Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The Lord of the Pugs
The time has come for me to write about the Pug. It’s becoming one of the most popular dog breeds out there. I’ve never understood the attraction, exactly. It’s not my intention to “trash” or “make fun” of, the Pug. My mom, in her wise words: “They’re so ugly, they’re cute!” I know I’m risking a lot of angry mail from my six (6) readers but there is something endearing about them. And if you have something angry to say, send it to my mom! (address at the end of this post)
As a veterinarian, I see them as a four legged bundle of interesting medical problems. Other veterinarians refer to pugs as “practice builders” because they make so much money off the cute little pups. You know, help pay for their kids braces, summer camp or perhaps an expensive Ivy League school, if you happen to be a veterinarian working with a Pug BREEDER.
Because of the “smoosh face”, aka brachycephalic, they have strange nasal passages, strange breathing so lots of respiratory problems. They have problems with skin fold dermatitis in that cute little wrinkled face. And the eyes. As my boss, one of the pre-eminent veterinary ocular pathologists in the world says: “They use their eyes as bumpers”. What he means is because of the flattened face, the orbit where the eye resides is shallow. So, they eyes stick out. Because they stick out and act as bumpers, they get perforated by a variety of things. (sticks, teeth, strong winds, hail, etc). Pugs also have problems with tear production, so they get a condition called “dry eye”. Dry eye leads to inflammation of the cornea, called keratitis. Then, the pug can get squamous cell carcinoma of the eye. Pugs get this eye tumor at a higher rate than other breeds. Sometimes the tumor can be removed in a surgery called a keratectomy, where it is sort of “shaved off” the cornea. Usually they sample comes to our lab for pathological diagnosis. We are generally able to tell the surgeon if they “got it all”. Often, the tumor comes back, depending on how deep into the cornea the tumor has grown.
But still, even with all that, the pug is popular. There IS something about that face that IS appealing. Why? What accounts for this popularity when there are more handsome dogs such as Standard Poodles, Corgis, and Golden Retrievers. Do Pugs reach in” to the “ugly” part of ourselves, deep inside? Do they allow us to better accept our imperfections? Your guess is most likely better than mine!
Here in my town, there is an annual “Pug Hug”, where Pug owners are invited to congregate with their Pugs. I’ve always thought it would be fun to go, but I’d probably laugh the whole time. Might offend someone.
I also saw a survey recently which looked at how frequently different dog breeds were “dressed up” by their owners. The Pug was far and a away the most “dressed” dog. Followed by……………the Poodle.
And as a final note, I can at last reveal the TRUE identity of “The Lord of the Pugs”:
My boss, Dr Dick Dubielzig.