Myrtle Turtle is a pug that will forever be remembered.
Myrtle was a pug that I have been following on Instagram for quite a while now and I am so glad that I had the chance. Below is her story for those who never got to see her as I did. Her pictures and videos have forever touched me, and being able to share her story with you, I am beyond grateful!
The story of Myrtle Turtle as spoken in the words of her father Zane:
Myrtle Turtle came into our lives a little over two years ago. Her family (actually, her second family, her first family gave her to the second family) had surrendered her to the Gordon County Animal Shelter. Yup, My Sweet Myrtle Turtle had been surrendered to a high kill shelter at the age of 12 (at least). Our friends at Animal Rescue League of Northwest Georgia called us to see if we were interested in fostering another pug for them (we’d just fostered Biscuit and helped find him a wonderful loving home). They let me know upfront it might be a long term foster situation.
Upon arrival at the shelter I walked into the cat room (thank goodness they had here in one of the small cat cages instead of outside with all of the dogs), opened up the cage, and out bounced the frazzled, circle spinning, humped back pug looking thing. I bent down to get a good look at her, our eyes met, and that was it. She was coming home with us! I couldn’t bear the thought of an old pug that had lived with a family for years spending the last part of her life in a kill shelter. So into the car with us she went and became an instant part of our lives!
We immediately took Myrtle to ARL’s vet. She had a mouth full of rotten teeth, a heart murmur, fused vertebra in her back, and had never been spayed. ARL took care of the dental expense and a day or two later we had a much less stinky mouthed pug. We talked back and forth with ARL about preforming a spay, and before we all reached a decision Kim and I couldn’t stand the thoughts of parting with her, so we adopted her outright. Her name (it was still officially Sissy, which we did not think was befitting name to such a gorgeous old lady baby) was changed, we filled out the paper work, and she was officially ours. And she always will be.
Soon after we made it all official we took Myrtle to our personal vet for the spay. We also had noticed a lump on her belly and we wanted to have it evaluated too. Turns out the lump was some type of mammary tumor. After discussing it with our vet we decided to remove it, and spay her at the same time. While she pulled through the procedure, there were some very tense moments keeping her breathing. The surgery was successful, but we decided that we would never put her through another surgery again. At her age, it was just too risky.
At some point I was able to call Myrtle’s previous family and ask them some general questions about her health, things she liked, etc. I was told that she had only been fed Puppy Chow her entire life. She also would not eat anything else, nor would she eat out of a bowl (only off of the floor). I tried to make sure her previous family knew she was safe and would be taken care of for the rest of her life. There response was less than sincere. Oh. Ok. That’s all I got out of them… Turns out nothing they conveyed about her was correct. Once we had the tumor removed and the heart murmur under control Myrtle fell in LOVE with food. She THRIVED. She gained weight. She would eat ANYTHING she could get in her mouth.
We had been told that she would only sleep on the sofa. So the first night with her we tried that. She pitched a fit. Barked and barked and barked. I took her out for a walk. Tried to sit with her on the sofa. She was not having it. I brought her up to our bed. She pranced right up the pillow between Kim and I, turned 3 circles, flopped down, and started Pillow Licking. She slept in between us on that pillow for the rest of her life! Many, many nights of pillow licking followed.
Honestly, for the first few months Myrtle lived with us I fully expected her to die every day. I usually didn’t post things on Instagram about her health, just pictures of her. But she had some weird behavior initially. I don’t know if they were behavioral issues, or something related to range of motion and mobility problems. When she first arrived she would sometimes walk over to a wall and kinda bump her head into it from the side while making a motion like she was trying to scratch her face. When she wanted up on the sofa (before she realized all she had to do was look at me) she would bang her head into the wall or the table. Those behaviors went away as her health got better, but it was very troubling at the time. She would also sleep SO DEEPLY that I often thought she was dead. Especially when we’d come in from being gone for a bit. I’d see her still, unmoving as soon as I entered the door. I’d have to check to see if she was breathing. Yup. just a sound sleeper.
The only bad behavior Myrtle had was that she was an uncontrollable pisser. She’d never been house trained. We tried, but she really didn’t care about it. She’d always go when I took her out. Then as soon as we came in she’d go again. Then again. And again. We resorted to trying to use piddle pads. She liked those, but her aim wasn’t great! We ended up with some very ruined hardwood floors. But I’d take a house full of bad floors for Myrtle.
Once we had Myrtle’s health under control, she was a new dog. We went on walks. Some vacations. She went to PugFest! She even got to go to Myrtle Beach once. But being at home with Myrtle was the best. Just being with her. Watching her root around the sofa, watching her chase the kitten, listening to her snore. Those things were awesome.
I’ve talked with other people who have senior pugs. We all do the same things. One very common thing to do was wake up during the night if we noticed they weren’t snoring. I’d do it all the time. If Myrtle was snoring in my ear I’d reach over and touch her to make sure she was ok. Usually she’d just sigh deeply, then start snoring again.
I’ll never forget the first time Myrtle PLAYED with me. Belle had been playing with a toy and had left it on the sofa. I picked it up and squeaked it and waved it at Myrtle. She leap off her perch on the sofa and attacked it, tail wagging! I was thrilled. We played for about 30 seconds hard before Belle returned and took over. Myrtle jumped back onto her perch and went right back to sleep. But she PLAYED. She had fun with me! A dog that I thought would never play again had just decided to attack me and the toy! I almost exploded with happiness!!!!!
When we took Myrtle to Myrtle Beach, both she and Belle were great. Belle is a seasoned traveler, but we assumed Myrtle had never been in a long car ride. She loved it. Lots of alone time with Kim and I. Lots of walks at the cond. She and Belle got SO EXCITED at the drive through at Krispy Kreme. I shot one of my favorite photos of the two of them while waiting on donuts. It was just perfect. I’ll never forget how excited they were!
Myrtle also got to see the beach and the ocean. While she wasn’t sure about all the water, she loved the sand. Kim carried her out into the water a bit and then brought her back so she could do the same with Belle. I looked down at Myrtle and asked how she like the beach. This is the reply I got. Again, I almost fell over with joy and love and happiness.
At some point Myrtle became very interested in eating whatever I was eating. She would stand near me and bark non stop until I gave her a bite. Kim was not amused with this new behavior. I was a sucker for it. She was so cute when she barked howled wanting some food.
Myrtle had this grunt cry thing she’d do when she saw something she wanted. It was adorable. Think a whine/cry/grunt that transitioned into a bark. I’m sure pug people know the sound well. I’ve missed that so much the past few days.
Myrtle once had her name read out on the radio. We donated some (more) money to the local NPR station and they read her name over the air. In fact, the DJ’s liked her name so much they repeated her name quite a few times over the next hour. They used her full name. Old Lady Baby Myrtle Turtle! They said it over and over…
A lot of what we did with Myrtle was just be near her. Love her. All she really wanted was to be near us. If I had to be away at work for hours, Kim would either have to give her a valium, or FaceTime me on my phone so Myrtle could hear my voice. It was very heartwarming to know she missed me that much (I think it drove Kim nearly crazy). On days when I was home all day, Myrtle was by my side all day. She sat right behind me if I was working on the computer. She sat on her little sofa perch if we were in the the living room watching TV. She even insisted on coming to the restroom with me. She was a true velcro pug!
We held a pretty special birthday party for Myrtle earlier this year. I had been at work all day and didn’t return until late in the evening and Kim had started baking her a birthday cake. We took lots of photos, shared cake (pug safe cake), shared presents (treats) and shot a little video. As Kim was baking I held Myrtle in my arms and sang happy birthday to her. I sang very gently (I have no signing voice) and I have no idea if Kim even heard me, but it was an incredibly special moment for me and Myrtle. Somehow we’d missed her first birthday with us (I blame a crazy work schedule) so I was desperate to get to have at least on birthday party for her. As I finished singing to her, she looked up at me and did a Myrtle smile. It was perfect.
A couple of weeks later we went on a little 3 day trip to a cabin at Unicoi State Park here in Georgia. We took the pugs up to Ana Ruby Falls, then chilled in a cabin for a couple of nights. Both girls were cold and stayed cuddled up either by the heater, or in my lap. Having both girls in my lap at the same time was one of the happiest moments in my life! On the ride home I told Kim I hoped I didn’t go off the deep end and have a mental breakdown when we lost Myrtle. I confessed to worrying about it all the time.
Saving Myrtle has been one of the most important, most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. Much more important and rewarding than any business venture I’ve ever been associated with. More important to me than graduating college. Finding a place in our home for an old, sick dog that had been thrown away twice, and then earning the love and affection of her has made me a better person. She taught me that youth is not beauty. That there is love to be shared everywhere.
On the morning of November 23rd, 2014 we had to make the horribly agonizing decision to say goodbye to Myrtle. Months before she had begun having difficulties with a collapsing trachea. We had great success with medicating it until a few days before. Then it worsened. The cough was nonstop. We tried more medications. We tried adding a sedative. We couldn’t help her. It was a hard decision to make, but we reached it quickly. She still had an appetite, she still was loving and interacting with us. But she was coughing and couldn’t catch her breath. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t rest. She was pacing and restless and coughing nonstop. Maybe I could have increased the dosages to where she was just a comatose dog lying on the sofa. That would have been selfish on my part. While I could still have touched her, and felt her, that is no life for her to lead. Plus, her breast tumors had returned as well. So we made the decision to humanely euthanize her.
We’d been up with her that morning since about 3AM. We held her and loved her for hours and hours. We fed her treats. We cried. We screamed. We LOVED her. Kim took mercy on me and took her in for the procedure without me. I was a wreck, and we both were concerned that me being upset (I typically am never upset and emotional) would cause Myrtle to become agitated and fearful. Kim held her in her arms and kissed her and was with her as she passed.
During my last few minutes with Myrtle I held her tight. I told her how much I loved her. Then as the time came I kissed her and put her into Kim’s arms. As Kim opened the door to leave I reached in and rubbed her ears one last time and said I love you again. She turned her face and looked at me. That moment has haunted me. I so wish I had reached down and kissed her again. Just one last kiss instead of that stupid ear rub. But even if I had, I’d still have wanted more. No last goodbye is ever enough.
After Kim had come home from the vet, we cried for a long time. Then I fell asleep for a bit. The next day was horrible. I kept having waves of grief roll over me. I kept having the urge to pick her up and hold her like I did every day, but she wasn’t there. I would become frantic. I wanted to scream and throw things and knock down walls. I didn’t handle it well.
Then Myrtle’s ashes came home to us. She’s on the nightstand just beside where I sleep. I see no reason for her not to rest beside me just like she’s done every day since we met. Since she’s back home, I’ve been much better. I still get a little upset from time to time (like while trying to type this blog post), but I feel like I’ve accepted it, and I’m OK with it now. While I can’t hold her touch her anymore, I still love her. That will never change.
The support we’ve received from friends and family has been very appreciated. Kim and I don’t have children, so the bond we have with our furry family members is very strong. Not to compare the two, but I know I project a parent child relationship onto our pets. The support that we’ve received from the Instagram community has been amazing. Most of my followers on IG only know me there. We’ve never met. The only thing most of us have in common is our love of animals (and love of looking at photos of animals). I knew each photo of Myrtle would get a decent amount of likes and comments, but I truly had no idea how many people enjoyed seeing her, how many looked forward to her pillow licking videos, how many people loved her. The kindness of strangers has been overwhelming, and I thank you all. Be sure to hug your pugs and give them a kiss from us.
I read a great quote on HONY the other day. It was about a woman who was losing her husband to cancer. She asked him what was she supposed to do without him. His answer was perfect. Take the love you have for me and spread that love around. That’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to grieve for Myrtle for a while, then we’ll take the love we have for her and share it with another pug. Not replacing her, and not loving her less, but sharing what we had with her with another Lucky Pug.
There has been one unexpected surprise since Myrtle’s passing. Belle. Until Myrtle arrived, Belle was my velcro pug. All day, every day, she was with me. In my lap, kissing me all the time, everywhere and everything I did, she was with me. When Myrtle arrived, Belle didn’t necessarily back away from me, but she had another dog to interact with. She displayed the normal pug jealously. She and Myrtle would sometimes walk in circles over me trying to get the best position. In the end Myrtle would end up on her perch, and Belle would end up on Kim’s legs, or on a big pillow on the end of the sofa. Immediately after Myrtle was gone, Belle returned to me. All the time. I’ve received THOUSANDS of pug kisses. She has started sleeping curled up next to me again (she had been sleeping either on Kim, or on a pillow at the foot of the bed). I had forgotten how close she and I were. Now we are again!
If Myrtle’s story has touched you, please consider donating to an animal rescue. Animal Rescue League of NorthWest GA is the rescue that helped us get Myrtle. We’d love for you to make a donation to them. Or any pug rescue. Or any animal rescue. Or anything you care to donate to.
Looking back over our time with Myrtle, I only have one regret. I wish I’d have met her about 12 years earlier…
Myrtle Turtle, we miss you, and we love you so much. You were the best little Old Lady Baby ever!
The story of Myrtle Turtle is one of great strength and unconditional everlasting love. Her parents Zane and Kim are amazing and showed this lovely senior a great life that she absolutely deserved from beginning to end. I may have never met Myrtle, but even so I loved her as if she was a part of my own family.
Myrtle Turtle: You will forever be in my heart and part of my soul. Watching your cute licking videos and sweet face every day on Instagram was a pleasure of mine that will always be remembered. You were a young soul at heart and beautiful in every way. I will miss you sweet one. The angels are watching over you now and I know that when it comes time for my beloved to pass she will have an amazing friend to play with. We will see you again.. Love you Miss Myrtle Turtle <3
I want to thank Kim and Zane for allowing me to share Myrtle Turtle’s story with all of you. It is of my greatest of pleasures to be able to spread the word of Myrtle Turtle!!
To read the full original post as well as see even more photo’s and videos of Myrtle, be sure to check them out HERE
Be sure to catch up on the latest from Myrtle’s family on Instagram