Princess: For the love of pug

Ali Margo
The Aspen Princess

“We’re going to go ahead and move you up to the third row so you can sit in a bulkhead seat,” the lady at the Sun County Airlines check-in desk said. “That way she has more room.”

That’s right — she, as in Gertrude Angel Margo the pug.

It’s no wonder she always wears that look of sheer entitlement on her flat little face, her nose turned up high in the air because it has nowhere else to go. I’m surprised they didn’t upgrade her to first class while the rest of us sat back in coach, the baby crying, drooling and spitting up all over me while Gertie lapped champagne from a fluted dog bowl and had her paws massaged as she relaxed with a heated washcloth on her face.

Never in my life have I had better service at an airline, and we thought bringing a dog on the plane might be a hassle. God forbid they try to accommodate our human baby, but what I’ve learned over the past six months is that no one really cares about your standard little blond cherub baby with his butterfly lips, button nose, fat cheeks and blue eyes like saucers, at least not when the pug is around.

I definitely hesitated at the idea of bringing the dog with us when we were traveling with the baby for the first time. Did she really need to go to Minnesota with us?

“Yes,” Ryan said firmly, scowling at me as if I had some nerve to even ask that question. There is nothing like a big guy who is madly in love with a small dog. You should see the way the two of them fall asleep together on the couch spooning every night. They even snore in unison. It’s a little gross.

It’s true we went through the trouble to get her certified as an emotional-support animal, which is why I shouldn’t have been so embarrassed when Ryan told that random 10-year-old kid at the gate that we traveled with her because she helped me with my panic disorder.

“Don’t tell him that,” I said, shooting him a look.

“Hello — that’s the reason we’re allowed to bring her on the plane, remember?”

“Oh, right,” I shrugged.

It’s also true my psychiatrist wrote a letter on my behalf that states I need the dog to help me stay calm when I fly, which isn’t untrue. The fact that the shrink is my dad is also not untrue. If you can follow all these double negatives, which is kind of a no-no in journalism, then you’re probably pretty well ahead of the game already.

The truth is that I was feeling anxious. What if my baby screamed the whole flight? What if he had pain in his ears during takeoff or landing or both? It was hard enough just trying to sort through the arsenal of baby gear we needed to travel with (strollers and car seats and pacifiers, oh my), never mind wrapping my head around what getting a 5-month-old through security entailed. As we approached Denver, I wondered, would he need ID? Because while the pug had her own laminated tags with photo, I still haven’t even gotten around to filing with the state for Levi’s birth certificate yet.

As it turns out, traveling with the babes isn’t that big of a deal. Sure, it’s harder than traveling without one, but he was no different on the plane and in the airport from how he is at home. He cries when he’s tired or hungry, and he sleeps between. Of course I began sweating when he started to wail. Of course I could feel the people around me cringe, could hear what was going through their minds, could remember that I was one of them not so long ago, going, “Oh for Christ’s sake, is this kid gonna scream the whole way to Minneapolis?”

But traveling with a pug is a whole different story.

You have to be prepared for people who a) want to take a photo with the pug, b) want to pet the pug or c) want to ask you a slew of questions about the pug.

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve considered charging people, because I’d probably make a lot more money doing that than I do writing this godforsaken column.

At least I can refer them to her Instagram account (@gertie​googleeyes), where she is pushing 2,000 followers and counting (#pugs #puglove #pugsofinstagram #tongueouttuesdays).

But the good thing is she really is an emotional-support animal — not just for me but for everyone she encounters. She even got some smiles out of the Transportation Security Administration guys, who joked about putting her in one of those plastic bins and sending her through the X-ray machine, and I’m pretty sure it’s big-time against the rules for them to make jokes. The guy who checked my ID as we entered security in the Minneapolis airport told me, “Ma’am, you’ll have to leave the dog with me,” and he was so deadpan I thought he was actually being serious. But then again, I’m totally gullible like that. One time, someone told me gullible wasn’t in the dictionary, and I believed it.

The bottom line is that she is a joy-spreading machine. I don’t know why it is that people seem to relate so much more to animals than they do to humans, but it’s never more pronounced than when you have the most beautiful child ever born strapped to your chest and everyone is going, “Oh my God, so cute! How old is the dog?”

Maybe it’s because dogs can’t have guns, they can’t be Republican and they can’t decide to one day up and move to Costa Rica and never come back, like my baby brother did 10 years ago.

It’s too bad pugs can’t run for president. Maybe then we’d all have more legroom.

The Princess feels like it’s taking forever for her hair to grow. Email your love to


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