Picture Gallery: Pugs of Norwich don ghoulish guises for Halloween
As the looming terror of Halloween hung in the air, a gang of unusually-attired beasts brought some terrifying pug-faced fun to a Norwich park.
With their wrinkly skin, bulbous eyes and eerie costumes, about 30 pug dogs provided a spooky scene as they arrived for their annual Pugoween get-together at Earlham Park yesterday.
The event was organised by the Pugs of Norwich group, which has attracted more than 140 members on the social networking website Facebook and has become a thriving community for the dogs and their devoted owners.
Kirstie Banks, a 30-year-old hairdresser from Churchill Road, in north Norwich, is one of the group's champions and was quick to defend her charismatic and sociable pets against any suggestion they were 'pug ugly'.
'I suppose with the googly eyes some people find them quite scary, but they are just such lovely charismatic dogs,' she said.
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'Initially the Pugs of Norwich page was just to show off pictures because we love them so much and they're just so photogenic. But before long, we started arranging meet-ups.
'When people ask what the point of all this is, I just say that when you see groups of lads in car parks looking under bonnets, people don't understand what it is all about, unless you are interested in it. With us, we're all into pugs.'
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Pug-mad Kirstie has three dogs – Lily, Rolo and Alfie – and is trying to convince her husband Kevin to agree to getting a fourth.
'I have always liked them,' she said. 'I love the fact that they have got these 'Marmite' faces that people either love or hate. I think they're beautiful and they've got the most amazing temperaments.'
Kirstie said the Pugs of Norwich group had also evolved into a valuable community where owners could share information and advice about health and breeding issues. 'We tend to know the names of the dogs more than the owners,' she said. 'One dog called Gizmo had eye surgery and that's been on the website so people can learn all about it.'
Carli La Motte, a make-up artist from Manthorpe Close, in Lakenham, brought along her two-year-old pug Buddy, disguised as a spider. 'Kirstie and I work together a lot and all we talk about is pugs,' she said. 'They are our babies and they are such fun little characters. But there is a serious side as well, because of their faces, they can get a lot of health problems and we can go on the Facebook site to get advice from other owners.'
Gemma Correll, 27, from Vauxhall Street, dressed her dog Mr Pickles in a witch's outfit.
'He was not too keen on the hat,' she said. 'It's just nice to have all these pugs around in one place. They are quite sociable dogs and they really enjoy meeting each other.'
?The next seasonal Pugs in the Park event is planned for Sunday, December 18 at Earlham Park and will be called Pugmas.