The Pug Hotel (and their Person, Michelle)
It’s an extremely special day for us here at The Tales of Pug People, because we spoke to an extremely special Pug Person—Michelle Grady, founder and proprietor of The Pug Hotel, a Senior Pug Sanctuary in northern California—and her seven (current) pug darlings, Gizmo, Gunnar, Chicken, Rome, Monk, China Su, and Lilo. (At one point, she had SEVENTEEN pugs, but we’ll get into that blissful madness later) Please get to know Michelle and support her incredible efforts at www.thepughotel.com
PP: Michelle, we’re pretty pugged about talking to you. We’ve been looking forward to it all week.
Michelle: Me too! Oh, and the pugs say, “we heard about the interview and we want to take part.”
PP: We assume they will have much to say. And snort. And fart and snuffle and snore.
PP: Michelle, have you always been a Pug Person?
Michelle: I actually used to be a cat person—
*Brief pause while interviewers try to process this disturbing info—
Michelle: But my neighbor had a pug. I would hear the pug coming and I’d open my door so she’d run in to my house. And one day, I knew. I had to have my own pug.
PP: And what a glorious day that must have been. So, who was the lucky pug?
Michelle: Snorkel. She was my first love. And she was so attached to me and only me, that my husband and kids said we needed a second, because they wanted to be able to hold a pug, too. That was Cardozo, named after the 1930’s Supreme Court justice Benjamin Cardozo.
PP: Um, random and wonderful.
Michelle: When my daughter went off to college, I knew I needed to continue being a mom, so I got Gizmo, who became my true sidekick.
PP: So, when did you make the leap from being a basic Pug Person to being a senior Pug Savior?
Michelle: When I discovered The Grace Farm Senior Pug Sanctuary in Australia. And I thought, “that’s what I want.” Of course, there were a few obstacles… I was living in a condo and they only allowed two dogs. But at the time, the housing market was rock bottom, so I was able to buy a small house. And my daughter said, “Mom, you raised me in a condo and you got a house for the pugs?” “Yeah, I did.”
PP: Skinchildren have to understand, we love you and all, but… PUGS.
Michelle: Exactly! So, I had the place, but… now what? So, I starting Friending pugs and pug accounts and networking; then I adopted my first rescue from Pug Nation L.A., named Goku. He was sixteen years old and had been tied up outside a high-kill shelter. I brought him home and I thought, I’ll give him a bed and some love and I’ll have him as long as I have him. And he lived to be twenty years old!
Michelle: Yep, he was a happy dude. He would do this hilarious thing where he would screech and poop at the same time.
PP: That’s just amazing. Yes, the screech poop, but twenty years old… wow!
Michelle: So, I just kept adopting and fostering and in 2021, I got the nonprofit status and put together a board of directors—all pug people, of course. I think pug people are the most wonderful people.
PP: We agree, but you already knew that. Getting the nonprofit must have been helpful to your financials. ‘Cause, you know, you have to eat, too.
Michelle: Yes, until then, I was funding it all myself and it was getting very expensive. I’m really just starting to get donations. I don’t like to post constantly, ‘please give me money.’ It’s hard for me to say that. But the Betty White Challenge was great and Blind But Not* recently donated a thousand dollars.
*Blind But Not is an amazing organization that has raised thousands of dollars for pug rescues. Check them out at https://www.blindbutnot.com/
PP: And the name is pretty fab, too. How did you come up with The Pug Hotel?
Michelle: I originally came up with the name because I thought I could do pug boarding. But then I started fostering and realized I could actually have my real dream, a senior pug sanctuary. And I do have a “Hotel” aspect for humans too! I have a bedroom to rent and it’s cheaper than a real hotel-- and you get to hang out with pugs!
PP: We consider that a dream vacation. We’re going to have to make a pug pilgrimage at some point-- that would be a “pugrimage”, right? The thought of waking up to seven pugs... heaven.
Michelle: At one point, I had seventeen pugs, which was legitimately crazy. My limit now is twelve.
PP: Do they all get along? We're trying to imagine the horror of a pug rumble.
Michelle: They do, mostly. I've had some spicy ones in the past, trust me. But in the current batch, Chicken is the alpha and she keeps them in line. She rules the roost, so to speak.
PP: Okay, Michelle, we’re going to ask you some of our standard Tales of Pug People questions and you can just extend them over seven pugs. When was your moment of recognition, your “I am officially a Pug Person” paradigm shift?
Michelle: I think it was at the Santa Rosa Pug Club, which is pug playgroup. Everyone was standing around talking and I was sitting on the ground with the pugs. Because that was my happy place.
PP: That was your “Oh, I really, genuinely, prefer pugs to humans” moment.
Michelle: Well, yeah, I would say that I’m not the most social person by nature, but the pugs are the way in to conversation with people. Because they’re pug people.
PP: A world apart. Next: what is the most unusual piece of pug paraphernalia that someone has given you?
Michelle: I have a giant oil painting of Rome that came with him. It’s hanging over the queen-sized bed in the pug bedroom and it’s as wide as the bed. You know he was loved, if he came equipped with a humongous painting.
PP: Um, yes. So, one thing that a lot of pug people do is they talk to their pug and talk back to themselves in the pug’s voice—
Michelle: Oh, I do it all the time. All the time. Gizmo has the most distinct voice; I have her language down. “Mom, dis nawt comforble. Dis nawt feelin' cozy and dat’s bad ‘cause I’s da most important pug here.” I probably talk to her the most, but I talk to all of them. I’m the crazy lady walking down the street talking to her pugs.
PP: If that’s considered crazy, all Pug People would be locked up. And Michelle, last question: what do you love most about the breed?
Michelle: The way they feel in my arms. Oh, and the noises. The little “erp erp erp erp” sounds. My most happy time is when I’m lying in bed, listening to them all snore. Some people like the sound of ocean waves when they sleep, but pug snoring settles my soul. And I can pick out each of their individual sounds, so I think “oh, there’s Chicken, she’s good, and there’s Rome’s snore, and so on…”
PP: We totally, 100% get this. And as fervent Pug People ourselves, we are so grateful that People like you exist, especially for the senior population.
Michelle: I particularly love helping these old ones. They come in and they’re so broken, and I just love them. They’re living their best lives.