By Kathy Chouteau
If you happen to hear snorting and grunting creature sounds emanating from Richmond’s Mira Vista Park on a Sunday morning, have no fear…it’s just the weekly “Sunday Pug Meetup” getting underway.
The gatherings, which kicked off around February of this year, consist of pugs and their humans coming together each Sunday morning from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the park—located at Zara and Mount Streets in lower East Richmond Heights—for some canine and human fun. Since organizers first posted about the meetup on Nextdoor, people and their velvet-eared, flat-nosed furballs have arrived on the scene from Richmond, Albany, Berkeley, Pinole, San Francisco and beyond.
It all started when Lisa Berrett, Linda Donner and Saba Omidvar discovered they had a pug cluster in their neighborhood. One day on a walk, Donner’s pug, Raisin, made a sharp turn toward Berrett’s doorstep and attempted to enter the premises—apparently sensing another pug, Sherman—lived there. Berrett let Sherman out to meet Raisin and everyone became fast friends.
Soon after, Omidvar and her husband, Doug, moved to the neighborhood from San Francisco with their pug, Roxie—a.k.a. Roxana Banana, the fashionista of the group, whom Doug says has a closet full of clothes. “Before we knew it, we were meeting at the park,” said Berrett. And while some of the pooches have since passed over the Rainbow Bridge, Berrett and Donner now bring their latest pugs, Doris and Mana (respectively), to the weekly meetups.
On Sundays at the park, Doris, Mana and Roxie join an intimate group of about 6-10 pugs and their non-pug doggie pals, including Mimi, Sunny, Flair, Norman, Lulu, T.D., Daisy the Cockapoo and Meatloaf—a part pug/Boston terrier mix who is a mainstay at the meetups. “They swoon over him,” said Berrett about Meatloaf, a male pug with a handsome mottled coat.
During the meetups, the pugs can often be seen performing a characteristic activity: the zoomies (also known as the “scamper” or “bunnying out” in the breed’s lexicon) around the grass. Berrett compares the pug zoomies to being “like a racing greyhound when they get up to full speed…their front legs are moving at the same time their back legs are moving forward like a full-on racing dog.” Meanwhile, as the pugs suddenly start zooming around in random patterns, usually circles, their hindquarters are tucked under a little, giving them a very comical appearance.
“It’s a primal instinct they all seem to have,” she added. See an example of pug zoomies here.
Berrett also noted that the pugs really enjoy each other at the meetups and that they have so many different personality types. “They relate to one another like kindred spirits from the same tribe,” she said.
So, what makes pugs so special? According to Berrett—an artist who happens to create pet portraits—the breed has a clown-like quality and “they have hearts of gold—they’re very sensitive little dogs that respond to your joy and your sadness. They want to be with you all the time [and] they want to make friends. They’re very exuberant about being pugs.”
Those who want to bring their pugs or other furry friends to the Sunday Pug Meetup can show up on any Sunday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Mira Vista Park at Zara and Mount Streets in Richmond—a smaller park that’s not to be confused with the dog park by Mira Vista School.