The following history of Pugalug Pug Rescue was written by Pugalug Pug Rescue founder,
Larry St. Aubin:
A Pugalug is an informal gathering of pug dogs and those who love them. Once a month we meet to celebrate a most wonderful breed.
The Pugalug grew out of the yearly pug picnic organized by Solna Pugs Breeders. Jan MacPherson organized a pug meet up in the summer of 2001 – with 4 pugs showing up in the Toronto Beach area.
March 24th - Trinity Bellwoods Park
This was my first Pugalug. Jan did not have the time and resources to continue the Pugalugs. I volunteered to continue organizing them and am so happy I did. We had 10 pugs show up on this cold, Spring day.
The community that has developed from this small beginning is outstanding. The Pugalug community grew into a professional, ethical canine rescue charity.
My first Pugalug that I organized. I decided that I would take the Pugalugs to various parks around Toronto. I used April to scout different locations and settled on Withrow Park in the east end. Using the website to get the word out, we had about 15 pugs show.
The next 'lug was on a sunny, spring day at Sherwood Park. 20 pugs roamed this wonderful leash free area near Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant. Newcomers had heard about it by word of mouth and found the time and location on the website.
June's Pugalug was redirected to the Upper Canada Pug Club's Pug Picnic. It was to be the last Solna Pug Picnic to be held as the Toronto Pugalugs would continue the tradition of pug gatherings.
In July, we met at West Deanne Park in Etobicoke. About 20 pugs joined us on the hot July day. People enjoyed both the monthly get together and the pictures on the website.
An email chat list was started up - Canada Pugs - that acted as an information source on pug health, behaviour and stories. The community was beginning to grow. The Internet would be the biggest single factor (next to the dedicated people) that would build the Pugalug.
August 11th - Trinity Bellwoods
A big turning point for the Pugalug event was August 11th at Trinity Bellwoods. Pug owners were being stopped on the street and asked if they new about Pugalugs. Clerks at pet stores were telling anyone with a pug about the new group. So on August 11th we had our largest turnout - 40 pugs. A calendar was put up on the website to post Pugalug dates (and pug birth dates).
September 22nd - Sherwood Park
The cooler weather of September did not deter the Pugaluggers. In fact, spring and fall are perfect times for the Pugalugs as it gives the pugs an opportunity to race and chase each other for an extended time. It was at this Sherwood event the Larry had the first "Running of the Pugs" race. 2 lines are formed facing each other. At the start line, the person is holding the pug. At the finish line the person is calling and cheering the pug to come to them. The first and last pug that goes in a straight line to the Finish are the winners. It has been a highlight each year.
Oct. 27th - Pugoween at Withrow
One word – PUGOWEEN –our first theme Pugalug. 50 pugs dressed in costume. Amanda Walsh, a VJ from Much Music, joined in the fun and did a great little story on Pugoween thatwas rebroadcast 4 times. This generated an increase in membership as more pug owners heard about the Pugalug.
Nov 24th - Niagara Centre
Our first indoor Pugalug. We met in November at the Niagara Community Centre on Wellington St. West. It was like a Pug Frenzy. Many new friends were made at the event. People had heard about it from Much Music, friends of friends or perfect strangers stopping someone with a pug, Tiled floors, chairs and tables, a secure double door to the outside, Petsmart kiosk with winter coats and boots, coffee, snacks and dog cookies made this a terrific carnival like end to the year.
Feb. 16th - Valentine's Day
This was supposed to be at the Niagara Community Centre. Unfortunately, the Parks and Rec staffer did not show up to unlock the door. It was a very cold, snowy and windy day. Larry huddled outside the door in the wind to let people know about the situation. However, undeterred by this, 20 Pugaluggers went over to Larry's house for a cozy 'lug.
March 23rd, - Niagara Center
The Toronto Parks and Rec offered this facility for free as an apology for leaving us in the cold the previous month. It was hilarious to see the pugs zipping in all different directions and the humans stood still and laughed.
April 27th - Sherwood Park
This was our biggest turnout since the 'lugs started. At this Pugalug, potential pug owners came to ask questions, locate breeders and to find out if a pug was the right dog for them. This educational aspect of the Pugalug continues to this day.
June 1st - Pug Island
This was our first official Pugalug on Ward's Island. It was rescheduled after a May rain date but the day turned out glorious. The location was on Snake Island and was about a 2 km walk from the docks. It offered a cool breeze from the lake plus a secluded sunny area.
June 22nd - Withrow Park
A photographer from the East York Mirror showed up to take a photo of the Pugalug. This photo shows our infamous "Running of the Pugs" starting line. We had about 25 pugs charging across Withrow Park, something the Mirror photographer had never encountered before.
July 27th - Eglinton Park
This was our first time at Eglinton and many new faces joined us that day. We met on top of a hill which offered a terrific view of the park below. Although a bit of a climb from the parking lot, the shady trees provided comfortable rest spots. We were joined by many new puppies, plus a contingent of friendly Boston Terriers.
Aug. 17th - Cedarvale
Another new park which, because of the number of one way streets, was difficult to find. Also, the shady location I had scouted out was being use for a cricket match. Pugs and cricket don't mix. We did find a shady spot next to the walk way but we had to watch for the bicycles. This park was scratched off the list.
Sept. 28th - West Deane
Old friends returned (Deb and Ross), new friends joined (Simone) and some were moving from Toronto and had come to say goodbye (Trish). Teddy the pug found the nearby stream but there was lots of room for a great pug race.
Nov 9th - Pugoween at Sherwood
Pugoween at Sherwood Park was rain date rescheduled 3 times but finally we got a sunny crisp day for our annual pug dress up. There were some great costumes. It was after this that I decided to start looking for an indoor space for the inclement and colder weather (try finding a space in Toronto large enough to hold 80 pugs and people).
Jan 18th - Pugility
2004 got off to a terrific start with our first annual Agility Pugalug at Scholars In Collars. Our hosts, Joan and Diane, had the pugs going down tunnels and jumping hoops with the owners right alongside providing encouragement and cookies.
Feb 15th - Pugintine
The annual Valentine Pugalug was held at Umbrella Pets. Audra Brown from City TV came to do a "love" story with the most lovable dog. It was standing room only as pugs, dressed in red, romped around in the warmth and safety of this big room.
March 28th - Trinity Bellwoods
Over 100 pugs came out on this beautiful spring day. From 2 months to 11 years, they frolicked in the sunshine. The City TV news cast, plus an article in the Globe and Mail resulted in our largest turnout. New friends joined us from Kitchener and Niagara Falls. A photograph of Dewey was sent to Associated Press and published by a few major American newspapers.
May 30th - Dufferin Grove
April's Pugalug was going to be at Sunnybrook Park. However, the location was changed because of a charity walk-a-thon that was happening on that day. It rained not only that weekend but the next 2 weekends in April, so April's lug was cancelled. The May Pugalug was held for the first time at Dufferin Grove park. The theme was Flower Power and there certainly was Power. The highlight was a parade around the park with children cheering from the playground, a circle of chanters providing the rhythm and the smell of pizza from the community back oven.
June 27th - Eglinton
Not too hot, not too cold - just right for a Pugalug. Pug friends from out of town (and out of the province) came and joined in the fun. Seniors passed on the "code of the pug" to the pups.
July 25th - Pug Island
It was a perfect day on Ward's Island. The ferry deckhand remembered the Pugalug from last year. We had a terrific turnout with new friends coming from Peterborough for the day. The new spot was secluded, not too far from the docks and near enough to the beach for a pug stroll.
August 22nd - Sunnyside Park
Sunnyside was originally scheduled for April and that may have been a good month for it. However, August was too crowded with no close parking. But it was a wide open space and we grabbed a nice shady spot. A large Mastiff (who thought he was a pug) came to play along with a Pug/Boston mix.
Sept 5th - Dumfries Conservation Park, Cambridge
A little bit of Pugalug history was made this day. Thanks largely to the efforts of Hugh Radley and pug Heidi, the first 519 Pugalug was held in Cambridge, ON. Obviously the pugs in the Cambridge, Hamilton, Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph areas were demanding equal time with their Toronto counterparts. It was here that Hugh first introduced the "Pug of War" competition. Thanks Hugh and a big pug hug to Heidi.
After this we had volunteers organizing Pugalugs in St. Catharines, Simcoe, Peterborough, London, Burlington and Hamilton
Sept 19th - Echo Valley Park
Once again we returned to our old stompin' & snortin' grounds. In the passed we referred to this area as West Deane Park but in actual fact it was Echo Valley. Hugh and Heidi brought the pug of war to let the Toronto pugs have a "taste" of the event.
October 17th - PUGOWEEN at Sherwood
It was touch and go whether the weather would work for us. Yet the big Pugalug event of the year did happen and the pugs did not fail to make us laugh and bring tears of joy. It was the last Pugalug of 2004 but a dedicated group of pug owners would finish off the year by forming the official Pugalug Club.
Feb 13th - Pugintine at Urban Dog
Our new long term indoor facility. We were able to expand the number of Pugalugs. We began to have themes – Surfin’ Pug beach party, Pugtoria (in honour of Queen Victoria), Pug Paddy Day (for the Pug Irish in all of us), Pug Claus (photos with Santa), Happy Pug New Year and Chinese Pug New Year.
In January, 2005 we incorporated as a non-profit organization. We used the events to raise money for other rescue agencies. In October, 2005 we became a full fledged rescue organization.
In July 2008 we received registered charitable status. Pugalug Pug Rescue is an all volunteer pug rescue organization. We have a 10 member board of directors.
Over 70 volunteers are involved with Transporting, Fostering, Event Planning, Fundraising, Website maintenance, Media and Promotion and educating the public on our beloved Pug Dog breed.
March of 2012 will be the 10th Anniversary of the Pugalug. During that time we have touched over 1,800 people.
Larry St. Aubin