By Katy Cable, -TWR
A 4 min. read
It's kind of a funny story, but I originally came across Roxy, Bono & Blue, the darlings who are the models/actors and inspiration behind Pupstar Sonoma, by accident. While searching for an image to use on a flyer for my Pug Beach "Bone-anza" event, I stumbled across what still remains one of my absolute favorite pug pics (not counting pics of my own pugs) of all time...Little did I know the man posting this beautiful image on my social media timeline was in fact the creator, photographer, and mastermind himself, Philip Lauer. -And here I just thought he had excellent taste. The event drew quite a bit of publicity, (-no doubt that perfect pic had something to do with it.) And I quickly came to find out it was HIS work which I had never asked permission to use. Whoops!
In what could've ended up in some "un-friending" at the very least, instead resulted in a new friendship and treasured experience. After a heartfelt apology and explanation of my mistake, I was excited to receive an invitation to the launch celebration of Pupstar Sonoma's first FANTASY PUGS calendar.
It turns out Phillip Lauer and his wife Susan are not just the creators of the picture I fell in love with but a whole collection of amazing images, videos, costumes and products. Their company PUPSTAR SONOMA, specializes in bringing together Pugs, costumes and photography to create magic! And just as their website promises it's: "Seriously cute and absolutely fun!" Using their three pugs (and now adding their newest Pug Zed who just turned 2) they create breathtaking, ethereal works which include everything from life-like depictions of costumed pugs in Game of Thrones, to regal pugs, pugs of anarchy, newsies pugs, hellboy pugs, and even Hobbit Pugs!
The Lauer's found wonderful creative outlets with their pugs: Roxy and brother Blue (age 12) and half-brother Bono (age 11). Susan, who holds a degree in fashion print and pattern design, once enjoyed a long, successful career as a graphic print and couture designer in Hawaii. She now hones those talents creating fun pieces for her stocky, barrel-chested, darling pugs. Philip, who holds a degree in graphic arts and photography, captures and creates the magic behind the camera. And while they clearly have remarkable talent, believe it or not this is just a fun hobby. Philip has a full-time "day job" doing IT work at an ad agency.
What began with creating darling holiday cards for family and friends took a dramatic turn in 2008 when the iconic Italian designer Valentino, who coincidentally owns his own grumble of pugs, launched a "Most Fashionable Pug" contest for the premiere of his film, "The Last Emperor." The Lauer’s took third place out of hundreds of entries with their jeweled, fur-collared, colorful pug parkas. (Anna Wintour pug won the title.) Soon adorable holiday costumes and everyday wear for pugs, expanded to include life-like replicas of favorite characters and genres.
The Lauer's then upped their game by producing a short film "The Pugs of Westeros.” The beautiful take-off of "Game of Thrones" quickly went viral attracting the attention of Good Morning America, Perez Hilton, Buzz-feed, and Mashable.
That fall brought more excitement when Zooey Deschanel, best known for her role in the movie Elf, requested the Lauer's help with a video for her band (She & Him) They were recording a country version of the holiday classic "Winter Wonderland" for their "Christmas Party" album. It turns out Deschanel, who also enjoys a successful career as a singer/recording artist, is a Pug lover and huge fan of the Lauer's work.
While it was no problem creating the 12 holiday costume changes for the short video, coming up with the necessary snow was a much different story. With deadlines drawing near and no snow in sight, the Lauer’s anxiously checked weather feeds. As luck would have it, just in the nick of time, a storm was predicted for their nearby mountains. Not wasting a second, they jumped in the car and headed out.
They made it to the mountains and were greeted with the much-needed snowfall. However, there was no time to waste since the minute the sun rose, the light dusting of snow began melting faster than an ice cream cone in July. With no back-up plan, Roxy, Bono and Blue were quickly outfitted in holiday attire and rushed out to romp in some snow.
Then came the final challenge: finding the perfect fireplace for the closing shots of the pugs sleeping soundly in their Christmas jammie's in front of a roaring fire. Their dear friend Lisa Haderlie-Baker, offered up the beautiful, Victorian hearth in her nearby home. -As well as her Pug Diego, (Bono's brother) who got himself a cameo role in the video. He can be seen sleeping by the fire with his buddies.
With the release of the family's first FANTASY PUGS calendar, Roxy, Bono & Blue invited all their friends (pug and human) to a celebration party. Olive & I were thrilled and honored to be included. The festivities took place on a perfect sunny Saturday afternoon at the Lauer's lovely home in Sonoma county, which is about an hour outside of San Francisco.
Around 25 perfect, pugs, attended including Peggy Bennington, owner of Pug Wine (http://pugwine.com/) whose irresistible Pug
had just come from a dog show where she had taken the title: "Best Bitch" -My husband might argue I hold that title every morning before my first cappuccino. Other guests included artist Lisa Haderlie-Baker, with her Pug Diego. (Bono's brother who is a regular fixture in many of the Lauer's works.) And Sand Chang (Co-founder of the Vegas Pug Parties) with her darling Pug Zelda Sesame. I was in heaven surrounded by cherubic, adorable pugs.
As expected at any soirée, the hosts treated guests to a lavish spread of delectables for both humans, and pugs. In addition, each received a Pupstar Sonoma "sWAG-bag" which included cards, stickers and a copy of the beautiful Fantasy Pugs Calendar. But unlike other gatherings, this one also came equipped with poop bags placed all around the backyard, as well as an assortment of dog beds, pillows, and toys for the Pug's enjoyment. In the center of the lawn sat the show-stopper: A pug-sized replica of the GAME OF THRONES, iron throne used in the Pupstar Sonoma photo shoots.
Every pug-parent in attendance was eager to seat their fur baby on the throne for a prized photo opp. Susan then brought out various hats, and costume pieces for pugs to wear. And while Pugs are typically super good sports about dawning goofy get-ups and costumes, Roxy Bono & Blue are true pros that would give any super-model a run for their money! It took a handful of treats and two extra hands to try and keep a sailor hat on Olive just long enough to snap a quick photo. At the same time R, B & B, were running behind mommy Susan the minute they saw she was ready to play dress-up. All three jumped into position, let her adjust the costumes, and hats, then tilted their heads, and held their poses for what seemed like hours. There was no pawing at strings or bucking heads to break free, but sheer pride in their familiar role. It gave me chills watching how they delighted in wearing heavy velveteen regal robes, fur parkas and crowns on a hot sunny day. -And actually LOVE every minute of it. If one was featured in a shot, the other two jumped in and insisted on being included in the fun.
The Fantasy Pugs Calendar is a collection of a few of the Lauer's favorite works from Game of Thrones to Gilligan's Island. Yet, unlike most pug novelties featuring kitschy-tacky pug images, FANTASY PUGS is a luxurious beautiful work of art. The calendar is guaranteed to make a perfect gift which will delight both Pug lovers and non-pug fanatics alike. The Lauers kindly donated several calendars and a signed print to benefit PUG NATION LA and PUGS AND PALS two local rescue groups I support.
Thank you Phillip and Susan! Your work is inspiring and fills me with joy. I am forever grateful to be included in your life and wish you all the success in the world. And it goes without saying look no further if you ever need a pug sitter for those sweet babies of yours.
Here's a glimpse at the launch party and my chat with the extremely talented Lauer family. Enjoy!
For more information or to order a calendar visit:
#game of Pugs