Everyone loves reading the Social Pug Profile interviews with pugs from the social media scene. Well now it is time to put the pug parents in the spotlight to answer some questions about what it is like to own a pug in the Pug Parent Profile. Get to know the humans behind the pugs you love and pick up a tip or two for life with your pug. This week we are getting to know the human of Doug the Pug Therapy Dog, Cate.
Name: Cate Archer
Where do you live? London, UK
How many pugs do you own? Just the one, for now!
What are their names?
Doug the Pug Therapy Dog! I know that’s a very long, and seemingly unnecessary, name – but we like to aim for clarity! There are lots of other Dougs out there who have varying personas (with such very different aims and objectives to us) that we like to avoid any ambiguity!
Is your current pug/s your first?
He is indeed! And we cannot imagine life now without one!
Do you think your pugs personality matches yours?
I’d regard that as a compliment if it were true. I feel that Doug is all embracing. He shows no judgement, he holds no stigma, and he never has a bad word to say about anyone!
What did you expect a pug to be like before you got one?
I had never known anyone with a pug before – or had even met one. I come from a very pragmatic farming family and had always been drawn to large dogs. I was persuaded, against my ‘better’ judgement, to get a pug and am delighted to have been proved so very wrong.
What was different to your expectation once you got a pug?
Naively, I had imagined that we’d just have a dog that was little! I had not expected such a great little pal. I have been quite overwhelmed by the enormous comfort and joy, that this small snuggly little bundle of fun in the shape of a pug, has brought to the lives of so many.
What would be your number 1 tip for new pug parents?
Be gentle but firm, be consistent, and be in charge. Looking after a pug is rather like good parenting. But, when caring for any companion animal, this should always be the case. To have a happy and confident pug, a confident adult is needed to keep boundaries and expectations clear. Pugs are smart but can be very stubborn.
It took me a while to realise this though! Doug was still peeing inside the house at 10 months old – I managed to secure a urine sample to take to the vet, utterly convinced he had a urine infection. I was told quite clearly that our little Dougie was purely lazy. He still doesn’t like peeing outside during inclement weather. And I am indulgent enough to carry him outside, under a very large golfing umbrella, until we find a little dry spot under a tree. Ridiculous, I know, but we haven’t had any toileting problems since!
What do you hate most about having a pug?
‘Hate’ is such a horribly strong word. And I hate it! But what I hate most about having a pug is that I hate the haters. I find it so incredibly sad to read of the ‘problems’ all pugs allegedly have. That often makes me sad, and often makes me defensive and annoyed.
Pugs are most certainly the dogs that are in for a bashing at present – but there appears to be little mention of other breeds with typical problems.
I know that there are long bodied dogs that are susceptible to back problems; there are very large dogs that are predisposed to heart problems; and there are dogs with very large ears that appear to have more yeast infections than others.
Perhaps it’s just the pug’s turn for the bad press.
What do you love most about having a pug?
I adore the sweet comfort and joy so willingly shared. The pug’s beautiful nature is a true delight. As a working Therapy Dog, Doug has the most perfect disposition to help make the lives of those with difficulties a little less challenging. He really does help to alleviate the feelings of loneliness and isolation often associated with long term chronic illness, homelessness, or debilitating mental health conditions.
What has been your biggest fear about owning a pug?
I fear for him being out of my hands. Our dear little puggy appears to be quite without the tools for managing independent life. Should he ever get lost, I know he would have few survival skills to sustain life until found. I also worry that unscrupulous people might have ill intentions towards him.
Have you experienced any of the typical pug health problems? If so, how have you overcome them? If not, what precautions have you taken to prevent health problems?We are fortunate that Doug hasn’t, as yet, suffered any of the commonly discussed, stereotypical, pug health problems.
He doesn’t have particularly prominent eyes and I feel that this has made him less vulnerable to eye ulcers.
He also has never illustrated any breathing problems – and I put this down to him having rather a large nose and a very small fold above his nasal area.
On both the above points, perhaps I’ve also been incredibly lucky.
I am also very strict with Doug’s weight management. A friend had been told by her vet that for every kg her pug was overweight, she was reducing his life by two years. This shocked me. I know that if I gave Doug twice as much food as he should have, he would still want more. So, I might as well give him the prescribed amount. I found the correct weight of food that he should have – and I then divided this into three equal portions. I give him one portion for breakfast and one for tea. The other portion is distributed throughout the day in allocation of tiny ‘snacks’. The easiest way I have done this is to find a little pot (actually the lid of an aerosol furniture polish can) that holds exactly 1/3 of the daily allocation. Making it easy, and without space for much error, gives the most reliable way to consistently give the correct amount of food. I give Doug a very good quality kibble – I know many prefer ‘raw’ feeding but this is what works best for me and our busy flexible lives. Always feeding Doug at exactly the same time of day, and always with the exact same type of food, helps towards reliable timely toileting and self-expression of anal glands. As a working Therapy Dog, this confidence in his toileting helps me in meeting both his needs and the needs of those he supports.
Doug had a malignant mast cell tumour removed successfully over two years ago now. I don’t know whether pugs are more susceptible to mast cell tumours than any other breed but these tumours are difficult to detect. I am now ever conscious of feeling his skin as I run my fingers through his hair when stroking him. His tumour started as a small pink pimple and was rather like a smooth wart. One day it got bigger and I booked an appointment with the vet. The next day it went down and became so small I could hardly see it. As a result, I almost cancelled the appointment and even had to snip his hair to mark the spot for detection. Apparently this ‘change’ is often a key sign of a mast cell tumour. We were lucky that it was a low stage tumour and no further treatment was necessary after surgery and the prognosis for him is good. Cancer is such a scary word and often used with such hushed tones that alarm many. I find it particularly comforting to be able to talk about Doug’s cancer with children as an illustration that not all cancer has a tragic ending. We often leave talk of cancer too late for a happy outcome. And, as a result, children in particular find it difficult to confidently work with the real and current information shared.
As previously mentioned, Doug is a real greedy guts! In fact, he is an absolute scavenger. He once devoured an old chicken bone found in the street, before I’d even realised what was happening. He developed such a terrible gastric infection that he was bleeding from both ends and this resulted in a very expensive and incredibly anxious time in the emergency veterinary hospital, on a hydrating drip, for over two days. I am now ever vigilant when out and about to ensure that he eats nothing inappropriate and am so very grateful for comprehensive pet insurance.
But, one thing I so wish I’d been better at is cleaning Doug’s teeth. As a farmer’s daughter, it seemed quite ridiculous to clean a dog’s teeth. But, I now know, that all small dogs (and particularly pugs) are known to have an over crowded mouth. As a result, they have a greater susceptibility to problems with their teeth and gums. We all know how incredibly uncomfortable it is to have sore gums and aching teeth and I am now much more diligent in cleaning Doug’s teeth and gums. Unfortunately, this good practice came all too late and was only truly drawn to my attention after Doug needed teeth removed under general anaesthetic. Quite rightly, I feel both sorry and negligent and now use an appropriate canine dental toothpaste to clean his teeth and I also administer a powdered seaweed product, sprinkled on his food, to create saliva that hinders the build up of plaque. Pugs absolutely hate having their teeth cleaned but the consequences of indulging this are the same as they would be if you let a child manipulate you in such a way. Again, we’re back to good parenting!
Why did you choose to start a social media account for your pug?
I absolutely love the life that Doug and I have together and wanted to share with others the joys of Companion Animal Therapy and the comfort of the Human Animal Bond.
It makes my heart sing that our work has inspired others to consider such work too and give comfort in their support of others.
As our popularity has grown, it gladdens me enormously that we are also able to support other causes through our work. Using Doug’s sweet persona on social media, we are able to encourage others to show benevolence and kindness to many good causes. I was delighted to be approached recently by Save the Children to help promote their “Hounds Raising Pounds” campaign and, when Doug and I slept outside on a London street this autumn, we helped raise funds and awareness for DOTS London to help care for the dogs belonging to those people living rough on our city streets.
I am always open to sharing love and kindness with others and genuinely believe that we all have something wonderful to offer. It is said that the world is full of good people – and if you can’t find one, just be one! Easy peasy!
Another saying I go by is that “everyone we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about.” I feel this is so very true. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Taking me to the words of Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Be the reason someone believes in the goodness in people. I champion all the sayings in the current hashtag movements of “paying it forward”, “doing something for nothing” and “random acts of kindness”. Using Doug on social media is a good way of sharing the message that dogs show no judgement, they hold no stigma – our mantra is very much “think like a dog”.
If Doug and I can reach out, and help those less fortunate than our selves, and encourage others to do this too, I feel that this is a really good use of social media and also a fun thing to do!
Where can we follow your pugs adventures?
With links to the following –
I hope you enjoyed getting to meet the human of Doug and picked up a tip or two about owning a pug.