Loyalty and companionship are better than a pretty face

Oscar is a pug, which is the 15th most popular breed of dog in the United States. What Oscar lacks in beauty, he makes up for in loyalty.

To say the Herzog household is canine-loving is somewhat akin to saying that the Obama abode is populated by Democrats.

Animal Planet gets more than its share of screen time on our television. We have pet health insurance. The Westminster Kennel Club Show ranks right up there with the Super Bowl. Our dogs have standing appointments with the groomer. If you come to our house watch where you step. No, it’s not what you think, at least most of the time. It’s that dog toys litter the floors. We get new additions nearly every trip to the grocery store. They’re hazardous, especially walking around in the middle of the night.

I learned early on in my marriage that there are five words I never, ever want to say: It’s me or the dog. There’s little doubt about who would win that one.

I’ve often thought the much better half of this marriage of mine has a secret desire to own every known breed of dog. Thus we’ve, separately or together at one time or another, been the masters of a Golden Retriever, an Old English Sheepdog, a Brittany Spaniel, a Collie, a mutt and a Gordon Setter.

The current canine lineup, if nothing else, provides comic relief to anyone we see when we walk the dogs. At our house reside a 7-year-old greyhound, adopted three years ago after a short, successful but injury-prone racing career, and a decade-old Pembroke Welsh corgi. For those of you unfamiliar with the body types of dogs, let’s just say these two are an unlikely duo. We have one dog, the corgi,  with almost no legs, and one dog, the greyhound, who is all legs. But they have their similarities. They’re both lazy. As I write this, they are both napping, as they have been for most of the day. And will for most of the remainder of the day.

To that pair last month we temporarily added a third member. Daughter Liz and son-in-law Sam last year decided it was time for a dog. No grandkids yet, but a grand-dog for us. After much research they settled on a pug, the 15th most popular breed in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. Toy dogs had never been my favorite breeds. I feared a little yapping ankle-biter.

Oscar is one of those animals that, at first glance, you’d think only a mother could love. Pugs are anything but handsome. They are what is known in the dog world as “flat-faced dogs.” If ever someone develops Botox for dogs, pugs will be first in line. They have spindly legs. They have buggy eyes. Oscar has to turn his head to look straight ahead. The pug literature says they “carry themselves with great dignity.” I think it more accurately should say they have an attitude. Oscar walks around like he owns the place. And, as you know, in our house he does, along with his corgi and greyhound buddies.

They are comedians and they are sneaky. Try this for entertainment: Get some doggy booties (yes, there really are such things) and put them on a pug. Their frantic efforts to get them off their feet resemble what it would look like if they were forced to walk on a hot plate. The Herzogs are easily amused, I suppose, since we spent a good portion of one evening watching Oscar dance around in his winter footwear. That was after we finally figured out the out-of-the-way corner he’d decided was his favorite place to mark.

That annoying habit is something we’ve learned occasionally goes with the territory of dog ownership.

It’s a small price to pay. Pugs may look odd, but they adore their humans. Their few annoying habits quickly fade when one learns that pugs, or at least Oscar, love nothing more than curling up with their humans to read a book, say, or watch a movie, and that their preferred bed is the one their humans use.  They are by your side all day and night.

Oh, one other thing: They snore.


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