UAlbany MagazineUniversity at Albany

Nancy Levine, B.A.’82

The Tao of Writing About Pugs

By Carol Olechowski

Wilson is only 8 years old and weighs just 18 pounds. But in the world of pugs, he’s a big star: With his owner, Nancy Levine, he has collaborated on four books featuring the wit and wisdom of – well, Wilson himself.

The co-authors met several years ago, when Levine lost her job in the dot-com meltdown. She discovered “some newfound free time and decided to get a dog. I told a $20 psychic that I was thinking of writing a book about my dog, and she said, ‘Elvis told me to tell you to call your book The Tao of Pug.’ I pitched the idea to my agent, and voilà! The rest is history.”

The Tao of Pug “was bigger than anyone expected. Four months after its release, Borders Books asked my publisher, Viking, if we could do another Wilson book for Christmas. I decided then that Wilson needed a sidekick and friend. Enter Homer, the pug puppy, co-star of our second book, Homer for the Holidays,” says Levine, a Scarsdale, N.Y., native who majored in English at UAlbany. The other two titles, also published by Viking Studio/Penguin Group (USA), are The Ugly Pugling and Letters to a Young Pug.

Although Wilson gets top billing as author, “he is quite mellow. He loves getting dressed up and posing for the camera. Beyond this, he actually specializes in doing nothing. For him, doing nothing is a Taoist practice,” Levine notes.

Her pets “are the best of friends, though very different. Wilson is the quiet intellectual. Homer is more like John Belushi in ‘Animal House.’”

At pug conventions around the country, the trio is famous, and Homer and Wilson do give out the occasional “pawtograph.” Otherwise, “we’re only recognized by the kids in the neighborhood,” says Levine, whose next project, still in the “embryonic” stage, is “a funny book related to my other career in executive recruiting.”

Levine has actually had several careers since graduating from UAlbany, where Robert Garvin, now associate professor emeritus of philosophy, “encouraged my writing in a way that touched and affected me deeply.” She worked in human resources for a time at American Express in Manhattan, then moved to the San Francisco area to take a position with the Bank of California. She’s also been a comedian and an actor.

The World Within Reach

Gary Bugh, Ph.D.’04, has co-authored Electoral College Reform: Challenges and Possibilities. This volume brings together new research on many issues related to electoral reform, including reasons for change, issues surrounding a constitutional amendment, and possibilities for reform at the state level. The authors consider both the federalists’ vision of balanced representation and a more democratic and equality-based ideal. Bugh and two of the book’s other contributors, Michael Korzi, Ph.D.’98, and Michael Rogers, M.A.’99, Ph.D.’05, are graduates of the University’s political science department in the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Public Policy. Bugh is associate professor and chair of the political science department at Texas A&M University, Texarkana. Korzi is associate professor at Towson University in Maryland, and Rogers is assistant professor at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.