A stunning 30-yard strike from Henri Lansbury looked enough for Billy Davies to celebrate signing a contract extension - which runs until 2017 - with three points.
But misfiring Forest missed a host of chances amid a game they largely dominated, with Simon Cox and Darius Henderson both failing to net gilt-edged opportunities.
The hosts paid the price when Pugh popped up with a late equaliser to send the Cherries home with a share of the spoils.
Karl Darlow had to make an outstanding save after a disastrous back pass from Andy Reid sent Tokelo Rantie racing clear on goal with the Forest goalkeeper throwing himself in bravely at the striker's feet.
Forest hit back with a low, driven shot from Djamel Abdoun, which goalkeeper Stephen Henderson saved, diving low to his left. But, in the process, the on-loan West Ham player seemed to injure his shoulder, leaving him writhing around in agony.
The game was delayed for five minutes while Henderson received treatment, before being carried off and replaced by Ryan Allsop.
It was Darlow who was again called into action, as the speedy figure of Rantie drove another shot towards the far post, which the Forest stopper pushed away brilliantly.
Forest had two chances to test the substitute goalkeeper, but Lansbury lashed wide from a tight angle and, having been sent scurrying clean through, Cox skimmed the foot of the post with a low shot.
Lansbury made amends in spectacular style, however, with an early contender for goal of the season, as he lashed a 30-yard shot high into the corner of the net, to put Forest ahead in the 39th minute.
Deep into the seven minutes of first-half injury-time, Forest had an escape when Lewis Grabban saw a shot bounce away off the post.
Forest continued to spurn chances, with Cox denied by an Allsop save, diving low to his left to parry after the striker had skipped skilfully through the Bournemouth defence.
Henderson failed to convert after breaking the offside trap, rounding Allsop and firing a shot into the side netting, with the goal at his mercy.
When Henderson did find the net, with a powerful header, the effort was ruled out, with referee Phil Gibbs having spotted a shove.
Forest's missed chances proved to be costly, with Pugh squeezing the ball home at the near post to earn Bournemouth a point.