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.