The Pug Life and Toronto’s own
Miss Pickles

What is it about Pugs that so many people adore? Their smushy faces? Their compact size? Their quirky personalities? Pugly: A Pug’s Life explores the current craze for flat-faced dogs and follows the trials, tribulations and triumphs of pug dogs as they journey from rescue, to foster care, to their forever homes — fascinating insight for those who are curious about the breed. The World Premiere will air on CBC Docs POV,  January 11 at 9:00 pm.

Pug - Pugly: A Pug’s Life

Pugly tells the story of several pugs. Gunner, a two-year-old pug in the care of Pugalug, Toronto’s pug rescue network led by self-professed “Crazy Dog Lady” Blanche Axton. As she prepares Gunner for adoption, we meet a growing community of “squishy-faced dog” devotees with big personalities, and follow their stories of heroism, humour and heartbreak.

Titus is a half-blind pug crippled by a congenital condition but he will not give up barking and chasing after speeding trains. His doting owner Erin carries him everywhere he goes, and ensures that he gets his meds and his thrice-daily catheterization. As a result, for the past three years, these two have never been apart. And then there’s Tawnie, the “sassy bitch” with a lengthy list of maladies, beloved by Blanche, Sigrid and the rest of the Pugalug team, but whose continual (and costly) vet visits have made her adoption prospects doubtful.

Pugly: A Pug’s Life - Pug
Blanche and her pug

Toronto’s most insta recognizable pug starlet, Miss Pickles, was adopted from Pugalug Pug Rescue by Margaret and her husband after being fostered by them. “We decided to keep her because we found her irresistible,” Margaret explains. We see the glamorous side of this pug’s life but Miss Pickles has faced some serious health issues – including cancer – but she hasn’t let that slow her down. In 2018, Miss Pickles not only won the title of Now Magazine’s ‘Best Instagram Account’ but made the cover of their annual ‘Readers’ Choice’ issue. Miss Pickles is rarely seen without a cute outfit on and her nails painted.

PUg- Pugly: A Pug’s Life
Margaret and Miss Pickles

We had a chance to interview Miss Pickles & Margaret to find out more…

Pugs are adorable, why do you think people love this breed so much?

Miss Pickles: No question, we are the best!

Pickles’ mom: They are adorable and the comic clown dogs of the dog world! They have so many quirks about them, even on a bad day a pug can make any person smile.

How did you become so Instagram famous?

Miss Pickles: My viewers like me in my many outfits my mom puts me in, even though they are sometimes utterly ridiculous! This past fall, there was a contest for Now Magazines’ best Toronto instagram 2018 (@miss.picklesthepug), which I won! It really helped get my name out there! I also landed on the magazine’s cover!

How do you handle the fame?

Miss Pickles: I demand extra treats! lol..

Pickles’ Mom: Social media is a lot of fun and encountering fans in public who recognize Miss Pickles and approach us is surreal in the greatest way!

Is there a lot of pressure to keep your social presence?

Miss Pickles: I am a born star. I love entertaining my fans by dressing up and just being me!

Pickles’ Mom: Miss Pickles Instagram is my hobby and I love taking pictures of Pickles. She is so photogenic and this gal will do anything for treats! Some tips would include: create a brand that makes your profile shine! Be consistent with your posts, funny captions always work… and who does not love a pug in clothes.

As this documentary will reveal, pugs are also prone to health issues – what would you want people to know?

Pickles’ mom: If you are going to own a pug, know that they will require specific cares compared to other breeds. For instance we brush Pickles’ teeth each night, give her lubricating eye drops and clean her wrinkles. Pugs are prone to obesity and they have an insatiable appetite. Pickles was once 10lbs overweight, and it took 10 months to drop the extra pounds. From the excess weight she developed arthritis in her hips. It is essential to keep their weight low for optimal health.

I am a foster parent for Toronto’s Pugalug Pug rescue and that’s where we got Miss Pickles from . I see pugs coming into rescue because of the owners’ inability to pay for their health expenses or they just simply don’t have time for their pug. Prior to getting a pug, make sure you do have the time and the budget to care these amazing creatures.

Your favourite places to visit in Toronto?

Miss Pickles and mom: We love visiting the Distillery District, Trinity Bellwoods for the pug grumbles and going shopping at dog friendly stores like Winners.

Pugly: A Pug’s Life will have its World Broadcast Premiere on CBC Docs POV on Friday, January 11, 2019 at 9:00 pm (9:30 NT). The documentary will also be available to watch online at, and on the CBC app from 12:00pm noon ET the same day.



About Sonya Davidson 922 Articles
Covering events, openings and all the deliciousness in Toronto.