ASK NATALIE02/28/08

ASK NATALE

Q: My boyfriend and I are getting ready to move into a place of our own, and we are pretty geeked. We want to get a pug, like very badly, but people we know that DON'T EVEN HAVE PUGS keep telling us how horrible they are! I personally (even though I haven't owned one myself) think they are pretty great. I figured you have a pretty good amount of firsthand knowledge about pugs, since you have a couple yourself- how great are they? What can we expect from a pug, in terms of odd behavior, even if we get one that is not the brightest pug in the litter (I still think even a dumb pug would be pretty cool)? Should I tell the naysayers to go spread their buzz kill-yness elsewhere?


A: Before you go jumping into getting a dog, you need to ask yourself WHY you want to get a pug...

Just because you think they are cute or odd or weird or whatever is NOT a good reason. I have pugs because I took a look at my life, my activity level, how much I work, how much time I am willing to invest in a dog, how much money I am willing to invest in caring for a dog, and thought about what qualities were important to me in a dog. When I took everything into consideration, and compared different dog breeds to see which would suit my lifestyle the best, the dog breed that came closest to what I had in mind was the pug. If I had done my research and found that poodles would have suited me better, then Charles and Chester would have been poodles.

The reason for getting a purebred dog instead of a mutt is that, by meeting a breed standard, you'll have an idea of what kind of dog you're taking home. You need to avoid getting sucked into a certain breed because you have preconceived notions, taking home a dog that doesn't meet your needs at all, and both you and the dog ending up unhappy.

The other thing that I should mention, is that pugs are just dogs. The shape of their skull doesn't give them any mystical powers. No dog is inherently "great" right out the puppyhole. The greatness of your dog is proportional to how much time you spend socializing with it, training it, and taking care of it. I have met mutts who make my dogs look like chopped liver, and I have met show-quality dogs who are a lot shittier to be around than my pet-quality dogs.

All that being said, why do people keep telling you pugs are bad dogs to get? It is possible that they are just basing their statements on shitty pugs they have met. Alternately, they might be referring to the myriad health problems pugs are prone to, which are EXPENSIVE to treat, pop up all the time, and sometimes just kill your dog outright. Chester doesn't get sick very often, but he needed surgery when he was a puppy to open his nostrils up so he could breathe through them, and to trim his soft palate so that wouldn't interfere with his breathing. Charles hasn't needed surgery for anything, but he gets sick a few times a year, on top of regular dog-maintenance vet visits/vaccinations, etc. Let's just say, our vet is very happy we decided to get pugs (bling bling, etc.)

The reason Charles and, to a lesser extent, Chester, seem like they are weird or genius or whatever, is because they hang out with us all day long, and are totally used to looking at us and pretending to care what we're talking about, cause we just talk to them all day. If you guys are in school or working a lot, and the dog would be alone all the time, he would not be socialized in the same way. If we are away from the house for more than 4 or 5 hours, the dogs act up and shit on the floor and do bad stuff, and they are not cool at all.

Also, pugs shed more than any other animal I have ever seen in my life. I am not lying or exaggerating, if I had known that dogs were able to shed as much as these 2 dogs, I would have opted for a different breed. It is not cool at all, I spend hours and hours a month sweeping the floor.

I'm not trying to shit in your sandwich or anything, I am just trying to get you to look at pet ownership in a realitic way. Pugs live for a loooong time, I saw a NINETEEN year old one at some function recently, and 12-14 is average. That is a long time. These are super-needy dogs, and unless you have a ton of time and energy to devote to one for that long, you might want to consider something different, that is more independant and easier to take care of.

I would recommend someone else getting a pug as much as I would recommend them wearing my glasses. I like them fine, and they work out perfect for me, but if you get one without making sure they are an appropriate choice, getting one might be the worst idea ever. If you do your homework and pugs are the right dog for you, please make sure to get them from a good breeder or a breed rescue. That puppymill shit is depressing as hell, and pugs are so overbred as it is, getting a crappily bred one is like asking for it to drop dead.

You probably just wanted me to say OH WHATEVER, PUGS RULE ASS GET 6 OF EM!! But this is just something that I think is particularly important, and I thought I should clickclickclick about it for a second, since people ask me about pugs a whole lot.

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