The week after we were told Mum has Progressive Bulbar Palsy, we were all still reeling. I had returned to work, to London, and I didn’t really know what was going to happen next. We were all so scared.
Mum was to spend another week (week and a half?) in hospital, away from her beloved boy. No, not her fiancée – her pug. Who else?
She was in hospital for three weeks, the longest they have ever been apart. They both hated it. Oscar wasn’t his usual giddy self. His tail would twitch a little when you walked in or you gave him a cuddle, but that was all. He didn’t want to play. He wanted his mummy back.
And she was the same. Even before she received the diagnosis, she’d cried about being away from him. She had gone into hospital thinking it would be an overnight stay – a week later she desperate to see her little man.
Pugs have this wonderful ability to make everything feel better. They light up the room with their cheeky smiles, and they are fiercely loyal. They love nothing more than being cuddled and played with. They’re vibrant and fun and brilliant.
When everything seemed so dark, we stumbled across something so crazy that sounded so fun it helped us find hope – PUGFEST!
Oh yeah! What better way to cheer up someone in hospital after such a terrible diagnosis, who was missing her own pug so much, than with the promise that she could be surrounded by pugs? All types of pugs! Male, female, old, puppies, faun ones, black ones, white ones, cross breeds. They’d all be there.
Fast forward three months, and that’s exactly what we did yesterday.
The quality of the picture is awful – but just look at those smiles!
Travelling is not an easy thing to do. We ended up getting into Manchester half an hour later than expected after missing the bus – we were too busy making sure we had everything Mum could possibly need. Not just Mum, but Oscar too. Water bottle? Check. Food? Check. Bow tie? Well, only Oscar needed one of those.
We did eventually get there (an hour after it had started, but oh well). The weather was roasting – far too hot for pugs. Mum wanted to walk around, so guess what happened…
Oscar got so much attention in the wheelchair. People laughed, stopped to take photos, and gave him lots of attention. He was the Grand Old Pug (he’s only nine!), king of the pugs, being taken on his chariot around to see his subjects. He’s bloody spoilt.
I can’t even describe how brilliant yesterday was. The last three months have been incredibly challenging for us, especially for Mum, and we have had this to look forward to. It was like something from a dream. There were just so many!
Everyone was incredibly friendly, because everyone had the same thing in common – their love of these silly little fur balls getting under our feet. We could talk to anyone. In her excitement, even Mum was talking to people, or infecting them with her laughter.
I’ve discussed in the past her ongoing emotional lability, which means sometimes her emotions get confused. On three or four occasions she burst into tears. After a spot of lunch (she managed a burger and chips with mayonnaise!) we were walking towards the dog show arena and more than a dozen playful pugs surrounded us. She started crying, so I put my arm around her.
‘Are these happy tears?’ I asked. She nodded.
I could totally understand. Being overwhelmed by the sheer joy of so many funny, happy little creatures – I nearly burst into tears too!
Oscar cooling off in the Pugfest Splash Zone
Oh readers, it was such an amazing day. Pugfest has made us smile for three months, and it didn’t disappoint on the day. If anything, I think it made Mum feel better. She wasn’t focusing on her speech or her MND. She’s still sore from her operation, but she didn’t even need any painkillers until we were on the train home. Pugs are simply the best distraction.
Living in the moment is all well and good – and should be encouraged regardless, especially in our circumstances – but planning ahead is important too. Having something to look forward to, some hope, some happiness – it gives you something to strive for.
Our next big moment is her wedding at the end of August. The dress is bought, and we have a fascinator. We haven’t yet found a venue for the reception – we probably need more practice at this planning ahead lark!
MND is not all there is to life. It will not be all we live for. It will be on the sidelines, making every joyous moment even sweeter.
Not even MND can make pugs anything other than the best.