In 2008 a car accident changed our lives. My back was badly damaged so I went from being a mom and working to being a mom that couldn’t even hold my 5-year-old on my lap. At times I wished the injuries had been bad enough to paralyze me instead of turning me into a useless waste of space and a burden on my family.
After almost a year of dealing with the pain, the depression and the constant feeling of being useless my doctor suggested I get a puppy. I laughed out loud! How was I going to take care of a puppy, walk them, train them, deal with this big dog pulling on a leash?! You see I had been raised with Dobermans, my husband had been raised with a medium sized Dalmatian mix and we were big dog people. We both hated the idea of a small dog incessantly yapping and yipping, shivering and being an arm shark.
I decided to go home and research small dog breeds, something I could handle that wouldn’t need a lot of exercise. Something that would enjoy cuddling, something that would not be annoying. I’d like to say the heavens opened and a choir of angels sung “Pugs” in the Key of G, but that’s not what happened. After hours of searching and reading I did come to the conclusion that a Pug would be perfect, and I had always found the breed adorable. A co-worker had a couple and they would come to the office once in a while. I brought the idea up to my husband who immediately said “no!”. No little dogs and besides they have squished faces and are ugly.
So, my search continued, I did however bookmark a few Pug breeders’ pages just in case. The summer of 2010 we had a big family reunion in Canada with my husband’s family and his cousin had 2 Pugs that had come along. My husband thought they were the coolest dogs he’d ever met. They were friendly, funny, small but not annoying, really the perfect package of everything we were looking for in a size I could handle. After we got home, we started looking at getting one more seriously, no longer a someday thing but a soon thing. We brought DD (short for Dixie Diva) home in October of 2011, shortly after my dad passed away unexpectedly. Our Doberman was already 9 at the time but she turned into the biggest pile of mush around that little 3-pound puppy. Rolling over onto her back letting her win wrestling matches, playing with her ever so carefully while still being rowdy.
I started feeling useful again, I had a purpose that I could fulfill. I mean I was still a mom, but I couldn’t clean house, I couldn’t cook properly, I couldn’t really go anywhere, but now this little puppy was just happy to let me take her to the back yard. One night, as our move to Tennessee grew closer, I opened the conversation with my husband about breeding. Could this be something we could do as a family. Could our family work together to not only honor, maintain and improve on the breed standard, but could we also help complete other families? We talked about it, then talked to our kids about it. Of course, the kids were all for being surrounded by puppies all the time, but were they willing to pitch in and help with the work?
After we were sure everyone was on board, we started our search for a male. As luck, or providence, would have it, a male born just 5 days before DD, but from a different lineage, was still available at the breeder we had gotten DD from! We brought Butch home the day our sweet Doberman crossed the rainbow bridge. We named him in honor of my father, whose nickname as a child had been Butch. This was the birth of what became Dixie Pugs (DixieDarlings is our AKC kennel name). We spent the next year reading, researching and learning anything and everything we could about the breeding side of Pugs, we wanted to go forward with as much knowledge as we could, so we would not only be prepared but so that we could offer the puppies the most comprehensive early life as possible.
In the summer of 2013, we had our first litter and we hit the ground running. We love our dogs, they give me a sense of purpose, even more now that my children are older and more self-sufficient. They snuggle with me and comfort me on days when the pain is so overwhelming, I can’t physically do anything. The puppies give me a goal and help me feel useful. I’m preparing them for their future families. Reading and learning about the breed never stops, it’s important to us that not only are our dogs healthy, but that our puppies are healthy, meet or exceed the breed standard, are socialized, have a good temperament and are ready for their new environment.