BONZ: Pug who hates to swim learns to dog paddle

Hi dog buddies! This week I interviewed Suki Milsten, an Orchid Island resident I’d met briefly at Fredo Henry’s birthday party/fundraiser last weekend.

She came to the door, as outgoing as she’d been at the party. “Hi, Mr. Bonzo! It’s me, Suki, in case you didn’t recognize me without my pink party dress. C’mon in!”

She led me though a beautiful sunny courtyard with a big pool. “This is MY domain.”

“Wow! Sweet! That’s some nice pool. You must swim a lot!” I said.

“Actually, I hate to swim! But Mom said, for my own safety, I HAD to learn the Dog Paddle. I said I’d sit in the boat and some other dog could paddle, but she insisted. After a few lessons, Mom saw I could swim enough to get to the edge if I ever tumbled in. I got out, shook off, and vowed to NEVER EVER go back again! Never! No way!”

Who knew? I thought all dogs liked to swim. Me, I love jumping in my pool every chance I get. But that’s just me. “What about baths?” I wondered.

“Oh, that’s different. Those are great. A mobile dog wash comes every two weeks and all us neighborhood pooches get all spiffed up.”

“So, tell me how you got here,” I suggested.

“Mom and dad had three pugs before me (one at a time). Mom found me through Pug Rescue. I was rescued from a dirty little trailer in Tampa. The local pug lady, Toni Merrit, said the family couldn’t keep me, because of ‘hard circumstances’. And Mom says I must have been loved a lot because I wasn’t scared or shy with humans. I was only a puppy, and don’t remember much, but I do remember, in a fuzzy way, a lot of cuddles and nice voices. By the time we drove from Tampa to here, I was already adjusted, almost. It did take me three months to realize Mom wasn’t leaving me forever when she went somewhere. I’d sit by the door and cry whenever she went on an errand. But now I know she’ll always come back to me. And sometimes she even takes me with her, which is way fun.

“Oh, and, my name used to be Miss Prissy. Uck. We all agreed that totally didn’t fit me. So I’m carrying on the traditional family pug name, Suki. Mom and Dad name all their pugs Suki, which I really like, once I remembered to come when they call, “Suki!”

I asked her what she does for fun.

“My most favorite thing to do is EAT. Mom says a pug’s life is all about getting food. Mine’s really healthy, no meat, no wheat, but it’s still yummy. Plus, I get treats. And the BEST is when my human nephew, Liam (he’s still a pupster, just 1 ½) visits from New York City. Whenever I see Mom get the highchair out, I sit right by it so I can slurp up whatever Liam drops. (Which is a lot. I’m pretty sure he does it on purpose cuz he’s my little buddy.)”

“Do any tricks?” I asked.

“Just a couple of practical ones: I always do my Sit-and-Stand combo for a treat. Mom says, ‘Wanna treat?’ So I Sit. Then she holds it up and I go into my Tippypaw Stand to get it.”

“Smooth,” I said.

Mom’s proud of me cuz I’m totally potty trained. Zero accidents. I only potty on my twice-a-day walks. But I hadn’t ever been on a leash, and that was very scary. It totally freaked me out at first, but I kept seeing all the other pooches out walking and they looked happy, they weren’t choking or getting dragged or anything. So finally I relaxed and now I’m cool with it.”

I noticed a roomy cage filled with a fluffy sheepskin bed. “I bet that’s comfy,” I remarked.

“You bet. I’ve always been a cage pooch. I sleep in there with my chew toys, and drag ‘em out in the morning. Wanna see my favorite?” She nosed under the couch, and dragged out a very munched-on purple plush rhinoceros, its head in her mouth.

“Iffs mu fabo-ut. Ah hab uh boo un oo.”

“’Scuse me?” I said.

“Oh, sorry.” She dropped the soggy rhino. “It’s my favorite. I have a blue one, too. I could chew them all day.”

“I can see that,” I said. “By the way, I wanted to tell you how nice you looked in that pink dress at Fredo’s party.”

She looked up at me from under her eyelashes. “Thank you, Mr. Bonzo. Mom got it from Pug Rescue. A lady sews them to help rescue more pugs. There was another dress I just loved, not so frilly, with green and yellow flowers, more of a day dress, you know? I’m trying to get Mom to get it for me.”

Being a guy and all, I’m not into outfits, except for my basic black and white coat, but I had to admit (to myself) that she was a cutie-petootie in that lacy pink number. But, since I was working, I just said, “I have a feeling your Mom will get that dress for you.”

“Me too!” she said with a big smile. “You know, that was my first party. I met a lot of really friendly dog neighbors. But I’m actually just a homebody. I’m perfectly happy being with my humans and hanging out in the sunshine, here by (not in) my pool.”

I rose to leave. “It’s been a pleasure, Suki.”

“Same here, Mr. Bonzo. Give me a woof sometime.”

Heading home, I thought about those big black eyes and that adorable little – personality. Maybe I would give her a woof one of these days.

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