Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pugs in Duds: It’s Not Just Fashion WEEK at Missoula’s Mountain Pugs Club

Sundays are fun days if you’re a pug living in Missoula. That’s the day when your people converge in the Bark Park on Jacob’s Island and turn you loose to mill around with your own kind.

Ever since reading about the Mountain Pugs in the Missoulian, I’ve been meaning to get out the door at 1pm on a Sunday and check out Pug Club for myself. But the stars didn’t align until a couple of weeks ago when I needed a break from the dreadful ordeal of working on taxes. I couldn’t think of a better antidote than wading shin deep through a passel of pugs. Just the thought of their wrinkled brows, googly eyes, curly tails and snorty noses lightened my mood. I started dancing the cabbage patch through the house and jamming to my own “pugs in ‘da powder” ditty as I pulled on my snow boots and gathered my camera gear.

“I bet they’ll all be wearing sweaters,” I said to my husband as I skipped out of the house.

“Pugs on ice” would have been a more accurate lyric for the scene I found under the trees at Bark Park. Eight-times-four sets of hard little toenails skittered across the ice to greet me. I crouched down. It seemed more polite to meet them mug-to-mug. A young black pug named Zoula welcomed me to the club with a big kiss that she managed to plant on my cheek only by standing on her very tippy tiptoes. Then off she went to continue mingling and milling with the others.

“Mingling and milling are pugs’ specialties,” one pug’s person told me. “They really don’t exercise. Show them a ball and they have no idea what to do with it.” Running and scampering require a tad too much energy… and might sully their duds.

Indeed, as I had suspected, each pug was adorned in a warm, smartly styled sweater. Jennie, the brainchild behind Mountain Pugs, introduced me to each club member according to their fashion choice.  Her sweet Chloe looked sporty in bold, nautical orange. There was Polly in a Southwest blanket fleece number. Trixie’s pink cable knit sweater was accented with a contrasting mocha zigzag motif. Frankie was also in pink, but her frock featured faux sheepskin trim and the glamorous pronouncement ‘Diva’ in glittery letters. Buddha was dashing (but not literally) in royal blue. Winston’s lime green hoodie gave him the air of a regular at Missoula’s MoBash Skatepark. Zoula layered an olive vest over her black coat. Ms. Kizzie, the senior-most pug in the park, was a knockout in fire engine red.

I asked Jennie how late into the season pugs would be wearing their clothes. I guessed perhaps they liked bundling up in the winter, but would happily shed the thermal layers when Spring arrived. I was wrong. Jennie said that for some, it’s more of a year-round fashion statement. Some pugs really do prefer getting dressed up to go out. And a Sunday afternoon in Missoula is a perfect excuse to spend an hour reconnecting with friends while looking fabulous.

Posted in Dog Photography, Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula, Pugs, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , |

Cheeto Moment

Dogs know that sometimes when you are looking for something specific, like that tennis ball that just rolled under the couch, you often find something else even more wonderful and marvelous, like a Cheeto.


I had a Cheeto moment recently.


A West Coast advertising agency gave me the assignment to photograph some dogs for a national dog food brand. Their client wanted three specific types of dogs for the ad:


1) A medium-size adult “working dog” with “healthy mobility” like a Border Collie, Australian shepherd, Cattle Dog, etc.

2) Any other medium-sized adult dog who is fit and has a good activity level

3) A small toy breed dog like a Chihuahua, Dachshund, Short-haired Terrier, etc.


My first thought was how lucky it was for the ad agency (and for me) that I live in Missoula. I would have no trouble finding just the right cast of characters for their ad. I emailed a casting call to about 30 friends inviting their dogs to consider the fame and fortune that would come from starring in a dog food ad, not to mention the fringe benefit of getting to chow down while on the job.


The replies started immediately. Hundreds of them filled my inbox. My email had been forwarded again and again to friends of friends, all of them proud parents of dogs who would be perfect, or almost perfect, for the job.


The emails extolled the virtues of dogs all over town. I was introduced to photogenic dogs who were mostly well-behaved but had a few lingering bad habits like eating the cat food, bolting after squirrels and taking up too much room on the bed. Someone mentioned their very fit Great Dane would like to be considered for the medium-sized part. One person offered up her boyfriend’s dog if the agency changed their mind and needed an old, cantankerous dog full of character and bushy good looks.


Phone photos poured in. Every few minutes, I got a photo of a dog visiting Santa, dressed for trick-or-treating, or just being their wonderful self. One photo that really made me giggle was captioned “here she is chewing on my sock” (which is still on my foot).


My favorite veterinarian posed the question that the casting call was perhaps discriminating against large breeds, disabled and older dogs. Personally, I think she was secretly campaigning for one of her pack to get a part in the ad.


What really came through in all the emails was the true love and adoration people have for their dogs. When I go back to re-read them, it always makes me smile. I wish I could make them all famous. The next time I need a big dog, little dog, funny looking dog, trickster, shedder, licker, shaker, jumper, or tail chaser, I’ll know where to find them.


When the ad agency told me the project fell through, it was hard to be sad. What I had found during my search was so much more than I could have imagined. A giant Cheeto, so to speak.

Posted in Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula Tagged , , , , , |