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Book Review
Pugs by Phil Maggitti
Review by: Kate Connick, Feb. 2005

One unfortunate observation to be made while reading dog books is the undeniable reality that many perfectly competent dog people aren't especially engaging writers. With Pugs, Phil Maggetti demonstrates that this does not have to be the case. Maggetti is an absolutely wonderful writer - entertaining, humorous, informative, candid, and passionate about his chosen breed.

Characteristic of Barron's books, Pugs is illustrated with gloriously attractive, color photos - as well as high-quality, black and white drawings - that capture the breed's spirit and personality. Any pug lover would enjoy flipping through the pages for that reason alone.

The 91 pages of text provide an overview of pugs and pug ownership geared primarily for the novice but palatable to any reader, due to the author's delightful writing ability.

The overwhelming message conveyed by this book is how completely smitten a pug owner can be with his pets. Maggitti clearly adores his dogs and relishes the opportunity to share that with the reader. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his personal anecdotes are amusing.

The book's content is refreshingly breed-specific, unlike the many books that present generic dog information under the thin veneer of a particular breed. The author genuinely knows pugs and offers the kind of practical, breed-related advice that only comes from experience. He notes, for example, that, "A pug's facial wrinkles, which contribute to his singular appearance, also may contribute to his discomfort - and to a certain clam-bog odor about him - if they are not cleaned regularly."

Maggitti gives a run down on pug history and offers guidelines for puppy selection, noting accurately that, "If pug puppies were any more appealing, they would be illegal." Basic husbandry information is nicely presented, including information about general care and feeding, training, understanding dog shows, and breeding. Happily, the author offers potent encouragement to forego the latter.

Some information is dated, but that's to be expected in a book published 11 years ago. For example, in discussing flea control, the nowadays-indispensable product "Frontline" is a notable omission. Other information is absent altogether, most notably issues relating to the aging or elderly pug.

In spite of being subtitled A Complete Pet Owner's Manual, this book is really more of a basic introduction to and celebration of the breed. Viewed as such, it's hard to fault, primarily because it's so much fun to read.

In one of the most amusingly accurate descriptions of pugs I've ever seen, Maggitti explains, "A pug is a punch line in search of a laugh. This dichotomy in fur possesses a body that looks like a cookie jar and a gentle, jolly disposition belied by a face that appears as if its owner has just received tragic news."

If you enjoy pugs, you'll read this book with a big smile on your face, and you'll insist on having a copy on your bookshelf. It contains practical information, but even where it lacks depth or timeliness, it more than compensates with heart.

Pugs by Phil Maggitti.
Published by Barron's Educational Series, 1994. ISBN: 0812018249

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