An Interview With The Pug Lady; Kristy Beck from The Pug Diary
Tell us about yourself, who is the lady behind The Pug Diary?
How long have you been a Pug fan?
I am the proud pug mum of two to Ref & Serina who are my world. I’m the person behind the blog called The Pug Diary, a pug shop called Pugs & Co and I also run a pug meet group called Wollongong Pugs where we regularly meet for pug play dates and have fun events to raise money for Pug Patrol Rescue Australia.
I don’t remember when or why but I had always wanted a pug. I thought they were ridiculously cute. I always had this idea that I was going to get a male fawn pug and call him Bundy. I was so wrong the day I went to the breeder because I fell in love with a little black pug. That was 11 years ago. I am now a fully certified crazy pug lady where I live & breathe everything pug. I even have both of my pugs tattooed on my arms.
Tell us about your gorgeous pugs; Name, age, special quirks, injuries/ illnesses you are currently managing?
Ref is 11 years old. He is a sweet caring little boy who loves everyone. He goes crazy for his food but is very much set in his ways with routines. He loves a snuggle, sleep in and a good sniff walk when we can. For a senior pug, he can keep up with the much younger pugs at pug meets but is generally quite lazy now. He is a pretty healthy senior pug with only a handful of health issues over the years. The common pug problem he has had over the years is with his dental health. He has had numerous teeth removed due to that common problem of too many teeth in such a small squishy mouth. We keep on top of his dental hygiene with raw meaty bones once a week such as roo tails, whole raw carrots 3-4 times a week, daily kelp supplement & feeding a diet free from processed food. He also has an irregular heartbeat that is managed using an all natural supplement called CoQ10.
Serina is a 10 year old rescue girl. She came to me as a terrified & overweight little girl. She was a whopping 13kg when I adopted her 5 years ago. She was rescued from a puppy farm where she had who knows how many litters that left her with hip dysplasia. With lots of love, patience and care, I got her off all anxiety medications and losing weight through a fresh food diet. Unfortunately, when a dog comes from such poor breeding & care, health problems arise. The past 2 years have been difficult for Serina with her health and we continue to have problems to manage and new ones crop up. She has hip dysplasia which is managed perfectly with keeping her weight low (she sits between 8 & 8.5kg) and Antinol Rapid. She has glaucoma which caused her to have one eye removed and has now been blind in the remaining eye for the past year. Over the past 12 months she has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, chronic anaemia and immune mediated thrombocytopenia. The IMT has seen her become anxious again due to being on steroids however we are about to embark on a new journey with traditional Chinese medicine to manage her conditions. So whilst she has a number of health conditions to deal with, she is a very resilient little girl who has become the most affectionate, loving & loyal dog I will ever have the pleasure of owning. Her absolute favourite day of the week is bone day and will wake up at 2/3am in anticipation of having a bone whether it is bone day or not.
What motivated you to start The Pug Diary?
I started The Pug Diary back in 2014 when I was trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life. I thought it would be a good way to spend my time whilst looking for a job & thought it could potentially earn me an income. What I didn’t expect was that it would become so much more than that. Whilst I haven’t written a post in 18 months on the blog, the blog still very much holds a place in my heart that I hope to make time to get back to. It started as a way to connect with the pug community and share what life is like with a pug. What it became was a growing community that wanted to learn how to have happy healthy pugs. It became a place for me to share my experiences in living with pugs and a chance for me to educate what a healthy pug should be. To change the perception of fat pugs being normal, because that is far from normal. Far from being ok. It became my passion to help fellow pug parents to have healthy pugs. Even now, my most popular posts on the blog are about how to get your pug to lose weight, what to do about anal gland problems, general pug health and feeding pugs fresh food.
What do you hope to achieve through The Pug Diary?
If I can help just one pug parent to change their view that a pug is not supposed to be fat & lazy, my goal is achieved. I want the normal perception of a pug to be fit, slender and active.
How have your dogs shaped your life, your blog and your business?
They are the reason I do everything that I do. I want them to have the best possible life. That means I’ll research and find what it is that will give them that. I plan weekends and holidays around them. I include them in everything I possibly can.
Over the years, they’ve inspired many blog posts from how I feed them to how to care for them as they age. Rescuing Serina has increased my desire to help pug rescue in any way I can. It’s even a key reason in why I started my shop Pugs & Co, to be able to raise money for pug rescue through doing something that I love and one day being able to work from home & support my pugs.
What do you feed Serina and Ref?
Real fresh food. There’s nothing better than feeding fresh food. It’s changed over the years as they age and their bodies change but the basis is still the same. Meat, offal, bone, fruit, veg, nuts & seeds. Providing them with a variety of different foods so they can experience different flavours & textures as well as providing them an array on nutrients to nourish their little bodies.
How long have you been fresh food feeding for?
I had always incorporated some fresh food in Ref’s diet from when he was a puppy but I was pretty clueless in what I was doing. I made the switch for him from kibble & home cooked in late 2014 after I did a lot of research on how to get him to lose weight. I’ve never looked back since. I transition him over to full raw and within weeks he calmed down & started losing weight for the first time. I transitioned Serina within the first two weeks of having her and she has done really well since.
How long have you been feeding the dogs Antinol?
I started Serina on Antinol about 3 years ago now. I had tried a few other joint supplements over the previous 2 years but they lost their effectiveness over time. I give it to Serina to manage her hip dysplasia whilst Ref gets it as a preventative as he aged.
Have you noticed any changes since feeding Antinol?
Antinol is the first joint supplement for Serina that has not lost effectiveness after 8-12 months of using it. It means I don’t need to use arthritis injections for her. With her health issues over the past couple of years, Antinol has been a lifesaver with her. As she lost sight, she was starting to have more falls as she learnt to navigate life without vision. I would increase her dose to give her extra support and she would become more stable on her paws. With her first relapse of IMT, she became very unsteady on her feed as her red blood cells & thyroid levels dropped with the platelets. After permanently increasing her dose, I wasn’t sure where to go from here but with guidance from Antinol, I increased her dose further to provide extra support. Not only did the falls and unsteadiness stabilise, her focus increased. Whilst on the high dose for a few days, she was able to locate the doggy door to take herself out to the toilet for the first time since going blind. Being on the loading dose permanently means that during this second relapse of IMT, which has seen her red blood cells & thyroid levels drop again, she continues to be steady on her paws.
What considerations need to be made when adding a pug to the family?
A pug is the most needy dog you’ll ever have. They are like having a clingy two year old for their entire life. They were bred to be companion dogs so it’s unsurprising that they don’t do well on their own. They come with challenges. Their weight is one of the biggest challenges because they know how to pull at your heart strings when food is around. They’ll eat all day if given the opportunity. So, it’s imperative that we step up as their chosen human to keep their weight in check. Not only does it keep them trim and healthy, it reduces the pressure on their airways. Being a brachycephalic breed, they are prone to breathing problems. Keeping them cool, calm & trim is vital to keeping their breathing under control. They can also be prone to eye problems due to their bulgy eyes. Fully researching the breed, taking the time to understand the time & care that’s needed for them to have a healthy life is so important.
What rescues are available for pugs?
I wish there wasn’t a need for dog rescue but there is, and pugs are no exception. You’d be surprised how many pugs end up in rescue whether it be because they’ve been pulled from a puppy farm, come from a neglected home or simply from a family who had all the right intentions but didn’t understand exactly the care needed to give for a pug. There are 3 main pug rescues in Australia who rehome pugs. There’s Pug Patrol Rescue Australia who rescue & rehome in NSW, ACT, SA & QLD. Pug Rescue Victoria who rescue & rehome throughout VIC. And Pugs SOS who rescue & rehome across the country but predominantly in VIC, WA & QLD.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ruth O’Leary RUTHLESS PHOTOS – Sydney & ACT Pet Photographer