It’s a Pug’s life at the 5th Annual Pugtoberfest

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Festive Oktoberfest music played over speakers, peppery aromas of brats reached far, and craft brew was flowing out of the tap, but the main attraction in Rancho San Diego on Saturday, Oct. 5 were pugs. Pugs, the small breed dogs whose owners dressed them in Halloween costumes, pushed them in strollers, swaddled them in baby slings around their chests, and placed them in an enclosed, grassy pen in the middle of the event.

One big, happy puppy play date.

Festive Oktoberfest music played over speakers, peppery aromas of brats reached far, and craft brew was flowing out of the tap, but the main attraction in Rancho San Diego on Saturday, Oct. 5 were pugs. Pugs, the small breed dogs whose owners dressed them in Halloween costumes, pushed them in strollers, swaddled them in baby slings around their chests, and placed them in an enclosed, grassy pen in the middle of the event.

One big, happy puppy play date.

This year’s annual Pug Rescue San Diego (PRSD) fundraiser drew a large crowd at Lawndale Park, despite hot temperatures. When the opportunity arises to gather with other pug-obsessed folk, pug owners let their pugs make new friends, enjoy traditional German faire, all while helping the people who helped their beloved pugs. Barons Market donated the brats, potato salad and a variety of local craft beer. All proceeds went straight back to PRSD, which at 22 years running is one of the oldest in the county.

“Pugtoberfest is one of our staples, we will forever be doing Pugtoberfest,” said Jess Patterson, PRSD Marketing vice president. He said Pugtoberfest was a home-brewed idea born from a home-brewing PRSD board member and the reliable success of PRSD’s Wine and Cheese February event. Raising money to stay in business is vital and seemingly second nature for these pug people who do not pass up a chance to have a good time with their pugs, for their pugs.

“We’ve dipped into our own pockets to stay alive, and then next party, were okay again,” Patterson said. “We have the greatest group of supporters and networkers, all there for us when we need them.”

PRSD is a multi-faceted all-volunteer operation, with a post office box but no actual home base. Homeless, rescued pugs are placed in foster homes until they are discerningly matched to “not just the first home, but the right home,” Patterson said. Its policy on matching dogs to families is at the discretion of the caring fosters, without whom the rescue couldn’t save the large number of dogs they do.

Pugs of Pugtoberfest had many things in common. The characteristic snort and the pug parents who cheerfully doted on them. But the dogs could not speak for themselves the different, personal stories of how they came to be rescued. These lucky dogs had owners who easily shared on their behalf, who recalled getting their pugs as if it were finding a long-lost family member.

One yet-to-be-named 7-week-old pug puppy was found abandoned in a box on a trail behind Savannah Grill. Another pug, Titus, was dumped due to eye problems, then adopted by a woman who happily gives the now blind pug the special care he needs, though he has shown resilience since being paired with the right owner. Other pugs don’t remember anything but the good life with their humans who wear shirts that say “Pugs, Not Drugs” and “I Didn’t Choose Pug Life, Pug Life Chose Me.”

“Pug rescue has become a family,” said Suzi Schutzman, vice president of Adoptions. 

Rescued pugs and the people who love them, a win-win that you can find on the web at www.pugsandiego.com.

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