Monday, January 7, 2013

SociaBulls: Owners Helping Owners

 Former foster Boris the Bachelor (now Radar!) always gets so excited when he sees the camera. Or a person.
Back when I first adopted Miss M, I felt a bit alone. 
Miss M was the first dog I had on my own as an adult, and I always doubted my ability to care for her. I didn't know what to do when she scraped the skin off her paw pads after running too much. I didn't know what to do when she wouldn't go outside in the snow. And I really didn't know what to do when she would get excited on walks and try to play tug-of-war with the leash. 
I didn't have friends in the city who owned dogs, and even though we had a lot of training classes I was usually too embarrassed to ask questions, or if these were even the types of things they could help me with.
I wasn't really sure where to find people like me.
Flash-forward a few years and I feel so lucky that our online community became a real-life community.
We love how our walking group is not only a way to socialize our pups while exploring the city, but it has also become a way to connect with other dog owners.
In a single walk I might talk about the best place to board for the weekend, what people have been using to keep their pups' feet safe from salt and ice, how long and how often they've been walking their dogs in the winter. Among other non-dog-based conversations.
I think our mentor group HikeaBulls said it best that it is an 'Owner helping Owner' group. 
Most of us have been in the same situation, and we don't judge. We are always a work in progress, but we are all getting up early on weekend mornings to walk with our dogs.
We all have different trainers and/or behaviorists we work with outside of the group, though our group doesn't align with a specific trainer or have trainers as part of the group. The space on our walks is limited and it's important for us to provide the spaces to dog owners who don't have the resources and can benefit from a social dog community. I also think it would change the dynamic of the group having a dog trainer walking among us, even if they were just there with their own pup. 
I keep thinking it would be like training for the marathon and going on a fun run with a personal trainer as part of the group; it would make me a bit uncomfortable as if they were critiquing my form and knowledge (even if they weren't). So we just stick to Owners helping Owners.
I feel really lucky that we do have such a great in-person community. Though I know a lot of fellow dog owners who don't have this same resource. 
What are some other ways you connect with like-minded dog owners?



Anonymous said...

This is a great post! When I think back to when my little Scooby dog first came into my life, I feel like I was clueless - even though I had grown up with dogs. I'm so grateful to the other dog owners who have helped me along the way, including my mom and so many friends. I'm glad that I can help pay it forward - AND CONTINUE LEARNING - through the online community and our Kansas City walking group, KC Pittie Pack.

Kate said...

I love that you've been able to build such a successful "owners helping owners" community. Very inspiring!

Anonymous said...

Great post, I am a little jealous though because we don't have anything like that here in Wichita. Usually if you have a question you ask your vet or other dog loving friends. Maybe one day we will have something like that here. In the mean time I love reading about all the walks and adventures other dog owners have.

Rebelwerewolf said...

My coworker and I bonded over having reactive dogs. We've taken classes together, taken our dogs on walks together, and regularly share our frustrations and successes. Even though she's just one person and not an entire pittie pack, it's great having someone like-minded to talk to.

Anonymous said...

Love this! As pretty much the only person in my group of friends who has dogs, having the KC Pittie Pack (as well as the blogging community) has been instrumental in helping me grow as a dog owner - and given me a whole NEW group of friends! I love it!

Pitlandia Pooch said...

Like Emily said, we are the only ones in our group of friends who own a dog. So, we rely on the online community of bloggers & blog readers for advice on helping Athena to be the best that she can be.

I also can't even explain how happy I am that I found RespectaBulls in Portland because it is filled with amazing people and dogs who are so helpful and willing to help each other!

Debra@Peaceabull said...

I so wish we had a great dog walking group around here. Actually one person did start a group which we expressed interest in, but since there seems to be no rules other than "we're all going to walk at x park at x time" I haven't actually attended. And the organizer is a trainer as well. Hmmm.
I find that most of my support comes from haunting the blogs of all of you who have been through the trenches. Bringing up a puppy is excruciating sometimes and reading that Miss M used to grab her leash made me smile. Too many of our early walks ended with me in tears of despair (and ripped clothing.) Wow. It felt good to actually write that.

Two Pitties in the City said...

@Peaceabull and Adventuresofadogmom....I used to write on the HikeaBull page saying I also wished there was a group in my area, and Lark encouraged me to start my own! Here are some links if you ever wanted to start a group:

Wyatt said...

What a great social outlet for the dogs and their people. Looks like so much fun.
We like to go on outings with our Airedale club. The dogs love it and it's good for us too!

Wyatt's mom

Anonymous said...

That is a very special group. 'Owners Helping Owners' is a grand concept at work. It would be fabulous if everyone had access to such a group in every community. Great work y'all are doing! :)

Waggin at ya,

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