Jessica Fink will be the first to admit she’s a corgi fanatic.
Even before falling in love with her dog Minion the second she met the pooch, Fink had an affinity for the breed after five months of dog sitting for a friend.
It was shortly after Fink and her husband Nick got Minion last fall that they found a group with people who are just as enthusiastic about corgis as themselves – the Gallatin Valley Corgi Club.
From corgis to pugs to greyhounds, get-togethers for specific breeds around Bozeman offer fun and socialization for the pooches as well as support and assistance for their owners.
“When you have breeds in the community that aren’t as popular, the groups actually form because of that support,” said Dana Robison, who owns four rescued greyhounds.
Fink found the Corgi Club very helpful as a new puppy owner. She could ask questions and get tips and tricks on raising a corgi.
“More corgi owners should know about it,” she said.
Corgis, as Fink described, are active. Just last week, Fink took Minion on a hike up to Lava Lake.
“They play hard, oh my goodness. They are sturdy dogs,” Fink said, as the 30-pound Minion lay at her feet on her back porch in Belgrade.
They are also smart, she said. And having play dates and activities with fellow corgis is great for their intellect, Fink said.
“You need to have that mental stimulation for these dogs,” Fink said.
The club is relatively new, starting last August, and includes about 60 corgi families. But the group has been active, hosting Corgis in the Snow – a benefit for Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter – and walking in parades like at Sweet Pea. The group also traveled to Laurel to take part in the Yellowstone All Corgi Club’s Corgis Gone Wild event.
“Its nice to play with dogs their size,” Fink said.
A few years ago, Jennifer and Brian Murphy’s 18-year-old daughter got a pet pug, “which of course meant mom and dad ended up with the pug.”
It didn’t take long for the couple to become attached to Bucket.
“We have fallen madly in love with this breed,” Jennifer said.
Pugs were bred to be lap dogs, Jennifer said, and thus are natural people pleasers.
“They love you. They want to be with you,” Jennifer said.
Brian echoed his wife, calling pugs “cute as can be.”
“They’re not high maintenance,” he said. “Whatever you’re doing, that’s what they want to do. That’s my kind of dog.”
Soon after Bucket arrived, the Murphys were walking him at nearby Cooper Park when they ran into a couple of other pug owners. And the Pug Club was born.
The club has been meeting at Cooper Park every Sunday for the last three years. A core of six show up regularly, but Jennifer said about 50 people have participated.
“There’s something about the way pugs play together,” Jennifer said. “They recognize other pugs and love other pugs.”
Brian said, unless they are ready to go to Pug Club on Sundays, they can’t even utter the phrase or else Bucket will bolt for the door.
“We say, ‘You want to go to Pug Club?’ and he perks up and heads out the door and down the street,” Brian said. “They love it. They all know each other.”
For the owners, it’s a chance to get to talk about their animals with other people who understand.
“It’s like having children,” Brian said. “You mostly talk about your dogs and what they did this week.”
Fred and Patti Spillman of Bozeman have two greyhounds that are retired racers. Sasha, 11, is from Oklahoma while Pebbles, 5, was raised in Florida.
“I can’t say enough about them,” Fred said. “They are a very unique breed.”
While adjusting to life in a home could be a challenge for dogs that had never seen stairs or mirrors before, Fred said his dogs caught on quickly.
“They’re learning all the time,” he said. “It’s interesting to see them get out of their shell and open up.”
Dana Robison of Belgrade is a representative for Run for Adoption, a Victor-based organization that finds homes for retired racing greyhounds across the state. Robison and her husband have owned eight rescued greyhounds and currently have four.
Robison said a big misconception with greyhounds is that they’re high strung. She said that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“They are very laid back, loyal to their owners, loving and appreciative of their homes,” Robison said.
Robison, Fred and other greyhound owners from around the valley get together monthly for play dates with other greyhounds.
Greyhounds are kenneled with other greyhounds throughout their racing careers until they are adopted, Robison said.
“From puppyhood until they are adopted out, that’s the only breed that they know,” she said. “They know each other’s limits.”
What’s the biggest benefit of getting together with fellow greyhound owners? The support from other owners.
“New people that just adopted and aren’t as experienced can talk to more experienced owners and get the benefit from that,” Robison said. “You can share your stories.”
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