He’s the smallest Pug in his family, but it’s clear one-eyed Pee Wee runs the Huber household. Hardcore Pug lovers Sam and Jen Huber adopted the now 1-year-old pup after first seeing his picture on Instagram in early 2016. The pair follow tons of Pugs through the account for Sam’s Pug-themed clothing business, Dark Lord Pug, but their first glimpse of poor Pee Wee was unforgettable.
“It was being shared from Homeward Bound Pug Rescue, which is the same rescue that our other Pug, Frankie, came from,” Sam remembers. “In the picture, Pee Wee’s eye was ruptured — it’s pretty horrific looking.”
The photo caption explained how Pee Wee had been pulled from an Oklahoma shelter by Homeward Bound. At 3 months old, he weighed just 3.3 pounds — way too small for his age. He had a fever and needed extensive and immediate medical help to survive, so the rescue set up a Go Fund Me page to help cover costs.
“We donated, lots of people donated, and they were able to raise a lot of money for his care and to take his eye out,” says Sam, who still wonders about the tiny Pug’s beginnings.
“We’re guessing he was a puppy mill dog that was bred to be miniature.”
As the story goes, Pee Wee was brought to the shelter as a stray after being found on a cold roadside. He didn’t know much about love, but the internet showed him plenty of it. As the pint-sized pup recovered in foster care, Pug lovers sent more than $8,000 to Homeward Bound — enough to help other pugs in distress too.
Several states away in Wisconsin, Sam and Jen felt like they wanted to do more than just donate. They wanted to add him to their Pug pack, which already included Frankie, age 8, and 5-year-old Tatanka.
“We had been kind of looking into getting another Pug, but we weren’t quite sure. Then we saw him,” says Sam, whose uncle just happens to be a veterinary ophthalmologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Knowing they would have a great resource for Pee Wee’s eye care, Sam and Jen put in an application to adopt Pee Wee, and the pup came home with them in April. At first Pee Wee seemed to be getting along just great with only one eye, so the couple were shocked when a visit to U W Madison revealed he had no vision.
Sam remembers being in a room full of veterinary students when his uncle told him Pee Wee’s left eye never fully formed and wasn’t actually seeing anything.
“We asked if there was anything we could do, and he said, ‘could you put him back in the womb for two months?’” Sam recalls.
Playful puppy energy and confidence were both factors that masked Pee Wee’s blindness. Despite being neglected early in life, he isn’t afraid of new challenges and will boldly enter a new room or head out for a walk (as long as he can follow his pet parents or Pug brothers).
“As brave as he is, he would prefer — like any Pug — to be nestled in your arms all day long,” says Sam.
Luckily for Pee Wee, he’s pretty easy on the arms. Most pugs weight between 14 and 18 pounds, but his growth topped out at 11. He’s tiny, but has a huge following. More than 38,000 people follow him on Instagram, with even more fans on Facebook and YouTube. It’s all a bit surreal for Sam.
“There are thousands of people that love my dog — that’s a really strange feeling when you know that they’ve never met them and they don’t really know you but they are absolutely in love with him.”
Pee Wee’s friends have been sending extra love in recent weeks as the little pup had surgery on his remaining eye in late November. It was necessary because he couldn’t fully blink before, causing his eye to dry out.
Sam doesn’t know if Pee Wee’s future will include further procedures, or whether his internet fame will continue to grow, but he can say for sure that Pee Wee will always be loved.
“I just want to give him a super happy life. He deserves every neat, perfect thing that happens to him.”