Gemma and Shui Na

Gemma was in a reflective mood – half way through a day off work, using up the last of her holiday days, sitting on her sofa, slowly eating her way through a box of chocolates (Mixed Classic Collection, not too expensive at £8 a box from eBay, given how lovely they were).

A repeat of Big Brother was on the television, but she wasn’t watching it as avidly as usual, because she was remembering the conversation she’d had last night, talking with her best friend Pippa.

They’d started off comparing what they’d each bought recently – as usual there was a lot to compare! Then they began reminiscing about how they’d met, when both were much younger, just after Gemma had been adopted.

We could see you were a pug, Pippa recalled, but you were different somehow, and then we learned that you were a Chinese pug, whilst all the pugs we knew, all my family, and your new family, were Carlin pugs. It was exciting – we all expected you to speak Mandarin and have strange habits.

She laughed, and said … of course, you do have some strange habits – but you couldn’t speak Mandarin, though it took days before you actually did speak at all.

Gemma laughed... It was because I was so frightened, being orphaned by that great storm, and suddenly living with a new family. But thanks to everyone being so kind, and so friendly, it wasn’t long before I felt at home.

Maybe I should learn Mandarin? … though no - I can’t see that ever being useful, even though I am a Chinese pug!

They both laughed, and then Pippa said … I have something really exciting to tell you … my boyfriend has asked me to marry him, and I’ve said Yes!

Gemma was delighted for her friend and hugged her tightly - but then suddenly felt sad, and said to Pippa ... I am really, really happy for you, but I can’t help wondering if I will ever settle down, get married, have puppies … there have been boyfriends, as you know, but I’ve never felt madly in love with any of them … even that nice one.

You will, said Pippa, you’re beautiful, you’re generous, helpful to everyone you know, and loads of pugs fancy you … you’ll find the right one, very soon, I’m sure.

Then they spent the rest of the evening planning what Pippa would need to buy for the wedding, and where to buy it from.

It was a lovely evening, thought Gemma, but Pippa is wrong - I can’t see me falling in love anytime soon.

And she switched over to QVC and concentrated on the latest offers … shopping was one of the habits that Pippa had referred to, and Gemma liked shopping – a lot!

Halfway through the programme her mobile rang, and, to her surprise, Kris was calling her.

Kris was the Centre Manager at PINC, the Pugs Innovation Centre, just outside Burgess Hill – a business centre designed to help new Pug businesses to start up and then develop into larger businesses.

Kris was a Dutch pug … a typical one – tall, big boned, tough looking on the outside, but soft and gentle underneath, and he had a wicked sense of humour.

Sorry to spoil your day off, Gemma, said Kris, but it’s an emergency - can you come in this afternoon, please? A potential major new client is turning up a day early, and he wants to discuss and agree everything today, as he’s flying to China this evening, and won’t be back for a month.

I’m already committed to meetings all afternoon, and the other senior managers are away at that conference.

You’re not joking with me, are you Kris? No, replied Kris … honestly, this is genuine.

When she arrived Gemma went straight to the meeting room where the new client was waiting, and she introduced herself to him.

I’m very pleased to meet you, Gemma, said the new client … my name is Shuí Na Chen, but in English that’s Shane Chen, so please call me Shane.

Gemma was almost speechless - this pug was gorgeous! ... but managed to say … I’m pleased to meet you, too, Mr Chen ... I mean, Shane.

They both smiled, and then Gemma went into business mode and described the facilities and started to explain the terms and conditions of the Centre.

After a while, Shuí Na said … Stop, Gemma … I’ve heard enough … can we move in at the end of the month? That’s when I return from my business trip.

Of course, said Gemma, but don’t you want to know about the other terms and conditions?

No, you’ve already convinced me. The facilities and services you provide here will be ideal for my new company. I’m setting up an online retail business, offering very expensive luxury items – clothes, drinks, confectionery, gifts – aimed at the more affluent, mainly younger shoppers who are mostly buying online.

Then, looking straight into her eyes, he said … Will you be here when I return?

His question threw Gemma for a moment, but then … Yes, I will be.

Good, said Shuí Na … can I ask you another question?

You’re a Chinese pug, like me, aren’t you? Are you from China?

Well, said Gemma, with a smile … That’s two questions, but Yes, I am a Chinese pug, and No, I was born here.

I was sure you were the same as me, said Shuí Nǎ … I could tell from your soft and smooth coat and those apricot and silver streaks …

I’m pleased to meet you, Gemma the Chinese pug!

And as they were shaking paws, he asked … Can I ask another question? Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend?

Gemma laughed, and said … Well – that’s actually two questions again - and very personal - but the answer to both is No.

Good, he said … then … I must go now – it was good meeting you, Gemma the Chinese pug – I look forward to seeing you again.

Gemma walked him to the door, and after he’d driven off, she stood for a while, wondering … was he just flirting? or did he feel what she was feeling … that it had been love at first sight?

Don’t be silly Gemma, she said to herself … he won’t be interested when he returns.

But he was, and they met outside PINC for dinner, at first once a week, then twice a week, and quickly became close friends, and then lovers.

It was a few months after they’d started dating when - one evening at the end of a meal in their favourite Chinese pug restaurant - he turned to Gemma, with a serious look on his face …

So … just to be sure I’ve got this right … you're a chocaholic, and a shopaholic, and an expert facilities co-ordinator, and you’re a Chinese pug who can’t speak Mandarin?

Gemma was perplexed, but hesitantly, said … Yes.

Well, I’m looking for an English speaking, chocaholic, shopaholic, expert facilities co-ordinator - to help me run my business … would you like that job?

Even more hesitantly, Gemma said … Yes.

And … I’m also looking for a Chinese lady pug to marry – would you be interested in that too?

After a long pause, Gemma whispered … Yes.

So, said Shuí Na … to make if official … Will you - my chocaholic, shopaholic, expert facilities co-ordinator, can’t speak Mandarin, Chinese pug - marry me?

And Gemma, without a moment’s hesitation, said Yes, Shane, I will.


Gemma left PINC a few weeks later, became a co-director of his business, married Shane, and eventually, after a long struggle, and with the help of Shane, and their two puppies who were learning it at school, became fluent in Mandarin.

And, of course, they all lived happily ever after … just outside Burgess Hill.