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My Sarah

Young Sarah, photo from our family album

Young Sarah, photo from our family album

I found my best friend, Queen Sarah Rala, a female Chinese Pug, through a newspaper advertisement in January 2000. They listed a price of $250.  After making the phone call and getting directions, I went to the house where she lived. After entering, I talked with the woman who placed the ad and watched the three little boys of the family drag the little dog all over the house. She was just a puppy, not yet a year old. They also had a male pug, but didn’t drag him around. The little pug was puffing and panting, and looking at me pleadingly with those big eyes. Basically, she seemed to be a loving little dog, but she was exhausted. These little dogs, because of their short snout, have problems getting enough air. I couldn’t wait to get her out of there. I didn’t even haggle the price, I just promptly wrote them a check and took her home.

“Whomever said you can’t buy happiness

obviously never bought a pug!” ~ Author Unknown 


Showing her "good side" as any star does

Showing her “good side” as any star does

How’d She Get Her Name?

Queen Sarah Rala was the name she was given by her breeder, reflecting her parentage. We did not want to call her Queenie and the family I got her from said they had called her Sarah. We continued the name because she was already almost a year old, and we felt the transition would be easier on her. She would be learning a new environment and way of life, she shouldn’t have to learn a new name too.

She Was Exhausted When We Got Home

In the car drive across town to home, she panted and struggled to breathe all the way. Then for two days after we were home, she only woke up to eat and go out to potty. But even at that, she wasn’t so exhausted that when it was bedtime, she didn’t know where her rightful place was in my bedroom! Of course, it was right on the foot of my bed! She jumped up, quickly found her “sweet spot” and began to snore before I could even get under the covers. It took me a while to get used to the sound she made, but after so many years hearing it, I can hardly sleep without it.

Sarah’s “Perch”

Sarah’s favorite spot when she was young was right beside me on the arm of my recliner. Whenever I was sitting there, so was she. She would even go sound asleep on that chair arm with her left front and hind legs hanging over. It was her “perch;” her “place,” until she got old and no longer wanted to jump up to get there. Even if I picked her up and placed her there, it now felt insecure for her, and she would jump down.

She Quickly Learned A Clever Trick

She soon fell into my routine, learned not to get tied up in my oxygen line, and would stay right with me no matter where I went in the house. As for my going to the bathroom alone, that was a thing of the past! Sarah had to go wherever I went.  After a time, I noticed she had this habit of laying on my 50-foot oxygen line that runs from my concentrater to me. I thought at first it was just accidental, but then I noticed when I got up to move, she immediately felt the tug on the line and was up with me like a shot. “Aha!” she seemed to be saying, “you’re not getting away from me, I know a good thing when I see it.” She had learned a clever trick without being taught! Smart little dog, that!!

Fickle Little Girl!

But she does have her fickle moments! When visitors arrive, she pays concentrated attention to winning them over, and totally ignores me. But once they know she’s lovable, and the center of attention, she’ll return to me and lay at my feet once more, satisfied she proved she’s the Queen of the house. She’s a little character, and brings so much laughter to my days.

“I’ve noticed if you’re a pug owner, you’re pug-crazy.”

~ Crystal Key


Sarah's favorite spot in her young years

Sarah’s favorite spot, her “perch” in her young years

My pug has me trained pretty well…

I throw a toy, Sarah runs and gets it, brings it back. This works a few times, until she’s had enough, then she just lays down away from me and chews the toy, letting me know she’s quitting, it’s all over! She has little “hidey-holes” in corners of the house that she will go to sometimes, like the little nook where the couch doesn’t quite touch the wall. She loves that little spot, or under the dining room table, or in the bedroom next to the bathroom where there’s again a little spot she squeezes into. That’s her “alone” time I guess, where she sleeps blissfully unaware of the world. But I know her hiding spots, so I CAN find her, although she ignores me if I call her. So if I don’t want to go look, all I have to do is go get a treat out of the jar and POOF! she magically appears, looking all alert and bright-eyed, ready for the treat. She’s a funny little clown!

“The pug is living proof that God has a sense of humor.”

~Margo Kaufman

Pug Therapy? Oh Yeah! There Is Such A Thing!

I don’t think any of the psychiatrists would actually call it “Pug Therapy,” but that’s what it was for me. My Sarah kept me from being lonely. I am retired and have health issues that prevent me from going out alone. Once you’re retired, the friends who all said they’d come visit, well….they don’t. You no longer have anything in common with them. I can blame them, but without friends it became very lonely. Until I began writing on a site known as eHow back in the 90s, my activities were reading and crocheting. But Sarah made all the difference in my life. She was right with me, no matter where I was or what I did. She commiserated with me and comforted me if I was sad, and we played if I was up to it. She gave me daily companionship and I never felt alone. I always felt loved, because her adoring big eyes were on me the minute I stood up, and the moment I moved, she moved with me. I talked to her like I was talking to a little child. She would wiggle that curly tail and be all happy, which made me happy. Yes, she was Pug Therapy for me, no doubt.


Sarah's toy basket and favorite toys

Sarah’s toy basket and favorite toys

 “Pugs love to play so there are toys everywhere….”

Sarah loves soft, plush squeaky toys and gets all excited when I bring one home for her. I’ve never figured out how she knows what I have in the bag. She only dances around at my feet when it’s for her and until I give it to her. If I don’t have a toy in the bag, she’s quite disinterested in the whole thing.  Once she has the toy, it will only be a couple of days until she has stopped the squeaker by biting through it, but then she loves the toy and will clean it like she’s cleaning a puppy. She has a basket full of toys that most of the time are scattered around as though there were children living in my house, and in a way, she is just that. Her favorite at the moment, though the squeaker is already broken, is the plush pumpkin jack-o-lantern shown in the photo. But she still loves the other ones too.


“What I love most about my Sarah is her sweetness and patience, even when we’re doing something for her she doesn’t like, she  puts up with it.”

~ Nancy Hardin

Pug Owners Should Know The Problems To Watch For

I feel everyone should know as much as possible about their dog’s breed, so that they know the best way to raise and train them. They should also know what health problems to look for such as hip dysplasia, ear infections, bladder stones, eye problems, hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, etc. If you are aware of the possibility of these in your dog, you can keep your dog healthier longer with preventive care. Currently there is a canine flu making the rounds of our dog population. If you see signs of coughing, wheezing, or listlessness, and suspect the dog has a temperature, get them to a veterinarian quickly for life-saving medications. Diabetes is another ailment dogs can readily develop, especially if their diet contains too much starch. Pugs are particularly prone to diabetes and I did not know this until too late for my Sarah.

Pugs Breathing Problems

Pugs do have some inherent health problems due to their snout conformation, known as brachycephalic, which also affects bulldogs, boxers, pekingese, and other short snout dogs. The condition causes problems with breathing. It is advisory to use a harness on a  dog with this condition, rather than a collar, due to their inability to breathe well.

Want A Pug? Rescue One…Please!

There are rescue pugs who need a good forever home. If you’re looking for a little pug to adopt, try some of these sites .Some of these little guys have been left without a home due to the foreclosure of their homes or the death of a caretaker. If possible, take one of these sweet pugs into your home. They’ll reward you with tons of pug love. You might also look into fostering pugs in your community, if you can’t take them full time. Check your local listing for “PUG RESCUES,” chances are good there will be one near you.

A Word About Puppy Mills and Shopping Mall Stores

Please do NOT buy a puppy from a pet shop in a shopping mall. Most of these puppies are from puppy mills where the mother dog is bred endlessly, with any other dog they have at the time. You have no way of knowing this puppy’s parentage, or whether genetic defects and diseases are lurking in that sweet little dog. Buying from a puppy mill just encourages them to continue to breed more of these poor dogs who have health problems, genetic problems and disease. Buy only from a reputable breeder who allows you to see where the dogs live and the conditions in which they are kept. If possible, meet the parents. This may help you avoid heartbreak and financial hardship in the long run.

Update: February 2013: Sarah is now 14 years old, and diabetic. Her diet is strictly regulated and she receives insulin shots twice a day. She is in no pain, and seems to feel much better since the diagnosis. She is going blind with cataracts, but as long as she is not suffering, I will help her. I guide her to her bed at night, and often have to go out into the yard to get her when she becomes lost. She doesn’t play anymore, hasn’t since her sight began to leave her. Most of her day is spent sleeping. Occasionally, she will realize I’ve gone into another room and come searching for me, but even now, she finds that oxygen line and trails it to where I am.



Going grey, but still loving and loyal

Going grey, but still loving and loyal


NOTE:  My baby, Queen Sarah Rala Hardin went across the Rainbow Bridge on March 29, 2014. She was 15 years old, much loved and greatly missed, even now.