A writer’s dog: Pearl, a pug in Portland

Has your dog ever made friends with someone before you did? 

A guy and his pug

Just a guy and his pug

When we first moved to Kansas City, Scooby used to tag along with my then-boyfriend to work at a screenprinting shop. Apparently, the other guys who worked there got a kick out of my little dog. Caleb, a young writer, was especially fond of the elderpin. When I finally met Caleb and found out he was a writer, too, we were instant friends.

Caleb now lives in Portland with his beautiful photographer wife and a precious pug named Pearl.

You used to work with Scooby. What was that like?

Scooby was a self-starter with a lot of management potential. I think the only thing holding him back from taking over the company we worked for outright was taking constant smoke breaks. Day-to-day Scooby was a morale booster to say the least, though. The only people who didn’t love him were delivery dudes. For whatever reason, Scoobs didn’t seem to dig men in uniform. [Editor’s note: This is still true. In the past year, Scooby ran full-speed out of our front door and into the cab of a FedEx truck, barking ferociously all the way. Luckily, the delivery guy understood – he said he also had a miniature pinscher at home.]

Who is your dog and what is her story?

I grew up with two pugs (Sally the pug sadly passed away a few years ago, but Ace the pug is eight and the apple of my parents’ respective eyes) and always knew I’d want one of my own. After moving from Kansas City to Portland and setting into new careers and life in the city for several months, my wife Anna and I decided it was time to start actively looking for a pug of our own. Pearl‘s story is pretty simple. We found a classified ad online for pug puppies and looked for all the creepy breeder red flags to make sure we weren’t supporting a puppy mill or something similarly awful. Once we were 99% sure it was just an innocent batch of puppies from some people in the Portland suburbs we went out and picked up Pearl the pug. She was one of two fawn puppies left from a litter of 4. We were offered both pups for a really cheap price, but were too intimidated to train two dogs at once. Pearl seemed a lot more interested in going home with us than her sister, so she’s the one that chose. Sometimes we’re bummed we didn’t take her sister, too, but Pearl has proven to be an excellent pick!

Pearl the pug in the grass

Photo by Anna Goellner

Why did you decide to get a pug?

Pugs are just the right size and temperament for our lifestyle. They have a few hour-long bursts of energy a day that force you to get off the Internet and play with them and take them on walks. The rest of the day they’re happy to sleep in your lap and cuddle. My wife and I work from home, so we were really looking for a dog we could take on several short walks a day to break up our workflow, but also a dog that’d be okay with hanging out while we get stuff done. Pearl has proven to be exceptionally athletic, though, so she actually likes to run for several blocks at a time at full speed – even at two years of age. We’ve been looking into adopting a second pug from a local Pug Rescue for a few months, but we’ve been holding off until our travel schedules slow down to commit to anything.

What is a typical day like for your dog?

We usually roll out of bed around 8:30 a.m. and let Pearl out of her crate, which is next to our bed. Like most dogs, she runs straight for her food dish and we scoop her some breakfast. After she gulps down her food, one of us will take her outside of our apartment to do her doggie business and go for a quick walk. Once she’s back inside, Pearl will alternate between sleeping in my lap and laying in her own doggie bed until about noon. From about 1-5 p.m. she gets kind of wild and brings us toys to play fetch/tug with – we oblige for a few minutes here and there while trying to work, which can be wonderful or terribly distracting depending on our workloads. At about 5 p.m. Pearl gets her dinner and a longer walk/jog. Evenings are usually pretty chill for Pearl as we go on our own runs/go complete errands/shop and she waits to go outside for one last quick outing/walk before bedtime around 10:30 p.m. On weekends we try to take her on special activities. If the weather is dry enough we’ll take her to the local dog park, hiking trails or other fun pug places where she can really go wild. During the super rainy season we take her to play with other pups at a nice dog hotel/cafe across the street and on special car rides.

Pug in the leaves

Pearl strikes a supermodel pose. Photo by Anna Goellner.

Does your dog help you accomplish writerly tasks?

Pearl has actually become a major part of my identity as a blogger. I cover action figures and other toys as part of my job and get sent a lot of potential products to review. After appearing in the background of one of my photo shoots, Pearl kind of became a sensation and people started clicking on my posts just to see pictures of “the cute pug.” At this point, she’s more or less a model. People have been really cool about liking and reblogging photos of Pearl on sites like Tumblr and Pinterest, which has been a lot of fun.

Have you ever written about Pearl?

When I’m doing more opinion-y writing I sometimes sneak in references to loving pugs or living life with Pearl. Aside from that, I pretty much mention her daily on one social media site or another.  I try not to be too obnoxious, but I can’t contain my pug dadness sometimes.

What kind of writing are you doing these days?

I’m the Senior Editor at AOL/The Huffington Post’s, a site that covers comic book news and culture. I do mostly shorter-form news and culture posts day-to-day between cultivating feature content and original art projects with my team of freelancers. On a good week I’m able to conduct an interview or something similarly more ambitious. On a really good (light) week, I sometimes contribute features or reviews of my own.

Wet pug after a bath

A shiny, clean pug.

What’s special about having dogs in Portland?

Portland is a super dog-friendly town. I’ve never really seen anything like it. People really treat their dogs like members of the family. We live in the Northwest part of the city, which is mostly apartments, parks and food/shopping places. There’s a lot of dogs around and Pearl got socialized really quickly, although she can still be kind of a spaz. The mild weather here is also awesome for pugs because it’s rarely super hot or super cold and they can get quality exercise outdoors year-round. It does rain a lot, though, so we’re constantly wiping off her paws from about October until May.

What is special about your dog?

Pearl is a pretty tall/skinny pug with a lot of energy. People are always surprised about how in-shape she is for a breed that’s often considered to be inherently chubby and lazy. That said, Pearl is still very cuddly. You can’t sit down in our apartment without her aggressively wedging herself on your lap.

Pearl also loves people and other dogs, although she’ll often run right past dogs to meet their people first. When we take her to the dog park she tends to ignore any pups around her size and runs to play with the biggest and most energetic dogs. It can be kind of a hassle, actually, because huge dogs sometimes think she’s a rabbit.

One of our favorite things about Pearl, though, is that she seems to really pay attention to us and makes good eye contact. We’ve taken college biology and psychology classes like everyone else, but it’s nice to at least have the illusion that she really cares what we have to say – even if she’s still always trying to sniff the trash or climb onto our work desks to eat our breakfasts or slurp some coffee.

A pug in clothes

Just a pug in an outfit

What sage advice do you have for someone interested in adding a pug to their family?

Pugs are really sweet and loving dogs that are relatively low maintenance and good for smaller dwellings. I am passionate, however, about advising people to give their pugs as much activity and play time as possible and to really watch their food intake. As pugs (and all dogs, for that matter) get older there’s a temptation to let them get chubby and inactive, but their longevity absolutely depends on keeping them at a healthy weight through diet and exercise. These darling dogs can be stubborn, but they are absolutely happier when they are healthier. Also, consider adopting a pug. They’ve been a popular breed in recent years, which has led to a lot of owners biting off more than they can chew. Pug lovers have started many pug rescue efforts across the country, making it easy for the right people to find a pug in need.

Caleb Goellner is Senior Editor at Comics Alliance. You can also read his writing at and follow him on Twitter.

Do you have a pug story? Share it in the comments.


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on August 31, 2012, in Dogs, Dogtography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. What a cute little puglet, as I like to call them, I swear having a sweet loyal companion by your side makes you friends with everyone!

  2. Want. to. move. to. Portland. like. now. (and possibly adopt a pug)

  3. Love my pugs! I have two (both rescued) and also foster for a local pug rescue, so currently I have 3 (and as of this post, actually 4 as I’m pug-sitting my very first foster who went to his forever home about a year and a half ago!). They are the best dogs ever. Yes, I’m biased. 🙂 People are often surprised to find out about pug rescue – thinking that purebred small dogs never need rescue. We rescue from all kinds of situations – including rescuing breeder pugs who have outlived their “usefulness” in the awful puppy mills. We always have a waitlist due to lack of enough foster homes.

    Thanks for this fun post – Pearl is a DOLL!

  4. She is adorable!!

    I love pugs, I met my first ones over twenty years ago. My friend who also has Chessies had two pugs too and they thought they were big dogs and the real big dogs did not question their authority 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing Pearl’s story and lovely photos.

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