A Pugged Life

An homage to the little dog that inspired my pugged life.


While The Feathered Nest page is about bird-inspired décor, pug style dominates the home office. It all started with a single pillow embroidered with a pug in a General’s coat. It didn’t go with anything and I had nowhere to put it, but still, I just had to have it because…pug.

We had only recently adopted Peanut but I was already smitten with her and captivated by the pugness of it all.

Th. Poncelet, Artist

Next, I’d discover a series of Retro Pet pug prints by artist Krista Brooks in a boutique pet store. Turns out I needed those, too. Nine, to be exact.


Krista Brooks, Artist, Retro Pets

…add a few precious little pug carvings that were a most delightful find in a small town gift shop and it became clear I amassed a nice collection for a Peanut-inspired office.

Like any other parents, we also wanted pictures of our baby on the wall. Selecting photos for the collage was impossible; the dog didn’t have a bad angle.
Photo collage pet pug Peanut

I was so enamored with that carving of a pug in a banana suit. For years I joked with Joel that we should dress up as gorillas and carry around our little banana on Halloween. Unbelievably, you can buy dog banana suits off the rack at a reasonable cost. However, new gorilla suits are rather pricey. Years came and went while looking for discounted suits after the holiday but they were always snatched up.

Gratefully, Joel took the initiative to just buy them so we could finally fulfill my silly vision in 2015. It was our last Halloween together.

Two apes with their little pugnaner.


After a year or so of having Peanut in our lives, I was bitten by the volunteer bug. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I hoped to find something Peanut and I could do together. Besides, who was I to keep her good looks and charm all to myself? It didn’t take long to discover that we could become a therapy dog dynamic duo.

We trained for a longer period of time than we had made actual therapy visits. Since m’lady was quite content to lounge around, I thought it was a natural fit to have her lounge around for therapy visits. Kids could practice their reading skills on her and people in nursing homes and hospitals could get a welcome diversion in their day.

It turns out I thought wrong. Peanut liked lounging with Joel and I, not so much with others. Still, she was a champ about giving it a shot for my sake.

Our report card from therapy team testing.
She had the edge on working with people and distractions. We never did get the boss thing down.



It also hadn’t been more than a couple of years after being Peanut’s parents before we planned our vacations to include her. They weren’t always a hit, like a stay in a remote cabin that we dubbed “Cape Fear,” but they were always interesting adventures nonetheless.

My absolute favorite trip by far was a trip to Door County in Wisconsin in 2012 for a long weekend in the fall.

Peanut pug in suitcase

Have pug will travel.

We found Door County to be extremely dog-friendly. I found a wonderfully private and unique tower to rent that allowed dogs. The stairs would have been too much for her (almost too much for me, too) so we carried her up and down as needed. I called restaurants and tourist attractions in advance to see about her attendance. We were able to eat outside with Peanut at some establishments that had outdoor patios. We were also able to take her on a boat tour and horse-drawn carriage ride! Of course there were lots of nature walks, and having her buggy with us made it very easy to cart her around. Since it was late September, outdoor temps were perfect, touristic traffic was low, and the leaves that were turning auburn and gold were breathtaking.


Since it was our anniversary, my gifts to Joel included jerseys for team Zich. (He is Mr. Basketball and I thought the jerseys would be a scream.) Chesty gals like our Peanut generally need bigger tops, and what I got was a bit snug. Wriggling the jersey on and off of her wasn’t easy but she was a total sport about it.


We naturally assumed that Peanut would enjoy dessert after dinner just like we did, so for a while we’d give her treats like ice cream for dogs and little samples of whatever we were having (excluding toxic foods dogs should avoid, like chocolate). Over time I stopped giving her the dog ice cream because of too much sugar or other ingredients I didn’t think she needed. Rather than try my hand at making ice cream, I looked at ways to make healthy cookies instead. I found a homemade cookie recipe on Pinterest that I tweaked to fit the bill. It contains healthy fruits and sweet potatoes, and remains very soft – perfect for buddies who may have dental issues or just prefer soft treats.

I cut the cookies down into smaller pieces after baking.
A single serving for Peanut was about half of one of the larger squares pictured.

This recipe is very forgiving. You can throw in a little extra of this or that from the list. The dough can be challenging to spread and cut in preparation for baking since it’s rather sticky (hence the flattened globs in the photo above), but that’s likely why it always cooked up nicely and remained quite soft. Freezing batches and thawing a piece or two at a time worked very well.

Subbing canned pure pumpkin for the potato and using unsweetened cherries in addition to or instead of blueberries might work well, too.


Inspired by a friend who had professional photos taken of their family (also a child-free couple with a dog), I thought taking a family photo of us would also be really special. Joel didn’t understand why since we already had so many photos of all of us, but fortunately I didn’t have to twist his arm too hard to go along with it. Besides, I had scheduled it on my birthday as my own special present.

Not only was it so much fun to do, we have professional photos of us that we adore and will appreciate forever.

I can only imagine what Peanut must have thought when we sat still for a minute, got up, walked a bit, sat down again…over and over all while the photographer screeched out her name to look at the camera. It’s a birthday I will never forget.


Most of my Peanut posts are about aiding her in some way. It all started with the DIY dog ramp. Next, it was troubleshooting cold pug tootsies in the snow. Later I’d share our experiences exploring physical therapy as well as creating a wintertime outdoor potty oasis.

When Peanut was happy, I was happy, and that made Joel happy; something for everyone.


Each year we celebrated the day Peanut joined our family. We always went for a group walk and take-out (for Joel and I) from the place we went after first meeting her. We had the, “Do we or don’t we” discussion over dinner. We brought her home that night.

Today would have been our family’s 13th anniversary. The grief of moving through the different “firsts” of life without Peanut continues. May 4th, 2004; the fateful day I’d meet a little dog that would forever change me.