Sunday, June 22, 2008


I had a wonderful conversation on the phone yesterday with a friend from high school--well, she was my best friend in high school. We haven't seen each other or communicated in about 30 years. How does that happen? I guess people just go in different directions, with family, career, and such.

Anyway, it was nice to reconnect and hear what she's doing. And it turns out that she's just as passionate about dogs as I am, but in a totally different direction. She's an obedience judge and listening to her explanation about how dogs compete in obedience and agility trials was fascinating--a piece of the whole dog world that I know nothing about at all.

But ...

Pugs are not obedient. I don't mean they're incapable of obedience. I'm sure that some of them are obedient. But, in my 15 or 16 years of experience with the breed, from experiencing Deirdre's pugs, from having my own 5.5 pugs (counting Buddy as .5 pug), and from attending dozens of pug events--picnics, shows, parades, and the like--I haven't seen a lot of evidence of obedience. Or agility, for that matter.

Pugs simply don't care. They don't seem to understand why you care. Pugs simply ... are. Asking if a pug is obedient is like asking a British citizen whether Queen Elizabeth is obedient. Who cares? She's the queen!

Not that a pug won't come to you when you call...she will, especially if you're holding a Chicken Tender in your hand. If you've got one of those really cool 3-calorie puffy things, guaranteed to be a healthful alternative to the Chicken Tender, it's optional. A pug is not going to run to your side for 3 calories. Or just because you asked. Not gonna happen!

Now, outside the judging ring, it's really important that dogs be obedience trained so you can get them to come inside the house when some jerk has thoughtlessly opened the front door for the UPS man, who's probably delivering yarn anyway. And, of course, if you have a dog that bites, I suppose it's important to be able to get them to stop. My pugs don't bite humans, but that may be just us. In fact, when the UPS guy shows up, our guys bark, then they roll over onto their backs to be petted. They know the importance of yarn and its safe delivery.

Oddly, a lot of doggy things don't seem to apply to pugs. First of all, your basic pug is too lazy to chase the UPS driver or his truck too far. Of course, I can't be too smartalecky about this, since Bertie chased a car once and it led to his death. And the Woofgang pugs do occasionally stray out of the fence or out into the front yard.

So, here's the second thing about training pugs. It's really important that the owner be trained. Here's how training works with that front door example. On those occasions, we use the time-tested car method.

Here it is: Open the car door. Say, "Oh, hey, Lucy, nice to see you. How ya doin'? Want to go for a ride?" The pug jumps into the vehicle, you reverse out of the driveway and do a quick once-around the culdesac, maybe down to the next street if you're feeling magnanimous, and then back home. At home, say, "Lucy, who wants a treat?" Then go inside (with the pug) and do the right thing--give her one of those good treats, not the puffy things.

1 comment:

Janice in GA said...

I saw a pug in an obedience ring when I was stewarding once. She made it about half-way through the heel off-lead, and then decided she'd try to leave the ring. :)

The "hop in the car" thing works for us too. Jasper tends to squirt out the door sometimes. We don't even have to go ride, just let him hop in the car for a minute. :)