Apollo is about to be 7.
Wow is that crazy for me to write!
Considering the fact that I adopted this little troublesome runt when he was just over two months old, I honestly can’t believe how quickly the time has flown.
I often say it and mean it with all my heart: Apollo is the dog I’ve always dreamed of having.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our second pug Johnny deeply but Apollo is the dog I’ve trained to harmonize with me in a way I’ve always hoped I’d harmonize with a pet. He’s quite honestly the smartest, most intuitive, playful and yet mindful dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.When my father passed away from cancer, I remember coming back home to him walking up to me, wagging his tail and then calmly settling into my lap, curling up and snuggling with me for hours while I cried away my grief. That was the first time I realized the power of running your fingers through pug wrinkles when you’re depressed.
Words cannot express how much I love this dog.
And now he’s been my partner-in-crime for almost 7 long years. The hardest and best 7 years of my life.
He’s snorted over all my belongings. He’s loudly farted during holiday dinners. He always needs attention. And he’s always attracting attention from odd strangers on our morning walks. And for the first 2 years of his life he couldn’t lift his leg while peeing without falling over. And he had a perpetual addiction to chewing on the heels of my favorite pumps.
But he is and forever will be my pug. My boy. My Apollo.
10 Things You May Not Know About Apollo
1. He’s Intuitive.
I really have no idea how he knows my emotions so well but he does. If I’m sad he calmly curls up with me and snuggles. If I’m happy he spins around with all the enthusiasm in the world even though he has no idea why. He reads emotions in such an eerily accurate way I wonder if he perhaps isn’t an alien hidden in a pug body (ahem, Frank)?
2. He’s Smart.
Wicked smart. He first became a certified therapy dog when he was only a little over a year old — quite a young age for a breed that can be notorious to train! He knows all sorts of tricks and commands and always learned them faster than the other dogs in his obedience classes.
But he’s also headstrong and stubborn so that means he can get quite smart with you too. One week I was working really long hours — I was gone most of the day (6 am to 9 pm) for a few days straight — and on the fourth night I tucked into bed only to find a lovely pile of poop UNDER my sheets. How he got under there, pooped, and then got out well-enough that I hadn’t noticed he even got under the sheets is a testament to his wicked intelligence.
TMI I know but this is no joke. It took him two years before he’d do #2 on a walk with Hubby. He takes FOREVER to pick a spot — often wanting a place shielded from the sidewalk (hey, pugs need their privacy too!) and then will spin around at lease 10 times before eventually settling on his exact spot. Unless, of course, he’s been distracted by another dog walking along the sidewalk in which case the entire process starts over again from the beginning.
4. He’s named after the NASA Apollo missions.
Underneath it all, I’m a huge geek. I adopted Apollo a week or so before the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission landing on the Moon in July 2009. There was so much buzz leading up to the anniversary (and I’d been watching A LOT of Battlestar Galactica which has a main character nicknamed Apollo) that the moment I thought of naming him “Apollo”, I couldn’t get the name out of my head.
If you want to get even geekier, his middle name is ‘Arrakis’ after the desert planet in Dune. And since I’m Ashley Anne, that means Apollo Arrakis and I have the same initials (see what I did there?).5. He’s a burrower.
I’m convinced burrowing was the only way pugs could have ever survived in the wild. Apollo must dig and nest in EVERYTHING! He makes a mockery of our bed and couch often spinning, digging, and burrowing around to the point that I regularly come home to every single one of our pillows strew across the floor.
He’s also cold-natured so at night when he gets chilly, he burrows under the covers with me and sleeps by my feet or as my little spoon. It’s adorable but our other pug Johnny has definitely stepped on him like that without realizing it and given Apollo quite a scare!
6. He runs and “squeak” barks in his sleep.
This may be the cutest thing he does! Apollo sleeps a lot — most of the day, most days, in fact. And he must have some very exciting and interesting pug dog dreams because watching him sleep is one of the most amusing things ever. His little legs will start twitching vigorously and all the sudden you see his whiskers start to tremble. Then it starts. His adorable, little guttural sleep squeaks. He must be barking in his dreams but to those of us awake around him his barks are more of a tiny little squeaky noise that will — quite literally — melt your heart.
This is how my hashtag #pugvase started. Since I’m a full-time photographer, I’m always shooting random things in my studio. And I often shoot and use flowers as props because I love adding natural elements to my shots. Once I was trying to shoot an abstract bouquet for a floral delivery company and Apollo would NOT leave me alone. He kept wandering into my shots, almost jealous that I was giving the flowers so much direct attention that he wasn’t getting… He eventually just laid ON TOP of the flowers out of frustration and I looked down and realized he actually made a really cool effect with them. Almost like he was the “vase” for the bouquet. A Pug Vase!!
And that’s how Pug Vases were born. From that moment on I’ve been the “pug vase lady” to pretty much everyone. And I’m totally okay with it.
8. His favorite toy is a little stuffed animal elephant named Elefant.
El-e-fant. We pronounce it differently so we can distinguish his Elefant from actual elephants. Elefant was a little stuffed elephant toy my mother gave me for Christmas 2009 — Apollo’s first Christmas. And though he was waiting in MY stocking, Apollo quickly commandeered him for himself. But unlike most of his toys which he tears to shreds in a matter of minutes, from the start he adopted Elefant as his own kin. He grooms him before bed EVERY night. He loves to play fetch with him but never aggressively bites down at all.
Undoubtedly because he doesn’t want to hurt him. Elefant is Apollo’s closest friend and I often find the two snuggling with one another when I come home after a long day. God help us if we ever lose that toy!9. Every year his snout gets grayer.
It started with his chin. Then his lower-upper lip. And now it’s slowly creeping its way toward his little button nose.
Like it or not, this pug-pug is going to have one silver snout by his 10th birthday! His beautiful black snout started graying around his 4th birthday and has been slowly transforming week by week. I often tease Apollo about it by saying he looks like George Clooney with his salt-and-pepper coloring.
But secretly it makes me sad. I am reminded that pugs don’t live human-length lives and the painful truth that I will someday be without him makes me cherish every moment I have with him THAT MUCH more.
10. He thinks he’s a person.
Like actually thinks he should be classified as human — with the right to vote, pee in a toilet, and eat as many fried eggs (his favorite food) as he wants.
From the first day I adopted him, I’ve always talked with Apollo like a human. I know he doesn’t understand what I’m saying but I SWEAR he tries to! And he tries to “talk” back. No joke — he actually makes these sort of bizarre intonations that really sound like he’s mimicking human conversation. He’s not barking or crying — he’s TRYING to talk!
He also regularly sits like a human — butt on the couch and legs in front. And he sleeps on his back like a human, or cuddling into my shoulder with the covers right up to his neck and his head on the pillow.