Aspen Princess: When going to the dogs is a good thing |

Aspen Princess: When going to the dogs is a good thing

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

Big news: Today is Gertrude’s birthday.

Yes, I’m talking about our pug, and don’t roll your eyes or act like you don’t care. Whenever I bring her up to Aspen, I can’t walk two feet without being accosted by a throng of people screaming and cooing and carrying on as if it were Beyonce, not a fat little dog who is as round as she is tall.

In fact, if you must know, she is actually 20 inches around and only 12 inches long, and I know that because Ryan’s cousin Dana wanted to make a jacket for her and asked me for her measurements. Her tongue doesn’t quite fit into her mouth (on account of her flat face) and sticks out just a little bit — just enough that it’s cute, not gross. I imagine that will come later, when she is old and gravity does its thing as her tongue starts to make its slow descent toward the ground, which is not so far away after all. But for now, we imagine that if she could talk, she would speak with a lisp. That makes pretending to know what she’s thinking a lot of fun. At all timesth. Like, thisth isth ridculousususth.

She snorts like a pig, especially after exerting herself. Like when she runs up the spiral staircase at night and jumps into bed with us via the leopard print staircase I purchased to make that easier for her because pugs can’t jump. She likes to burrow under the covers, and smoosh her entire body against mine so I have to sleep with her in my arms all night. And to think I was so opposed to co-sleeping. One should never judge.

That’s probably also why Gertie’s Instagram feed (@gertie​googleeyes) has exactly eight times the number of followers as my personal account (@aspenprincess), at around 2,500. I write it from her point of view and have a lot of fun with the whole lisp thing, as well as her cavalier attitude about life.

I have wanted a pug for as long as I can remember, so I guess I sort of understand why people go bonkers over her, even if it is a little much. I imagine the type of people who visit Aspen probably have the resources to get a pug of their own. I always want to say, “It’s a dog, not a giraffe. If you love it so much, you can get one, too.” And just because I know what’s coming, you should never, ever buy a dog but always rescue one so help you dog, amen.

Ryan was dead set against the whole pug thing. Like many mountain dudes, he was a big dog guy. He associated dogs with outdoor adventures and maybe also wanted his dog to be a reflection of himself, an advertisement of his own (ahem) size and stature. That’s why his previous dog was a 110-pound German shepherd named George who probably could have been an astrophysicist or a medical doctor, he was that smart. He also was as well-trained as an army cadet. He would walk with his nose practically pressed against your calf because he knew never to walk in front of you.

“There is no way we are getting a pug,” Ryan would say whenever the subject came up. He had at least 100 reasons for this. And yes, it is really, super important to adopt a dog from the shelter because everyone in Aspen knows it’s selfish and wrong to get a purebred dog from an AKC-certified breeder when so many dogs need homes. I’m pretty sure charity work doesn’t involve judging others. Plus, you guys write me the same email every time and I write the same response, which goes something like this:

The story of Gertrude Angel Margo isn’t so much about the dog as it is about my life and the miscarriage I suffered after spending a lot of time and money trying to get pregnant six years ago. I know millions of women go through it and it’s the body’s natural defense mechanism against an embryo that is likely deformed. But trust me when I tell you it’s up there with divorce, death and taxes. I felt my body had deceived me in the worst possible way and that I had somehow failed as a woman. Then come the hormones that evoke a slew of horrible feelings that can’t be controlled, like when you hit a patch of solid ice coming around the curve at mile marker 3 on Frying Pan Road going a little too fast. It’s a high-consequence thing.

When I declared, “I’m getting a pug and I don’t care what you say,” Ryan didn’t argue. He drove me to Cimarron, Kansas, which is nine hours away, through sheets of rain so heavy our tires barely touched the road. We got a hotel room in Garden City, where local meat packaging plants leave an aroma in the air so stringent it burned our nostrils and made our eyeballs ache.

But when we met our baby girl, she was perfection. The trip home was easy, as if she had been waiting for us and not the other way around. She prepared me for the real baby that would eventually, finally come and taught me about pure, unconditional, heart-aching love.

Six years later, she’s the center of the universe, this tiny creature who somehow wields tremendous power even though she is, for all intents and purposes, utterly defenseless. I’m pretty sure she’s some kind of deity, or maybe even god herself as she seems to possess wisdom that is otherworldly (and I’m not just saying that because she looks like the alien from the movie “Men in Black” that made pugs famous). She also happens to be my muse.

Happy sixth birthday, Gertrude Angel Margo. Thanks for all the love and laughter.

The Princess is happy to be wearing sneakers without socks today. Email your love to