I looked across the room at Stay and Play in Troy and thought, “How’d Alex get over there so fast.” It wasn’t my long haired dachshund, it was a little female. Of course, she only looked like him out of the corner of my eye going fast, but I am not used to there ever being another dog that was anywhere similar to mine in markings or coat. Today there were at least fifty. Not everyone looked like him, of course, but there were more weenie dogs in one place, in the same moment, and of every size and color, than I had ever seen in my life. That is a tall order (or should I say “long order”), as I have been owned by dachshunds for a good part of my life.
The summer is winding down, and there are plenty of Mommy and Me classes and play dates starting up again for children who are not yet old enough to follow their older siblings to school. Parents often organize play dates to socialize the youngest ones, or to have a much needed respite, even if it requires taking someone else’s angels to the park another day. However, there are other family members who may be chronologically old enough to go to school but can’t get on the bus either. The dogs in our household naturally yearn for socialization beyond their human household. In fact, taking your dog for play dates and meets with other dogs makes them a better family member. In fact, I find, periodically meeting up with dogs with a similar energy level or play style really gets their tail wagging. Of course, it gets their head resting and eyes closed on the way home too. A tired dog is a happy dog.
I have taken my two Doxies to the Metro Detroit Dachshund Meetup on several occasions. Periodically, fifteen, twenty, or even as many as sixty-five dachshunds bring their people to someone’s yard or dog daycare facility for a few hours on a weekend afternoon. Dachshunds come from Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Lapeer Counties. Although the group has met at Stay and Play in Troy on numerous occasions, this summer we were also treated to a potluck at a member’s home. Or should I say: At the home of three dogs and the people they allow to live there.
All the dogs at the events get to wander around freely where appropriate, sniffing, playing, and having a grand time with other dogs that are at their own wavelength. Meetup members are mostly dachshunds and dachshund mixes, but housemates of the dogs sometimes accompany them. One “Weenerwannabe” is Salsa the chihuahua, who attends with her dachshund siblings Laika and Owen. Although dachshunds tend to picture themselves as much larger dogs in their minds undoubtedly, members are encouraged to bring the dogs who are on the smaller side and bring their large dog siblings at home. It might not be any fun for the big guys, and there are other Meetup groups where they can have a great time. Meetup day, after all is Doxie day.
It is amazing sometimes how relaxed they are, even though there are so many in one place, and they may not have ever met the other dogs prior. In fact, my Alex, who seems to travel in a four foot radius around me, is at the other side of the room going from one dog or person to another. Dogs that are a bit reserved or unsure of strangers tend to really open up and find their stride. Human friendships also form. Dog guardians often share advice with each other. All of the sudden, you have a support network to help you through housebreaking, adopting a new family member, moving, and even, on thankfully rare occasions, a disc disease scare. It sounds just like preschool parents commiserating on first days at school and potty training. Instead of running to grab a swing, the dogs are usually playing tug of war with a squeaky.
Should I bring my child to a Meetup? The environment is not typically appropriate for little ones who are too young to absorb and be consistent on the protocol of meeting new dogs. They may be overwhelmed with all the activity, as well, which may not bring out the best in dog or human. Some individuals may have dogs that are not used to children, and in general it would be a good time for dog and child to have a time out from each other. An older child who is content with dogs coming to them, versus the other way around, and reliably asks permission from the owner to pet or approach an unknown dog may be a more appropriate companion for the day’s outing if you feel it is appropriate.
If you are owned by a dachshund, and are interested in coming to the next meet up, visit. https://www.meetup.com/DetroitDoxies. Meetup.com also has other dog play groups in the area that revolve around size, activity llevel, or neighborhood where the dogs and their people live. Come out and play!
Chris Riopelle is the DetroitMommies Dog Mom. She is a metro Detroit based freelance writer and photographer, when the two dachshunds she is owned by allow her to be. She can be found at Going on Five. She also contributes to HoundsGood: Chronicles of a Virtual Volunteer Hounds Good, and TheSnackHound, among others. Follow her at twitter at https://twitter.com/goingonfive