The bungalow in Sandbach that is home to 30 pugs
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 April 2017
Forget the nuclear family, Sandbach's Becca Drake is breaking convention with her pawfect brood of 30 pugs. Words by Rebekka O'grady.
From the glossy pages of Tatler to starring in calendars hanging in kitchens around the globe, Becca Drake’s cohort of pugs certainly get around. With over 350,000 followers on Instagram (the majority of her images average over 10,000 likes), it’s no surprise that her pug-filled world gets so much attention. For Becca, who lives in Sandbach with 30 four-legged friends, it simply started with one pug, Fatima, ten years ago.
‘Growing up, I had always had dogs, but I got my first pug for my 30th birthday from my parents,’ she explained. ‘Fatima then had a litter, something I had never had before but I thought it was nice. I then got Percy and starting showing at the likes of Crufts.’
Despite great success and many rosettes, plus Percy achieving a lifetime qualification for Crufts, Becca wasn’t keen on the atmosphere at the shows: ‘It seemed that some people were only concerned about winning and not the dog. I am pretty soft and a full-on dog lover, so I ended up acquiring a few ex-show pugs. This was when I started Bubblebecca Pugs.’
Becca registered with the kennel club and joined the Assured Breeder Scheme soon after. Before she knew it, she had a family of 30 dogs. ‘I could never say no. If I don’t have room, then I have people who I trust waiting to rehome them. Though the majority of the dogs are rescues, there are a number of reasons they come to me. It could simply be a change of circumstance but people know I have a great home for them here.’
The proliferation of pugs meant that Becca had to move from her home in Lancaster to a spacious bungalow in Sandbach, where she is now. The secluded home with plenty of space and a big garden means the dogs have the run of the roost, and even those with disabilities, like Gramps, can get around with ease.
‘Last year Gramps was voted the most famous pug in Europe on Instagram. Doug the pug (from Nashville, Tennessee) is the most famous in the world – so he’s our competition,’ Becca joked. If you follow her @bubblebeccapugs you will see hundreds of images of her dogs, often dressed in cute outfits or simply out and about.
‘It’s amazing to see where we are now. I would never have imagined it would have snowballed like it has. I get so many messages every day from people saying the photos on my social media accounts really make them smile. You don’t realise how much of an impact you make.’
Last year, Bubblebecca Pugs released their first calendar, and the demand was huge across the world. ‘I was sending them out to Europe, New Zealand, Brazil, USA and Russia, places that I just couldn’t believe.’
Becca was also approached by Tatler, and took 20 of her dogs down to London for a magazine fashion shoot, featuring designers such as Chanel, Christian Dior and Fendi. As ever, when working with animals, you expect the unexpected and one of the dogs duly complied– urinating over a haute couture dress. Becca laughs: ‘Simply put, never work with animals!’
Although she loves her furry friends, the cost to ensure they stay happy and healthy is staggering. The former beauty therapist spends around £20,000 a year on the dogs, but breeding the dogs and the support from her following around the world helps with the costs. People can also leave their pug with her when they go on holiday.
‘To begin with, I sold some of the decent designer handbags I had on eBay. Now we get sent things, whether its outfits or food, and in turn I promote it online. We also have a very understanding vet in Wilmslow who knows sometimes I can’t pay the bills straight away. I think people realise I am doing a good thing and are really kind about it.’