Friday, 14 September 2018


 Here are my two house guests, spending time with me until their new home is found. Charming, both of them, although one is much noisier than the other. One likes long, active walks, the other likes to have a very short potter with plenty of standing still and gazing into space time. They have apparently been together for all of their eight years, but they have different personalities, while retaining their breed characteristics.
They are in a long-term male partnership, and possibly, probably would not cope with separation in late middle-age.

They are both overweight, and like so many in the senior age group, are on the waiting list for surgery. As I'm doing the catering I'm following medical advice and serving very small meals just twice a day. This is not appreciated. and if they were in an hotel there would be a litany of complaint.
There is a sort of shocked disbelief from both of them that meals can be so small, but no complaint as such, just a lot of searching for any scraps that might be left lying around.
 Life can seem a bit tough.
But probably nothing like as tough as it has been over the last few years of their lives. They  were taken into the local Animal Rescue Shelter, here because their previous owner could no longer look after them. Sadly they had not been looked after for some time, to the detriment of their general health and well-being.

It's not good for dogs when they become fashionable, and even worse when they are thought to be 'cute'. I believe there was a pug in a popular soap - perhaps East-Enders - who was carried  everywhere and spent a lot of time in a pub. As a result the demand for pug puppies became great, and they were produced in large and expensive quantities.
There is still a popular demand for them, but not everyone likes their snoring, and so they are crossed with several other breeds, especially Jack Russell terriers when they are known as 'Jugs'. So the mixture can be a bit chaotic, with the best bits of both breeds missing, or incompatibly together.

Pugs are not for everyone.
They were for my family when my children were younger because pugs and children have a very special affinity. Pugs were bred to be companions. They like the same things as small children; pottering about looking at interesting things, then having a snooze somewhere warm and comfy. They like to be included in everything that's going on. They like to know what is in cupboards, what's in the garden, who's in the house, who might be coming to the house. Pugs and pre-schoolers can have a really interesting time together. Pugs can have a calming effect on older children too. They will lean or sit on a child for as long as it takes. I realise the memories of pug friendships last into adulthood - one son has a lovely pug tee-shirt and I'm sure his children appreciate it.

Pugs and adults can have a good time together as well. This pair has been with me for less than four days. They have explored the garden and then sat in the sunshine to watch what I'm doing. They come over to check occasionally, and if it's interesting they will make companionable noises and join in. If it's not so interesting they will go back to their warm patch for another little rest.
Because they have very little experience of outside life one of them will bark at new noises. He has to learn that this is not acceptable. It may take a water pistol to learn this lesson, but he's bright, and he's better today. After one short lesson the water pistol will probably just be a brief visual reminder. Pugs are clever dogs.
They have met a selection of friends and neighbours with great enthusiasm. They have watched a television programme about vets and have managed not to shout too much. They are learning a lot.
They are doing well although they are a bit clingy. If I move, they move. They want to be sure that I'm sticking around for a while, which I will be while the Rescue Shelter finds a new home for them.
We might all lose weight.

What pugs won't do is retrieve a ball (why bother?), chase things (except for once in a blue moon when they feel like it) do what they're told (unless they were going to do it anyway). They are stubborn, determined little characters.
I don't think I  trained my own pugs (and there were three of them over the years) apart from things like lead-walking, recall and being clean in the house. Two of them wanted to go for walks on leads and be clean, one of them refused, absolutely, to walk once her harness and lead were on. She came to us in her old age. Luckily we had a large, secure garden, because I felt undignified towing round a small dog, resolutely on its back with its legs in the air. Undignified for both of us.
Our succession of pugs might have trained me, but I think we just watched each other and reached a compatible life style. Pugs like to do things their way, and luckily their way is often very sensible.

Pugs do not do well in Kennels. It's tough on most dogs, and the care and attention given in this Rescue Shelter is wonderful. But it's not the same as being at home, even if it's a very new and temporary home. So I'm fostering this pair until the right new owners are found.

Update: by day 5 one of them has learned how to open the fridge. Clever boy! Now he'll have to work out how to untie knots. 


Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.
How I wish that fashionable and dog ownership was an inconceivable concept.

gz said...


Jenny Woolf said...

Pugs have hardly impinged on my consciousness - I think there was one in Rupert Bear called Algy, who was rather appealing to me as a child. I have wondered what their original use was as a working dog - guarding, perhaps? Your photo was very comfortable. I'm glad you're providing these two with bed and half board in their declining years. (Or perhaps not quite half board, from what you say.)

Relatively Retiring said...

E.C. Yes, and the money involved can be horribly tempting to breeders. It can be a nasty business with unfortunate animals suffering as a result.

gz: hello and thank you.

Jenny: Algy did not conform to the breed standard, but what do you expect of a pug who wears clothes and has a bear as a best friend?
Pugs are an ancient Chinese breed and their only purpose was to be companions. The two guests here may guard their meagre food, but nothing else. But we're all losing weight!

mm said...

I just love this, I don't know a lot about dogs having grown up in a cat-owning family and having had only had cats myself as an adult, but after reading this I think I could very easily be won over by a pug.

Relatively Retiring said...

mm: Good news for you! These two need adoption and are not far away from you. There are better photos of them on the website - check the link. They were stressed in kennels, very relaxed in a home. The black pug is cat-like and carefully washes his brother every day, insisting on him having a clean face.(Don't let me put you under pressure though!)

mm said...

Heh. Sadly it's not practically possible, at least for these two, at the moment. But in the future, who knows?

Jee said...

Having met them, I can confirm that they are delightful. Quite different characters but both with a lot of charm. Hopefully, the right home will come up for them soon.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jee: Thank you. Any interest in my small guests is very much appreciated. If I was younger and more mobile I would adopt, not just foster, but I must not let my heart rule my head in this situation.

Zhoen said...

They sound like wonderful friends. Would drive us nuts to live with, the toddlerness and clinging...

Glad they found you to appreciate them and give them a transition home.

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: You are so right for cats....dogs are pack animals after all and their owners have to make sure they are the pack leaders.The clinging going on here is anxiety because of previous problems. They are relaxing day by day, but always need lots of human companionship.

Pam said...

How interesting. I've never seen the charm of pugs - they're not really very doglike, I always feel - but you've given them excellent PR. I'm sure you're a lovely foster-granny.

Relatively Retiring said...

Pam: Good news; they have gone to a lovely new home and now have another pug to live with as well. They will need an even larger furry bed if they all pile in together.
My granddaughter predictably fell in love and we had to have a tear-stained conversation about doing the right thing for animals.
My house is now very quiet, but the fridge is secure.