Saturday, September 28, 2013

Payton's PDE Story

Originally published June 7, 2012:

I have compiled a listing of all the posts dedicated to Payton’s fight against PDE. 

What is PDE?

This post was created from her blog page, My PDE Story.  I thought it would be best to make it a blog post that would show up as the most current to make it easy on everyone searching to find out more about PDE and discovering Pugnacious P for the first time.  Please take the time to browse the great PDE resources on the left sidebar of the blog and some new ones in the article we were honored to provide for the Milwaukee Pugfest organization (  

To those of you that are new to this blog and Payton’s story, I would encourage you to read through not only the links above but the entire blog to really get a feel for the wonderful life that Payton led despite having PDE.  She truly was a miracle, living with PDE for 5 ½ years to the age of 9.  My husband and I are so blessed to have had the privilege of caring for the most special pug.

Appropriately, for the first stop on my “Remembering Payton Tour”, I traveled to Texas to meet Dr. Kim Greer. 

It was so wonderful. She talked with me for an hour and a half. It's hard to express how much I still miss Payton, but my visit with Dr. Greer helped to give me some needed peace and closure. We shared our pug stories, and it became so clear how dedicated she is to this breed.  I am so happy that Payton is a part of her studies.  Dr. Greer told me that they will have to update the age range because of Payton, increasing it from 7 to 9, even though she was diagnosed at age 3 ½.  Personally, I think it's unlikely that pugs as old as 9 would come down with it, but with this disease, who knows.

We talked a little bit about the test Dr. Greer helped develop with UC Davis (  She warned me that there have been a few cases where a pug did get PDE even though the results showed the lowest risk (no copies of the identified markers). That’s why it’s important to realize the test is not a diagnostic tool.  The researchers have yet to identify all of the markers so the test can’t be 100% accurate yet.  And actually it's these "exception to the rule" pugs that would benefit the research the most so Dr. Greer can figure out the missing markers.  

The test is based on 3 markers that Dr. Greer found, and they have been independently confirmed. Another group thinks they found 2 more so she will be verifying them in the fall.  After doing so, Payton’s samples will be analyzed against [hopefully] more complete findings.  All of the markers seem to be related to the immune system. Dr. Greer thinks that PDE is triggered based on certain immune system responses. She was very interested to hear that 3 or 4 weeks prior to Payton being diagnosed with PDE she had her routine shots and had a bad reaction (which hadn't happen to her before that time).

So please, please make arrangements to donate your pug and/or encourage others to do so if PDE is suspected.  After passing, have their body refrigerated, NOT frozen, and contact Dr. Greer or another researcher for further instructions.  Dr. Greer’s contact info is linked from the left sidebar of the blog.  If you are interested in supporting pugs in ways other than rescue, monetary donations are always welcomed for PDE research too.  We have to do everything we can to help get to the bottom of this horrible disease!

As always, feel free to send us an email ( with any questions.

Christy (and angel Payton in spirit)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! One year later...

It was a year ago today that we had to say goodbye (for now) to my little girl, my sweet Payton.  A year ago today my heart broke, never to heal fully.

A friend told me that the first year is always the hardest.  I understand why.  For me, it has been the back and forth of emotions, smiling and crying at once.  Part of me wants to fast forward to a time when the sadness isn't so intense and the other part of me wants to go back and relive all the time I shared with her.  This makes it so hard to live in the present.  

Over the last few months, I've felt like I've been losing her all over again. I've been desperate to watch videos and look at photographs to remember her and what it was like to have her here with me.  But right now I still get sad reminiscing because it reminds me of how much I lost.  I know she would not want me to mourn her forever, so I try to be strong and happy.  But I also try to allow myself moments of weakness and sadness.

It still amazes me how much I truly love Payton.  She was my child.  I don't like to compare myself to parents who have lost children but that's what I feel like.  A friend recently wrote that "if love could have saved Payton, she would have lived forever".  This is true not only because of our love for her, but she gave so much in return.  On Payton's blog last year, I described how in her last moments she used all the strength left in her little body to smile and wag her tail at us when the oxygen chamber was opened.  

She was so very sick and yet all she cared about was us.  I get so tense and emotional just thinking about it, and I will never understand why such a perfect soul had to endure so much and leave this earth so soon.  Payton's illness and struggles were a constant reminder that the end would come at some point, and yet I was still not ready. I don't think anyone ever is. I know she is free from the sickness and pain and her body is restored but I am selfish and want her here with me.
I long for the day when we can be together again, when I can hold her and kiss her.  But until that day, I will continue on as best I can to live in a way that makes her proud.  I'm still shocked at how many emails I get, about 2-3 a month, from those whose pugs are experiencing seizures or have been diagnosed with PDE. It was always difficult, but with Payton gone, it's even harder. However, I persevere in her honor, proud to carry her story and help others from our experiences. She will always be such an inspiration.  

I have come to realize that I will always carry this profound loss with me, that I will always miss Payton, but as time goes by, it does become easier to live with the pain.  I am still a work in progress, but I sleep better, smile more often, have a lot less anxiety, and can see a light in the distance.  Donald and Daisy can't replace Payton nor eliminate the pain, but they have brought joy back into our lives. And as long as I try to live as Payton did, keeping my senses open to experience the special moments that life has in store for me, I know I will be happy.  A friend suggested that Payton pops in on her special friends.  This made me laugh thinking about her nosing around (probably trying to steal kibble), so the next time something around the house reminds me of her, I'm going to imagine her visiting me too.

As a symbol of her life, I'm going to make the Pink Flowers for Payton campaign an annual tradition each spring.  In addition to a full vegetable garden and herbs, I will be planting these beauties on Sunday.

I'll leave you with two videos looking back at memories from Payton's remarkable life. 


PS.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, enjoying family and friends.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! Pugnacious Keepsakes!

Late spring of last year, I took the plunge into sorting through Payton's stuff.  It was tough, maybe I started too soon.  I became overwhelmed and had to stop and so I still have much to do.  There are so many great photos, memorable things, and thoughtful keepsakes that deserve a prominent display in our home.  I'd like to share some of these treasures with you.  

But not all of these treasures are tangible objects. There was the Remembering Payton Tour.  In 6 or 7 months, we went to Austin, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Herndon, St. Louis, Vancouver, Seattle, Molalla, San Francisco, New York City, and Toronto.  There are still wonderful pugs and people in other parts of the country that we didn't get to see, but I can't thank each person and each pug we did meet for all the hospitality and kindness.  Traveling, especially often, can be very stressful, but it helped me at a time when I desperately needed to enjoy something.  I will never forget the experiences, the lunches, the special talks in the car, walks in the forest, the personalized welcome and photos, the pink roses, the distance that some traveled to say hi.  So many memories.  All photos from the Tour are on Face Book.

Another intangible item that helped me was joining Face Book and the Pug Sluts group.  I can't tell them enough how much being able to scroll through those posts at anytime saved me.  I needed a distraction from the pain I was feeling and this group delivered.  It helped me to let time pass and not dwell on sadness all day and night.

Through Face Book, it was fate that I met a woman who had lost two pugs to PDE.  I had been thinking about a tattoo and it turns out she is a very talented artist.

It's a simple piece on my right wrist where I can see it all the time.  It has so much meaning for me and even more special to have had it done by someone who has similar scars.

After Payton passed, I was blown away by all of the love sent our way.  Seriously, all of the thoughts, prayers, blog tribute posts, blog comments, texts, emails, cards, donations in Payton's honor, and other gifts were so touching.  Here's a collage of just a few of them.

A friend helped edit and fix a few photos so I could order the pendants/necklaces in the upper right corner.  I've never been one to wear much jewelry but I do put these on quite often.

Of course, we also have Payton's ashes.  They are in a nice wooden box and the lid is a frame for a photo.  I need to put one in there.  I haven't had the courage to look inside yet, but I know that day will come eventually.

Once I have everything properly framed and displayed I promise to send pictures.  I have lots of shadow boxes to fill up with some of Payton's favorite things and wonderful keepsakes.  I tried to thank everyone last year, but if I missed anyone, please accept my apologies.  And thank you each know who you are.  I am lucky that Payton led me to so many great friends.


Monday, March 25, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! Remembering Pugnacious P! (part 4)

Probably one of the most enduring photo and the most popular posts were "Deep Thoughts by Payton", so this month wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention a few of my favorites in the series.

The first link goes back to Payton's love of (and all pugs' obsession with) food in a comparison to Hobbits.  I know it's silly, but Payton was with us when we did a marathon of all 3 Lord of the Rings movies, and I thought (had hoped) that she would be around for a crazy weekend of watching all Hobbit AND LoTR movies.  She was always happy to veg out with us.

The second "Deep Thoughts" post that I adore has a video of Tim and Payton.  She looked forward to him coming home from work every day.  It was so cute to see the way she looked at him.

The last two posts that I wanted to share again aren't "Deep Thoughts", but they do contain important lessons that Payton wanted to share with her pug friends.

Looking back at Pugnacious P over that last few weeks has been nice.  Tears and smiles.  I miss that girl.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! Happy Birthday angel Payton!

My sweet angel, I hope you are having a good morning in heaven today.  I'm sure all of your friends are celebrating and singing and dancing on this special day.  I am too.  We will be having a feast tonight for dinner, prime rib, in your honor.  I wish you could be here to have some with us.  Maybe you will get to chow down on some juicy meat in heaven.  Enjoy your day, I'm sure there will be quite a party.  You deserve all things that your heart wants, today and every day.  I am thinking about you now and always.  I miss you.  Happy Birthday, Payton!
Love you,

I am really struggling not being able to hold and kiss my girl today.  Although in the back of my mind, I knew her little body was getting tired, I expected Payton to be with us for her 10th birthday.  We knew there was never a guarantee that we'd have another day, another week, another month, another year, but when she kept beating all the odds...4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9...why not 10?  I just don't like that she's gone.  I never will, but I try to imagine how much fun she will be having today in such a wondrous place, and I know she feels my love.  I will be savoring the tasty dinner tonight and know that she will be smiling.  I hope each of you can spoil yourself today with a special treat in Payton's honor - something that really makes your eyes bug out of your head and makes you loose all self control - like Payton did at her party last year.


Monday, March 18, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! Remembering Pugnacious P! (part 3)

Besides being blessed enough to give Payton the best care possible, I am so thankful that we really took advantage of opportunities to have fun with her.  Some of my favorite memories we shared together were during trips to Chicago.

In the photo(s) above, Payton is posing in front of the Water Tower just off Michigan Ave all bundled in her Pug Snuggly coat, matching Chilly Beanie, and MY matching scarf.  I couldn't decide on which effect I liked best so I included them all!

One of our first happy memories in Chicago, and probably a favorite of my husband's, is when we took her to a dog park for the first time.

I think one of our best vacations in Chicago was a blast, and my parents got to join us too making it even more special.  In fact, it was so eventful that there are two posts.

Something else that is very special to me is baking Christmas cookies with my mom.  It was so much fun to share this experience with Payton, and as you can imagine, she enjoyed it too!

It was such a pleasure to share my life with one of the most beautiful spirits I've ever met.


Monday, March 11, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! Remembering Pugnacious P! (part 2)

When I think about Payton, inevitably I remember how crazy she was about food.

Many of you may recognize this photo as Payton's Blogger profile pic.  It was taken on a sunny day in St. Louis when Tim and I took our girl to The Boathouse in Forest Park for lunch by the water and then a romp in the fields by the Museum of Art.  It would have been the perfect day for an ice cream cone.  Like the time we made a special treat for Payton.

She was always a happy pug eating out with us...or eating in with us too...she wasn't picky.  Here's a post showing P's normal spot during meal times, regardless of our location. 

I can't recall too many times that she wasn't in the kitchen with me when I was messing around.  She was the best sous chef I could ask for.  And of course during clean up after eating, so would always do her part to make sure no crumbs were left behind in the dining room.

Payton was never to proud to beg.  She would paw at us and bark trying to convince us to share.  I know that she would have thought about sticking out her tongue at us when we didn't give her a nibble, just like in this post.

I think you will all agree with me that this video, and Payton's "focused" eyes, show just how much she loved food.

There's no doubt she had it good, but I do wish we had given in to her a bit more.  She deserved it.  :-)


Monday, March 4, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! Remembering Pugnacious P! (part 1)

It was hard to narrow down some of my favorite posts from Payton's blog.  

So many cute pictures and great memories.  In fact, have I ever told you about the photo above that is the Pugnacious P header?  It is probably my favorite picture of Payton.  It was taken in the fall or early winter about 3-4 months after she got sick at approximately age 3 1/2.  You can't tell, but she still didn't have any hair on the back of her neck from the spinal tap and MRI, but had her thick, full coat of fur everywhere else.  She hadn't really begun to turn grey in the muzzle.  What I love so much about it though is the look on her face.  You can see what a fighter she is, like she is telling the world to watch out!  Oh, my pretty girl.

The posts I chose today all focus on the photos.  I love her stunning face, like in this post where she was really working it for the camera.

And I love to see how she aged so gracefully.  Here are two similar posts where the pictures were taken years apart.

Lastly, this post really shows off her beautiful life.   

I am so enamored with the photos taken in her last year with us.  Every time I day dream and picture her in my mind, she is older.  You could see the toughness and sass in her eyes.  You could see that she had been through so much in her life and she wouldn't give any of it up.  There was just something about how her jowls hung a little bit more and the grey hair - so striking.  No doubt she was a real looker, simply gorgeous.


Friday, March 1, 2013

From Pug-a-boo! March is for Payton

As the month of March begins, I will be taking time to write about my special angel.

There are a couple important milestones that I just can't overlook, and I need to reminisce a bit with all of you.  So each Monday, I'll share a few of my favorite Pugnacious P posts.  I had hoped to count down Payton's most viewed entries, but all the ones at the top of the Blogger stats page are about her battle with PDE.  Although that makes me proud beyond words, I really want to focus on celebrating her beauty, her sass, her spunk, her spirit, and her incredible life...that she lived the hell out of.