He swaggered in, looking like the steroid-pumped “biker dude” you’d never want your teenage daughter to date. And he needed foster care? With us?
That was my first impression when I first met this muscle-bound male pug that Jill, a fellow volunteer from Pug Rescue of North Carolina, dropped off for us to foster. Looking at this goliath, Bill and I agreed that the only things he needed to complete the image of a motorcycle gang member were a leather jacket and a biker’s hat. So we christened the rascally-looking pug “Harley Davidson Harrington.” But we didn’t just foster him; we adopted him.
This big hulk of a pug, who weighed over 22 pounds when we first encountered him, came to us a year or so after we adopted Sarah. At the time, he was about five years old, or three years older than Sarah. His color was fawn, a bit darker than Sarah’s, with a pug’s requisite black face and black ears.
His biker-dude persona was enhanced by the fact that he was missing a bite-size portion of his right ear, quite literally: Another dog had bitten it off in a fight. Also, one eyeball came to a point in the front and bore a tooth mark directly over the pupil, from that same dog fight. (I have told you that pugs have bulging eyes, right?) Harley had earned these badges of courage – or, perhaps, insignia of injudicious behavior? – before he joined our family.
He looked like quite a bruiser of a pug, one who wouldn’t mind provoking a fight with a dog of any size. Having been neutered only recently, he still practically reeked of testosterone, and he had a muscular chest that any girl pug would drool over. His black facial mask sported a sprinkling of light-colored whiskers on his cheeks and chin, giving him that slightly roguish, unshaven look that has since come into fashion for human men.
Harley had been quite the macho man in his previous home. There, he’d been a stud dog – one who earns his keep by mating with female dogs for the purpose of procreation. Apparently he did his job with great gusto but without any graciousness or gallantry – rather more like a charging warrior shrieking “Banzai!” as he mounted his quarry. Surprisingly, although he outweighed Sarah by seven pounds, our handsome Harley immediately granted his “sister” the status of alpha or “number one” dog, and he still follows her lead in most canine activities.
Despite his rather rakish appearance and questionable past, Harley has turned out to be nothing like the tough motorcycle gang member that Bill and I envisioned when he first came to live with us. In fact, he is the sweetest, gentlest dog either of us has ever encountered. Once his testosterone level subsided, even his roguish appearance changed. The muscles in his chest became less prominent and, as he has aged, his black pug mask has sprouted many gray hairs. Looking at him now, I see a kind, slightly befuddled little old man, not the devilish delinquent that we thought was moving in with us nearly nine years ago.
Our “Motorcycle Dude” turned out to be the sweetest dog we’ve ever had.