Pugs and more pugs race, revel at Pugtoberfest
David Godin could not envision himself owning a dog — singular.
That was before his wife, Kim, decided they needed a pug.
On Saturday, the Somerset County man who never saw himself owning a dog found himself proudly introducing his family’s five pugs to a reporter who stumbled on the family at Pugtoberfest.
The Godins were among hundreds of pug owners who descended upon the Kingston Veterans and Sportsman’s Club in Derry Township for its annual pug rescue fundraising festival that attracts pugs and pug people from near and far.
“We love them to pieces. They slop. They sneeze. They carry on, but they’re non-aggressive and we love them,” Kim Godin said as she snuggled with the family’s rescue pug, Bentley.
The compact canines that sport curly tails are reputed to date back as the companion of choice among Chinese emperors early as 400 B.C.
Today, they attract a fierce following, as evidenced by pug owners who traveled from Canada and South Carolina for Saturday’s festival.
Last year’s festival drew more than 600 pugs and pug lovers to the event that features pug races, pug kissing contests and curly tail contests.
There also are vendors hawking everything from gourmet dog treats and canine CBD oil to various pug-related regalia. Pug wine glasses, anyone?
Proceeds of the festival help underwrite the cost of two pug rescue operations: Guardian Angels Pug Rescue and Southwestern Pennsylvania Pugs with Special Needs.
Patti Levay, of Latrobe, has operated Guardian Angels Pug Rescue for 30 years and helped found the annual festival.
Levay, 57, has been rescuing pugs since 1987.
She got her first pug as an engagement gift.
The marriage didn’t last, but her love of the small dogs has endured.
“They’re not high maintenance, but they want to be loved. They want attention. They want to be spoiled,” she said. “You won’t be able to pee alone again if you get a pug.”
Adopting a pug from Levay’s rescue is no small feat. Pug love has made her pugnacious where adoptions are concerned.
She made it clear that there would be no sales or adoptions at the festival, warning that anyone who attempted such a transaction would be arrested.
Levay’s mission, she said, is to ensure that each rescue is going to a good fit with its new family and that families are aware they are making a lifetime commitment to their pugs.
She grinned as she told how she once plucked a hair from a pug owner, who dumped her dog on the rescue because it shed too much.
“I said “Oh, you mean like this,’” Levay said.
All adoptive families must undergo a background check, a home visit and Levay must meet and approve all family members and other pets.
“It can take two weeks, it can take a year,” Levay said. “And I won’t split up a pair. If two dogs come in together, they go out together.”
“I just look at that little face, that little dog and that little face depends on you, Levay said. “I had a woman come up from Virginia for a specific dog and I sent her home empty handed because the dog wouldn’t go to her.”
For more information on pug rescues visit swpapug.org or facebook.com/GuardianAngelsPugRescue.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .