Is It Wrong That I Hate Same-Breed Meetup Events? (My Boyfriend Loves Them)
There's something about Italian Greyhounds. And those ears that sometimes collapse in a "washerwoman" style atop their heads, then find themselves slicked back for a run. Or those intelligent eyes and ever-worried eyebrows. Then there's their lean, sloping forms and those feet that seem to be prancing on air. And don't even get me started on their needy girlfriend personalities -- if you need to be needed 24/7 the way I do, have I got a breed for you.
If one Iggy can make my day, surely two dozen would make my year, I rationlalized as a young dog owner staring at an e-invite to an Italian Greyhound meet-up in my city. Moxie was finally done with his vaccines and ready to socialize, and the first meet-up we attended was overwhelming, but not awful.
He was going to be a large Iggy, and everyone commented on how our puppy had enormous feet. "He'll grow into them," I said, as polite conversation continued over wine and cheese. Mox shyly sniffed the butts of many a taller pup and I got several recommendations on where to pick up yet more dog sweaters, so we determined our first foray into meetup land a success. The second meetup we attended was exactly the opposite.
It was more than a year later when we decided Mox could use some sighthound friends. The meetup invites had been rolling into my inbox like clockwork every month, but other engagements had routinely gotten in the way. We showed up, thinking it'd be the same butt-sniffing and small talk, but people were decidedly strange about their dogs.
Mox had grown into a handsome 20-pound boy, tall and lean, but many IG parents had dogs on the smaller side of the spectrum, half Moxie's size. All the dogs were off-leash as they usually are for these things (the venues always have tall fences or walls to avoid a runaway sighthound) and when Moxie approached some of the other dogs to say hello, their owners would sweep their pets into their arms, up away from him as though he was going to harm them.
It was very frustrating to watch our gentle boy being barred from socializing with other dogs at what was supposed to be a social event. I asked a few people what the problem was, and they gave weird responses -- the general consensus seemed to be that they were worried he was going to trample their IGs because of his size.
I understand being overprotective of your pup, but this was a wee bit much. Mox has routinely met larger dogs of all breeds on walks, at the park, and at the office, and he's never once been trampled. I don't have a heart attack when he dances with other dogs; a bit of light roughhousing is a character-builder as far as I'm concerned (hey, that's how I was raised).
We left the meetup early and I told myself it'd be a balmy day in January before I attended one again. All those helicopter dog parents together in one backyard again? No thanks!
But last year, around the time of Moxie's fourth birthday, I looked at the monthly invite in my inbox and decided to give it a third try. The venue had changed, and maybe the people would be different. The sun was shining and it seemed like a nice day to rub elbows with people who loved Italian Greyhounds as much as I do, right?
I'd attended the first two same-breed meetups before coming to work for Dogster and let me tell you, attending this most recent meetup with a brain that is now hypersensitive to dog issues and politics was NOT fun.
While nobody whisked their smaller IG away from Mox, I cringed when one woman told me her new Iggy puppy had arrived on a plane from Missouri a few days earlier. Holy red flags, Batman! When the small talk turned to where people's dogs had come from, a good percentage of the attendees had a shady breeder story to share.
Don't get me wrong; my own dog is from a breeder. But she's one of those rare diamond-in-the-rough ethical types who I wrote about over here. Poorly-bred Italian Greyhounds are a health nightmare, with their predispositions to hip dysplasia and dental issues.
I wanted so very badly to put my Dogster editor hat on and start lecturing this bunch about puppy mills and backyard breeders but I didn't want to be that person, especially when the damage was done and all the sweet dogs dancing around me were here to stay. How rude would it be to wish them into oblivion? Even the Missouri plane puppy seemed to be somewhat well-adjusted. Though I couldn't help but think about the rusty cage her mother was probably still living in Dog-knows where.
Moxie didn't discriminate, and loved racing with that mouthy puppy. As soon as he appeared to be worn-out from the wrestling, I leashed him up and headed home, mentally climbing on my high horse. I have no intention of attending another one of these little get-togethers anytime soon.
When I told my boyfriend, Jeff (Moxie's dad), I was going to write about this, he said his opinion was different and I invited him to share it. Here we go...
Counterpoint, via Jeff:
I think you may be missing the point. The reason I take my dog to meetups like these is for his enjoyment. I know how much he loves hanging around other dogs and playing and such. If he is happy I am happy. The more energy he can blow off the better.
As for the people side of things ... well that is of secondary importance. Come to think of it, the last meet up I went to had a great spread of food and wine (thanks to a very nice and generous local pet store owner). Also, the meetup was at a small local park that was quite charming and perfect for the canine affair.
As for whether people get their dogs from top breeders, rescue or "less than top" breeders, that is not for me to judge. There are many dog owners that feel just as ill toward anyone that gets a dog from any breeder. Owners of top-bred dogs judge owners of lesser-bred dogs while both are being judged by the altruistic owners of rescues. Its all a little much for me and personally I do not waste any time worrying about that stuff.
What matters to me (and to the dog) is how well you train and treat your dog once you get him. Do you keep your dog cooped up or do you walk him often? Do you love your dog or do you simply want your dog to love you? Do you know how to really relate to your dog? Do you understand your dog?
There is probably more I can add but it is time for me to walk the dog.
But let's talk about you, Dogster readers: Do you ever attend same-breed parties? Did you find them fun or kind of discouraging when you meet people who appear to be somewhat dog-stupid? Do you think Jeff is right? Highlights and/or horror stories, please.