PugHearts of Houston Blog

UPDATE: 2010 Heartworm Incidence Map

Sunday, 21 August 2011 10:23 by robbic

The American Heartworm Society has just released an updated Heartworm Incidence Map showing last years cases.  While we are thrilled to see there has been a reduction of case throughout the country we were horrified to discover that Houston is still one of the highest ranking for Heartworm cases in the country.  Come on Houston, lets show the rest of America we love our dogs enough to keep them safe.  

Please read my previous post here to see how you can prevent Heartworms.

Robbi C
Pughearts of Houston

Categories:   Health | Heartworms | Update
Actions:   E-mail | | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Heartworms. Is YOUR dog at RISK?

Friday, 19 August 2011 11:50 by robbic

Heartworms.  That word should strike fear into the heart of every dog owner.  They are insidious creatures, slowly and silently killing thousands of dogs in Houston and around the country every day.

PugHearts takes in an extraordinarily large number of heartworm-positive dogs every year.  It is especially prevalent in warm weather areas as they are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes who transmit the larvae to dogs when they bite them.  If we lived in Alaska, for example, your dog’s chances of contracting heartworms would be cut drastically.  But as we’re here in Texas, the chance of your dog contracting heartworms if it’s not on any preventative is extremely high. 

Think about how many times a year you are bitten by a mosquito or see one buzzing around you.  Your dog will encounter these little vampires every time it is outside as well.  We hear owners say “oh my dog lives indoors so they aren’t in any danger.”  Really?  Do you live outside? No. But do you get bitten by mosquitoes when you do go out? Yes.  Ever find a pesky mosquito buzzing around inside your house?  Wake up and find that one has been feasting on you during the night?

The same is true for your dog.  But you won’t die from the heartworms because they do not survive in your bloodstream.  It’s just a sad twist of fate that the dog’s bloodstream is so compatible for these horrible creatures.

And sadly, there is a severe shortage of the medication used to treat heartworms right now.  The manufacturer, Merial, has announced the medication is temporarily unavailable and they have none in stock.  Our vet (as well as all vets around the country) is unable to get anymore in right now to treat heartworms.  PugHearts has a small amount in stock and we will have to make decisions about treatment on a case-by-case basis.

However, the fantastic news is that heartworms are completely preventable!  With simple, once-a-month medication, you can help prevent your dog from ever contracting heartworms.

There are many medications to choose from.  Pills/chews include Heartgard, Tri-Heart, Iverhart, Interceptor and Sentinel.  Topical medications such as Revolution and Advantage Multi will also prevent heartworm infestation.  All of these medications are effective against some worms and many of these also prevent fleas.  Most of these come in multi-packs, so you can buy a 6-month supply in one box.

What is the cost?  Well, that depends.  These medications are all sold in dosages based upon your pet’s weight.  As pugs are relatively small dogs, if their weight is maintained at a healthy level you should be able to get away with the “under 25 lbs” dosage – which happens to be the cheapest.  If not, the next level up isn’t much more expensive and that will take care of dogs up to 50 lbs in weight.  If your pug weighs more than that – you should call Guinness World Records ‘cause that’s unbelievable!

A 6-month supply of Heartgard will run around $40 from your vet.  Iverhart will be around $30. Revolution and Sentinel will run just over $100 (but remember they also kill fleas and treat ticks, worms and ear mites.)  You can also order these online for a little less, but will have to have your veterinarian authorize that.  It is a prescription medicine because your vet wants your dog to have an annual heartworm test.  Once you get that negative result, they will write you a year’s prescription. 

Okay, so what happens if it’s time for your dog’s heartworm medication and you’re strapped for cash?  Please do not even think about “skipping” a month!  It is a monthly treatment because the effects of the drug only last for 30 days.  If you skip a month, your dog will NOT be protected, even if they had their pill every month prior for the last 2 years.  So please talk to your vet about how to get your dog covered.  Maybe your vet can offer a generic alternative to the more expensive brand name.  If not, your vet will be happy to let you buy the medication in a one-month dose instead of paying for 6 months all at once.  That means for less than the cost of a Happy Meal, your dog will be protected from heartworms for another month.  Now THAT’s a value!

Please, we cannot stress it enough, make sure your dog is on a heartworm preventative.  It really is a matter of life and death.

Robbi C
PugHearts of Houston

Categories:   Health | Heartworms
Actions:   E-mail | | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

PugHearts on the Web

Monday, 8 August 2011 14:12 by robbic

There have been a few questions from members wanting clarification of what’s going on with PugHearts’ online presence.  What’s going on with our website?  What’s the Facebook group for? Are we on Twitter? What’s up with Petfinder? Hopefully we can get some information out there to get everyone up to speed on our changes.

Our website is not going anywhere!  We are extremely proud of the polished, professional site that we have to showcase our rescues.  In addition to the OurDogs page which features all the dogs, our website is a wealth of information on PugHearts and all things Pug!  We have information about the breed itself. We have educational pages that explain why you should adopt a rescue instead of buying a puppy from a breeder.  We have information about who we are, how we got started and our mission to save every pug we can.  We have detailed information about way to give, our non-profit status and contact details.  We have great stories from our fosters and other volunteers.  And of course we have lots of details about how to adopt. 

We do list some of our dogs on Petfinder.  In the descriptions for the dogs we list, we give details about PugHearts and how to adopt from us.  Each listing refers the reader to our website to complete our online adoption application.  We do not accept adoption applications or queries in any other format except our adoption application.  We use Petfinder to help people find us who do not know we exist.  Often times, people looking for a breeder will stumble onto us through this site, as they weren’t looking for a rescue in their search.  It gives us a chance to let them know about the beautiful Pugs we have and help teach them that buying from a breeder perpetuates the cycle of over-breeding and creates more unwanted cast-offs that end up in rescue.  Due to the listing software being rather awkward to use, we do not list every dog we have through their website.  However, we will continue to keep a presence on Petfinder  so that we can get the word out about pug rescue in Houston.

As Facebook is such a popular venue, we knew we had to have a presence on there.  After careful consideration, we decided to open a Facebook Group rather than a Fanpage.  We wanted a dynamic, interactive place for our supporters to find ways to get involved with our Rescue.  A Fanpage only allows a person to “Like” it and then do nothing.  But a Group keeps everyone involved!  So now, for those of you who want to commit to be an active supporter, you can join our Group. We update Group members on events and can even keep track of who’s attending via the Invitations.  We really want everyone who signs up for our Group to be an active participant, not someone who just adds us to their Friends. Remember, this is not a Fanpage; this is your chance to stand up and be counted as an active supporter of PugHearts in a way that our website doesn’t allow.  If you make the commitment to join our Group, we want you to roll up your sleeves, dive in and make an impact! This is your chance to post comments, share our pages and help get the word out about our adoptions and fundraising! Let everyone know you’ve donated, fostered or helped in some other way – have your moment in the spotlight!

If that’s too much of a commitment for you right now or you’re not ready to be actively involved, then please continue to visit our website for updates and information.  For those of you who are committing to actively participate: welcome to our Group!

Yes, we are on Twitter too!  We’ve had the account for a while, but have only posted sporadically.  Until now! We now have our volunteer Whitney doing a fantastic job of getting us active with this newest social network venture.  And as we gain more of a presence on Twitter, we are hoping more of you join up and Follow us.  Twitter is the perfect venue to give quick updates on new rescues and happenings, with links back to our website for details.

So as you see, our website remains our primary online resource.  All of our other online venues will always link back to  for the heart of our endeavor – adoptions.  These other forums offer ways for you to get involved that the website doesn’t offer, but when you’re ready to find the newest member of your family you know exactly where to come!

Categories:   PugHearts
Actions:   E-mail | | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Thoughts on fostering

Saturday, 6 August 2011 18:41 by robbic

Before Cindy dreamt up the idea of PugHearts, she was a foster for another non-local rescue group.  She already had a very good idea of what it took to run a rescue and what kind of needs she would encounter.  As she set up PugHearts, she called on people around her that understood those very special needs.  Some had already fostered for other groups, some had adopted rescues.  But all of us had that “whatever is best for the dogs” attitude. We all agreed that we wanted an organization that would treat the rescues just as they did their own dogs.  We did not want to open a shelter where our dogs lived in cages until they were adopted out.  We wanted to allow these rescues to live in a safe, nurturing home environment until their forever home was found.  We also insisted that we would not adopt out any dog to a home that we would not feel comfortable placing our own pets in. And so, PugHearts was born!

We’ve gone from a very small group of people that could all fit in Cindy’s living room (with our dogs running around, of course) to a vast network of people spread throughout the Houston area.  Our commitment to our dogs has remained. 

We now have around 100 dogs in foster care.  That takes a lot of people giving a lot of time and energy to these furbabies.  And we appreciate it more than we can possibly express.  But I’m going to take a moment to let everyone know what’s involved and just how much these volunteers contribute!

Unlike a lot of organizations, PugHearts takes a very “hands-on” approach to selecting both foster and adoptive homes.  In fact, we require the same standards for a foster home that we would an adoptive home.  It makes sense, as we want these dogs in the best environment possible during their stay with us.  So, a home visit is mandatory before approving a foster home.  We want to see the environment these guys will be living in during their fostering.  We aren’t worried about dust bunnies or décor; we want to know the environment is safe and secure.  If there is a backyard, is it fenced?  Are there other animals or children in the house and if so, how will they react to an “outsider” in their home?  Does the potential foster parent treat their animals as we want our rescues treated?

As a lot of our dogs come in to us abused or neglected, we also have to be sure they are going to a nurturing environment.  Some of these dogs have never had a person show them affection.  Many have never lived inside a house before.  These are significant challenges that our fosters work to overcome.  They teach these babies that it’s okay to trust humans, that they need to go outside to use the bathroom, they don’t have to “defend” their bowl against another dog eating near them.  They teach them socialization.  They teach them about love.  And that can take a lot of patience.

Medical Care
All of our fosters are responsible for seeing that any dog they have gets the necessary medical care.  Usually that consists of taking them in for check-ups, maintaining their Heartguard and Frontline administration and any after-care from spay/neutering or routine dentals.  Many of our fosters also administer daily eye drops or ear medications and see that follow-up visits with our vet are kept.  Some do much more, as some of our rescues have significant medical issues.   Unfortunately, we get a lot of dogs that are heartworm positive, so we need fosters who can care for these babies as they undergo treatment.  We also get dogs in with severe injuries that require intensive care.  We get the occasional hospice dog that needs a special home to live out their final days.   And of course, you never know when an unforeseen emergency will happen.  Our fosters need to be able to get our rescues to our vet in the event of an emergency, even if that means 11pm on a Sunday night. We have an amazing group of foster parents who look after these furbabies as though they are their own and help get them in the best health they can, so they can go to their forever homes.

We have a fantastic website that allows people to look at a dog’s photo and biography to determine what dog might be a good fit for them.  Those photos and bios usually come directly from the foster themselves.  They take the photos you see.  They write up a bit about the dog they are fostering, ‘cos who knows them better?  They tell us, and potential adopters, what kind of home would be best for their rescue.

Meet & Greet
One of the big differences with PugHearts is how we screen our potential adopters.  In addition to the adoption application with reference checks, we also want to see how our rescue will fit into that new home.  So not only do we conduct a home visit to see the environment, we take the potential adoptee around to meet the members of the family and get a feel for how they will do in that home.  We call it a “Meet & Greet.” Most often, the foster parent takes the dog themselves.  We feel that since nobody knows that dog better, they are the best judge of how it fits into that home.  Sometimes another volunteer does the actual home visit and the foster instead meets the family someplace else for the Meet & Greet.  Either way, the foster has taken time out of their schedule to try and find the right home for their rescue.

Adoption Events
We have a lot of people that are looking to adopt a dog, but they can’t quite narrow it down to just one to meet.  Sometimes we schedule multiple home visits, but sometimes it’s a lot easier to tell that person to come to an adoption event where they can meet multiple dogs.  So, we ask our fosters to bring their dogs to these events throughout the Houston area.  That means our volunteers are giving up their Saturdays, or evenings, or sometimes entire weekends (like the Reliant Dog show) to try and find a forever home for their rescue.  We cannot begin to thank them enough for giving up so much of their time.

So, as you can see, our fosters are pretty special people.  They give up a lot to help us help these furbabies.  It’s a lot more than just putting a roof over their heads.  It’s time, patience, heart and soul.  It can be sleepless nights, tears, stress and yet it can be the most fulfilling and rewarding feeling ever.  We are eternally grateful for all they do.  Somehow it doesn’t seem enough just to say it, but Thank You!

I also need to take a moment to clarify what fostering actually means.  When you foster a rescue, you are agreeing to provide a temporary home for a dog until we can find a permanent adoptive home for it.  Fostering is NOT a “test drive” to see if you want to adopt a dog.  When you agree to foster, you do so with the understanding that the dog belongs to PugHearts and we are trying to find it a permanent home.   We require the foster to play an active role in finding a forever home for that dog so that includes bringing the dog to adoption events and Meet & Greets.  We also require the foster to be able to get their rescue to and from the vet as needed.  We pay for the medical care, but we need our volunteers to be an active participant in the dog’s medical treatment.  We do not pay for food, treats or toys – though whenever we receive donations of these items we will gladly pass them onto our fosters.  Obviously, we cannot pay our volunteers for what they do for these little guys.  But I can assure you that you will get back far more than you put in with these furbabies.  Their unconditional love and the feeling of satisfaction you will get cannot be measured.

For those of you who are reading this and think you’d like to help, we encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss fostering.  We would love to have you help!  We do ask that you be sure you are able to fulfill the commitments we require.  If you have the time, space and love to give, please fill in our Contact form and select “Fostering” to let us know you’re interested.  Or ask us in person next time you see us at a local event!

Robbi C
PugHearts of Houston

Categories:   PugHearts
Actions:   E-mail | | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Giving Them Whatever They Need

Wednesday, 31 December 2008 13:15 by robbic

So often most of what happens at PugHearts happens behind the scenes. There are so many stories, so many dramas that unfold that nobody ever hears about. There are heart-wrenching decisions that have to be made and not every story gets a happy ending. But there is always hope. Because sometimes we do see a happy ending. That is what keeps us going, trying to save one pug at a time.

In the past month we have lost two very special little guys. Unfortunately they were not the first pugs that we have lost and we know they will not be the last. That is the nature of what we do. Sometimes we get these guys far too late to “fix” them. And so they live out their last days with us as a hospice care pug. People will see them on the Our Dogs page with a note that says they are not available for adoption but are in hospice care. Then one day their picture and bio are quietly removed from the page. We could not pass up this opportunity to tell you about two of these such dogs.



Albert was a beautiful senior boy. He came to us with a severe case of heartworms. He had numerous other issues that made aggressive treatment of the heartworms impossible. As we could not rid him of these, we knew he would not make it. However, we wanted to make sure that he lived out his last days in a loving, comforting environment. He got just that.

Albert's & His Mom

He learned what unconditional love and pure compassion were. He lived his last few months as a very happy, spoiled little guy.



Samson was a sweet little guy, just over 10 years old. He came to us with a brain stem tumor and severe pneumonia. We treated the pneumonia but as it was a result of an impaired swallowing ability (due to the tumor) we knew it would never clear completely. And we knew the tumor would grow. The neurologist we took him to gave him just weeks to live. That was in January 2008.


Samson had a happy life in his last several months. He learned what it was like to be part of a loving family who accepted him as he was. He was loved and able to love in return.

As is always the case in rescue, there is no time to grieve as you would like. The calls keep coming, the emails don’t stop. There is always another pug who needs help. Last week we took in two very special boys who need us badly.



Bobby is an adorable little 6 month old puppy. He is more than likely a cast-off from a local backyard breeder. He was found wandering the streets, left to fend for himself. He weighs 6 lbs, though he should weigh around 10. His eyes never fully developed, leaving him blind. He is also a hermaphrodite. We are referring to him as a boy. Once he is spayed/neutered it really won’t matter anyway but for some reason people have a hard time dealing with his condition. A breeder certainly would not be able to make a profit off of him. And so he was cast out and left to die. We know he deserves a chance and will make sure that he gets it. Somewhere out there is the perfect family for him and we will help them find him.



Nicky is a sweet fawn male that was picked up by a local animal control authority. Thankfully they called us, as they are a kill shelter and nobody would’ve adopted Nicky. He’s an adult – we’re not sure of the age but we think around 4-6 yrs old. He is covered with fleas and sarcoptic mange. His left eye has an old injury to it. And he is heartworm positive. Quite frankly, he looks horrible. But we’ve seen this before and we know the mange can be easily cured. Soon he will be clear and his fur will grow back and he will be a beautiful boy. Unfortunately, few people can look past his cosmetic appearance right now and see that. But we know better.

And so it goes. The calls and emails continue and the pugs just keep coming. We will be here for whatever they need, whether we can “fix” them or not.

Actions:   E-mail | | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed