We’ve now had well over a year with our sweet pug Strudel (a name inspired by my former childhood love of Toaster Strudels). It was relatively unexpected and last minute when she came into our life. But here she is. And boy has it been a roller coaster ride.
Pugs are certainly a special breed—there’s a reason they’ve been around for ages, bringing joy and companionship globally. I’m here to share a few highlights of our first year, so future pug parents will know what to expect. Or maybe you’ll just enjoy the read!
Our journey with Strudel began after a long night of driving, when we arrived at a farm in the eastern United States. We walked inside the house to find a handful of pugs sleeping snuggly together like little piglets, in the living room. Strudel popped up like a spring chicken and leaped into our laps. She chose us, and we snuggled for the entire nine-hour drive back home.
Saying Hello to the Poms and the Yorkie
We should have taken things a bit slower when introducing Strudel to our very babied Pom. Halli struggled a bit with the new addition, but now they snuggle while sleeping. Mitzi, being very old, couldn’t handle the spunk, so we had to be extra careful when the very robust Strudel was roaming about. Bria, our Yorkie, is still curious about Strudel, but is not cool with any play sessions yet.
What we didn’t know, was that puppy proofing would involve way more than putting up a few gates and sweeping the floor for small objects. It meant slippers now had their new spot on top of the dresser, my purse had to be zipped tightly and out of reach, and I needed a tougher laptop! Pugs are highly curious, and most definitely mischievous.
Our Gleeful Runner
Many think pugs are slugs that couch surf all day long—but think again. They are slippery, fast as lightning and so athletic, at least while young. Whether it be leaping out of the bed before I do in the morning, or bolting out the door into the yard, it can be impossible to catch her. We’ve learned it’s best to let her know, if she listens to our call to come back, she gets a treat. Regular walks help chill the wildness.
Off to the Vet
Our vet affectionately calls Strudel our “little hazard”. She’s rambunctious, energetic, and interested in everything. Mix that with a pug mom who’s dealt with obsessive compulsive disorder for 15 years and you’ve got a pup who’s been to the vet her fair share.
We have a healthy girl, with a benign dilated pupil she’s had since birth (anisicoria). We call her our Frank de Boer pup—Atlanta United fans know the reference. And you better bet we have Figo pet insurance for our ball of energy—legit, this isn’t an ad. I might need insurance too, given she’s pulled me down the stairs while on her leash. We still need to fix the rail. (Laughing and crying inside at the same time).
Adventures to Florida
Strudel got to take an exciting trip to Florida shortly after we welcomed her into our family. While house sitting for friends, she became acquainted with two French bulldogs, Sal and Annie, who she boldly loved to steal toys from. She handled the ride in her new car seat like a champ, until she puked right in the seatbelt slot of my pristine back seats. A little sip of water and a hug later, she made it the rest of the way just fine. We are working on Strudel’s car sickness tolerance. My upholstery didn’t fare so well.
Toys, Toys, Toys
No Lamb Chop toy stands a chance against Strudel. Not many toys do. She’s gone through a bucket full and we’ve learned that any toy stating it’s “indestructible” is sitting on a throne of lies. Play time is supervised for our puggle-wuggle, because in a flash she can dissect a stuffed animal or unravel a rope. FYI—Kong toys, both rubber and plush, have held up the best.
On Christmas morning we had her a new bed adorned with forest animals, chew toys and stocking full of treats awaiting when she opened those sweet eyes. Presents were there to be opened, and she had no clue what was going on. But one thing was for sure, she loved it. Before the day was over, the bed was torn open, but the toys had survived. And we had a very happy pup on our hands.
Magical Sprinkles Everywhere
Pugs shed astronomically, so we vacuum four times as much as we used to. You know where Strudel has been, because she leaves a trail of “glitter” everywhere she goes. But with a Furminator brush, lint rollers and a hand vacuum, we got this. Honestly, one forgets all about the mountains of fur when staring into those precious face folds. Regular baths help with shedding while preventing pug acne. (It’s a thing!) Clean those wrinkles too, and watch ears for signs of infection.
The Loyal Caretaker
Halli, our Pom, has always been extra attentive when we are sick. Strudel has proven to have the same instinctual nurturing, as she nursed me through an intense illness around Christmas. While lying on the floor with a 104 fever, our not even one-year old baby was taking care of her mama.
Puppaccinos and Popcorn
Pugs live for food and hugs. But snacks can get them into trouble with their weight. And some foods are not okay for dogs (Check out ASPCAs guide to unsafe table food). But if there are two things in this world she can’t resist, it’s Starbuck’s Pupaccinos, and fresh air popped popcorn. I’ll never have a bowl to myself again. Sharing is fun, eh, sometimes.
Yes, we are the kind of pet parents that throw pup birthday parties fit for a human child. Strudel’s first birthday was a celebration filled with strawberries, new toys and time with our Pomeranian Halli, my mom’s Yorkie Bria, and our nearly 19 year old family dog Mitzi who has since gotten her angel wings. We reflected on the chaotic year, also thinking we’d definitely do it all over again.
The Little Things
We love the way she barks at bunnies from the upstairs window. I love when she is attacking me trying desperately to lick my freshly chapsticked lips. We’ve learned pugs are a lot of work, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of love and affection this special, historic breed will bring into your life. Check out a pug rescue if you’d like to bring a wrinkle baby into your life.
Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.