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The history of the Order of the Pug

There was once a secret club where members had to scratch at the front door, like a dog, in order to be let in. And, as their final act of initiation, they had to kiss the butt of a porcelain pug. Sounds a little far-fetched, right? Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up!

You don’t hear the words “pug” and “Catholic” in the same sentence very often, but there’s a good reason we’re putting them in one now. In 1738, Pope Clement XII banned Roman Catholics from being involved with Freemasonry and other secret societies. There were several groups introduced to escape from this Papal Bull, including Mops-Orden — or the Order of the Pug — which was formed in 1740.

The Order of the Pug chose pugs to represent their group because they’re a symbol of steadiness, loyalty, and trust: all attributes they wanted members of their group to embody. In order to prove their loyalty, new members of the Order of the Pug had to go through a series of initiation steps. First, they were required to wear a brass collar and scratch at the door to be allowed in. If no one answered the door, they had to scratch even more. Then, they were led around a carpet, blindfolded, by their collars. Existing members of the Order of the Pug barked at them as they crawled around on the floor, and to mark the end of initiation, they had to kiss the butt of a porcelain pug. This process officially marked them as “Mops” — what members of the Order called themselves.

The Order of the Pug was featured in a lot of paintings, books, and sculptures. It was one of very few secret societies that allowed and initiated women, who were heavily highlighted in art from the period. Sadly, a book published in 1745 called L’Ordre des francs-maçons trahi et le secret des Mopses révélé exposed secrets related to the Order of the Pug, and destroyed the primary draw of the group for members: secrecy. Though this book is credited with ending the Order of the Pug, it seems like the secret was out even before the book was published. The secret society only lasted about 10 years — shorter than a pug’s lifespan.

Regardless of it’s short timespan, the Order of the Pug will go down in history as a proof point that pugs are, indisputably, the breed most worthy of a secret society.