Monday, May 21, 2012

SociaBulls: Location, Location, Location

Our SociaBulls group has proven its street cred by walking through the entire Chicago winter (with only 1 weather cancellation!) which according to Chicago code gives us "dibs" on our locations.
But unfortunately, this is not the case. We only began our group at the end of August, so now we're facing all new challenges as people are thawing out, taking to the trails, and overtaking our spots.
Especially if you're thinking of starting a walking group at this time, here are some things we've learned about choosing spots to help all our dogs be successful:

Finding an Escape Route Out (Saying no to Bikers and Runners):
While we had the luxury of spreading out during the cooler months, our favorite spots have been overrun with runners running in tandem and bikers biking at full speed. Even if we stay on our side of the trail, there are areas where bikers and runners bunch up, trying to pass each other, and come into our space. We know all of our dogs have different socialization levels, and this could be very uncomfortable for the pooches to have runners running at them, and bikers coming so close.
Now we're looking for spots where we don't need to be on a trail, and we have enough space that we can veer off if bunches of people come at us so the dogs can always feel safe.

Keeping the Rhythm:
 The most important part of the walk is keeping a continuous speed and rhythm. The dogs become anxious when we need to stop at traffic lights, and sometimes we lose half the group at a crossing. We look for spots that offer a continuous path with few stops.

Accessibility and Parking
Our city is big and people come from all parts to join (even the suburbs!). Parking in the city can be hard, so we need to add accessible parking or easily walkable to our long list of location needs. Plus, with so many races, festivals and parades during the summer, we always have to plan ahead to determine if street closures will impact getting to our site.

Sound challenging? We do have some ideas up our sleeve and we're excited about some other locations we can explore.
What does everyone else do when the summer craziness takes over your favorite walking spots?

And if you're planning on starting your own group:  Setting a Structure for your Group, Navigating in Densely Populated Areas,  How to Successfully Integrate New Dogs into the Pack, How to Manage Your Growing Group,


Chgogrrl said...

Do you ever walk on the Midway or Wooded Island?

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain on this! It can be frustrating finding a spot with a continuous path and not too many people for our group. I hope to join up with you guys again this summer for a walk though - the last one in October was so chilly!

Anonymous said...

We feel your pain here in MD with the nice weather kicking in. We usually have better luck by starting out early ... after all there is no sleeping in with two pups pacing around the bed in the morning! That way we are home for coffee and bagels before most are even thinking about getting up. On a side note, that brindle dog in the first picture is so cool looking!

Unknown said...

You so photogenic on your photos, you really enjoy your morning walk with your mom. I love viewing your handsome shots :D

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