Thanks to all of those who inquired about Akemi’s family back in Osaka.  All are fine following yesterday’s earthquake – although her father was in an elevator at the time it struck and initially assumed he was suffering a stroke.

Meanwhile, some 300 miles northeast of Osaka, our old friend Martin Gero is enjoying some time in Tokyo.  The other night, he texted me the following photo with the message “Wish you were here”:

June 18, 2018: Missing Japan And The Suji Factor!

Actually – as my father would say – “more guts than brains”, but I’ll take it…on a bowl of rice!

Akemi and I used to make an annual trip to Japan every fall, shelling out $300/day for a dog-sitter to live in the house, drink our booze, and take care of the pooches while we were away. Later, when our dog-sitter got a full-time gig, I took to flying my sister to Vancouver to take care of the pack.  And when we made the move to Toronto, I figured it would be that much easier given the mere 1 hour flight time between here and Montreal.

But after adopting our new (old) senior pug, Suji, it became apparent that it would not be as simple as we first assumed.  Taking care of a senior pug – THIS senior pug – can be challenging.  For a number of reasons…


When Suji first came to us, she was described as “sassy” and “spunky”.  To that, I would add “cantankerous”.  She positively freaks out in the presence of: short stocky bald men, big dogs, friendly small dogs, loud noises, sun reflections, people who pet her while she is out for her walk, people who try to kiss her face.  And, I suppose it’s understandable given the fact she was literally raised in a barn for a portion of her life.  Still, it makes going out in public a somewhat unpredictable experience as you never know how she is going to react.


Akemi is always up at 7:00 a.m.  And with her, the dogs.  After I wake up about an hour later, I will always find Suji sitting at the bottom of the stairs, anxiously awaiting me.  It’s the same thing when we come back home from shopping, seeing a movie, or just going down to the lobby to check the mail.  Suji is positively overjoyed and, should one of us return without the other, she’ll charge out and down the hallway, all the way to the elevators in search of her missing mom or dad.  Late last year, Akemi and I took a day trip to Montreal and left the dogs in the care of a local sitter.  While our frenchie Lulu trotted off to explore her new digs without so much as a backwards glance, Suji sensed something was up and wouldn’t leave Akemi’s side, attempting to quickly follow as we headed out the door.  During her stay with the sitter, she was very quiet – which, if you know Suji, is very unlike her.


June 18, 2018: Missing Japan And The Suji Factor!

One of the reasons the Pacific Pug Rescue figured Suji might prove difficult to place was because of her inability to urinate freely.  She needs to have her bladder expressed – which, really, sounds a lot more complex than it actually is.  The procedure usually involves someone (aka Akemi) hunkering down behind her and gently applying pressure to her bladder (just below her stomach) until she empties out.  On the occasions when I do it, my “system” involves holding her propped up against my hip with one hand while my other squeezes her lower abdomen until her hind legs shoot up like they’re spring loaded, and she pees.  To any neighbor watching us from a distance, I undoubtedly look like some guy urinating on his terrace morning and night.


June 18, 2018: Missing Japan And The Suji Factor!

Although she’s incapable of urinating on her own, Suji poops just fine – often, when you least expect it.  She tends to do so when she’s trotting around, blissfully unaware.  Other times, at night, she’ll simply sit up – a sign that she needs to go and one that will have me scrambling out of bed with her at 2:00, 3:00, sometimes 4:00 in the a.m.  If you can get her on some sort of schedule, you can control her bowel movements to a certain degree.  This may see me scooping her up out of bed first thing in the morning and holding her over the toilet until she slowly releases.  Thus, have I earned the nickname “The Poop Whisperer”.


June 18, 2018: Missing Japan And The Suji Factor!

Eye meds, home administered cartrophen injections, estrogen therapy, anti-flammatories – just a few of meds Suji takes on a semi-regular basis.  When she first came to us, she was prone to urinary tract infections and our vet informed us she was developing antibiotic-resistant strains.  As a result, we’ve been exceptionally careful, purchasing those economy-size disinfectant baby wipes at Costco and wiping her down after every bathroom break.  I’m happy to report that our commitment to cleanliness paid off and, after that initial first month, Suji has only suffered a single UTI.

Yep.  Adorable, but a handful.

So, what do you think?  Do you have what it takes to be a Suji-sitter?  Apply in the comments section!

16 thoughts on “June 18, 2018: Missing Japan and the Suji Factor!

  1. I’m rather horrified at you being charged 300 a day to pet sit. I’d call that robbery.

    It’s one thing to adopt elderly dogs, much into sainthood to get one with her special needs. If I were able, I’d watch them for free. I wouldn’t even drink your booze.

    Local vets may have vet techs who would love to earn some money on vacation time. Seriously, if you want a pet sitter, I’ll certainly be glad to reach out to people close enough to Montreal that might be interested and wouldn’t have any issues with her needs.

    Have you ever considered putting her on a low dose of Prozac? I have seen remarkable changes in dogs… happier, less stressed out. Our rescued basenji really has benefited … going from anxious, somewhat aggressive and certainly not happy to a nearly “normal” dog.

  2. I could do it if I was on vacation, but yeah Suji is a lot of care! My Mother in law prepares dogs to be assistance animals. She always has a wide range of fostered companions. She usually has a pug around blowing snot rockets. I wish I could have a pug, but Arizona is not the best state for their breathing. I’m a vicarious enjoyer these days. Thanks for the insight into your particular cantankerous princess.

  3. Wow, that’s a lot of work! But we don’t think about it for the ones we love.

    But, no, I think I’ll pass on your offer. I don’t think I have what it takes.

  4. Glad to hear that Akemi’s folks are ok. For some reason earlier in the day, I conflated that news with the stuff about them detecting seismic activity in Mexico from celebrating their goal in that World Cup game.

    The urination thing sounds a bit less intimidating than the poop issue actually – it’s more under control. I guess my big concern is how does she feel about other people doing that? Likewise with the injections.

    Also, getting old sucks.

  5. If I were a dog person, perhaps. I love dogs, I do not overwhelmingly love looking after them. Nothing about all that sounds too terribly difficult though, just requires patience and attention. I do have a passport and am retired …

    I have to medically board my diabetic cat Harry now. Two shots a day, and he ghosts whenever a stranger or even MyLarry enters the house. Basically, anyone who is not me. $32 a day, which for us is astronomical. I only pay $10 a day for someone to swing by and give Punkin her pill in a pill pocket, feed her, do a little light petting, and scoop the box. She’s elderly and sleeps a lot. Easy peasy/

    I gave up on live in house sitters. One had a party and broke my chaise lounge; emptied seven bottles of booze, raided my pantry and freezer, wore our clothes out to a bar (seriously, they took a fancy pirate coat I was working on for MyLarry and Wore It To A Freaking Bar and SMOKED in it). I found my vintage glassware under the couch. Nope. Another didn’t lift a finger until the day she thought we were coming back, so we surprised her. Damn, I had to do a lot of housework after that misadventure.

    Right now I am fostering two lovely kitties for a family who lost their home, until they get a steady place. Darling, loving, playful cats. I feel awful that they have to stay in “the cat room” full time. It’s the basement spare bedroom, so they are safe, and are not in a shelter. I’m beginning to wonder a little though. I may have two new cats …

  6. Suji would settle in at my place for a vacation of her own I’m sure. I have an 18 year old jack Russell who has incontinence issues quite regularly. My old girl always looks surprised when she goes inside(by accident).
    You are both doing a great job looking after her.

  7. I was good up until the injections, I don’t think I can could inject myself let alone a sweet wee pup. I had trouble doing finger pricks on my diabetic dad. Poor Suji, it must be hard to wonder when the people she loves will come home, those abandonment issues are rough. No brains for me, I made amazing avocado sides for dinner this week, peach/avocado and apple/avocado, with a little rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, excellent black pepper and Bolthouse honey mustard dressing. Went really went with my beef strips with ginger, basil, sun dried tomatoes and squash. Good black pepper is everything, I had to spring for the good stuff after dealing with the dusty looking cheap stuff.

  8. Sweet little Suji! Thanks for the laughs. I’m in our first stop, Key West and feeling so guilty about leaving Lucy. She’s low maintenance though. The house sitter said Lucy’s ok but still. No way Suji’s letting y’all go anywhere! No one could be the “poop whisperer” but you! 😀

  9. I’m all for animal love, but this is too much.
    I would totally sit of course, but I would never get a pug. Ever.
    Always thought dogs have to be a certain size to be called dog. In fact I was introduced to small dogs in Vancouver and I was honestly puzzled by the fact that everyone thought them to be cute. To me animals were not supposed to be cute, but useful. When I was a kid in Germany, German sheppards were kept for safety. Obviously they were large and the most common breed. Over the years I kinda gotten used to the idea of smaller dogs and them being kept as house pets. My first encounter with a smaller dog was actually Brad Turners mineature Schnauzer. I think they called him “Duky” (aka Duke?!). Guess I warmed up to the idea of smaller dogs back then. Ohhhh and I forgot the Dachshund of my aunt and uncle. That walking sausage was a beast. Very badly trained and thus she had quite the attitude.
    Guess that’s why I like bigger dogs. No ankle biting!
    Still love all your fotos and videos. It’s really nice to see when people are happy dog owners and to see you take care of them is heart warming.
    So I hope you have each other for a long and happy time.
    Best wishes,

  10. That’s great that Akemi’s family in Osaka is safe. Her poor papa, though! That must have been scary.

    No sitting of your dogs for me, as much as I adore them from afar. I couldn’t do any of that and hope that I don’t have to do any of that for my cats. Although, Riley did have a situation the other day that involved me grabbing a wad of paper towels and…assisting him. Hmm Maybe I could do some of what’s required. Wouldn’t be happy about it, though, so good luck! 😀

  11. I could do all that for Suji. It would not bother me. I monitor my beagle’s poo and pee everyday. Just an over-attentive mother. I have bent over and collected pee in my hand so I could check the color (when it would have been hard to see in the grass). I have helped her by pulling out poo that was hanging on by a hair or long piece of grass she digested. You just do what needs to be done. And wash your hands later….. 🙂

    You are certainly offering more than enough pay in my opinion. Just find that right person and you’ll be all set.

  12. Hi Joseph. Maybe you recognise me from commenting ages ago. I would absolutely be thrilled to do all of these things for Suji. My sweet, elderly Pug, Sophie, was essentially the same. I had to feed her by spoon, hold her up to potty, and administer meds on a constant basis.

    Despite that, I’d give everything to have her back. It is weird how much she even looked like Suji.

    The fact is that I pet sit as a full-time career. I’ve been hoping that someone with a pug (or 12) would pop up some day. Suji and Lulu are absolutely adorable. If you have a chance, have a look at my career site, as well as my photos. I’ve posted thousands of photos of the dogs in my life.

    I genuinely think animals are better than people, and especially after the last two political seasons.

    I’m absolutely serious about taking care of them if you are. 🙂

  13. Hey!

    For some odd reason, I’m not able to get the reply button to click. Perhaps it’s because I’m using my phone.

    At the moment, I’m visiting my mother in Louisiana. I do my job all over the US and Canada, having been in Alberta only a few months back.

    My University studies are doable anywhere I go, as long as I have Wi-Fi.

    I had an awakening at 40-ish, realising I was absolutely miserable working in a regular job. I decided that if I was going to be just getting by, better to do it in a happy and fulfilling way! My two pugs departed me, leaving me devastated. I still mourn occasionally, but they also gave me so much. When Soph passed on June 27, 2015, she gifted me freedom to go wherever I wanted.

    Animals were my salvation. And I get to travel to see them, which is heavenly.

    Anyway, sorry for my rambling!!

    Michael Duvic

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