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Pugs seen as unique breed; and so are the dog owners

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Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2006 10:00 pm

They were decked as a football player, a sailor, a Harley driver, a jail inmate, a pug rocker, a skeleton, a baby in pajamas and a dinosaur.

No, these weren't children looking forward to trick-or-treating on Tuesday.

These were pugs - lots and lots and lots of pugs - who turned out for Pug-O-Ween on Sunday west of Lodi.

"Pug people are weird," said Wilton resident Rick Bjorge, who came with his wife, June, and two pugs, Georgie and Big Jim. "I've never seen such a breed in all my life that is so loved. It goes beyond normal behavior as human beings."

Scores of pugs came to Sycamore Lane Farms off Ray Road on Sunday for a Halloween party that doubled as a social gathering, for the pugs as well as their owners.

"These dogs have a capacity to remember," Bjorge said. "You say 'pug party,' and they start jumping around."

Pug-O-Ween, a fund-raiser for the animal rescue group PugSavers, included a full day's worth of events. They had a costume contest, pug psychic Linda Schooler, author Nancy Wilson and her dog, Wilson the Pug, signing copies of their new book, "Letters to a Young Pug."

And if that wasn't enough, microchipping and nail clipping services were offered.

Those attending Pug-O-Ween enjoy dressing up their pugs, and they enjoy their dogs' personalities immensely.

"It amazes us how well (pugs) get along with each other. Not too many breeds you can do this with," said Lodi resident Susan Bonnington, who brought Sophie, donned in a black rock star outfit and a wreath with pumpkins on it.

Bonnington dressed Sophie as a rock star in honor of Sophie's mother, whose name is Material Girl.

"We call her Madonna for short," Bonnington added.

Brody and Katie Day of Sacramento, who brought 14-year-old Franklin in a pumpkin costume with a hat, admit they dress up their dog partially to amuse them.

"They're like little clowns," Katie Day said. "They like to make people laugh."

Her husband added, "There's something about the pugs' personality that lends themselves to it."

Debbie Michaud of Rocklin, who dressed up Peanut and Molly, said she has an actual wardrobe for her two pugs.

"I think it happened when my daughter moved away from home," Michaud said. "They look cute. They don't seem to mind it too much."

Pug owners agree that their darlings have seemingly human characteristics, but Bjorge takes it a step further.

His 7-year-old pug, Georgie, enjoys chili and dark beer out of a bottle, but only dark beer.

"She won't drink light beer, or beer out of a can," Bjorge said. "You have to watch it, or she'll get tipsy."

So why does he let Georgie eat chili and drink beer?

All about PugSavers

PugSavers is a nonprofit organization serving Northern California and Nevada that supports the rescue of pug dogs. The group meets from noon to 2 p.m. the second Sunday of every month, weather permitting, at William Land Park, behind Fairytale Town. There is no meeting in December. For more information, see the Web site, http://www.PugSavers.org

"Maybe it's their facial expressions," Bjorge said. "They smile when they're happy, and their eyes go through you like an X-ray."

Bjorge and Georgie sometimes have an eating contest to see who is the faster eater. It starts with June Bjorge making some scrambled eggs and sausage.

Then Georgie will get up on the dining room table to eat. She always out-eats her master.

"Most people think we're nuts, except pug lovers," Rick Bjorge said. "They think it's normal behavior."

And if you think June Bjorge is a normal, suffering wife who puts up with her eccentric husband, think again. She has made doggie clothes the past 10 years.

Kris Nunes brought Jilly, donned in a pink ballerina outfit in honor of Nunes' other pug, Puggie Sue, who stayed home in Roseville because she has cancer.

Nunes sings the Buddy Holly classic, "Peggy Sue," to her pugs, but she changes the lyrics to "Puggie Sue," of course.

She also serenades her dogs with, "How Much is that Puggie in the Window?"

Then there were Amy Gibbs of Roseville and her friend, Jenny Feliciano of South Lake Tahoe, who brought Chloe and Bunnie. Chloe was dressed as comic legend Lucille Ball, and Bunnie was dressed as Ethel Mertz, Lucy's best friend on "I Love Lucy."

They bought green dresses and converted them into pug fashion, and put chocolate Oreos on them to emulate Lucy and Ethel in their famous TV episode where they worked in a chocolate factory.

They put on little white hats made of shredded T-shirts, and their owners dressed them in doll hair - Lucy's was red, and Ethel's was blonde.

"It's funny. Mine is like a child," Gibbs said of Chloe, aka Lucy.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com..

First published: Monday, October 30, 2006

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