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  • Writer's pictureShari Simpson

Phil & Penny (and their Person, Stefan)


Pug People, you know we appreciate a good Pug Dad, and today’s is extra extra special. Meet Stefan, Pug Pop to Philomena and Penelope (Pug Mom Nina was working) and a Pug Person so kind, he didn’t even stop us when we pronounced his name like Bill Hader’s character on Saturday Night Live. Thank you, STEfan not SteFAN! Stay tuned for a lovely interview about Phil’s leg injury, Penny’s sweetness, and sharing saliva with a pug. Enjoy!




PP: We know that Nina’s unavailable, but we love talking to the Pug Dads! And look at Phil, she’s a total loaf stretched out in your lap.


Stefan: She saw that I was getting ready to do something without her and that’s just not gonna happen.

PP: We’ll get to the story of Philomena’s little leg, but first, tell us your pug history.


Stefan: We’ve been Pug People for quite a long time, actually. We followed Chubs the Wampug as our first celebrity pug; he was kind of my celebrity pug crush, and it blossomed from there. When Nina and I first got together, we knew that we would get a pug once we had a place. We bought our house in January and had Phil by April.


PP: Wow! You weren’t joking around.


Stefan: I’ve always been drawn to pugs. Every time I saw one, I would just light up.

PP: Did you guys have any pug stuff before you had the actual pugs? ‘Cause, you know, that’s the mark of a hard-core Pug Person.


Stefan: We had mugs and toys and that sort of thing, but I got Nina a little stuffed pug named Phil and we said Phil would be the name of our first real pug. Then Philomena came into our lives, saying “Hey, hey, hey, I’m a lady.” Yes, you are, but you’re still our Phil.


PP: By the way, Stefan, you’re our first pugtographer.


Stefan: It’s an honor! At a certain point in my career, I thought why don’t I do what I love, which is work with animals, pugs in particular.


PP: ‘Pugs in particular' is our new favorite alliterative phrase. Tell us a little bit about Phil’s injury.


Stefan: She was always a little daredevil, jumping on and off things. That day, she hopped off the bed, which was a very low platform bed, lower than your average sofa, but she missed the rug and hit the hardwood floor. At first it didn’t register that anything had happened, but suddenly her legs on her left side weren’t moving. She got scared and that’s when we panicked. We rushed her to our vet for nerve tests, and found out that she had torn her brachial plexus and injured her cervical spine in her neck; she was paralyzed on the left side of her body.


PP: We’re going to cry. Just from that one small jump.


Stefan: We found a physical therapist who was amazing at rehabilitation. And she was very direct, said Phil was too fat. Eighteen pounds on her tiny frame was just too much.


PP: Wow. We won’t even talk about our chonky pugs.


Stefan: Phil did months and months of physical therapy, then we went to a place called My Pet’s Brace, which makes orthotics and prosthetics, and Phil was fitted for a leg brace. And when they put it on her, she took off running with excitement, and we all broke down crying. She was still a puppy, and to see her be a puppy again…


PP: OMP, we’re really gonna cry now.


Stefan: There’s a parallel between what Phil went through and what my wife went through. Nina had a bad car accident and there was a lot of weakness on the left side of her body. It was one of those things where we kept going on in life, and thinking… nothing can really get you down. We see her, as do our friends on Instagram, as an inspiration.

Stefan: But of course, she knows how to work it. When we take her in the cart somewhere, she’ll hang her leg with the brace out and wave at people. She milks it.


PP: We would expect no less from a pug.

PP: Tell us about Penny.


Stefan: There was this place, Companion Pups, and they said they were going to retire Penny after having a few litters; they couldn’t show her in shows because she had a “strange gait.” We had no idea what a “strange gait” meant until the first time we met her and then we were like, ‘ohhh, okay’. Because she prances. Her feet just go everywhere. If you hear her walking around on the hardwood floors, you’d think we had fifteen pugs in the house.


PP: Penny the Prancing Pug.

Stefan: Yeah. And speaking of hearing weird things in the house, if you didn’t know about Phil’s brace, you would be terrified. The noise sounds like a horror movie. THUMP click click, THUMP click click.


PP: So, you basically have two pugs that walk to the beat of their own drummers. Do Penny and Phil get along?


Stefan: Oh, definitely. It’s funny, thought, Phil always wants to play, but Penny doesn’t know how to play one-on-one. But if there’s a third pug involved and it’s a pack situation, she’ll play.


PP: So, it’s good when their friend Matilda comes over.


Stefan: Well… yeah, except Matilda doesn’t really like to play either, she and Penny just like to snuggle. And poor Phil wants to play, like, “Come on, guys!”, and they just stare at her.


PP: Ha! Poor Phil. “Look, I’ve got a bum paw, come play with me!”


Stefan: Sometimes out of frustration, she’ll bop the other two with the brace.

PP: On that note of bopping, you’ll enjoy this segue: if Phil and Penny were celebrities, who would they be? Phil would be Rocky, we’re assuming.


Stefan: Possibly, but really, any diva would work. I’m thinking Beyonce. Penny falls into the “good people” category, always trying to be kind to others. Who would that be?

PP: Do the pugs sleep with you guys?


Stefan: If it were up to me, they would. But Nina’s actually highly allergic to dogs.


PP: What?! No! Is she able to pick up the pugs?!


Stefan: Oh, yeah, she’s been taking allergy shots for seven years.


PP: That’s what I did to my husband! (Shari) That’s true love.


Stefan: Nina does really well, then she lets me know if it’s getting to be too much, and I’m like, ‘okay, girls, pile on me’.


PP: You really are the Pug Dad. And Nina’s a kickass Pug Mom, sneezing for her devotion. Stefan, do you have a True Pug Confession? That’s something so weird that you would only admit it to another Pug Person.


Stefan: Ooh. There’s a lot in that bag.


PP: We assumed so.


Stefan: Well, Phil drinks water from her water bowl, but if we’re around, she knows to ask for fresh water. And if I don’t want to get up, I’ll start pouring water from my own water bottle and she’ll start drinking directly from the source. Annnd… I don’t have a problem following up by drinking again from my bottle. Anyone who’s seen this happen is like “wait… what… uh… why don’t you get her water?” And I say, “Because she wants my water.” “But she licked it!” “Yeah, so?”


PP: Exactly. So?


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