Max Koch Uncorked

Wine-soaked adventures through a twisted life…

Rest in Peace, Mickey the Pug

Mickey the Pug passed away last night. It was Sunday, September 10th, at 6:05 PM and I’ll never be the same.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know what a big deal Mick was. Not just to me and my wife and his brother, Malcolm…but to pretty much anyone who saw his picture or read a post about him or held him in their lap or stopped to say hello to him in his stroller.

Oh, and ALL the ladies. ALL of them. They. LOVED him. Especially his Aunt Kari and neighbor, Bekka, who deemed him her “boyfriend.” He had the ‘X’ factor. And, oh, those BIG, BEAUTIFUL BROWNS. So soulful, it was eerie.


We’d had Mickey for almost six years. That’s nothing. But he was such a Velcro Pug to me that you may as well double my time with him to 12 years. He followed me everywhere. He was always by my side.

Mickey was the most loyal friend I’ve ever had. Even my wife would jokingly say, “Jesus, I love you but I don’t think I love you like HE loves you.” It was true, though.

We adopted “The Mick” from Nikki Dogfather, the same wonderful, hilarious British woman who let us take Malcolm off her hands. The price for Mick? Two big bags of dog food to help feed her other rescues. That was it. SOLD.

Malcolm now had a brother. Frick and Frack. We took them everywhere with us. The few times they couldn’t come on a plane, we’d have our friend Sharon look after them. She did a fine job. The brothers slept together, snored together, traveled together, but NEVER ate together. That’s the breed for you. Pugs are VERY possessive of their food. I always had to feed them separately. Cuz THAT’S not a pain in the ass.

This was one of the last pictures I took of Mickey and Malcolm side-by-side. Can you tell which one is which? Many never could. That was always fun. (Mick’s there on the right with the giant tongue…)


Mick came with all kinds of physical problems. This we learned the hard way. For starters, he was pretty much already nearing his “senior dog” status when we took him in. His previous owners – may they ROT in DISCOURSE – never took care of his teeth. So we paid to have 14 extractions right out the gate. Oh, you shoulda seen Mickey on those pain pills. Poor baby. 

Not soon after came the pancreatitis…then the seizures…and finally, this past January…Mickey was diagnosed with Insulinoma. I was shattered. The doctor gave him 6 months.

We spent thousands of dollars on that dog. Worth every red cent. We would call upon our neighbor Erika to administer his Cerenia shots whenever he needed them to stop his terrible nausea bouts because I was so afraid to give them to him myself. But I sucked it up and forced myself to do it eventually, which royally impressed my wife. I also came to cook for him. And care for him morning, noon, and night in ways you can’t even imagine. He was a little god to me. I worshipped him. We worshipped each other. He always gave back. In love and loyalty and humor. Oh, he was the funniest pug. Pugs are known to be quite the little comedians, you know.

Mickey started losing the use of his rear hinds. He could walk. But barely. So I came up with the stroller idea and it made a world of difference. Yeah, there were times when rolling a smiling little black pug around the neighborhood got a little awkward. But I didn’t care. Mickey taught me to not give a shit about what people thought. I’m starting to cry now.

This past weekend was trouble. Mickey wasn’t sleeping and seemed very uncomfortable. I could tell he was further deteriorating. I could sense the end was near. I am in regular contact with his vet, the eternally-amazing Dr. Robert Fullington, so it wasn’t like Mick’s problems weren’t tended to on a regular basis. But he was struggling. And tired. And on a lot of medications. Prednisone by itself can be very rough on a little animal’s system. 

Then all hell broke loose. Early Sunday evening, Mickey started seizing in ways I’d never seen before. He was gasping for air. Foaming. And violently shaking. I immediately rushed him to the ER. I knew this was it. Worst of all, Nichole was not home. She was performing a show at Second City. I had to make the call without her. I did.

When we put down our dearly departed Lily the pug, who Mickey was SO much like, we had the luxury to have a doctor come to our house to do the deed. But last night there was no time. No time at all. The ER it was.


It all happened SO fast. The staff was kind and quick-moving. The ER doctor came in to give the 3 Final Shots of Freedom. She knew his fine work on this godforsaken planet was finished.  I could barely see what was going on through my tears. I looked down. The medical gauze tape they wrapped around his paw was purple. That was Mickey’s color. Purple collar. Purple towel in the stroller. How did they know?


My boy’s heart stopped. And so did mine.

VET TECH: Would you like us to take an imprint of his paw?

ME: Yes. Uh. Please.

VET TECH: Okay, well, Carmen up front should have your bill for you.

ME: Carmen? Right. The bill. Thank you. 

Oh, my God, what just happened? Where was my Mickey? He was just sitting in my lap less than 2 hours ago. Who’s going to love me like he did now? Who’s going to follow me from room to room and NEVER rest until I’m seated so he can crawl into my lap? Where is my beautiful baby boy? My sweet little old man?

I stepped out onto the street in a haze. I looked down. There was a crushed red rose on the sidewalk. 


Then I looked over and saw two random taquitos.


It’s so dumb but I thought maybe Mick was playing a little goodbye prank on me cuz he knows how often I stop to take pictures of weird crap on the street.

When I got home, I waited for the wife to call. Poor Nichole. She took it hard as I knew she would. She didn’t get to say goodbye. But honestly, I am so relieved that she didn’t see Mick go out the way I did. I needed to be strong for her. I was.

Anyway, my Mickey is gone. And now comes the shit sandwich-eating. The devastating mourn sessions. I’m supposed to go out tonight with a bunch of friends to see the new “It” movie. I was gonna bail, but I think I need to go. I’ve been immersed in Mick business for so long, it would be a good palate cleanser.

WINE PAIRING: Mickey was always happy to lie down and chill in a tasting room. So let’s go with the 2012 Fusion from Opolo. The notes declare it has “a wonderfully long finish.” Perfect for Mick has he managed to live two and a half months longer than he had been given.

I love you, Mickey. Forever and always. Thank you for being such a great dog.



  1. The Counselor

    He’ll have a bottle of Paso’s finest red blends at the rainbow bridge for his friends, along with the rest of those taquitos. He will be truly missed.

  2. Jennifer Galloway

    Oh, my goodness. I’m so sorry for your loss. I am in tears right now. Your words are so powerful and I can definitely feel your emotions coming through. RIP, Mickey. My heart goes out to you and Nicole, Max.

  3. Courtenay

    Oh Max
    My heart is breaking for you and Nichole. I never met Mickey but his amazing personality brought me much joy when Aunt Kari would regale me with tales about him. I laughed so hard … that’s the measure of your boy’s powers, that he was bringing Joy to folks he didn’t even know. All dogs are amazing but there are some that just have that extra special something. We are lucky to get to spend our life with a dog and even luckier to find those extra special gems.

    Funny thing: When my Frankie passed away, I found a brand new, half eaten chewy in the middle of the sidewalk a few blocks from my house. One of the two side knots was chewed off, just the way he liked to do. No dog anywhere around to claim this random chewy on the pavement. What dog leaves a big ole chewy on a sidewalk? I know it was Frank saying that he loved and missed me too.

    Don’t be surprised if Mickey starts training your future pups from the great beyond. I’ve been enjoying watching my new dog take on many of Frank’s personality quirks as she settles in here. I know it’s him.

    It’ll take some time and it’ll never not hurt, as you likely know already. But remember in all of this sadness that the depth of your sorrow is a tribute to how much love Mickey brought to your life. It’s an honor to grieve for such a fine fellow. May he bark loudly and run on strong legs in the Celestial Dog Park.

    Sending you hugs…. love Courtenay

    • maxkochuncorked

      Courtenay, you are only bringing more tears to my eyes. But in the best possible way. Thank you for reading and for your healing words of wisdom. Here’s to Frankie. And you are SO right about new (trained) pups being sent from the great beyond. My pug Lily passed and not too long after came The Mick and he was SO much like her, it was eerie. You really know the score… xoxox

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