Today is my pug Peanut’s 10th bday. I haven’t had her for 10 years, I got her I believe October 20th, 2004, but her birthday is 5/25/2004. Which also means she was born on the 27th anniversary of the day Star Wars was released. This was totally random and I didn’t even realize it for the first year or so I had her.
I bought Peanut from a pet store (I know you’re not supposed to do that) in Jersey City, NJ. She was 5 months old. She was bigger than most of the other little puppies. Lying out on her side in the big cage usually used to house the Huskies or big breed dogs. My girlfriend at the time – Tara – and I loved pugs. We had gone to see I believe Kill Bill 1 or 2 and walked by the pet store on the way out. She saw this pug lying on its side not moving and said “I think that one is dead.” I saw the 50% off sale sign on the glass. $1200.
Tara asked the clerk if we could play with her. All of a sudden this little animal was going nuts in the little play area where people could interact with the dogs. She was eating our shoe laces, bouncing off the walls, and in general the most excited happy thing you could imagine.
At the time I was working 2 or 3 jobs. I worked during the daytime for a syndicated show called BusinessWeek: Money Talks. Our offices were in midtown Manhattan on the 59th floor of the McGraw Hill building. I would wake up at 6:30am and take the train into the city and either walk or subway up to work. Arriving around 8am and working till 6 or 6:30pm Monday through Friday. I think I made about $125 a day. Then I would subway down to Chelsea Market on 9th ave and 15th street and edit highlights for one or two MLB games each night. A game typically took me between 4 and 5 hours to edit. I was paid $17 an hour to do those. With whatever free time I had left I would do free intern type work with a producer/director to help her get her script made into a movie. At 23 years old with very few financial obligations outside of rent and bills, I felt rich but emotionally unfulfilled.
So when Tara and my other roommate started saying we should buy this little puppy I insisted there was no way. But after almost two hours playing with her, and making them promise they would chip in financially and with their time to help me take care of her. I talked the clerk down to $1000 and got her. I impulse bought a dog. I had never owned a pet before in my life and had no idea what I was doing.
For the first 48 hours we had her we couldn’t come up with a name. We liked Peanut, but decided on calling her Boo — after the little girl in the movie Monsters Inc. But the more I thought about it, the less I liked calling my dog a nickname that people give to their girlfriends. So Peanut it was.
We lived on the 3rd floor of a brownstone on the main street in Hoboken, NJ. Peanut loved going to the park and going on walks. Everytime we took her out even for a trip around the block 4, 5, 6 people would stop to pet her and play with her and talk about how cute she was, or funny, or ridiculous. At the park she would go crazy, playing with the biggest dogs she could find. She would play rough and tumble, many of the small dog owners didn’t like her playing with their dogs, so she quickly learned that Rottweiler, Husky, and Labs were more her speed. She would chase them until she hyperventilated or I stopped her because I thought her little body couldn’t take it. Her favorite way of playing was to jump on the benches at the park and wait for the big dog to get close and go flying over the back of the bench and landing on the big dog taking it to the ground so they could wrestle. People at the park all knew her, people on the street often would come up and ask if this was the pug Peanut. My identity became Peanut’s owner and my social circle consisted of people who I met at the dog park. None of us really knew each other’s names, we only knew one another as the owner of Hudson, Apple, Bailey, etc.
Peanut from the time we got her was never alone. I worked days and nights. Tara went to school during the day and was home all night and our other roommate worked with me at MLB at night but was home all day. Peanut got used to attention all the time. She was and is the ultimate lap dog. Happy to conform to the most uncomfortable positions as long as she can maintain human contact.
My roommate and I would sit around on Sundays and watch DirecTV Sunday Ticket in my bedroom. I’d lie on the bed and Peanut would sit on his lap in my desk chair. But not on all fours like a normal dog. She liked sitting up right, like a human, with her legs out and her back pressed against his chest. She would sit up and watch football with us for hours.
When she was young and misbehaved and we caught her, she would run into her crate and close the door and sit there staring at us. As if she was saying “Look, I know I did it, you caught me, just don’t yell at me, see I’m already punishing myself.” When she wasn’t sitting on one of our laps or instigating us to play, she would sit on the arm of the couch and stare out the window all day watching cars, people and dogs walk past.
When we signed the lease it stated clearly no dogs were allowed in the apartment, but our landlord was fairly absentee – he was the mayor at the time – so we figured we could get away with it. She never barked and would only whine when someone was home and she was separated from them.
When we got her, we insisted she wouldn’t sleep in the bed with us. But soon she was big
enough to figure out how to get on the bed, and then it was all over. She would nuzzle in between Tara and I and either sleep on her back or side with her head on the pillow and her body under the covers. In the winter that year the old windows and insulation wasn’t quite what it could’ve been and cold air poured through the window right next to my bed. Tara and I would argue about who got to sleep closer to Peanut and who had to sleep closer to the window. She was like a little hot potato under the covers that kept us warm. When she used to get in trouble around bedtime we would crate her and not let her sleep with us. But that never worked because we both realized that we wanted her in the bed as much or more than she wanted to be there. Even today I sleep on my side holding a pillow and she still comes up and sleeps in the crook of my arm on the pillow with her body under the covers and her face poking out.
Around the time Peanut was 3 we moved to Los Angeles. A really nice neighborhood around UCLA. We still didn’t have a back yard and when we would take Peanut out on walks it wasn’t the same. She would wait at the corner for people to come, to stop and dote on her, but this wasn’t bustling New York or Hoboken. There weren’t that many people, and the ones that did come by didn’t stop or give a 2nd thought. She obviously didn’t understand and it was upsetting that my crazy little dog wasn’t getting the attention she was used to. Also there weren’t any good dog parks close by and the ones we did go to didn’t have the same sense of community the ones in Hoboken did. In Hoboken we had 2 dog runs within a 4 minute walk from our house. In LA it was a 10 minute drive to get to the closest one.
Since moving to LA I’ve gained and lost roommates. Tara and I broke up almost immediately. Through it all though Peanut has remained a popular little pug. My new roommate Josh was going through a divorce a few years back and sleeping on my floor at the time. Peanut every night would go to sleep with me, but every morning wake up when the sun was coming up and jump down and sleep with him until work. Every morning she did it. She was there to keep him company when he needed it the most and there’s a million other stories of her doing things like that. She came to my movie premiere dressed as Princess Leia and was the star of the red carpet. We used to take her to doggy daycare to play while I was at work and she consistently would make the workers there laugh and tell me stories when I went to pick her up.
One girl said that she would sneak into the linen closet and build a nest to nap in. They found her there 2 times one day. Then when they would go to fix the closet she would swipe the scrunchies out of their hair and play chase with them. I guess that could sound really annoying, but the people at the play place thought it was fun and hilarious. In the entire time I’ve had her she’s never showed any aggression towards a human. You can poke her, play with her paws, dig in her mouth, or pull on her tail and she just enjoys the human contact.
I love her more than anything in the world. In my life, with the job I do, I’ve had no consistency since I left college. I’ve switched and changed jobs (over 15 times), apartments (5 times), cities (2 times), girlfriends (5 or 6 times), lost and gained multiple friends and groups of friends, but the one thing that’s always waiting for me despite all of that is my little pug.
No matter the mood, the circumstance, or how long I’ve been gone – short or long times – she is excited to see me. She is the consistancy in my life that I’ve been able to count on, that brings me back no matter what. From the time I brought her home to this morning when we woke up, she is the one thing in my life that has not changed. We’ve both grown up and grown older. We don’t play as often or as wild as we used to. With eachother or on our own out in the world – her at the dog park, me with friends – but we’ve done it at a similar speed. I think she is happiest sitting on my lap, hanging out in bed sleeping next to me, or harassing me for food, and to be honest, outside of making movies, that’s when I’m the happiest too. She adds stability and responsibility to my life where it has none. I spoil my dog, I don’t treat her like a dog, because she isn’t a pet. I haven’t seen members of my family consistently since I moved away from home at 18 years old, but for the last 10 years this little animal has been there, waiting for me, loving me, hanging out with me. When I hate everything or feel like the world hates me. She is the only thing in my history of the past 10 years that if you plotted events on a cartesian plane, that you could draw a line through. I’ve been all over the place and this little pug has been there with me.
My puppy was born on May 25th which has always been an important date to me. The date Star Wars was released. Even before I was born this day was important. Star Wars would be my hobby and how I found friends in elementary school. It would be what I watched when I was sick to feel better. It would help me find my moral compass in high school, and ultimately be the roots of where I found my passion for filmmaking. This day was always important to me, but never more so than when I got Peanut. I would have to say without a doubt the things that have helped me get to where I am today are my parents, Star Wars and my Pug. Without question, without a doubt in my mind, I would not be where I am today without her.
I guess other people find stability in their jobs, their families, their career, routine, familiarity with the place they grew up and live. I don’t have any of that. By choice I like the uncertainty, the adventure, new experiences, the need to constantly be pushing forward. I can be that way because I have my Peanut. I think all humans need something they can count on so they don’t go crazy. Even the most nomadic person needs something stable to take comfort in when everything goes to hell. I’m not sure how others do it, and I’m not sure how I would have done it without her. So on her 10th birthday, which doesn’t mean anything to her, or really anyone else, I wrote this as a testament and realization of how very important and how big a role one little animal can play in a person’s life.