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Festival gives Pugs a day in limelight

LAWRENCEVILLE - Every dog has its day. And for pugs, that day is Saturday.

During Pugfest 2005, hundreds of the distinctive little dogs and their owners are expected to descend upon the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds. Last year's event drew more than 1,400 attendees and 900 pugs.

The festival is a paradise for pugs and pug owners alike. Participants can buy pug paraphernalia, join in a silent auction and bid on raffle items, including a colorfully decorated painted pug table and a handmade afghan featuring - what else? - pugs. In the meantime, pugs can have their pictures taken with Santa, compete in an elaborate costume contest and vie for prizes in categories such as best trick, curliest tail and most wrinkles.

Pugfest is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Southeast Pug Rescue and Adoption Inc., a nonprofit group based in Suwanee that rescues, fosters and finds adoptive homes for pugs and pug mixes.

Pugfest began as a way for SEPRA volunteers and fosters to reconnect with rescued pugs and their adoptive families, SEPRA President Brenda Megel said. It's now grown into an event that draws everyone from pug owners to those who are just curious about the breed. It's a chance for lovers of the breed to mingle - and a chance for pugs to hang out together.

"Pugs love other pugs," Megel said.

And even if you don't have a pug of your own, you're welcome to come learn why pug owners love the breed so much.

"They're very much people dogs," SEPRA volunteer Randi Tucker said. "You get so attached to them."