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Pugs as a symptom of the collapse of Western civilization

Ever notice how many people have pugs these days? And how big pugs figure into “funny dog” videos? They’re funky little dogs with not-horrible personalities, but they have so many health problems that you have to practically become a vet to deal with them all. You wonder why people want them.

They want them because they look like nonagenarian Alfred E. Neumans. Period.

It wasn’t like that back in those mythic golden days. Back then, everybody wanted Rin Tin Tin. Lassie. Roy Rogers’ Bullet. Even though in my neck of the woods we usually just got, “It followed me home, Mom. Can I keep it?”

Then we started getting a little frou-frou. Cocker spaniels got bought and bred and re-bred and inbred to the point of being like something out of Alien. So they got dropped and … on it goes. You get little spikes — like Dalmatians every time that d*mned movie gets reissued or remade.

But to whatever extent we identify with our dogs (and it’s the next closes thing to a human bond, closer for some) it seems as if we’ve gradually gone from wanting to identify ourselves with heroic figures to something clownish, even pathetic.


At the same time, of course, we’re living in this marvelous renaissance of larger-than-life comic book figures. And it’s great. But it’s just entertainment. The film industry has reached the point where they can make grown-ups believe in Spider-Man or Captain America and make women lust for Loki or Thor (I am a Loki woman, myself).

Even if we secretly harbor some adolescent identification with Tony Stark or Natasha Romanoff, the well-balanced among us are not hankering to don sparkly tights or iron suits.

Every once in a while these movies will really speak to us. Captain America has had some strong words for the surveillance state. And maybe we harbor that within and watch that particular film clip again. But as far as action goes it’s something way off there in the distance.

So it appears that the more heroic the movies get, the farther heroism is from our real lives or any real expectations we have for ourselves or our culture. We’ve moved “heroic ideals” into the realm of fantasy while we increasingly lurk around, cowed by political correctness, by hostile law enforcers, by the need to avoid offending, by laws made by and for well-funded elites from an entirely different culture than our own, and by the drudgy necessities of life.

And Rin Tin Tin has been replaced with … a pug.


  1. Joel
    Joel June 25, 2015 11:39 am

    I dunno. Even long before I became owned by dogs, I noticed that dog fads existed and were generally bad for breeds. In Michigan when I was young, a doberman fad turned otherwise amiable pets into inbred scary monsters.

    I can see where trends in dog fads might have something to say about the people who fall for them, but the main thing I see is that people in the fifties and sixties were just as easily led as people in the twenty-teens. Anybody who watched Lassie and went out to score a collie without doing some library research was bound to find their subsequent education disappointing.

    As for me, I’ve often thought that if I outlive my youngest wall’o’dog, I might opt for something smaller and more easily managed. Like a pomeranian.

  2. Claire
    Claire June 25, 2015 11:50 am

    Yes, it’s the trends within trends I’m thinking of, Joel. Or rather the trend around the trends.

    OTOH, this particular topic isn’t meant to be taken as a definitive statement on puggery and decadence. Just a thought I hope inspires other thoughts.

  3. Claire
    Claire June 25, 2015 11:51 am

    BTW, spray paint the Pom in camo patterns.

  4. Adam
    Adam June 25, 2015 12:00 pm

    “. . . they have so many health problems that you have to practically become a vet to deal with them all. You wonder why people want them.”

    So many Americans are unhealthy, their choice of dog reflects a need for a being to commiserate with. Friends don’t want to hear you whine about your aches, pains, and maladies, but you can kvetch with your Pug—he’s got health problems, too.

  5. Claire
    Claire June 25, 2015 12:03 pm

    Adam. That’s so true.

  6. LarryA
    LarryA June 25, 2015 1:01 pm

    Pugs are also figuring in heroic-action movies like Men in Black and Kingsman. “It’s a bulldog, isn’t I? It will grow up, won’t it?”

    OTOH Max opens tomorrow.

  7. Claire
    Claire June 25, 2015 1:24 pm

    And don’t forget, there’s also BattlePug. But even then, what’s the underlying thought …?

    Max? Hadn’t even heard of that, but somehow I don’t think it’s going to be the next Rin Tin Tin.

    “Preposterous yet predictable… this dutifully educational children’s story looks and feels like a Disney Channel movie.”

    “The movie is downright laughable when it isn’t merely unpleasant.”

    “Dullness, as well as hoary preachiness, neuters the family-and-their-war-dog drama Max.”

  8. old printer
    old printer June 25, 2015 8:47 pm

    If dogs reflect their masters then mine is perfect. He’s a Jack Russell/Toy Fox cross who is feisty, barky, curious, will bite if he feels threatened, and is undyingly loyal by nature even when his master doesn’t deserve it.

  9. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair June 26, 2015 4:14 am

    I loved my ex’s little yappy miniature schnauzers, but I’m very happy to be living alone now, without any needy creatures to disturb my hermitage.

  10. Karen
    Karen June 26, 2015 5:51 am

    Ellendra, that’s funny. I have a t-shirt that says “Superhero Training Camp” and tell people we all got them at graduation. Children go OOhh and Aahh and look at me with big eyes(while adults wonder what meds I might be on πŸ˜‰ ).

  11. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau June 26, 2015 6:24 am

    [the well-balanced among us are not hankering to don sparkly tights]

    Speak for yourself. πŸ™‚

    I don’t know, never got into the dog thing; way too much maintenance for my taste. If I did though, it would be a German Shepherd. But the yappy little ankle-biters make good security alarms. I don’t know about the psychology of dog ownership.

  12. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack June 26, 2015 6:54 am

    I object to the selective breeding of dogs to produce ‘cuteness’. i.e. ‘Teacup Aussies’ What good is an Aussie when the ducks in the heard are twice her size?

    There was an issue of “Bones” Where the heroines dressed up like Catwoman and Wonder Woman — it must be ok.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t had a TV in 25 years. I caught that flash while on a business trip. (Most hotels run their business via TV and when I turned on the thing I was immediately captured by the great expanse of unclothed thigh. I’ll never go to California again. )

  13. david
    david June 26, 2015 8:30 am

    I always just thought a pug looked like a tiny boxer that that had run full-speed into a closed patio slider door.

    But the phenomenon you comment on is also supposedly seen in new cinema releases. I’d have to look for the comments again to provide specifics, but it’s basically the ‘comedies reflect stressful times and action heroes reflect social frustrations’ line of reasoning. It’s all entertainment, and that is all geared to take our minds off our problems – so what’s needed is what gets produced.

  14. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau June 26, 2015 8:51 am

    And now for something completely different:

    Richard Blake critiques the films of the Roman Empire. I always enjoy reading something like this by someone so knowledgeable; just gives me a tiny hint of the landscape I’m missing in this area or that. Adds some interest, certainly.

    The life in this rotting United States empire looks pretty good in comparison to Roman life.

    I probably will not watch Satyricon however. My taste in Fellini stops approximately at “Nights of Cabiria”.

  15. Claire
    Claire June 26, 2015 8:56 am

    My taste in Fellini just … stops. I used to be able to handle a smidge of Antonioni and there are a couple of Bergman films that don’t put me to sleep, but basically by the time I was 25 I had to admit I’m hopelessly middlebrow.

    Interesting list, though.

  16. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau June 26, 2015 12:10 pm

    Oh, “Nights of Cabiria” is well within the middlebrow range. πŸ™‚ Anyone who doesn’t just want to cuddle and console Giulietta Masina has something wrong with them.

  17. Claire
    Claire June 26, 2015 12:17 pm

    If her character is anything like Charity Hope Valentine (in the American rendering of the story), I’d more likely want to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her.

  18. Claire
    Claire June 26, 2015 1:51 pm

    This is embarrassing. But your comments got me interested enough to consider putting Nights of Cabiria into my Netflix queue. When I went to do that, I found that I’d already seen it and rated it just 2 out of 5 stars. I have zero memory of this; it was years ago.

    But presumably my view of Cabiria was about the same as my view of Charity Hope Valentine and I wasn’t much impressed with Fellini, either.

  19. Francisco Gruel
    Francisco Gruel June 26, 2015 7:56 pm

    Ahh pugs. My pug was acquired because a friend of the family broke up with her boyfriend and neither of them wanted to keep the pug they bought together.

    At the time my wife loved the dumb, snoring breed so he was ours.

    Name’s Leatherface.

    I just finished the first issue of my comic called Werepugs! Pugs that shapeshift into homicidal, little-people.

  20. Pat
    Pat June 27, 2015 1:46 am

    “Pugs that shapeshift into homicidal, little-people.”

    That sounds about right to explain what’s happened to Western civilization.

  21. Francisco Gruel
    Francisco Gruel June 27, 2015 4:51 am

    @Pat: I never thought of that perspective! In this story, the pugs symbolize kids and the shapeshifting symbolizes puberty and the homicide is the rage at damaging parents (owners).

  22. Claire
    Claire June 27, 2015 8:33 am

    Francisco Gruel — I forgot your werepugs! Sorry ’bout that.

    (This is turning into a great thread. Really, I can see I’m going to have to cast at least nine or 10 v*tes when we hold the election for dictator.)

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