Life experience · Ms. Jordan Underfoot · The Reverend John Henry

The Secret Society of Pug Owners

There’s a joke I like.

How do you know if someone doesn’t own a TV? Oh, they’ll tell you.

It’s a format that works for all kinds of groups. Vegans, liberals, anime fans.

Some people can’t wait to tell everyone about the thing that makes them superior. And then other people feel superior by telling jokes about those people.

In contrast to that, there’s the secret society: the people who keep their superiority under wraps. By their very nature, these people fly under the radar, unless you know the secret password into their world.

Until recently, for instance, I had no idea that there was a secret and powerful cabal existing in and around everyday Austin society, keeping just out of sight, but always there, paying attention, biding their time.

My wife and I finally found a way into this world when we bought (or “rescued” as we like to say, just to emphasize our own moral superiority) our first pug.

Pug owners are a strange and powerful subculture of dog owners. You may live next door to one, you may work with one, you may even be married one. And you wouldn’t know…until you go out in the open with a pug. And then, like the vegans and the TV-non-owners, and liberals, they will find you and they will talk to you for hours about your apparent shared interest.

I sit outside stores with our dogs while my wife shops, or I’ll be walking the fur babies around a park, and someone will inevitably approach. They want to pet the pups, they want to share their own pug ownership stories. Apparently normal people, functioning in society, finally able to share their secret: I am a pug lover.

I was getting pancakes in one of those local and worthy Austin breakfast places, and our waitress headed straight for the dogs. Her own pug was at home, ill, and she was so worried. And now she’d cuddled our buddies, she needed to go back to her apartment to check on him. But she took our order first, because she’s a professional.

Having tea on a different occasion, another waitress kept coming back to look at our puppies. After that, a couple claimed to have parked over especially to pet the huggables. One guy said, “I can’t resist a squashed in face…it makes everything better.” I wondered what his boyfriend made of that.

Walking around Enchanted Rock, an older gentleman with an older gentleman pug met us coming the other way. Out there in the wilderness, we could all be open about our secret passions. We swapped pug stories, admired the coloring of our four-legged walking buddies, and walked on, recharged from our mutual admiration session. I suspect that walking in the foothills of every great mountain is an old man, walking a fawn pug, waiting to swap the world’s cutest pet anecdotes with fellow travelers.

The days of the secret pug society may be coming to an end. If you’re shopping for gifts for the out-and-proud pug owner in your life, then the commercial-industrial complex now has you covered. For Xmas, my wife has received a pug scarf, pug socks…potential further presents could include pug cookie cutters, pug bedspreads, pug shower curtains, and so on.

Puggers (not a real word) are now out and proud in our society, a subgroup to make money from. And what is more American than that?

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