It sounds like something straight out of a thriller movie plot: centuries ago devout Christian believers formed a mysterious religious society with secret rituals that paid homage to . . . the Pug.
In one of those truth is stranger than fiction tales, around 1740 a group of Roman Catholics banded together in Germany to form a fraternal organization known as the Order of the Pug.
Why the Pug? One of the oldest breeds, dating to 400 BC or earlier, the toy dogs were celebrated as a symbol of loyalty and trust.
This may sound like a group of Masons, but they had some pretty unusual practices. According to historians:
“Members were required to wear dog collars and had to scratch the door of the lodge to gain entrance. Initiates were said to have been blindfolded and led around a symbol-filled carpet nine times while the assembled “Pugs” of the Order barked loudly and yelled “Memento mori” (‘Remember you shall die’).”
Etchings from the time show that women were allowed to become members and during the initiation the novices had to kiss a porcelain Pug’s backside to prove their dedication. That video would have gone viral on YouTube for sure.
The reason this is news today is that the Order of the Pug, eventually outlawed in 1748, had many precious secret emblems and one of those, a very rare porcelain snuff box, is going to be sold by the London auction house of Bonhams on July 5.
Created around 1761-70, the box was crafted by the Schrezheim factory and shows the crouching animal chewing on a bone, wearing a gilt-edged purple collar. The cover was painted by Johann Andreas Bechdolff and the inside is decorated with a landscape scene. The Pug box is part of a large collection of snuff boxes to be sold by Bonhams.
Due to its connection to the secret society, the box is expected to bring as much as $25,000. That’s a lot of kibble.