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COMMENTARY
Commentator Mark Potts likes pugs a lot, as evidenced by this photo of him that went viral this year. Still, he was baffled by double pug obituaries in an October edition of the City Sentinel. (Photo provided)
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Ivy Jane was a President Obama supporter. What exactly did Ivy like about our 44th president? Was it his healthcare initiative? Maybe his efforts to stop climate change? Perhaps it was his smooth singing voice?

We will never know, because Ivy is dead.

Ivy was also a pug.

Ivy’s political affiliation is one of the many facts we learn about this pug in her page-one obituary in the City Sentinel. Yes, a pug obituary is on the front page of a newspaper. An obituary written by the paper’s editor. About his lead reporter’s pug.

This photo shows the obituary for Ivy Jane, The City Sentinel's lead reporter's pug, which appeared on the front page of the paper's October edition. (Josh McBee)
This photo shows the obituary for Ivy Jane, The City Sentinel’s lead reporter’s pug, which appeared on the front page of the paper’s October edition. (Josh McBee)

See, this pug held a special place in the heart of Patrick B. McGuigan, the Sentinel’s editor. Ivy appeared in many editions of the paper over the years, according to her obituary. She commanded McGuigan’s attention when he would visit Darla Jane Shelden, his lead reporter, at her home. Ivy often attended Puggerfest, which sounds like possibly the best festival ever. (If beer is served, it is the best festival ever.)

She brought love everywhere she went and touched many lives, which pets are wont to do.

But what makes this pet so special to earn a spot on the front page of a newspaper next to articles about Planned Parenthood (perhaps her death was itself a super late-term abortion?) the OKC Metro Literacy Coalition (Ivy was a dog whose literacy level was said to be “none”) and tribal gaming? (Ivy, as a black pug, only bet on black.)

McGuigan called Ivy a “beautiful lady, not a pet.” He was clearly close to her, as were many people, it seems. But this is a newspaper. An obituary on the front page is saved for presidents, dignitaries, world-renown figures. Not dogs, no matter how beautiful they may be. Was there not more important news that commanded the coveted front page? Let’s look inside.

Oh, another obituary for Ivy appears on page five. This one written by Shelden, Ivy’s owner.

This photo shows a second obituary for Ivy Jane, The City Sentinel's lead reporter's pug, which appeared page five of the paper's October edition. (Josh McBee)
This photo shows a second obituary for Ivy Jane, The City Sentinel’s lead reporter’s pug, which appeared page five of the paper’s October edition. (Josh McBee)

Two obituaries for one pug. Double-pug obituaries.

In a newspaper.

When we all began using the Internet, we didn’t think about the repercussions. We didn’t think about e-commerce or free-flowing information. Especially that “free” part. Years later, no one has exactly cracked how to get people to pay for news content. The New York Times has a paywall after 10 free articles a month. The Washington Post recently experimented with blocking content if readers are using ad-block software. Others are doing their best to race to the bottom and implement clickbait headlines hoping to plug the gaping hole in their metaphorical jugulars. But nothing is making up for these fine institutions’ hemorrhaging subscriber bases.

Newspapers are still important. Quite often, they bring in more ad revenue than the online sites do. But newspapers are smaller than ever. Fewer pages. Less width. We don’t see people with their heads buried in the paper like the good ol’ days. Now, their heads are buried into phone screens, which we think is worse for some reason. (We’ve always ignored people in public places. Now, we do it with electronics instead of print publications.)

A newspaper is valuable. It’s there if electricity isn’t. It’s there if your Internet connection goes down. It’s there when your pet needs to be house trained. (The One Percent can use iPads for that.)

So seeing an obituary for a pug on the front page of a newspaper — AND an extra one inside — is a little shocking.

But wonderful.

Printed in the top-left corner, the Sentinel’s motto reads, “Print News for the Heart of our City.” If anything tugs at the heart strings, it’s reading about a beloved pet who recently died. It makes you think about your own pets. It makes you ponder life without them. You wonder what life without you will be like for those you leave behind. And if this pug was a part of the paper, its writers’ lives and its readers’ interests over the years, then maybe it deserves kind words about the life it led.

Everything is precious and everything will die someday. And if a pug can make 14 years of life seem less short and more full of joy, then who am I to say it’s wrong for someone to spill their heart in a publication they run memorializing a friend? If anything, they should have made it a listicle. Then the kids would really care.

Also, for transparency, I have a pug, and the day it dies I’ll probably write a 1,000-page essay about it online. I’m assuming NonDoc will publish it.

If not, maybe the Sentinel will still be around.

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