Last week, I introduced you to my foster dog, Tory. At the time, he had not yet arrived. Now he’s at home with me, and has proven to be a little more of a handful than I first anticipated. Tory may have a serious genetic health problem common in purebred Pugs. In addition, he has marked in the house several times, which is an issue I expected to possibly encounter given that Tory is an unaltered male. Neither problem is totally unexpected, but both at once mean I’m spending a lot of time on Tory right now!
Here’s a photo of Tory:
- Tory, My Foster Dog
Tory’s relinquishment went fairly smoothly. I met his owner at a Petsmart store, where we went through the required paperwork together. She was able to provide information on Tory’s veterinarian, who will have his vaccination records. In addition, the prior owner sent some of Tory’s food with him so that he will be able to eat what he’s familiar with as he adjusts to his new housing situation.
However, Tory appears a little older than he was described. This may be because of his health (more on that in the next section) or he may actually be older than 4 1/2. His elderly owner may have recollected his birthdate incorrectly. He also was wearing a fabric slip collar/leash combination, which is an inappropriate choice for a Brachiocephalic breed like the Pug. Brachiocephalic dogs should be walked with a harness or a flat collar, but never with a slip collar. Any additional interference with their breathing aside from what their genes cause is too much!
Although he will be seeing a vet tomorrow for a formal diagnosis, I strongly suspect Tory has an elongated soft palate. This condition is common in Pugs and is genetic. The elongated soft palate interfere’s with an affected dog’s breathing, causing gasping, rasping, wheezing, gurgling, and snorting sounds. Some of these sounds are normal for healthy Pugs, but Tory rasps very loudly whenever he breathes through his mouth. I got a second opinion from two experienced pug owners involved with rescue, and both agreed his noises are abnormal and likely due to an elongated soft palate. I suspect Tory’s owner was hard of hearing and unable to notice the noises Tory makes when breathing through his mouth.
Aside from this defect, which may need surgical correction, Tory appears healthy. He, like most Pugs, is moderately overweight. His prior owner fed him more than he needs. I will slowly reduce the amount of food Tory eats each day until he is eating just one cup of kibble per day. Combined with exercise and changing to a lower-carb kibble will help Tory slim down. His teeth appear healthy, and he does not seem to have trouble with his hips or shoulders.
Overall, Tory is a well-behaved Pug, but he has a few habits that need work before his adoption, and will require consistent training from his new owners. Tory has urine-marked in the house several times. He also jumps up on the couch and sometimes steals socks.
None of this is abnormal for a Pug who has had little obedience training, but he’ll need attention and regular training sessions in his new home. He’s already doing better about the marking compared to his first day with me. A neuter will improve that behavior further. The biggest behavioral challenge for Tory will be learning obedience as an adult without prior training. However, you can teach an old or middle-aged dog new tricks, so Tory will be learning basic obedience starting immediately!