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  • Writer's pictureShari Simpson

Earl (and his People, Ewa & Grazyna)

Updated: May 25, 2022

The Tales of Pug People scored a very special interview recently—Earl Avere Fortuna, a blind puggy who does not let this stop him from being an Expert Masters Trick Dog, a Trick Dog Champion, and a philanthropist (thanks to his remarkable People). Meet three generations—Grandma Grazyna, Mama Ewa, and Grandson Earl—of Profound Pug Peopledom and hear about their efforts for the pets and people of Ukraine.

PP: Ewa and Grazyna, we are incredibly excited to be meeting you and that hunk, Earl Avere Fortuna. Can you tell us your pug backstory?

Ewa: I was in my last year of med school in Poland--

Grazyna: And we asked what she wanted as some kind of memory gift from her time in Poland. She said she wanted a pug.

Ewa: Well, I’d wanted a dog all my life—

Grazyna: Yes, that’s true, but my husband is deathly afraid of dogs. But not Earl. My husband has a theory; he says pugs are different, because they’re not dogs.

PP: That’s true! They’re not dogs. They’re pugs.

Ewa: To be honest, it actually was not a great time for me to get a pug, there was a lot of heavy stuff going on in my life. But Mom found out about Earl and set it up for us to meet. On my way to the meeting, I was convinced I would be able to say no if it wasn’t right, if he was not ‘the one’. Well… Earl just crawled right up and laid on my shoulder. For about two hours. It was love at first sight. My life with a pug had begun.

Grazyna: And Ewa was so prepared, she’d read all the books on training dogs, but when Earl came—

Ewa: Nothing. Nothing worked. I swear, I thought I was doing something wrong, I kept going back to the books, looking at every developmental stage, following every step to a T, and Earl just wasn’t having it. When he was in his nipping phase, one book said “Yell loudly”, so I tried it and Earl thought it was hilarious. I learned, don’t tell him anything resembling ‘no’.

PP: Well, yeah, because he’s a pug. So… do you guys feel like you’re both Pug People now? Like, this is your breed?

*Ewa and Grazyna pause, strange expressions on their faces. The interviewers think maybe we’ve said something wrong?

Ewa: Well, of course.

PP: Oh, okay! We weren’t sure what that pause was. It was an “well, duh” pause.

Ewa: It really doesn’t take long to become a Pug Person. Because pugs are majestic.

Grazyna: There’s no comparison to other dogs.

Ewa: Earl is so in tune with our emotions. He’s a clown, he’s a helper, he’s everything all mixed into one.

PP: And we love that his tongue sticks out. We’re dying to have a stick-out-tongue pug, we haven’t had one yet.

Ewa: They say it happens when they start losing teeth, but his tongue was out way before that. He just likes looking silly, so he can get away with everything.

PP: Tell us about Earl’s vision problems.

Ewa: He has pigmentary keratitis, but by the time he was diagnosed, it was too late to save his right eye. He does have about 15-20% vision in the periphery of his left eye.

PP: It doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all.

Ewa: Initially, it did. He was starting to get anxious about loud noises, or if he’d bump into something, he’d just get disoriented and give up. He’d had a depressive episode before, so we really wanted to avoid that again, and help him to adapt.

Grazyna: The doctor told us to teach him some commands to help him adjust. And we had someone as an example, our close friend, Miss Marshamallow the Flying Pug. She is well known for her agility.

*Pug People, please take a moment to check out @missmarshamallow_theflyingpug on Instagram. You’re welcome.

PP: And now Earl is an Expert Masters Trick Dog and a Trick Dog Champion!

Ewa: He really loves doing his tricks. At one point, I thought we’d count how many he knows already and then aim for a number higher. I thought it would be around 100. Nope, we stopped counting at 150.

Grazyna: He loves to exercise, too. He does FitPAWS.

Ewa: And he loves skateboarding. When you teach a pug to ride a skateboard, it’s supposed to be two paws first, but he did four paws right away.

PP: He’s an overachiever.

PP: We really want to ask you both about your amazing fundraiser for Ukraine (check out @earlsfundraiser). What made you decide to do something like this?

Grazyna: All of us have different stories in life. I come from Poland and I remember still when we were running away from martial law, I remember when our cities were overflowed with soviet soldiers and tanks. You cannot imagine how people react when you are going to the store and there is no bread. And the fact that there are people now who are in a much more dangerous situation—you can’t even compare martial law to war—those people truly need help. We were getting pictures of the dogs in shelters and how abused they were. I have to do something.

Ewa: It was really all my mother, she did this.

Grazyna: I don’t know anything, of course, on how to run a fundraiser. I asked a friend on Instagram for help and she wasn’t able to right away, and I just couldn’t wait. I decided “okay! I will do the collars and the sweaters” and I ordered tons of wool and just started crocheting. My first thought was I’m not capable of running a fundraiser, so I then asked my friend Petra for help. But I guess we had different ideas of what this was going to be.

Ewa: It was originally meant to be just a donation thing. For every donation, they’d get a sweater. A thank you gift. But it blew up overnight and I woke up to messages about our raffle. What raffle?? All these vendors had donated items while we were asleep!

Grazyna: It was amazing, so many people giving without even thinking about it. At one point, when we were at 100 prizes, we thought that would be enough. But you can’t just stop when other people are giving and they support you.

PP: It really was incredible and we’re so grateful for people like you, who don’t just stop at “well, I don’t know how.” You figured it out, because it was so important. That sounds like a true Pug Person to us.

Ewa: We love Pug People!

PP: We’ve discovered through doing these interviews that there’s this thread of similarity that runs through pugs and Pug People, no matter where they live.

Ewa: Absolutely. Earl has a lot of dog friends because he’s very social, but the crazy stuff? The crazy ideas? So much more palatable to Pug People.

Grazyna: If we hadn’t been open to the crazy ideas, we never would have been open to Earl learning how to paint.

PP: We love Earl’s paintings!

Ewa: And he absolutely loves doing it. He’s so focused on his painting, he’ll paint for two hours, he’ll forget that he needs to drink water or go out to pee.

PP: He’s an artist in his spirit.

Grazyna: And we can’t figure out how he chooses his colors.

Ewa: Even his vet is perplexed at how decisive Earl is. We tried to do a commission to raise money for a friend’s pug’s operation, so we thought we’d let the person who won choose the colors. No. That does not work with Earl, he chooses what he wants to paint. If he has a different vision…

PP: You know you can’t tell an artist anything.

Ewa: People really think we’re crazy. We’ve been asked if we tape a paintbrush to his paw. No! That would be horrific. Some people say, “we could never do that, my pug would eat the paint.”

PP: Um… yeah. That would be our pugs.

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