This Canadian pug-mix was ignored by everyone that visited the litter to pick up a puppy in 2013. Not only was the poor baby sickly looking, he also had the appearance of an almost permanent scowl on his face. But one day, a couple with an eye for the different dropped by. Could it be that the luckless pug had found his fur-ever family?
Meet Mister Cornelius, a little pug with massive appeal thanks to his adorably grumpy expression. However, the down-in-the-mouth dog was not always as popular as he is today – quite the opposite, in fact. At an early stage in the game, Cornelius found himself way out in left field, pushed past by people looking for the perfect pug.
Indeed, when Mister Cornelius first emerged into the world in Toronto, Canada, he was on the fringe of everyone’s attention. Sadly, that included the members of his own canine family, including his Shih Tzu mom and pug pop. That was because Cornelius was the runt of his litter, and he was so much smaller and weaker than his three sibling brothers. But the baby animal’s alienation did not end there.
Cornelius had to watch sorrowfully as his happier-looking siblings got picked out for adoption before him. The grouchy looking puppy was left unwanted. And it wasn’t just his grumpy seeming scowl that put people off the little pug. Potential adopters thought that perhaps there was something wrong with Mister Cornelius due to his skin coloring.
It is certainly true that the four-year-old has always had a striking appearance. The pupper’s pale coloring and unusual eyes give him a ghostly appearance. And it is fair to say that the pug-mix frightened off a succession of human would-be parents. Cornelius scared off most visitors to the litter, afraid that the smallest of the set was sick. Meanwhile, one-by-one his brothers were whisked away to their fur-ever homes.
Next to his siblings – who looked more like their toy-dog mom and pure-pug father – Mister Cornelius was an oddity. On the other hand, that is exactly what appealed to the off-beat tastes of Toronto woman Toni Cusson, and her boyfriend, James O’Donnell. When the couple visited the litter, to find that only the runt remained, they were both smitten with just one look at Cornelius.
Cusson and O‘Donnell lived in the same neighborhood that Mister Cornelius was born into. When the couple heard about an unexpected birth of pug puppers on the dog grapevine, they felt they had to go and visit the litter. However, O’Donnell had reservations about acquiring another animal – he was quite content with the dog the couple owned already.
In fact, Cusson and O‘Donnell shared a happy home with an attractive pug-Boston terrier cross called Bowie, hence O’Donnell’s initial reluctance. The puppy litter in question had been the result of an accidental pregnancy, but it had proved to be a happy accident now that all the pups had been adopted. Well, all but one – Mister Cornelius.
The couple’s hearts went out to Cornelius when they learned that the unconventionally beautiful boy had been overlooked. “He was the one that nobody wanted,” O’Donnell later told animal issue website The Dodo in December, 2017. “Everyone thought this dog was sick.” As soon as he clapped eyes on Mister Cornelius, O’Donnell changed his mind about adoption.
Far from the pupper’s unusual appearance being a deal-breaker for the couple, it was what made it happen. “People thought he was weird and different, but we like weird and different,” Cusson explained to The Dodo. However, despite the couple’s eagerness to expand their family, they wanted to understand Cornelius a little better first.
“I had done some research,” Cusson continued in her interview with The Dodo. “I wanted to make sure he was okay, right?” Initially, the pug lover had thought perhaps that Mister Cornelius was affected by albinism. But her research revealed that the animal was not an albino. Cusson wasn’t too far off the mark, however, the pug actually had a similar condition called leucism.
Both albinism and leucism are rare conditions which indicate a lack of dark pigmentation in the sufferer’s system. An animal – or, indeed, a person – is considered albino when their body produces no trace of the pigment melanin. This results in a distinctive pale skin, pinkish eyes and white hair. Leucism, however, is down to the subject’s partial production of a range of pigments and shows itself with a similar but sometimes patchy discoloration of the hair and skin.
So Cusson’s dogged research revealed that Mister Cornelius did not have anything seriously “wrong” with him at all. The pupper was not sickly or ill, he was simply different. And when Cusson and O’Donnell became his official humans, the couple realized quickly just how unique Cornelius is when it comes to his personality.
To begin with, Cornelius just isn’t what you would call a dog’s dog – the canine much prefers the company of people. There is one exception, however – he simply adores his adopted older sister, Bowie. “[Mister Cornelius] has never once liked another dog other than Bowie,” Cusson confirmed to The Dodo.
In addition, usually dogs actively dread bath time, but getting in the tub has become one of the fastidious Cornelius’s favorite things. “He’s obsessed with taking baths,” Cusson described. “If we go to anyone else’s house, he’ll find their bath. [Then] he’ll sit in it, and be like, ‘Can you turn it on?’”
Furthermore, Mister Cornelius isn’t just preoccupied with baths – he also has another obsession. He loves orange objects, and is inseparable from his beloved toys of that distinctive hue during playtime. If he perhaps suffers from a lack of pigmentation, the pug certainly doesn’t lack for a bit of color in his life. Cornelius was once the dog that no-one looked twice at, but now all that has changed for the pug– thanks to his online prescence.
No animal lover finds it easy to ignore Mister Cornelius these days, as the pupper pops up all over the internet. His adorable grumpy face has members of the online community flocking to his social media accounts in droves. They can’t seem to get enough of the unusual animal’s antics, and with Cusson as his manager, agent and photographer, they are getting exactly what they want.
“Every morning when I sign into his Instagram, it’s like 200 ‘likes’ and 50 comments,” Cusson told the Canadian current affairs website Global News in January, 2015. And, in an article in the multi-language newspaper Epoch Times in December, 2017, Cusson revealed a secret which may have added to the pug’s pulling power. Since his adoption, the seemingly curmudgeonly Cornelius has found his smile.
It seems that the pupper is not always so set in his attitude, as Cusson went on to admit in the Epoch Times piece. “He’s not always grumpy,” she said, “I just have a good eye for catching him when he’s grumpy.” As a result of his human’s keen photographic eye, Mister Cornelius’ scowl has become his trademark smolder. Cusson said, “From then on he’s been turning heads and melting hearts with that face.”
In his YouTube video, filmed and hosted by The Dodo, Cornelius has attracted more than two million views. So the pug is turning countless frowns upside down. Mister Cornelius started life as overlooked and unwanted, but now people enthusiastically accept him for the star he is. They are mad for his antics, for as Cusson informed Global News, “He’s just a crazy little dude.”