Mr. Kellan is quite the unassuming little fellow, with his big brown saucer-like eyes and the ever-present innocent, puppy dog look on his face. He may be small of stature, but don’t let that fool you. With more than 18,000 Instagram followers, Kellan’s quite the celebrity — all 24 pugalicious pounds of him.
Though his online presence depicts the life and times of a fun-loving, fearless, adventuring mountain dog, the popular pug comes from humble beginnings. And true to his name, which in Irish means warrior, Kellan is a fighter.
“He’s a little survivor,” says Kellan’s human, Lindsay Hogan.
In 2018, the senior pug that Hogan had adopted with her husband, Ben, died suddenly. They’d had the dog, whose name was Bear, only a year or so, and the idea was he could be a buddy for their other pug, Tank, who was wheelchair-bound. Heartbroken following Bear’s death, Hogan reached out to Los Angeles-based The Pug Queen Foundation, a somewhat celebrity pug rescue group from which they’d gotten Bear. They described their sudden loss, and said they were interested in another rescue. Not long after, the foundation called to say there was a pug available, but that it was a rather serious case, one that couldn’t be placed with just anybody.
“I went down there, and the whole time I was thinking, what am I getting myself into? We don’t even know what’s wrong with this dog,” Hogan recalled. “But I had a broken heart, I think, from our other dog passing away suddenly, and just felt like we had so much love to give.”
Kellan, as it turned out, had been rescued from an LA home. A dog rescuer walking on a rainy day had heard a dog crying in a backyard she was passing. She peeked over the fence and saw a chained-up Kellan. She knocked on the door and told the person who answered that a dog appeared to be stuck in the yard, to which the owner stated, “Oh, that’s our pug. He stinks. We don’t let him in the house.”
After some ensuing conversation, it became clear the owners didn’t like the dog, in large part because he seemed to have a raging skin condition.
“The irony of it is that apparently the house that he was taken away from was a multi-million dollar home in the greater LA area,” Hogan said. “It’s crazy to think that his neglect wasn’t because they didn’t have the means to take care of him. That’s kind of the saddest part, I think.”
Following a month of daily medicated baths and TLC at the rescue, Kellan joined Hogan on the car ride from LA to his new home in Truckee.
“When we got him, it was like nobody had ever talked to him,” she recounted. “They said he was 7 years old and he didn’t know any words that dogs know. He didn’t know treat, he didn’t know hungry, he didn’t know car ride, he didn’t know walk. You know, all the kinds of buzz words that dogs know.”
Not knowing much about the home he’d come from, Hogan tried Googling such words in other languages, thinking maybe the previous owners hadn’t spoken English.
“It turned out, he just knew nothing. He didn’t know how to play with toys,” Hogan said. “It was almost like we had a puppy, because all of a sudden you could just see it click, like, ‘that ball is fun to play with.’ And then he’d start playing with the ball … We had to teach him. He didn’t know how to go on a walk. He didn’t know how to go on a leash. He just spent, like, seven years of his life essentially chained to a rock in this backyard.”
Fast forward to today, and clearly, Mr. Kellan has come a long way. Following a long road of veterinarian visits and different diets and possible diagnoses, Hogan learned the dog’s body overproduces yeast, and that he is actually allergic to it. This year he started seeing specialists at Animal Dermatology and Allergy in Rocklin.
“They basically told us that he’s allergic to himself,” Hogan said.
A healthy, raw diet and medication to limit yeast production are keeping things in check, and Kellan is now living a life of which some humans can only dream.
“As we were introducing him to what it means to be a dog, we started teaching him what it meant to be an adventure dog. You know, a Truckee dog,” Hogan said.
First came hiking — Kellan loved it. He’s since become a pro at stand-up paddleboarding and riding in a basket on an e-bike. Just this winter, he discovered he also has a love of backcountry skiing. His little legs follow his humans in the skin track on the way up the mountain, and he hitches a ride in Ben’s backpack on the way down.
RUFF LIFE: Kellan has become quite the outdoor enthusiast, enjoying hiking, biking, paddleboarding, and even backcountry skiing.
Hogan shares Kellan’s adventures with his Instagram followers — of which there were 18,500 at of press time. Truth be told, he inherited some of those fans from Tank, whose free-wheeling adventures with his set of wheels served as inspiration. Bear’s rescue further bolstered Kell’s followership, given he was from such a renowned rescue. But with his social media content mostly highlighting his outdoor adventures, his Insta followers can’t seem to get enough of Mr. Kellan.
“I think that in a year like 2020, people need that,” Hogan said. “People need something to smile about and to laugh about. You read it in these comments from people who, obviously, we’ve never met — some are from all over the world — just talking about how much joy he brings and how much they love Kellan and how Kellan lives his best life. I think just going from the horrible, neglected place that he was to being a mountain-SUP pug, backcountry skiing and all of that, is like his own little Cinderella story.”