Pugs

Pugs have personality

Our pugs have no shortage of personality. We became proud pug parents in March of 2012 when my husband brought home Sookie. We were very lucky to have found this 14-week old female pug who just happened to live in the high rise apartment building next door.

The previous owners spoiled Sookie but were unable to keep her as they were dealing with a family crisis. Sookie came with two beds, a couple of harnesses, a few pairs of shoes and outfits, her pink blanket that had her mother’s scent, toys, food and water bowls and a baby gate, which was very useful.

Sookie is a black pug, which for those that don’t know means, black pugs only have one coat of fur. She went from one loving home to another very loving home. Sookie has never been abused, neglected and doesn’t know just how good she has it compared to other dogs.

Sookie is very affectionate, loves her lap time, loves people especially kids and she seems to get along better with male dogs and she tries to make friends wherever she goes.  Sookie loves going out for walks even though she has 24/7 access to the fenced-in backyard. She loves being social and looks forward to seeing which neighbors are outside, and genuinely wants to say hello and give gentle kisses.

After two years, we thought Sookie might like a companion. She had proven to be great with people, other dogs and she was very friendly and good-natured. My husband did some research and found that many people were saying not to get two female pugs together. Seems in many cases they struggle for dominance and tend to fight.  We tried finding a male pug, but all we kept finding were female pugs.  At this point we knew Sookie was great and played well with other male dogs, she tried interacting with other female dogs, but most showed little interest in Sookie.

My husband found a two-year-old female fawn pug that needed a good home. He saw a few pictures of Lily and fell in love instantly. He contacted the owner and made the arrangements to have Lily brought by to see how she interacted with Sookie. That first meeting was a little chaotic. The pugs chased each other around in a playful manner, the owner seemed desperate to find a new home for Lily, we didn’t see any red flags as to why we shouldn’t keep Lily.

The owner had shared that Lily had come from a breeder that had intended to use Lily to breed more pug puppies. For whatever reason, the breeder decided not to use Lily and she was rehomed to a friend. That friend kept Lily for a short time, and for whatever reason, they couldn’t keep her and they gave her to the lady that was standing in our living room. It was heartbreaking to know that this little dog had four homes in two years. Most of which she was crated up to 12 hours a day.

The owner came prepared just in case the meeting went well. Lily came with her food and water bowls, a medium crate which she was used to spending time in, and a half bag of food to which we were warned she was a picky eater.  We decided to open our home to Lily knowing that we had to invest in her health, as she didn’t come with any proof of vaccinations or a health record. It was obvious that she had been neglected in that manner, especially coming from a breeder.

We decided to set Lily’s crate up in our bedroom to monitor her first night in a new environment. Sookie was curious as she had never seen a crate and she didn’t seem to like the idea that it was Lily’s safe haven. We left the crate open to give Lily the choice as to whether she was more comfortable inside or outside and to allow Sookie the chance to get accustomed to seeing it.  While Lily was quick to make herself at home, we noticed why she was crated or maybe it was a sign that she had been crated for too long.

Lily wasn’t completely house-broken, she peed like a male dog lifting her leg. We let her out often and she would never relieve herself fully. Just piddle a little here, piddle a little there, unlike Sookie who would let everything out at once. We expected to go through an adjustment period, that is to be expected when you introduce a new pet into your life. They need a chance to get use to you and you need to learn their habits.

We also learned that you can’t believe everything that you are told from the former owner. We felt that Lily may have been crated for longer periods during the day than the owner suggested. Lily was not used to being walked regularly, which was a something she seemed to enjoy. Lily was not at all a picky eater, in fact, she loves food and is very food motivated. Not surprising since pugs are known to be overeaters if you let them. Lily would also “rage pee” when she wasn’t happy or if she didn’t get her way. Perhaps that is why she was rehomed so many times; other families either didn’t want to work with her or they didn’t have the the time to spend to help correct the issue.

As frustrating as her behavior was, we were not going to give up on her. We brought her into the Vet to have a complete physical and vaccinations since we didn’t know what was given if anything. Lily came to us with a type of heart dysrhythmia, severe plaque/tartar build up on her teeth and was in need of an ear cleaning. If the breeder knew of her heart condition, that could be why they didn’t want to keep her.

That is their loss because Lily has since outgrown her dsryhthmia and is perfectly happy and healthy today. Lily hasn’t been crated for a moment since she’s been with us and she loves having the freedom to come and go as she pleases. Lily is full of life, she’s spunky, she loves to play fetch with her little tennis balls, she loves to eat and she loves to give and receive affection. Lily is one happy little dog and we wouldn’t trade her for anything.

Sookie also went through a learning curve with Lily around. She wasn’t used to sharing her bed, food, toys and us with another dog. The warnings from other pug owners proved to be true, especially since our girls were not from the same litter or had the same parents. Lily still has no sense of boundaries or personal space and often oversteps which Sookie finds annoying, (and so do our guest).

They struggled for the first two years figuring out which was the Alpha Female. We thought it should be Sookie since it was her house first, she stands a bit taller and weighs more than Lily. We attempted to feed Sookie first, give treats first, show affection first, but all attempts backfired as Lily would insert herself and shove Sookie out of the way. Their relationship for the first three years was what we considered a love/hate relationship. Lily loves Sookie, while Sookie tolerates Lily. Lily would always be the one to cuddle up to Sookie, Sookie even now rarely reciprocates.

God forbid if you try to separate them, they lose their minds. We have to bring them to the Vet together, but they can’t be in the same room. We’ve learned that we can’t pick up one while the other is near, that doesn’t end well. That act usually ends in them engaging in a very aggressive outburst. We have the same result if Sookie is trying to correct Lily’s behavior or if Lily is getting too close to a toy that Sookie is playing with. These aggressive outbursts are not fun, in fact, they are downright troublesome.

In their first few months, we went through a few, by a few it would seem like a daily event. We had no idea or a way to know that Sookie, a gentle soul had that behavior in her. While Lily for the most part (90%) instigates it, it is always Sookie that makes the decision to go after Lily. You’d think Lily would learn, but she doesn’t. After five years together they still have aggressive outbursts, but they are not as often and not as violent as they used to be.

We have learned what triggers the outbursts, what not to do, how to introduce new toys/treats and we finally have a way of handling them so they can’t hurt each other, which has happened in the past. Sookie has bitten Lily’s ear and tore it and Lily somehow managed to bite Sookie’s tongue, and she has a small piece missing. It’s scary to see them go at it. If we didn’t intervene they would fight to the death. Their aggressive behavior was embarrasing if we had guests over, their outbursts would last a good 10 minutes. Luckily we have managed to get the time down to under 2 minutes.

Now they are both older (they’ll be 7 in November) and we have things under control for the most part. Sookie has finally learned to be more tolerant, she doesn’t get aggressive with her toys if Lily walks too close. It’s got to a point where Lily can join Sookie on my lap without Sookie giving a warning growl. The only time Sookie is on alert is when she senses my monthly hormonal changes. We deal with one or two short outbursts, but then it quickly settles.

My husband has been working with Lily in the respect that he (only he) can pick up Lily without Sookie losing her mind. Sookie will allow him to pick her up, but you can tell she gets anxious and wants to know where Lily is. I don’t bother trying to pick up either one unless I have to intervene. There have been much more good days than bad days. The bad days are becoming fewer and far between, but pugs are smart and they are so stubborn. Neither wants to give in, so for now Sookie is learning to be more tolerable and Lily still needs to learn about personal space.

Sookie is a better listener and needs to find a better outlet for her aggression. Lily insists on getting the last word in and has a means of getting her aggression out with her toys. Lily will find a soft plush toy and shake it aggressively for a few minutes, which is a better solution.

If you were thinking about having two female pugs, consider yourself warned. It’s not to say that they can’t live peacefully. My brother has 4 female pugs, 3 of which are from the same family (different litters, same parents) and I think that makes the difference. His pugs don’t have the aggressive outbursts that our girls do.

For those inquiring minds, Yes our girls are spayed, we had that done with in six months of getting Lily. Sookie calmed right down and became a lap dog; where as Lily continues to be a bit of a spazz and shows no signs of slowing down.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our Pugs and they have bonded with us. As much as Sookie wouldn’t admit it, she loves having Lily around.

This blog post wasn’t intended to be so wordy, clearly I can go on and on about our girls.

I’m always happy to answer any questions that you may have about our girls or about pugs in general as they do require special attention. ~ Hannah

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