In Loving Memory of Dexter - May 17, 1999 - July 17, 2009


Dexter's Signature Photo




We remember the day well. It was over the Fourth-of-July weekend in 1999 when we drove to Liberty, MO to bring home our new pug baby. The minute we met him, we knew his name. At 6 weeks old, he came trotting out to us with a distinct élan and a smile that could only be described as handsome and dashing. He was C.K. Dexter Haven, the wonderful character portrayed by Cary Grant in the 1940 movie, The Philadelphia Story. We soon dubbed Dexter the Cary Grant of Pugs and amazingly it stuck! Since his photos were posted everywhere on the internet, I would get emails from folks saying..."he does look like Cary Grant!" I'm sure somewhere Cary Grant may be laughing himself silly!


It isn't easy to describe Dexter in a few words - he had so many facets to his huge personality. Even as a puppy, Dexter was meticulous and fastidious - especially when it came to potty training. The first time we took him outside, he did his business. And that was that. There was never an accident (as you would, of course, expect) in the house. Dexter kept a tidy kennel as well as himself, though we discovered early on the two things he really hated: baths and nail clippings. We had to start spelling B-A-T-H and needless to say, he figured that one pretty quickly. We had to think of new ways of communicating (using other languages to describe bathing) that message and somehow he always knew and made himself instantly glued to the chair! Dexter was fluent in multiple languages.


At the time of Dexter's arrival and before we brought home brother, Trevor, we had a cat named Sabrina. Dexter tried to make her acquaintance and that introduction was a bit scratchy, no pun intended. Sabrina hissed and headed downstairs and Dexter was content to live upstairs.


Two months after Dexter's arrival, we brought home Trevor MacCauley Connor (yes, named partly after the Jimmy Stewart character from The Philadelphia Story. Trevor immediately became the Beta or care-taker to Dexter and the two were joined at the hip, so to speak.


Dexter loved life. He embraced it. He woke up each morning at 6 am raring to get on with the day. Carpe Diem! Each day was full and at 9 pm every evening, he was ready for his 40 pug winks.


We learned through Dexter and Trevor it was easy to give them a prescribed medication - if given with a tiny swipe of peanut butter. Naturally, all the Boys are eager to take a pill because they know it's synonymous with peanut butter. The pill is the peanut butter. And speaking of food, Dexter and his brothers always knew when Chinese carryout came into the house. Dexter, especially, had a yen for rice!


Dexter loved to pose for the camera and out of these photos, PugSpeak was born. We have always regarded the Boys - and especially Dexter, as co-founders and cornerstone of PugSpeak, LLC. Dexter was always ready for a photo shoot!



Dexter seemed to grow up quickly - after we brought Ian and Mackie into the fold - he would join in the play, but would eventually let everyone know when hijinks were over and it was time to settle down. And Trevor, ever the Beta, would herd everyone inside. Dexter always carried himself as a true Alpha - with maturity and dignity. He would occasionally do little things to goad Trevor into chasing him. And Trevor always complied!


We believe Dexter loved music and movies. When I played Perez Prado, Gipsy Kings, Ottmar Liebert, Pink Martini, or Bond, his head always came up and he listened intently. He loved movies - especially anything by Stephen King - specifically The Shawshank Redemption and The Shining. He thought Snakes on a Plane was great fun and was patient enough to let me do a photo shoot called Pugs on a Snake. He sat for an hour draped with rubber snakes and never stopped smiling. He also loved the Rocky and Star Trek movies.


If Dexter could have had three or more people to dinner, he would have chosen: Carl Sagan, Samuel L. Jackson, Dean Martin, Mary Shelley, Gene Roddenberry, Fareed Zakaria, and Cesar Millan.


Dexter had a particularly close bond with his human pop, Lowell, his human brother, Hunter and sister, Claire. And it's important to note that even though his vet, Dr. Shelley Lake, clipped his nails, Dexter adored her! And speaking of loves, without a doubt, Dexter's favorite time of year was Spring! He was the original Boy of Spring!


From the first day to the last day of Dexter's life, he exhibited three special qualities - he was brave, loving, and steadfast. He never wavered when he developed kidney stones and was in obvious pain. And at the age of 6 1/2, when Dexter was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (very rare, almost unheard of in pugs) and was given one month to live, he never once let on that he felt sick. His oncologists had prescribed a medication called Piroxicam - a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to relieve symptoms and make him more comfortable. A month came and went. Then two and before we knew it, we were celebrating Dexter's 7th birthday. We learned that in some rare cases, the Piroxicam can create a remission (for a time). And we were given the gift of 3 1/2 years more with Dexter!

Dexter, I suspect, somehow knew or sensed this and he made the most of those 3 1/2 years. He sometimes was almost puppy-like again. He had fun with his compadres and at our annual Pug Parliament events. Dexter loved to romp with the pugs. We will always remember his 10th birthday - there was cake and new puggy toys and all the trimmings. It was a glorious and most likely his last very best day.


Dexter taught us so much about courage. Dexter came into this world with a pasión for life, embraced the hell out of it, then went to the bridge with dignity and valiance. In his own words: How are the mighty have fallen. Dexter would have at least thought that in his own satirical fashion.


Below you'll find photos that we hope will illustrate Dexter's life. There are literally hundreds of photos, but these are probably the best of the best.


All photos taken by Lowell and Mary Crissman © 2002-2009



Dexter and Trevor Dexter - Did I leave the iron on?


Dexter - Pug on Snakes Dexter's motto: Carpe Diem!