“For the Pug” by Ed

@ Moraga Commons Park

In a flurry of excitement, I shouted FOR THE PUG and threw the football (soccer ball) backwards over my head. I hadn’t bothered to look, aim, check my distance or even factor in the reasonably gusty Summer wind.

We were at a new park in Moraga and I was facing the boys with my back to the hoop. It was my turn to throw the ball. I could tell by the look of shock on their wee faces that I had nailed it.

They burst into cheers, whooping and high fiving. I then realised what I had done and they were now expecting their Dad to deliver on his promise.

This all started two years ago when we moved to Walnut Creek. Our house had come with a full–size basketball hoop in the yard.

Noah and I playing basketball in our yard
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson
Noah and I playing basketball in our yard
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson

The kids (especially Noah) loved it, before it fell down in the Winter wind.

Basketball hoop no more
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson
Basketball hoop no more
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson

When I played basketball with the kids, I would take one completely random over–the–head / wrong–handed / hook / million–dollar / impossible shot at the basket.

Helping Noah with a slam dunk
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson
Helping Noah with a slam dunk
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson

For some reason I can’t remember now, I shouted For the Pug before I threw it. I never made the shot but the boys always watched the ball sail through the air with a glimmer of hope in their eyes before the shot failed miserably.

Pugs are the boy’s favourite dog and they have wanted one for years. Whenever we meet one in the street or out on a walk, they get super excited and stop to pet it.

We even find ourselves at Pug Sunday every other month (meetup for Pug owners in Walnut Creek at Heather Farm) and we don’t even have a dog! The kids just love to go along to play with the doggies.

Toby having great fun at Pug Sunday in Walnut Creek
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson
Toby having great fun at Pug Sunday in Walnut Creek
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson

Looking back now, what was a bit of fun for Dad, is actually quite mean for my little boys. Every week or so I dangled the tiny opportunity of them getting their favourite animal in front of them and then yanked it away.

I didn’t mean to shout it today, we were just having fun and Toby said Dad, do it for the Pug and without even thinking about it, I just shouted and flung the ball. I don’t even think about it as a genuine legal promise anymore, it was a hunting call, a sports shout. Geronimo! Tally-ho.

Noah and a pug at Pug Sunday in Walnut Creek
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson
Noah and a pug at Pug Sunday in Walnut Creek
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson

As we arrived home from the park, the boys rushed in to tell their Mum what happened, each of them still super excited. They ran through to the dining table where they started to draw what they thought or wanted their new family member to look like. Hastilly scribbled pictures of Sparky and Bouncy Cute arrived and I began to feel like a complete scumbag.

Toby’s pug drawing, Sparky with food bowl
📷 Photograph: Rose Henderson
Toby’s pug drawing, Sparky with food bowl
📷 Photograph: Rose Henderson
Noah’s pug drawing, Bouncy Cute
📷 Photograph: Rose Henderson
Noah’s pug drawing, Bouncy Cute
📷 Photograph: Rose Henderson

Now I need to work out what to do. We don’t really need or want a dog but in the eyes of the boys, I promised. Toby even called me a liar when I tried to wriggle out of it with the promise of Pokémon cards.

Jack and a pug named Jack at Pug Sunday in Walnut Creek
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson
Jack and a pug named Jack at Pug Sunday in Walnut Creek
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson

Rose thinks its mostly hilarious, but she is a little bit mad. However I know that as time goes on and the reality sinks in that we have to get a dog, she will find it less and less funny.

For the first time in 10½ years, all three boys are about to enter full–time education and she will get a good chunk of time back to do what she wants to do. Now she has to look after a dog.

So I am between a rock and a hard place. I have been told my pinkie promise to my kids is legally, morally and ethically binding. I’ve tried to negotiate my way out but no amount of bribes, toy pugs and treats is going to work.

I’m open to suggestions now on any loophole I may have missed, or failing that, any good Pug names. I might have promised them a Pug but I didn’t promise they could name it.

Basketball Pug
Basketball Pug