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petnews May 1st, 2004 09:18 AM

Got a thing for pugs' mugs? This gala's for you
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By Tina Potterf
Seattle Times staff reporter

Visualize a procession of adorable pugs, many draped in creative costumes, marching (or running) in a parade in their honor. Or a gaggle of pugs racing toward a finish line as "Chariots of Fire" plays in the background. Then there are the ostentatious ones who can enthrall an audience with their best tricks at a talent show, what else?

What makes these colorful canines even more remarkable is their history: Most are rescued pugs, nurtured and nursed to health by Seattle Pug Rescue, a division of Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue. These special pugs and their talents are the centerpiece of the Seattle Pug Gala, a fund-raiser for Seattle Pug Rescue, tomorrow at Sand Point Magnuson Park.

The gala educates prospective pug owners on the breed and the steps involved in adoption, drawing upward of 1,500 people and more than 500 pugs from the Northwest and Canada, according to organizers.

"It really has grown into its own little phenomenon," said Donna Gay, event co-organizer and pug representative for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue. Gay is also mom to pugs Sadie and Levi, and Noah, a Doberman-mix.

Seattle Pug Rescue takes in pugs from shelters and homes where the owners can no longer take care of them. The group pays for any medical treatment, such as immunizations or neutering, and provides foster care until the dogs are adopted. The organization rescues from a few dozen to about 50 dogs a year.

The majority of pugs are surrendered by their owners due to lifestyle changes, such as moving from a house to an apartment or cost-prohibitive medical care. Eight out of 10 rescued pugs suffer from some medical condition, from fleas to infections to life-threatening problems requiring surgery, Gay said.

"Very seldom do we get a healthy pug in rescue," she said.

What makes these dogs so appealing is their friendly disposition; they are good with children, interact well with other pets and are great companion dogs, owners say.

"Pugs have loads of personality," said event co-organizer Nancy Hood. "They like to chase each other, and they are such lap dogs. They love people so much."

As a foster parent to rescued pugs, Hood, whose family includes pugs Maggie and Kazu, said the gala is important as it's Seattle Pug Rescue's biggest annual fund-raiser and a critical funding source for the recovery and future of these pugs.

Those thinking about adoption or in search of more information on pugs are encouraged to attend the event. Pug owners new to the show can dress their companions to the nines or just go casual; either way, it should be a memorable afternoon for everyone.

"It's a wonderful, worthy cause, raising money for the medical needs of rescue dogs," Hood said. "And it's a real hoot."

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