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Barking Blondes: Harry Redknapp, pugs and Valentino

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

barking2 300x171 Barking Blondes: Harry Redknapp, pugs and ValentinoThe only time we have ever expressed an interest in football was when we discovered Harry Redknapp’s bulldog Rosie was related to our own bulldog, Matilda. We spent a pleasant morning with him at his then footie club comparing notes.

So engrossed in his dog’s antics, we were oblivious to the guys training outside. His son Jamie and wife Louise have kept up the family tradition of pet by also choosing bulldogs.

This week BBC Scotland asked us to contribute to an on-air discussion focusing on the two footballers Jamie Walker and David Templeman. Thankfully it wasn’t to comment on the flat back four system but rather their choice of dogs. PUGS.

Each had tweeted pictures of their puppies and expressed genuine enthusiasm for the breed. It’s a strange irony that such supreme athletes should have chosen as pets, flat nosed breeds which however adorable come with a ton of health issues.

Why pugs? Why are they becoming more popular? Pugmania really started in the mid 2000s with approximately 4,000 pug pups registered a year. Before this, through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s they had remained steady and consistent with other breeds.

Dogs do go in and out of fashion and pugs are now enjoying a renaissance? They are small dogs with big personalities, expressive faces and natural comedians. Being little and tenacious, pugs are perfect for urban life and with a coat that’s easy to groom. They were a favourite of William of Orange, Hogarth, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and loved by the aristocracy. Queen Victoria was influential in making them a firm British favourite in the late 1800s.

Now that they are back in vogue we have the fashion icon Valentino flaunting his pugs in society pages and who can forget the sad passing of Jonathan Ross’s adored pug Mr Pickles! Alas, as with bulldogs, the snoring, wheezing and snuffling comes as part of the package. Not everybody can deal with it.

A close actor friend craved for years for a pug but when he finally rescued one, he found he couldn’t cope. “Everywhere I went this snorting, heavy breathing chubby fellow followed me,” he said. “It was freaking me out. Everywhere I went it waddled and wheezed behind me.”

Things finally came to a head when one day, whilst taking a shower, he turned to see his pug’s face squashed against the glass door, staring at him through the steam. “He had to go,” said the actor. “It was like an asthmatic version of Psycho.”

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Last week in this blog we wrote about the perils and joy of walking dogs in the snow. On that same day, as we walked in Regents Park, we witnessed a dog falling through the ice of the duck pond and drowning. Unable to listen to the pain of his owner calling his name, we had to move away from the crowds. It was difficult because our two dogs were rooted to the spot. They, unlike us, didn’t want to move. But there was nothing anyone could do. It was horrible. Our dogs have been out of sorts all week. Do you believe they could be grieving? They didn’t know the deceased dog but could they have sensed his demise?

By the time we left the park two fire engines and a police car had arrived with assistance. It was all too late but at least they had attended. What does that say about this country?

“The strength of a nation is based on how it treats its animals.” Ghandi was right.

‘Barking at the Moon’ is on every Thursday from 3pm on BBC London 94.9fm

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  • Heathbar

    I cannot stand to see dogs with obvious health issues, and that includes pugs. It’s not fair to the animals, and I think people who purchase such animals are cruel as they are perpetrating bad breeding. I have met lots of pugs, including those owned by friends and it has reinforced my views on their breeding. One friend has had only one and although she loves him, she said she wouldn’t get another, another reason being the copious amounts of shedding.


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