Dog owners will tell you owning a pet pooch is no walk in the park.
Our canine friends need a lot of attention, including having to be fed, petted and walked every day.
Having worked with dogs for some years, dog groomer Simon Coom knows this all too well.
So he decided to create a dog meet-up group called Dogday Sunday.
Every third Sunday, he and fellow Manawatu animal lovers meet in parks in the city to let their dogs have a run around off the lead. They gather from 10am until 11am.
Mr Coom created Dogday Sunday because he knows how important it is for dogs to be socialised.
"I know it can be hard for one-dog families to get that interaction with people and other dogs," he says. "I make no money from this and just do it for enjoyment and the fact that I love dogs," he says.
Mr Coom organises each meeting through Facebook by posting a time and place to meet up. He takes balls and frisbees with him for the dogs to play with.
“[Dogday Sunday] was something I wanted to do for a while. The problem is you go down to somewhere like the river and you can't guarantee people will be accepting of your dog. You just don't know who you will bump into.”
The controlled environment of Dogday Sunday is a safer choice for dog owners, Mr Coom says.
The dogs come in various shapes and sizes. They range from labradors, like Mr Coom's golden-coated Willow, to smaller breeds like shih tzus. Despite the differences in appearance, the dogs behave well together. "We've had no fighting; everyone has good control of their dogs. We take balls for them to play with and while they're playing, we [the dog owners] stand and talk."
The Dogday Sunday gathering on the weekend of August 4 and 5 at Linklater Reserve was the biggest turn-up since its first meeting in May. About 25 dogs and a similar number of people showed up.
One of the more notorious dog characters was in attendance at that meeting - a spaniel-poodle cross called Mac, who sports a “wild hairdo”. Mr Coom says all the dogs have their own personalities. And he added “You'd be surprised how robust the little dogs can be. We've got some hilarious photos of small dogs wrestling much bigger dogs for toys.”
Mr Coom says most of the dogs come with families but there are also university students who come with their pets. But having a dog is not a requirement - anyone with a passion for animals is welcome.
The increasing popularity of the event is going to be a challenge if the initiative continues to grow, he says. With the turnout steadily increasing at each meeting, one possibility is to make future meetings more frequent - perhaps every two weeks.
Massey University's Professor Kevin Stafford, a specialist in dog behaviour, says dogs are social animals and need to be in contact with other dogs and people.
“If dogs are not socialised, they become fearful of other dogs and people and may not be able to communicate with them,” he says.
There are 19 parks, walkways and reserves in Palmerston North, which are designated dog exercise areas, where dogs are allowed off their leash under the supervision of their owner.
Dogday Sunday's Facebook page is updated with photos and details about when and where Dogday Sunday will be held.
If you would like your club, group or organisation to be considered for a profile, email email@example.com with Join The Club in the subject line.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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