By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On a perfect fall day Oklahoma City’s Stars & Stripes Park became the grooviest scene ever with cute snorts and curly tails all decked out in 60s and 70s garb.
The 14th annual Puggerfest raises funds to benefit Homeward Bound Pug Rescue and Adoption of Oklahoma.
“This was the best Puggerfest in years,” said Gail Tucker, Homeward Bound Pug Rescue and Adoption of Oklahoma founder and executive director. “I had a blast and hope everyone else did too. The weather was perfect. We had live entertainment, not to mention the addition of the Village Pugs and a great Photo Booth. It was a very successful event for the pugs of Homeward Bound.”
Based in Norman, Homeward Bound holds Puggerfest each year to raise money “to pay off vet bills and other needs so that we can continue our work,” Tucker told Red Dirt Report.
“Our mission is to place pugs that have been surrendered, abandoned or abused into loving, caring forever homes,” Tucker added. “We are an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to pugs, which we frequently rescue from kill shelters and puppy mills. We have placed over 2500 pugs since Homeward Bound opened.”
Taking in 200 – 300 rescues a year, the bills can be significant for the organization.
“They come from all sorts of situations, but especially puppy mills in the state of Oklahoma. Some are very abused,” Tucker told reporter Louis Fowler.
“Homeward Bound will bring in the pugs, get them to a vet, update their shots and other medical needs, then put them on the website, ready for adoption,” Tucker informed Fowler.
Puggerfest 2017 transformed the Lake Hefner park into a day of peace, love and pugs that brought smiles and puppy kisses to the faces of the over 800 attendees.
Gail’s son Chris Tucker, a professional stage performer who lives in Roanoke, Virginia, joined his mom in Oklahoma to help wrangle the event as emcee.
“My son had his own show in Branson for twenty years and recently retired from it this year,” Gail said.
Opening at 10 a.m. and wrapping up at 4 p.m., Chris kept Puggerfest boogieing along throughout the day serving as announcer for each event.
Chris also gave a dy-no-mite performance as lead singer for the grooviest rendition of “YMPA” – the pug version of the Village People’s disco hit “YMCA.”
Backup dancers Gail Tucker, Melissa Bruner and Christine Scott got jiggy with it and in front of the stage was an entourage of disco dogs dressed as the Village Pugs, which included familiar characters such as the Indian, Cowboy, Hard Hat, et all. What a show!
Again, this year there was a huge silent auction. People and pugs wandered through rows of alluring pug and non-pug items stopping to pet the furry cuties below.
Puggerfest 2017 highlights included animal communicator Naomi McDonald, t-shirts featuring the Village Pugs, a photo booth, vendor tables, pug races, local food trucks, a pet sitting area, the best disco music this side of Michael’s Plum, and the always popular costume contests.
Judges stepping up to the awesome task of choosing contest winners were Nina Hill, pug owner and recent transplant from Lawton; Shandell Nash, a longtime HBPR volunteer, pug owner and foster; and The City Sentinel newspaper publisher, Pat McGuigan.
“Because the contestants in the various categories were all winners, it was difficult to choose any one over another,” said McGuigan. “Every person had fun, the cause was worthy and the setting at the side of Lake Hefner was idyllic. What a pleasure it was to take part in this treasured annual event and see the passion and commitment of so many people wanting to provide good homes for these furry friends.”
Winner of the Best Individual Costume category was Boomer, a fawn pug donning a curly blonde wig. Best Individual Themed Costume went to Ragnar as Pug Bowie, and Best Group Costume went to owners Shane and Emily Bettis and their pup Tate dressed as the “Easy Rider Pug Peter Fonda.”
“This year we had some really cool stuff at the kid’s fun zone,” Tucker said. “Young and old alike always enjoy our popular pug races, the toilet paper toss, spinning the prize wheel and playing pin the tail on the pug.”
Pug race winners included Maggie’s pug, Asbestos and Alex’s fur baby named Jewels.
Donated raffle prizes included a Samsung 50-inch Smart LED TV, an Apple iPad Mini 2, a Kindle Paperwhite, Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD, and a Dell Inspiron 15.6 Flagship High Performance laptop.
The event grand finale was the 7th annual coronation of the King and Queen of Puggerfest. This year’s royalty honorees are Melissa Bruner’s King Guido and Dora Rapp’s Queen Lola. Each winner was clad in regal attire and given a trophy and a gift basket valued at over $200.
Lots of Homeward Bound pugs were available for adoption during the event and many are still looking for their forever home. Information on each pug along with adoption forms can be found at homewardboundpugs.com.
Donations to this deserving organization can be made online or by check or money order mailed to Homeward Bound Pug Rescue, 1702 Vanessa Drive, Norman, OK 73071.
For more information, call 405-706-1492 or visit homewardboundpugs.com. Peace out until next year!