Pug life

Tamara Martinez

Tamara Martinez (left) and the seven pugs.

Tamara Martinez (left) and the seven pugs.

Photo By Larry Dalton

Imagine walking into a novelty shop in Midtown and—whoa—a half-dozen cute pug doggies come running at you. Which is exactly what happened during our photo shoot with Tamara Martinez, owner of Xtream Novelties (1311 21st Street, (916) 446-3009), where you can buy your magazines, DVDs, water pipes and papers—and, if you’re lucky, say hi to one of her and her husband’s seven pugs. The store doesn’t need house music (they’ve got a septet snorting symphony) or security (obviously). And, like a famous crew of dwarfs, each has a unique personality. Xtream Novelties moved from Rancho Cordova to Midtown four years ago, but if you haven’t passed by to get your goods, now’s your chance to meet Martinez and the pugs.

What are your dogs’ names?

There’s Lucky, Lilly, Kelly, Baby, Missy, Bandit and Nana. We had Lucky, then about six months later we got Lilly. Lilly had her first litter of puppies, and we ended up keeping Kelly because we wanted to keep one from her first litter. And then we ended up keeping Baby. And then she had her second litter, and we ended up keeping one of the three. And then with her third litter, she had 10. And I was just going to keep Bandit out of there, but we ended up keeping Missy, too, because they were playing around and she got hit in the eye.

And then Missy had puppies, and we ended up keeping Nana from her litter.

So what’s life like with seven dogs around the house?

It’s insane.


They all have different personalities. Missy and Nana are the troublemakers. Missy will see Nana playing with one of the others, then join in, and then the others come to see what’s going on. And then you’ve got a big ol’ fight.

What’s your favorite thing about pugs?

Hmm … I don’t know, I just like them because they’re people dogs. They love kids.

Do you let them sleep in the bed?

Yeah. They all do.

All of them!

I don’t let them. They just pile in. And when they all get up there, it’s crazy. They all have their certain spots they want to sleep in. The only ones that like to get under the covers are Nana, Missy and sometimes Lilly.

What drew you to pug dogs in the first place?

When I first met [my husband] Vic, he had a pug named Bandit. And then we had to put him to sleep; he got old and couldn’t walk or go to the bathroom by himself. Then we got another one, named Missy. So we’ve had two Missys and two Bandits so far.

Then in ‘96, we got Lucky. His name was Folsom when we got him, but we changed it.

And they’re always here at the shop?

Uh huh. I always bring four with me, and then we keep three at home with him. I always bring Nana, Missy, Lilly and Bandit. I have to bring Nana and Bandit because Bandit cries for me when I go anywhere.

What’s it like riding in the car?

They like to peek out the windows and watch, but when we get on the freeway they sit down. They get scared.

What time do they get up?

Lucky gets up as soon as someone moves, because he wants to go out at around 6:30 or 7. And the rest of them just lay around, like “Do we have to move?”

I can’t believe they just sit there so politely.

I have a picture of them, the first litter, when they were puppies, and I put them in a box by the refrigerator, and I put their food bowls in there and they lined up, bent over eating, with their tails sticking up. And they looked like little pigs with their curly tails.

And I had to feed them all by the bottle. They’re not very good mothers.

Why’s that?

I have no idea. Lilly would go in there and clean them and everything, but she didn’t want to nurse them.

Do pugs like Sacramento?

Ah, nah. They like it cool; they don’t like the heat at all. But they like to sit in the sun and relax. They love the sun, just not when it’s too hot.