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Demystifying Pugs

Since the beginning of time man has looked up into the sky and asked questions: Why are we here? Is there a god? Are we alone in the universe? What’s up with pugs?
 
Pugs might be the 50/50 animal in the eyes of the human race; that is, half the population loves pugs and the other half dismisses pugs as dogs. People who adore pugs cannot be swayed in their affection; no matter what pugs do, they find it adorable or funny. However, there seems to be some trend among the other half. This trend is the ideology that pugs are useless and “horrible aftermath of dog breeding” in man’s attempt to play god. There are several dog bred heritages, including pugs, that are criticised as being unhealthy for the dog’s in question, such as the english bulldog, the dachshund, and the corgi. Many dog enthusiasts would argue that we should not continue pure breeding dogs just because it is appealing to us. However, most dogs were bred to serve an economic purpose. Before bulldogs were seen as the walking heart attacks of the dog world they bred to help butchers control livestock. Dachshunds were not always the punchline of a hotdog joke. Their long sausage-like bodies helped them easily maneuver and hunt vicious badgers in their dens. Even the corgi with its short legs and low center of gravity was perfect for nipping at the legs of larger livestock, making it an ideal herding dog. But how and why were pugs bred?
 
The truth is, we don’t completely know. In fact we know very little of the breeding practices that started the original pugs. We know that at some point in ancient China pugs were bred as companions for the prestigious ruling families. These dogs lived luxurious lives and were often guarded by highly trained soldiers. Pugs were highly valued by Chinese Emperors. At some time in the 3rd century China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, ordered the destruction of all almost artwork and writing describing early pugs. Perhaps this was a way to keep the pug exclusive. Regardless of whatever his motive was, that is where most of our knowledge about the pug origin ends. Later on, chinese royalty began giving pugs to other nations as gifts. Pugs went on to become very popular across Asia, Holland, England, and the recent Americas. 
 
At this point it might seem like pugs were simply bred to do nothing. It seems like they were for a long time, making them ‘pampered’ and unable to survive in the wild. This is not an unpopular theory when you examine the environment they were bred in. Sometimes in ancient chinese royalty, noble families would take extensive actions to promote status just because they could afford to. Foot Bindings was a practice where tight bindings were applied to the feet of young girls to modify their shape as they grew older. This essentially distorts their feet to where they cannot walk. These traditions to fit-in today, but back in ancient China, people would look at a woman with foot bindings and say something like “She is so wealthy and important that she has no need to walk.” Imagine that same mindset applied to pugs. They were pampered so extensively that they could not perform real life tasks other than being a status symbol with the exception, of course, for companionship.
 
On the other hand, it seems very unlikely that a dog with such specific and prominent features would have no use for them. Were there any other uses for the breeding pugs? Possibly.
 
There is a popular myth going around that pugs were bred to HUNT LIONS. I first heard this laughable myth from Zach Galifianakis in The Campaign.  Some people took this as fact when they heard that pugs were referenced as lion dogs in ancient China. From there some hasbeen historians started throwing around claims that the pug’s short snout was bred specifically so that they could clamp down on lions. This is a fabricated myth based on ignorance and the result of a joke going over someone’s head. The truth behind the name ‘Foo Dogs’, or ‘Lion Dogs’, is that chinese nobleman thought pugs to the guardians of the sacred lion statues portrayed in chinese culture. Perhaps one could argue that pugs might still have been used to hunt for smaller game, like how the dachshund hunted vermin. This is a plausible idea because most dog breeds can be traced back to performing some type of hunting or protection role. 
 
Protection. That doesn’t sound like a word you would associate with pugs. It would be ridiculous to trust a pug with your life.
 
…..right?
 
Maybe not. 
Well, in a one-on-one situation a pug probably won’t take down a home invader, and I don't think they could fend off many fierce animals, especially not lions. What if pugs served a different role in personal protection?
 
Think about this. 
Often multiple dogs were used for protection. China has a long history of breeding some of the fiercest and most loyal breeds of dog, including the Chow Chow and the Tibetan Mastiff. In many parts of Asia, these dogs were used to protect livestock, property, and people. You can see some similarities between between the two breeds and pugs. Chow Chows and pugs both have short snouts and most pugs just look like compact mastiffs. Not to mention, all three dogs are extremely loyal to their masters. There might have been some breeding between these two titans and smaller dogs. 
 
Here is my theory.
So pugs are inferior fighters who might have been in close contact with other guard dogs. Perhaps pugs were put on guard duty with these bigger dogs as an extra set of eyes. If a pug found danger, it could bark and alert the bigger, tougher dogs and their owners. The pug could have been a whistle blower. It doesn’t seem like such a ludicrous idea to me. The pug’s quickness and energy would allow it to be a formidable scout. Their short stature and snouts produce and unmistakable high pitched yelp that could warn others of danger.
 
It turns out that pugs actually have a slight history as guard dogs. In 1572, The Prince of Orange, a branch of the European House of Nassau, claimed that his pug had single-handedly saved his life by warning him of approaching assassins. After that day, the pug became the official dog of the House of Orange.
 
While some of the pug’s origin is unknown, we can still make some reasonable assumptions about their history. Maybe pugs were bred for a very specific purpose but got swept into royalty along the way or maybe some emperor just wanted a dog that would look cute wearing a hat. Who can say? Despite their breeding, pugs can survive in today’s world, considering that most dog’s are used for companionship. They are here in this day and age to be loved. 
 
 
 
 

Dog Diapers are No Longer Undercover

Incontinency is an unmentionable even amongst the best of friends. And, if it’s your dog experiencing it, we still tend to keep it hush-hush like the unspeakable taboos in Fifty Shades of Gray. Maybe it’s because some things in life are just weird and uncomfortable to talk about.

Nonetheless, doggie incontinence is real. I know about it first-hand and it can be very frustrating and scary. Finding your first accident conjures up all kinds of feelings. There’s denial, then panic, and dare I say mad. These incidents can turn your life upside down.
You become obsessed and start tip-toeing around your home as if there are buried land mines. You look for shiny spots that have nothing to do with floor wax and you start sniffing like a bloodhound. All the while your best friend is watching your antics thinking you’ve lost your mind.

Pet incontinence can be behavioral, hormonal, age related or just a mystery. That is what we deal with almost once a year now. Our pup Maru, has an auto immune condition which leaves some of the best specialist baffled. During a flare-up she wets herself while sleeping or relaxing. The literal constant peeing sets off a myriad of other things such as dehydration, what comes out, must be matching what is going in. You should check their gums regularly for dehydration. We can’t stress enough that when you start seeing accident’s out of the blue, do not walk, but run to your vet. In the mean time you learn to cope with the situation at hand by crying uncle and buying your first Big D or diaper.

You’d think this would be a simple task. But do you have any idea how many doggie diapers are on the market? There are Bloomers, Piddle Pants, Peepers, Do Rites, Kennel Comforts, Wiki Wags, and Washable Wonders to name just a few.

To help narrow your field of choices, check out these sites for the Best Dog Diapers of 2017. There’s a Top 10 List at Acoolist's video and product review based on 22 hours of research at Ezvid. If that’s not enough to make your head spin, browse Amazon’s 100 top sellers
Some pet parents use adult and baby diapers - even boy’s underwear where the fly hole is perfect for tails. If you’re looking for inexpensive, try Little Swimmer Disposable Diapers from Walmart and Target at a third the cost of pet diapers sold at big box stores. And, for those die-hard DIYers there are diaper patterns on line to make your own. But with any of these choices, I would suggest you have a ready supply of binder clips and duct tape.

Bottom line, diaper wearing is not trending on social media to be the next big fashion statement. However, that doesn’t mean your best friend has to wear old-fashioned tidy-whities either. Just check out Etsy and you’ll find the latest in doggie diaper couture. There are exotic and playful prints, satins, ruffles, bows, and jewel-studded creations like you’ve never imagined. Of course, no outfit is complete without a top and a company called Fancy Nancy’s makes colorful tanks to match their special line of diapers with whimsical names like Orange Crush, Island Blossoms, and Pink Monkey Kingdom.

Need a specialty fit for a tiny Chihuahua or giant Mastiff, check out Pants for Dogs. Their line includes Leg Protectors for standard and miniature Poodles and Pee Jackets for large dogs in full show coats. My personal favorite is The Fig Leaf for small dogs, maybe because the name is pure genius.

While diapers may be fashion forward, there’s one problem universal to them all.They droop!So, if you see your dog wearing his diaper “gangster street style” it’s not because he’s making a statement, he just can’t keep it up. Now you can fix the problem with diaper suspenders! For a more traditional type suspender, look at selections at Barkertime - an American made company known for their quality pet goods. Of course, if you want ultra-stylish, take a look at those by Fancy Nancy’s.

Barkertime's instagram

Barkertime's instagram

One vet said that “No diaper is better than a diaper… unless you absolutely have to”. That’s because with this solution comes other issues like:diaper rash; dogs who eat their diaper because steroid medication makes them crazy hungry; and urinary tract infections. If diapers are a must, change often and use unscented baby wipes to regularly clean the area.

In the end, I chose Pet Magasin Reusable Dog Diapers for my Ms. Maru. They come with a two-year warranty and 100% money back guarantee. You can also line them with a regular people person’s hygiene pad for extra protection.

Diapers are expected to have super powers. But what they really do is give pet parents peace of mind. And, while that first diaper can be scary to you and your pup, keep in mind that horses in Central Park and even astronauts wear them.Now is the time to stay strong and give your best friend some extra love and remember that even a good dog can have a bad day!

*Another tip that works well while wearing a diaper lining their crate and couch with garbage bags under a sheet and taping them down so nothing seeps through.
 

AIBO - The Wonder Dog, AI, and a Fur Coat

I recently discovered a rare breed of dog called AIBO. It’s the perfect pedigree since it doesn’t shed, chew furniture, or bite. You don’t even have to take it for a walk. Sadly though, it will soon be extinct. 

You see AIBO is a robotic dog that Sony built back in 1999. They came in a variety of colors, were programmed to speak over 1,000 words, and some understood more than a 100 including Spanish. They could even wag their tails when pat on the head. Back then this was cutting edge technology. 

AIBO and friend

AIBO and friend

My first thoughts were this is crazy.   Why would grown people pay some $2000 for fake dogs? Then I watched a video of an elderly Japanese couple who had one.   They talked to it, played with it, walked it, and even put it to bed. Suddenly it all made sense. People weren’t just buying a dog. They were buying love. 

THE BOTTON LINE
While people loved them, Sony’s profit and loss didn’t measure up. Instead of selling tens of millions they only sold about 150,000. So, in 2007 Sony stopped production and then in 2015 shut down their repair division. This was so devastating to “pet” owners they formed support groups to help each other deal with the prospect that their aging pets would break down for good. 

CEREMONIAL TRIBUTE
If you think that’s over the top, how about a full-blown ceremonial funeral? The lifeless AIBO’s are lined up on the altar while Buddhist priests chant prayers and owners pray for their souls. The formal ritual helps grieving owners deal with their loss as their beloved companions now become parts donors to other dogs.

REPAIR IT
For those who just can’t let go, there is cyber-vet Nobuyuki Norimatsu, a former Sony engineer. With a waitlist of some 200 dogs it can take several months at a minimum cost of $200, but owners don’t care. They just want their best friends healthy again. 
This cute little canine’s popularity grew world-wide. An AIBO was once featured on the sitcom Frasier and one US owner’s collection is worth $125,000 today. It’s a toy that changed the world. 

BRAVE NEW WORLD
What’s in our future? Domestic pets could be replaced by robotic impostors by 2025 according to Australian researcher Dr. Jean-Loup Rault. “Robotic pets will take off in the next 10 to 15 years and tech companies are already jockeying for position in the market,” he said. 
First up is WowWee which debuts its Canine Home Intelligent Pet or “CHiP” this fall. Priced at $199, it brags to be the next best thing to a real dog. It can fetch, auto charge itself, wake you in the morning, and greet you at the door when you come home. These elemental basics are what satisfy a human’s need to have a real dog.   So if an animatronics could provide that same satisfaction then humans, who are innately anthropomorphic, could conceivably embrace them. This might explain why people became so attached to a plug-in pet like AIBO. 
Fast forward a few years and we’ve gone from toy bots to super bots so sophisticated and intelligent they could rule the universe. Today’s BOTS are hard core taskmasters designed to simplify and improve man’s life much like machines and automation did during the Industrial Revolution.   

Dog Bots making headlines are SPOT whose specialty is military maneuvers, bomb sniffing, and disaster rescue; mule-sized rugged terrain champ Big Dog who can run 4 mph and carry loads up to 350 lbs; and N003 a robotic guide dog for the blind. If you’re looking for help with chores or to bring you a beer, General Dynamic’s MiniSpot is at your service. 

LOVE CONNECTION
If a human can fall in love with a fake dog, could they fall in love with a desk lamp? Don’t laugh. If you’re world-renowned robotics visionary Guy Hoffman the answer is yes. He believes humans can bond emotionally with a robot. His robots are far from humanoid in appearance, yet they become human-like through their movements. Hoffman says it’s their motion that makes humans feel emotion for them and want to treat them more like companions.   
In “Robots with Soul” you can see two of Hoffman’s robotic creations. There’s marimba player Shimon free-styling with a rapper and Travis, a 2-headed speaker jamming to music. What’s significant here is how all of a sudden the rapper engages in eye contact with the robot like he’s another musician.   And Travis goes from an odd looking robot to a cute little guy you want to hang with. 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
An android world is driven by artificial intelligence. If robots get smarter than humans, will we become nothing more than a house pet? Those were recent comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. His solution is a neural mesh that fits on the brain to give it digital computing capabilities. He believes the two working together would let humans stay on pace with artificial intelligence. It’s all alien creepy, but maybe not so far-fetched. 
Ray Kurzweil - one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, futurists and now Google’s Director of Engineering - says that in 15 years computers are going to trump people. And that by 2045 they will be a billion times more powerful than all of the human brains on Earth.   He cites the AI revolution as the most profound transformation of human civilization we will ever experience. It will allow us to reprogram our own biology and manipulate matter at atomic and molecular levels. That kind of sci-fi supremacy means we’re in for a wild ride.

HUMAN ROBOTS
At this point though, no one knows for sure where this technology will lead us. But the Japanese have taken a huge step in pushing forward. They recently introduced Pepper, a talking humanoid robot that reads emotions and tells jokes when you are sad. It sold out of its initial 1,000 units in one minute back in June at a cost of around $1600 each. Robot staff is slowly going main stream being rolled out in stores, airports, and hotels throughout Japan.
President Hideo Sawada of the new Henn-na Hotel says, “In the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots.   They will be capable of having conversations with humans.” But the technology doesn’t stop there. Guest room doors will open by facial recognition and instead of air conditioners a radiation panel will detect body heat and adjust a room’s temperature accordingly. You get all that for $60 to $119 dollars. Beat that Priceline!

FUTURISTIC
Kurzweil believes the 21st century will achieve 1,000 times the progress of the 20th as technology continues to advance exponentially. Google will know the answer to your question before you ask it and it will have read every email or document you’ve ever written and every idle thought you’ve ever typed into a search-engine. It will know you better then you know yourself. That’s too scary a thought to even think about.

Like it or not, robots are the new reality and might be your next best friend. As artificial intelligence reinvents the universe, where do man and his dog fit in? By mid-century an increasingly urbanized world population of nearly 10 billion could mean that real animals will be a luxury only for the super-rich. 

Until then, I’m going to enjoy my humanness and treasure my Ms. Maru. I want to feel her fur coat, look into her soulful eyes, and hear that familiar annoying bark. While a robot dog can do many things, it can’t give you sloppy kisses that fill your heart with love. That’s the real deal.