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  • Writer's pictureShari Simpson

Almond (and his Person, Ghazala)

The Tales of Pug People is celebrating a milestone—our first international feature! We’re so pugged to introduce you to Almond and his delightful Person, Ghazala, from Dubai. Zala speaks Urdu, English, and her mastery of Instagram pug-speak (‘chimkin’, ‘everypawdy’, ‘furriends’, etc.) is second to none. We love that Pug Peopletude transcends every language and culture, and that halfway across the planet, there's another Pug Mom filling every corner of her home with ridiculous pug paraphernalia.

PP: Zala, we’re so excited to meet you and that nugget of perfection in your lap. Is Almond your first pug or do you have a pug history?

Zala: Almond is my first pug. In fact, my first ever non-human friend. It’s weird to call him an animal or a dog; I call him my son. I introduce myself as “Almond’s mom”.

PP: As furmoms ourselves, we approve this introduction. So, how did you end up with a pug?

Zala: I was looking for a small dog and I have no idea where to find one, because I have no experience with this. A lady contacted me and said there’s a dog that’s been sitting in a cage in a shop for eight months and no one is buying him.

PP: And you rescued him!

Zala: Yes. And that day it was raining very hard, which is unusual in UAE, it doesn’t rain a lot. We consider rain to be a sign of blessing, and Almond is our blessing. He has changed our lives.

PP: Did you become a Pug Person right away or did it take time?

Zala: As soon as I saw Almond. I don’t find any breeds better than pugs. When I see other breeds, I say, “Ah no, look at that face, look at that snoot”, but when I see a pug, it’s “Ohhh! So cute, look at the folds,!”

PP: Oh, the folds, the delicious folds and creases!

Zala: I do some dog boarding at my home with different breeds, so I have Yorkshires and Chow Chows and a few pugs. And I am so biased for the pugs.

PP: Well, there are dogs, and then there are pugs. A world apart. Are pugs rare in Dubai?

Zaki: The breed is not available much here. You are very fortunate if you get a pug. There’s a dog-friendly café that I always go to with Almond and we talk to everyone and one time, I went without him and nobody spoke to me. It reminds me how famous he is; he’s the star wherever we go.

PP: We have to say, Almond has been so chill and relaxed and snuggly during this interview. Is he always like that?

Zala: Always. I can sit with him for hours and hours and he never complains, he never says ‘why are you making me sit like this’? When he sleeps with me, he’ll just hug. One leg and one hand on me, always.

PP: Oh, so he sleeps with you, true Pug Person that you are?

Zala: Ohhh, yes, with me and my partner, Balaji. It’s true, Almond used to sleep in his dog bed, but now he just uses that to hide treats.

PP: And is Balaji as much of a Pug Person as you?

Zala: He was the one who first said to have a pug. I grew up in Pakistan, but Balaji grew up in India and there were these famous TV commercials with a pug.

PP: Oh, yes, we’ve heard about these! The pug’s name is Cheeka, right?

Zala: Yes, he saw those commercials and knew he would someday have a pug.

*Pug People, go on YouTube and check out the Vodafone/Hutch commercials with the ridiculously adorable Cheeka the Pug. You’re welcome in advance.

PP: And did Almond live up to the expectations?

Zala: I mean, look at him, how he is.

PP: Yeah, we have been very distracted by his perfection. You’ve really got a special one there.

Zala: And now we are considering to have another one in the family, but this guy has set the bar too high, we think. What if the second one is more like other pugs, very energetic? There are two pugs that come to play with Almond named Olive and Kimchi. Those two are always running around! One time, Kimchi was on heat and all the other dogs were following her, but not Almond.

PP: Almond doesn’t do that on a first date. He buys them dinner first. So, we saw some pretty amazing pictures of Almond’s birthday party.

Zala: We are trying to do something different every year for Almond’s birthday. Last year, we had a cake made in the shape of Almond sleeping. It was the actual size of Almond. This year, we have the party at a hotel with ten other dogs and their parents.

PP: Does Almond have any quirks?

Zala: His quirk is how absolutely calm he is. It’s not that he isn't friendly to other dogs or other humans, it’s just that he says, “I like you, take me on your shoulder now.” The only time he is very crazy is when I come into the home. Even if I go to the grocery for five minutes, when I come back, he must greet me with all the spinnies and the lickies.

PP: Zala, we’ve had the most wonderful time meeting you and the yummy Almond. Our last question is: what is your True Pug Confession?

Zala: We have a nighttime ritual with Almond. First, with his father, they will look in the mirror together and he will kiss Almond, then Almond will kiss himself in the mirror, and they both say goodnight. And then I do story time. I start with, Almond, if anyone asks you who has given birth to you, you say ‘This lady. I have come out from her, she is my mommy.’

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