More Than Just Adventures
Once I had Frannie, I wasn't sure what to do, where to go, or how to do right by her. After a while of dog parks, training classes, and long walks I thought "I wonder if Facebook has groups for other dog owners so I can talk with them and meet new people" (because socialization is good for humans AND dogs). That's when I came across Boston Dog Adventures. I joined, but sat back and watched the events people were doing, sports that owners had their dogs participating in, and workshops that seemed much too advanced for my dog who could hardly lay down on command.
Honestly, I was a little intimidated at the looks of the group-I wanted something casual, a list of dog-friendly areas to visit, group walks to get to know how others are doing with their dogs (new and old). One day there was an event for a "structured pack walk" at Arnold Arboretum. Still, unsure what it entailed I clicked interested, then went a step further to post asking what "structured" meant, and if my new low-trained dog was allowed to join. I was welcomed along, and began to plan my first group activity with Frannie. I was able to talk with people at different stages of training with their dogs, and owners who were involved with dogs who weren't perfect, just like Frannie! It was what I had wanted-validation that dogs don't come tied up with a pretty bow and all their commands on point. Validation that Frannie would be able to grow, at her own pace, with my support, and become her own form of these dogs doing events and skills so well. I took away that positive attitude, a new outlook, and goals for us to work toward. Maybe someday she and I could be one of the pairs posting to the page about dog sports, maybe someday we could help guide someone else's dog journey. Right now, she was one of the dogs who would go on low-level activities, and learn from the others though. I also took away a new friend, which brought us to adventures at beaches, other people's houses, and to Blue Hills.
I got more confident with the BDA page, and started understanding the community it was building. It was more than just a page for experienced dog owners, dog sports, and athletic owners. It was something for dog owners of all kinds. I suggested it to my dog park friend, who also started joining activities and reading people's advice. In time, I was reaching out to the group for training advice. I sought recommendations for behaviorist and experienced trainers for Frannie's reactivity. I asked for ideas on inexpensive mental stimulation activities to keep her mind occupied as well as her active body. All of this came with thoughtful, helpful responses from strangers and acquaintances.
Though I became less of an active participant in activities (because life got in the way), I was still reviewing the questions asked, events created, and thoughts being put on the forum.
And then one day, two dogs in the group went missing a few hours from where I was with family that week. Two dogs I hadn't met, and an owner I didn't know in person but had spoken to a number of times. I knew I wanted to help, so I drove up and spent a day postering along the road, posting on social media groups and pages, and helping find these dogs the same way I would hope someone would help me find Frannie. I followed the updates and posts constantly up until, and even for days after, they were found and reunited.
That is how I knew I had become something more than an outlier in a Facebook group of strangers. It's when I realized that in the dog world, and in the BDA world, we can all be connected and willing to lend a hand when possible. That as much as "dog adventures" sounds like things that are always fun, exhilarating, and grand. They can also be about moving, training, helping others, and just connecting through your common interests. In this case-those of us who have our dogs ingrained
into our lives.
-Megan C, BDA member