip, and in the meantime, he lived in my parents’ garage and enjoyed lazing about on the deck with my dad in the evenings.

Vito on My Parents' Deck

My parents - country people, who only knew outdoor farm dogs, and had certainly never known a pug - fell pretty head over heels for him in those couple of weeks. My mom couldn't stop commenting on how "good-natured" and loveable he was. The second week though, she called to tell me that she had just found out that he was not housebroken, after an accident when he ran in to the house, and talking to that neighbor who had called her initally. The neighbor thought my mom knew, based on hearing how he had never really been outside of his crate in a house. This panicked me as I'd never had a pet before, have a full-time job and live alone – I didn’t think I had the proper time or "expertise" to devote to the routine. I cried. I was already smitten by him and had never met him, but I knew that I couldn’t take him. I sent a desperate and sad email to about 20 friends, with Vito’s picture, begging for a good home. Within hours, I had 11 phone calls about him! I chose who I thought was the perfect person to take him. Her pug had passed away a few years before, and she had been looking for another. She had a boyfriend and a 13 year old daughter who were very excited, and assured me that housebreaking would be a cinch!

I traveled to pick up Vito that weekend and passed him off to his new owner here in St. Louis. I fell in love with him in seconds, we bonded on our 3 hour road trip, and I cried again as I gave him to his new owner.

Picking Up Vito to Take to His New (Temporary) Home

I never stopped thinking of him. She sent me frequent emails on his housebreaking progress and funny stories, and said she absolutely loved him. So imagine my surprise when she called two months later and said she could not keep him. Apparently she still had not gotten him neutered and he was still marking all over the house. She was having financial trouble, and her boyfriend and daughter were not supportive and zero help with Vito (she kept the name that I had given him). I re-sent the original email again, and this time got NO phone calls about him. Odd. I asked her if she thought I could handle finishing his housebreaking, and she said absolutely. So that was it, Vito was mine – as I believe he was meant to be all along! He came home with me a few days later on December 12, 2009 and he’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Making Himself Right at Home on Day One in His Forever Home!

I had him neutered that very week, and he has never had an accident in the house, although he does still occasionally mark his territory, months after the neutering! Luckily I don’t have anyone to fight about it with, and I just clean it up and move on. But it’s amazing how things work out. She and I still keep in touch and she loves to hear updates about how well Vito and I are doing together. I credit her with being his "interim mom" and getting him housebroken as I prepared to be his forever mom.

Due to his lack of vet care and cleaning in the first 2 years of his life, he had quite a few problems with the wrinkle above his nose in the first few months - one yeast infection and two bacterial infections - but the vet and I think we’ve finally found the right combination to fight those off! (In case you are wondering, the magic ingredient turned out to be Clearasil pads every other wrinkle cleaning!) Other than that, he’s been amazingly healthy. We went through beginner obedience training and he did great (anything for a treat!) – although he preferred playing with the people much more than the (bigger) dogs at the end of each class! He’s the sweetest thing in the world and loves to be near me at all times, preferably on my lap. He sleeps under the covers by my feet (how does he breathe?) or curled up next to my stomach if I’m on my side, and loves to wake me up by putting his face directly up to mine and just staring until I open my eyes. He had his first proper Christmas this year at my parents' in Southern Missouri (we'll show pictures of that later!), where he was the star, and was gladly welcomed to live in the house for the whole four days - a huge step for them! We've been there twice since Christmas and you would think my parents had always had indoor dogs the way he naps on my dad's lap in his recliner. He makes me laugh multiple times a day. I call him my Baby Bear and I love nothing more than giving him a big hug when he’s on my lap – after which he always thanks me with a sneeze in the face. I know that he is incredibly lucky to have me in his life compared to his first two years, but I consider myself to be MUCH luckier that he is in mine.

Day One of the Rest of Our Lives!

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