Funny Tails is the humorous but true story of how Maija Harrington’s flat-faced, frog-eyed pugs help her cope with a painful, debilitating neurological disease that ends her career and is expected to end her life. After she is struck down with an illness that medical science, at the time, knows little, Maija’s pug dogs, who snore like stevedores and eat like ravenous raptors, become her personal pack of therapy dogs; they help her not just to survive, but to live a satisfying new life, full of joy and laughter. The book is a lighthearted view of ten years of Maija’s life with her own three pugs and various homeless pugs she’s fostered for Pug Rescue of North Carolina. Within the comical saga of her efforts to learn to care for dogs without snouts, Maija also provides information about pugs, including the scientific bases for certain problems afflicting these “snoutless” dogs.
Princess Sarah, a dog show dropout, rules the house. As Maija tries to train her to be a well-behaved family dog, it is Sarah who becomes the expert “dog trainer,” teaching Maija just when to dispense doggy delicacies into Sarah’s waiting mouth. Sarah also introduces Maija (and thus, the readers) to many of the health issues to which a dog without a snout is susceptible.
Harley, the Velcro Pug, won’t leave Maija’s side, even when she takes a bath. He, too, presents training challenges: After eight years of lessons, he can’t learn that when he steps on his leash, he really could extricate himself by lifting his foot off the leash. Instead, he manfully struggles forward, held back by his own foot – much as he’s held back in other aspects of life.
Duchess, a feisty paraplegic pug, creates chaos wherever she goes, whether by baby buggy, laundry basket, or on her own bum. The Sovereign of Snobbery, she looks down her nose at everyone and everything except 1) food and 2) Maija’s husband Bill. While Maija does all the care for her, Duchess zealously – and viciously – competes for Bill’s attentions.
Maija’s foster dogs include, among others, the Male Chauvinist Pug; the pug whose vile body odor announces his entry from afar; the pug who devours her manuscript (and apparently loves it); and Bozo, the foster sheepdog who becomes her pugs’ best playmate.
Because dogs’ lives are shorter than ours, the book is not without pathos. Maija kindly and poignantly brings the reader to experience the sorrow as well as the joy that comes with being owned by pugs. Readers say her book is “charming,” “funny,” and “educational yet entertaining.” Dog lovers, from young adults through senior citizens, will enjoy Funny Tails.