I thought it fitting to start our website with our short history. While we are relatively young, so much has happened since we formally started with our first walk in January 2015 at Elderslie. I am forever indebted to Sharon, (Sunday and Rosie the whippet’s owners) and Jane, (Bindi’s owner) for their walks around the Macarthur area with me which prompted my posts on local community pages. People would ask, “where do you go,” and asked if they could join us and from there the group (and facebook page), Campbelltown Camden Doggie Dates was created, and the first walk had a humble group of around 7 people and dogs.
My goal from the very start was to create a safe on leash walking group for owners and their dogs. I had experienced some negativity at dog parks and knew that not all dogs suited off leash environments. I also saw the importance of mixing dogs of different breeds, ages and sizes in a way where people could be more in control of their dogs. I recognised the value of owners chatting to each other, sharing ideas and resources and being able to have a place where they could additionally make plans to meet outside of the formal walks to socialise their dogs.
What I never realised was the impact this group would have on peoples lives in an emotional way with a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing. I underestimated the value of friendships and bonds that would come from such a simple idea. I do know that that it has helped people through very difficult times in their lives with the guarantee of a friendly group of faces and lots of furry friends to meet up with on a regular basis. Additionally, many extra social occasions have been organised, Christmas pawties, café meet ups, Halloween walks, dress up events, joint celebrations of dogs barkdays and sharing events in one another’s lives as well as assisting one another when needed. Some very deep friendships have formed through our loving and loyal dogs.
In recent times I realised we needed to formalise our precious group so I registered our name and organised a bank account and hopefully we will have more exciting news in the future. Additionally we now have a page and an Instagram account. On top of this, Central Coast Doggie Dates started at the beginning of the year after my big move to the Central Coast. It is incredible to have two groups running in the same way and starting all over, building one up again is like a trip down memory lane. We also have more exciting plans in the near future.
Recently I received a message from two lovely women on the same day. One was offering some in date heart worm meds that she no longer needed. As some people will know I collect good quality items for donation to individuals, pounds and rescues and this is part of our Doggie Dates role. The other had been reading all the posts on Doggie Dates for some time but hadn’t made any comments. She had some questions about her dog and it amazed me how much she had read and taken in simply by reading the posts, the comments and the ideas shared. I felt very proud of how much impact our group has and the possibilities for the future. I am very strict about the tone of the posts and what is shared, for this reason. We are a social group and plan to stay that way. We want people to be impacted in a positive way from our group and to learn and to have fun in a safe and responsible way.
We hope the next four years will be as amazing as the last four years and we look forward to seeing growth and changes as we develop this incredible group. We encourage you to NOT be afraid to attend. Your dog does not have to be perfect (far from it), just on leash for our formal events. Seeing the change in the dogs of committed owners has been incredible. Even more incredible is seeing the happy face of owners as they arrive each walk, greeting friends and other dogs.
I leave you with this, a member who has been coming for some time was SO scared the first time that he wanted me to meet him at his car. He thought his tiny dog was the most barky, awful dog around. Absolutely hilarious because he is now a regular participant and has a new dog as well – and he told us later that he thought all our dogs would be perfectly well-behaved dogs. This is so far from the truth. Each and every one of you who come to our walks and/or engage in our page we are thankful for you and for your commitment to us and for helping us build our dream.
Special thanks to Richard for your suffering and patience me and to our members that have suppawted this little group time and time again. Thank you for helping build this dream.
*Pictured with husband Richard and three girls Dolly (labrador, 7), Lucy (golden retriever, 1) and Lizzy (golden retriever, 12)