River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque, IA, has a special Saturday greeter. Her name is Lulabelle, she is thirteen years old, and she was adopted by bookseller Marie Moronez from the Northern Illinois Pug Rescue when she was ten.
“LuLu is unceasingly happy, and pretty energetic for such an old lady,” Moronez says. “Recently, she fell down some stairs and has permanent nerve damage as a result. She has some difficulty walking unaided now, but that hasn’t slowed her down at all. She uses a cart from Eddie’s Wheels and is pretty much speed racer again.”
Moronez says that LuLu looks forward to her days at River Lights so much that they can hardly get her in the door and off her leash before she starts parading around to greet everyone looking at books… and running over a few toes along the way.
“She holds court from a comfy reading chair after she has worn herself out, about halfway through her three hour shift. Many new visitors to the store are surprised to see her sleeping there, only noticing she’s real after her snoring starts up,” says Moronez. “She has quite a few regular admirers at River Lights, many of whom go out of their way to visit her when she is ‘working’ on Saturdays. Some people bring their own dogs to see her, too.”
Moronez explains that LuLu has provided customers with something they can associate with the store, many asking River Lights booksellers if they are the bookstore with the pug, or sharing that they met LuLu on a prior vacation and they wanted to see her again. “She has even helped some kids get over their fear of dogs. That’s to say nothing about how many pug-related gifts and books we’ve sold,” she says. “All in all, I’d say it’s a winning situation for everyone involved.”
Folks in Dubuque will be a little less happy after Saturday, which will be LuLu’s last day at River Lights. She and Moronez are moving to Eugene, Oregon at the end of the month.
Sue Davis, owner of River Lights, is planning a send-off for LuLu (and Marie). They’ve promoted the “Lulabelle Goes West” celebration to their customers through social media, and the events of the day include a drawing for a Pug-opoly game, bone shaped cookies (for humans), a 25% discount on pug books (“autographed” by LuLu), and special “Lulu Loot” bills that entitle the recipient to a dollar off their purchase.