Shelter
PugHearts of Houston Blog

Pug Rehabilitation – behavior modification

Tuesday, 2 August 2011 14:43 by karenr

I have shared with you how I assembled my pack of pugs/pug mixes, but once I learned how to be a good pack leader, I began fostering for Pughearts.  I’d like to share some of my techniques and successes in addressing pug behavioral issues.  This can often be a longer process than healing the physical results of neglect and abuse.

For the most part, pugs have wonderful dispositions.  Bred as companion animals, with a generally trusting nature, pugs really love their humans, and usually get along well with other 4-legged members of a family.  In rescue, however, you sometimes get a dog who who has issues with fear aggression, dominance, resource guarding, or socialization as a result of abuse or neglect in their past life.   

What is resource guarding?

Does your dog growl at you when you approach his food bowl? Is your pug possessive about toys and rawhides? Does he snap at you when you even step near him when he’s got a bone? Does your dog bare her teeth when you approach the couch?   The goal of rehab is to keep your pug in the blissful state of loving your approach to his food bowl or other prized possessions.  Something to understand is that resource guarding is an absolutely normal dog behavior. However, it’s not something we humans appreciate. Fortunately, resource guarding is also a behavior that we can change.jojo2

Meet JoJo.

JoJo was surrendered to Pughearts by his owner, who was left with him and two breeding females as a result of a divorce.  On the phone, he threatened to shoot the dogs if we didn’t come get them right away.  Upon arrival, we discovered three sick, very skinny dogs, living in a small rocky enclosure with no food bowls.  If the dogs ever were fed, apparently a small amount of kibble was thrown on the ground, and the dogs were left to fight over it.

You might think that pugs are about as far from the ancestral wolf as you can get.  But all predators come programmed to guard resources that are crucial to their survival.  Food was definitely in short supply at JoJo’s home and the two females were even skinnier than he was.  Broken toothed, scarred and skinny JoJo was still top dog in the pack, and it was beneficial to his survival to look after his food against other  members of his group.

Resource Guarding Myths

According to Jean Donaldson in her book Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs, there are several myths we need to dispel:

  • Myth #1: Resource guarding is abnormal behavior.
  • Myth #2: Because resource guarding is driven largely by genetics, it can’t be changed.
  • Myth #3: Resource guarding can be cured by making a dog realize that resources are abundant.
  • Myth #4: Resource guarding is a symptom of “dominance” or “pushiness.”
  • Myth #5: Resource guarding is the result of “spoiling” a dog.

IMG_1222So how do you take a chewie away from a growling dog?  Simple. Make him understand that the approach of a human to his food, toys, chewies, space, etc. is a Good Thing. The process is called classical conditioning.  You probably have heard about clicker training.   Just as the clicker is associated with treats a dog’s mind, the approach of a human hand, face, or other body part to the resource he’s guarding should mean better food is on its way.

jojo3Details on how to do this are readily available in print (like the book I mentioned earlier), or online, such as the following article: Food Aggression.  I read these and everything else I could get ahold of, implemented a training regimen, and JoJo responded beautifully.  To maintain his progress I continue to feed him separately from the rest of the pack, make sure he sits calmly before getting his food, and several times a month I approach him while he’s eating,  pick up the bowl, and plop in a handful of treats before setting it back down. I do the same with toys or chewies.   We also practice “give” or “drop-it”, replacing the surrendered object with something else.

 

JoJo Rehabilitated

JoJo is neither aggressive nor truly dominant.  He readily submits to Cupid, my alpha bitch, and will play wrestle with hands or toys using gentle bite discipline.  He usually goes out of his way to avoid invading the space of the other dogs in the pack.  That said, he does consider his humans worthy of protection.  He is accepting of strangers if he’s properly introduced, but woe be it to the unwary meter reader who enters the yard unannounced!  In stressful situations such as adoption events, he’s somewhat clingy, and may snap at other dogs who get too close.  He also has been known to snap at children even after being introduced, so a home with little ones would not be the best fit for him.  He will need reinforcement of what he’s learned for the rest of his life, but he has so much to give to some special family.

nick and jojoRehabilitated From a hard life where no one took proper care of him, JoJo is now sharing his love and taking care of others.  We fostered a male pug with medical issues and a seizure disorder for a couple of months, and JoJo took it as his job to see that Nick was happy.  He would share his dog bed with Nick, and would come get us if there was something wrong:  alerting us in advance of an imminent seizure and giving him kisses in the aftermath.

cold jojoJoJo is now heartworm negative, healthy, and happy.  He has the softest coat, and loves to snuggle on the couch, or to share my pillow on the big bed.   Because he may require reinforcement training to keep him from backsliding on his resource guarding, he would probably do better as an only dog, or as a member of a pack with a more experienced (2-legged) leader and no small children.   He was a bit overwhelmed during a home visit with a family who had two large dogs.

JoJo has been waiting nine months for his forever home.   While he’s my best companion while I’m out in the studio painting, I would love for him to share his lessons with a new family!

Categories:  
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

A Somber Summer

Monday, 25 July 2011 09:57 by richardc

PugHearts needs your help.  We are over-run with pugs that need us, and we do not have the funds or the foster homes to help them all.

For those of you who have followed us throughout the last 4 years, you know that we always need help but we don’t make a public appeal unless it is very serious.  Folks, it is very serious right now.

We are full to the brim and several thousand dollars in debt on our veterinarian bill.  We are not able to accept all pugs that are being asked of us.  We have had to close intake unless it is an extreme emergency.  We hate this, as we know there are people out there who will take their dogs to a kill shelter now rather than surrender it to us.  We hate it because it means we cannot help every pug.  But our resources are stretched too thin to be able to take every dog we are asked to take.

Of course this just happens to coincide with the busiest time of year for any rescue.  Summertime means people go on vacation and if they were considering getting rid of their dog, now seems the perfect time.  Also summer is when a lot of people move.  Lots of times their dogs don’t make the move with them.  And of course there are so many people suffering from financial difficulties who cannot afford to take care of their pets anymore.   It all adds up to far too many dogs being taken to shelters or given away.

We have also had quite a few pugs in lately that have needed a lot of medical care.  We have an alarming number of heartworm positive dogs coming in right now.  It’s gut-wrenching to see dogs that are so ill and will require costly and difficult treatment for something that is preventable by one pill a month.  If only someone had given these dogs preventative heartworm treatment.  But they didn’t, so now we have to put them through heartworm treatment to get them healthy so they have a chance at a new life. 

There has also been emergent care needed for several dogs.  Maksym came to us having suffered terrible heat stroke by being left out in the punishing Texas sun.  We tried so very hard to save him, but ultimately lost him to distemper.  (Again, all of his issues were avoidable – if only someone had cared enough about him.)  Bob was a wonderful little guy who came to us with a few issues, including a hernia which we had repaired.  But sadly he lost his fight when his heart simply stopped.  Vee came to us over-bred and dumped, needing emergency surgery to repair a severe vaginal prolapse.  Thankfully she is recovering and doing well.  Danny came to us as a cruelty case.  He has a severe spinal issue that makes it impossible for him to use his back legs.  As he is a senior, we know his chances of adoption are not great.  It’s so sad as he’s a lovely boy.  Then there’s Peanut.  This adorable young guy came to us from a local kill shelter with obvious mange.  Once he got to our vet, they realized he also had a fractured hip.  That was surgically repaired and he is expected to make a full recovery.  If not for PugHearts he would be dead right now because somebody didn’t want to pay for his treatment and didn’t care enough about him to find him a new home rather than take him to a kill shelter.

This is why PugHearts exists.  But this is also why we desperately need your help.  PugHearts has rescued nearly 800 dogs in the past 4 years.  We have no way of knowing how many of those would not be alive today if it weren’t for us, but you can be sure it is more than a couple of hundred.

People like you have made it possible for us to save lives.  We need you to dig deep and help us continue our fight.   Please donate today to help us be able to accept any dog that needs us.

Please make a DONATION - Please!

Categories:   Fundraising
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Recap of 7/21/11 Reliant Dog Show - DAY 1

Thursday, 21 July 2011 18:35 by emilyw

Well I just got home from day 1 of the 2011 Reliant Dog Show, and what a day it was!  My foster Stimpy met a wonderful family that is interested in adopting him (yay)!  Ms. Raven was a little show stopper and stole many hearts at the show today, but how can you not love her when all she wants is to sit on  your lap and be held. Toby 2 (a 3 year old looking for his forever home w/ PugHearts) got to model at a photo shoot w/ the star of the new cartoon "Jimmy Paul: The Pug Tooth Fairy" (see facebook for more on Jimmy). So now we have another pug in the spot light and that never hurts with 102 currently looking for a home. 

PugHearts is located at booth 825 this year, right next to the search and rescue dogs and Frenchie rescue...I fell in love with the Frenchie named Angus...it's hard not to love a flat face lol. great neighbors and wonderful visitors make for a perfect day!

Thursdays are usually slow at the dog show and I can't wait to see what the next 3 days bring!  Please come out and support us and the other rescue groups at the Reliant Dog Show.  There are also a ton of great vendors there with everything you could ever want for your fuzzy friend.

keep'in PUG-tastic,

emily W.

Categories:   Events
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

My Perfect Old Man, Marvin

Thursday, 21 July 2011 14:27 by MaryL

Marvin arrived at PugHearts on August 2, 2009 from the Montgomery County Humane Society.  He was in pretty rough shape and it was thought that he was blind, he was also old.  That combination usually equates to “permanent foster” because no one wants an old Pug that is almost blind.

However, Marvin wasn’t blind.  He had seriously impaired vision but he could definitely see and see quite a lot.  He didn’t have any issues with navigation and never even ran into the sliding glass door.  His eyes were in pretty bad shape from the dry eye and we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to keep them or if they would just continue to deteriorate and eventually have to be removed.  But the medicine he uses on a daily basis seems to keep the infections at bay and he blossomed.  He has the best face and he is quite animated when he gets in his playful moods.  Everyone that met Marvin fell totally under his spell. 

Well, it’s now two years later (almost to the day) and Marvin is still a foster and the prospect that he will ever have his very own forever home with his own family to love him is almost nonexistent.  He is now somewhere around 11 years old, he is almost totally blind now and his hearing has also declined.  But he’s still one cool, old Dude! I can’t even begin to tell you how affectionate and loving he is. 

And to be perfectly honest it makes me so sad that such a wonderful, sweet, loving soul like Marvin will never have the life that he deserves.  I love him and I take care of him but I can’t give him, and all the fosters I have, the individual attention they need, none of the foster families can.  That’s why we need forever families for every Pug that PugHearts takes in.  We get cute, adorable Pugs in and everyone wants them and they’re gone almost as soon as their pictures hit the site but there are so many Senior Pugs that have so much love and affection to give someone, and no one wants them.  These guys won’t live as long as the young ones and they will have end of life issues, but they are such awesome individuals.

And Marvin isn’t the only one that is old that has been with us for years.  There are 15+ pugs on the website that have been in our care for more than two years.   Each and every one of those mature adults needs a home and the love of their very own family!  The benefits of an older pet are many, they are housetrained, they don’t chew your shoes, they don’t eat you out of house and home, they aren’t demanding, they love to just cuddle and be close to you, the list goes on and on.

Please take some time to search your heart and try to find a place for such a beautiful soul in your life.  I can guarantee that if you are willing to share your life with one of our Senior Pugs you will never regret your decision.  They give you so much more than you give them.

If you’re out at the Dog Show this weekend, stop by and meet Marvin and our other special Pugs and see what you’re missing.

Categories:   Foster Stories
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Bob's Coming Home

Tuesday, 19 July 2011 10:12 by MaryL

I received a call from Sugar Land Pet Hospital and Bob is ready to come home. 

I didn't have Bob very long before he left us and I want to share with everyone what a great guy he was.  From the first time I set eyes on him I thought he was great.  He was a really big guy and his fur was in pretty bad shape but he was really cute.  I called him Bob the Bear because he looked like those bears you see on Animal Planet coming out out hibernation after a long winter's nap.  His hair was splochy and a mix of red and black.  But his eyes were bright, alert and intelligent.  And his tail never quit wagging!  He was the happiest old guy that I think I've ever had. 

He stayed at the vet for several weeks when he first came in because of his hernia.  I would visit him when I was there and I really wanted to be his foster (he was a black pug after all).  When we took him outside to potty he would just lumber around (I did say that he was a pretty big guy) and then when it was time to come back in he would follow us right back in.  His surgery was scheduled for a Monday and I took him home for the weekend so he could be in a home.  There was a very real chance that he may not make it through the surgery so Bob got whatever he wanted all weekend.  He didn't really play much but he was really aware of everything going on around him, he didn't miss a thing.  He loved to just lay on the big, green cushion in the corner and watch the world go by.  When I called him he would come over to the couch and I would pick him up to lay next to me.  He would roll over on his back and put his big, very big, belly up to be rubbed.

When it was time go go to bed I decided to see how he would react to being in a human bed.  When he saw that it was time to go to bed and we were going into the bedroom he jumped up (well maybe not jumped) and went right into the room and stood by the bed waiting for me to pick him up.  When he was in bed he just flopped down and was out for the night, he knew exactly what that bed was for.

Bob came through his surgery with flying colors and within a few days was home and acting just fine.  He started to lose a little weight and was walking more and waddling less.  He seemed to be really happy.  Then one day I noticed that he seemed to be having some trouble with his eyes.  He acted like he was sensitive to the light so I took him in and it was discovered that he had dry eye.  He had started coughing a little so he got medicine for his eyes and for his cough.  Over the weekend he seemed to be doing much better, his eyes were less sensitive and his cough was mild.  When I came home from work on Tuesday something had really gone wrong during the day, he was breathing very hard.  I called Cindy and made arrangements to take him into the doctor the next morning.  I still wasn't overly concerned because he still seemed to be happy (tail was wagging) and alert.  When I dropped him off at the vet he walked to the back with his tail wagging all the way.  That is the last time I saw Bob.

Bob was a wonderful old guy!  He was loving and a great companion.  He was never far from my side and loved to be petted.  He didn't act like he was as old as he was and had such bright, alert eyes!  I'll probably always wonder what if but that won't bring him back.  Fostering can be a really hard thing to do at times.  This is one of them.  But everyone who has lost a foster knows that this is part of the process.  The ones that are saved far outnumber the ones that are lost.  Bob wasn't with us for long but he was loved and cared for while he was and that makes it a little easier to bear.  He didn't die alone and forgotten, he was loved! I'll bring Bob home today.

 

IN LOVING MEMORY OF BOB

Categories:   Rainbow Bridge
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (3) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Whitney's Story

Friday, 15 July 2011 10:27 by MaryL

Hello!  My name is Mary Ludwig and I have been actively involved with Pughearts since its first meeting.  When Cindy ask me to start doing this I was very reluctant, I'm definitely not a writer and I'm not in the least imaginative.  However, Cindy said all I have to do is talk about my fosters, well duh, that is my favorite subject so I think I may be able to handle this assignment!  I've thought a lot about who to start with and decided that I will begin with the foster I've had the longest, Whitney.  Or as I call her Whitney My Love.

I'll hit rewind and go back a few years and begin the story.  This poor, tiny five year old pug, who was a backyard breeder, came into our care in deplorable condition.  Her feet didn't look anything like they should, they spread out like fingers because she had lived every day of her life in a wire cage.  She had both eyes when she came in but one had stitches in it that had never been removed and they had busted lose.the remains were in her top and bottom lids.  She also had this HUGE mass on her back left hip that looked very bad.  Well the first thing that was done was her eye, it was beyond saving so it was removed.  Then Dr. Hendrix began the process of evaluating her mass.  As it turns out it wasn't a tumor but a huge abscess. He went in and cleaned it and put in drains to let it all get out.  But something wasn't right about it so he sent a sample off for testing.  When the results came back we found that Whitney had mass cell cancer.   We took her to the Doggie Oncologist and he said that there wasn't much that could be done for her but to give her prednisone and to love her.  At this time she was still in the hospital and hadn't been put in a home yet.  I had been hanging out at the vet and getting pretty attached to her so I told Cindy I would like to foster her.  I think Cindy thought I shouldn't take her, she told me that her prognosis was not good and that she would probably only live a few months. I know she wanted to protect me from the sorrow of losing her, but I was already attached to her and I wanted to make sure that what life she had left was going to be the best that any dog could imagine.  So I took her home..

That was almost four years ago, October 2007.  Whitney is amazing.  I call her my little blonde headed cheerleader, she's in her own rosy, wonderful world.  She is not aware that there is a thing wrong with her, she runs around and plays just like everyone else.  Her favorite activity is to play tug o war with anyone that will play with her.  She still has that mothering instinct from her early years, she keeps Daisy's ears spotless.she loves Daisy. For the first two and a half years she coasted along just like any other foster.  She had been taking prednisone every day for her cancer and it seemed to be holding it at bay.  Then she started losing her hair and after testing it was discovered that the prednisone had caused thyroid problems.  So now she takes two medicines every day and is still just as happy as a bug in a rug.  In the last six months she has almost completely lost the sight in her remaining eye (due to taking the prednisone for such an extended time), I think she can still see a little between light and dark but that is about it.  She has lost a little of that bubbly personality along with the loss of her vision, but she is still a very happy puggie. She was never really big into being held and cuddled but lately she has started wanting to get on my lap and just be loved.  I just love to have her sit on my lap so I can look at her cute little face, she is such a pretty little girl.  And she's happy.

Whitney is a perfect example of why there is a PugHearts, she would have died a horrible death without this rescue.  She is in hospice care so she will never be adopted but that hasn't changed one thing about the kind of treatment that has been given to her.  She is just as important to PugHearts as the cutest, most adoptable pug that has ever come in.  No one knows how long Whitney will be with us, but she has already beat the odds that were given to her four years ago.  And the most important thing to Whitney is that she has become someone's Whitney My Love.

PRINCESS WHITNEY

Categories:   Foster Stories
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (4) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

My Pug Story–Chapter 4 Chucky (Part 2)

Thursday, 7 July 2011 10:25 by karenr

chucky3

Chucky was safe & happy; now we had to make him healthy.  First came the heartworm treatment.  My vet did it with two injections one month apart, and activity restriction/bedrest in between.  We kept him crated when we were at work, but when we were home his natural place was snuggled with us on the couch or in the big bed, so it was easy to keep him quiet.  He was a total love sponge.  The protocol deferred neutering until after the heartworm treatment, so we had two months to work on breaking him of his marking habit.  Since he was crated or leashed if he wasn’t on the couch or bed, timely verbal corrections took care of the marking problem in a couple of weeks.  Our pack was complete (or was it?), and I finally had my purebred pug.

Our pack

Chucky made it through his heartworm treatment with a minimum of coughing/distress, and then it was time for neutering.  Poor Keith, he suffered a bit in sympathy, and even made a couple of half-hearted attempts to convince me Chucky should be allowed to breed at least once.  After all, the arguments went, he had papers, came from a great bloodline, and had both a wonderful disposition and great conformation.

Up to 30% of animals surrendered to animal shelters are purebreds. There are not enough homes for all of these animals, including young, healthy and pedigreed pets.  As a volunteer for PugHearts, I have seen this outcome first hand.  But at the time, my husband needed some convincing.  One of the best articles I came across in my research can be found here:

http://webspace.cal.net/~pamgreen/why_neuter.html

We did the right thing.  Vet bills for immunizations, heartworm treatment, and neutering were now over $1000.  When Chucky’s former owner called me about getting his free mural, I told him in no uncertain terms that the debt had been paid in full!   I gave him an earful about the pain and suffering he had inflicted on this poor dog, which probably made no real difference, but at least it made me feel better.

head tail

Chucky never sired puppies, but I like to think at least one of the potential buyers of his offspring instead adopted a rescue pug.  He still enjoys sniffing bottoms, but smelling is all he’s going to do!

Categories:   Just Pugs
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

My Pug Story–Chapter 3 Chucky

Tuesday, 5 July 2011 18:21 by karenr

Chucky was born on January 8, 2004 at the kennel of a prominent show dog breeder in another part of the state.   Both parents were AKC champions and he was sold to a family for $2000 at the age of 12 weeks after receiving his initial puppy shots.  Only the best would do for the status-conscious father, and the kids had to have a pug after watching the movie “Milo & Otis,” so the whole family drove across the state to pick him up.  And named him Otis, of course.

This family was an acquaintance of ours:  friends of a friend.  We first visited their house for a 4th of July BBQ when Otis was about 6 months old.    The kids were still carrying the pup around like a stuffed animal, and he was an adorable innocent, with a great disposition.  It was apparent they had done no work to housebreak the dog, and when he had an accident on the kitchen floor he was banished to the backyard with their jumping, unruly, adolescent Giant Schnauzer.  I tried to provide some instruction on training, and taught the little pug to sit while we were there.  He was so sweet and eager to please.

Over the next 6 months, I kept asking about the little guy’s well-being.   Our mutual friend told me that Otis’ owner had had half a dozen dogs before this in the years he had known him, and he had given them all away.  This was a red flag to me, and the next time I saw his owner at his place of business, I told him if he ever was looking for a home for Otis, to think of me.  The next time I saw Otis it was at a holiday party, and the dogs had both been banished to the backyard, full-time.  The adolescent males were both marking the house, and the mom had put her foot down.  The 100 pound Schnauzer was terrorizing the poor pug, who retreated under a garden shed; it was the only place he could escape the mouthing and rough play.   I again offered to take the pug, but I was told that the kids would be heartbroken.   But Otis was now over 20 lbs., and the little ones couldn’t carry him anymore, so he was left to his own devices in the backyard.

It was that backyard that eventually got me my pug.  The next spring, they decided to put in a pool.  With the fence open, the dogs had to be crated full-time.  Otis’ owner finally decided to give him to me in exchange for some mural painting I promised to do for him.    When I came over to pick him up, he was crated in the garage, not the house.  I held my tongue, happy to be getting my purebred pug at last.

When I got him home, he was so happy!  Cupid loved the intact male, and flirted hilariously.  Krissy immediately wanted to play.  He figured out the doggie door in about an hour, and kept going in and out.  When we settled on the couch to watch TV, he wormed his way in between us and started making puggy purrs.  It was the first evening of many we would spend this way.  He promptly claimed the pillow as his spot in the bed:

pug

My brother Charles had recently passed away, so we renamed our new pug Chucky in his honor.  Since the paperwork his owner gave me included no vet records except from the breeder, I took him to my vet the first thing the next morning.  Only a year old, and he was already heartworm positive.

More about Chucky in Chapter 4.

Categories:   Just Pugs
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (2) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

My Pug Story–Chapter 2 Krissy

Monday, 4 July 2011 10:57 by karenr

Fast forward a year:  Christmas 2002.    My artist intern wanted a small dog for her kids.  I extolled the virtues of a pug (even though I only had a half-pug) before she began making the shelter rounds.  She called me from one with the report of a black pug.  She wasn't really interested, but she thought I might want to take a look.  With my 11-year old stepdaughter, we took a ride "just to see".  This pug was an imposter, too:  a chihuahua-pug mix (or Chug).  A purely pug body, but a face all her own (complete with an underbite and always-showing canine tooth).  We promptly dubbed it her "atti-tuth" and gave Krissy to her dad as a Christmas present after she was spayed.

krissyattituthkrissy 3

Krissy is sweet, hyper, and ball-obsessed.  She will keep bringing the ball back to whomever throws it.  She is especially good at seeking out little boys at the dog park:  she knows they will throw it longer!  Krissy is our media star:  A TV crew from The Animal Planet was filming out at the Millie Bush Dog Park during the annual Reliant dog show, and they were impressed by how fast she was chasing the ball:  she literally kicks up a dust trail.  One of the producers asked us “Will she do it again?”  Of course we told her, “All day long!”  Her segment was only about 5 seconds when the dog show finally aired, but we are proud of her, none the less!

Krissy is the playful member of our pack.  Depending on the personalities of our foster pugs she will wrestle, chase, play tug of war or keep away.   We swear she has ADD, and is more than a bit of a spaz…but we love her.  Here she is at play with one of our foster pugs:

Pug-jitsu
Categories:   Just Pugs
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (1) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

My Pug Story–Chapter 1 Cupid

Sunday, 3 July 2011 19:08 by karenr

I plan to put a different spin on the Pughearts blog. I thought the best way would be to share my personal pug story so you will all know a bit more about the writer. The story starts back in 1998, when I was providing hospice care for my (almost) ex-husband, burned-out from my 60-hour-a-week hospital job, and looking for some unconditional love. I wanted a pug, so I contacted the local rescue group who was active at that time, but as a first-time dog owner my name was not high on their list as a potential adopter.

I hit my low point on Valentine's Day, but then I received a call from the rescue group telling me of a pug mix female who was in a high-kill shelter. A few hours later I brought home a year-old Jack Russell/Pug mix I named Cupid in honor of the date. 

cupid old 2cupid

I wanted a laid-back snuggle bug, but I got a dominant, high-energy alpha bitch. Little did I know, but this was exactly the dog I needed. Extremely intelligent, Cupid needed more than casual walks, so I broke out the roller-blades, bought a bicycle, and enrolled in obedience classes. I was lucky to have an excellent animal behaviorist lead my class, and he taught me everything I needed to know about becoming a pack leader. Cupid even learned dog agility.

As for me, I de-stressed, lost 40 lbs, and made it through the death of my husband. Cupid finally made it through puppy adolescence and chilled out, too.

Life-insurance and pension money in hand, I decided to leave healthcare and try to make a living doing what I loved: art. I started a decorative painting business, and began painting murals, doing faux finishing and reporting to no-one but myself. My trusty Cupid at my side, I made it through the rough first two years of start-up.  Here we are with one of my big murals on canvas:

cupid small

My initial partnership failed, but I had the tools and the client contacts to make it as a sole proprietor, and Cupid and I began dating. I soon met a helicopter pilot with a wicked sense of humor and the gift of gab who shared my love of animals.

Keith’s idea of the perfect dog weighed at least 60 lbs, however, and his experience as a teenage vet tech had left him prejudiced against "little yap-yap dogs". Cupid soon won him over with her big attitude. Cupid is 14 years old now, but she still rules the pack with her body language and force of will. It is because of her we make a good foster family: leading with body language and by example, she does most of the work showing a new dog the ropes!

cupid yawn

Categories:   Just Pugs
Actions:   E-mail | del.icio.us | Permalink | Comments (1) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed