Meetup.com, now a decade old, wasn't founded just for canines. But curiously, pugs played a role. According to techno-lore, the platform's founders concocted a made-up event, International Pug Lovers Meetup Day, to test market the site. Pug lovers (and pretend pug lovers) rallied to the cause, garnering press and visibility. Meetup.com gained a foothold in popular culture as the tool that propelled political candidate Howard Dean into the national arena in 2004, but pugs were never forgotten. Today some 40,996 people are subscribed to 190 Pug Meetup Groups in 163 cities in five countries around the world.
So what exactly is a Meetup? Think of it as a face-to-face activity that's planned online. Each Meetup group has a founder or organizer who takes care of online administrative matters. Most groups encourage members to initiate activities, too. Some groups require members to join and be vetted before participating in a scheduled activity, while others post their Meetup information online and take a "just show up" approach. To explore the canine-related possibilities in your area, go to Meetup.com, enter your zip code and type "dog" in the "Find a Meetup Group" search field.
Group dog walks and off-leash recreation are the focus of Sacramento’s Responsible Dog Lovers Meetup group, while hiking and dog socialization is the name of the game for TOPDOG, an acryonym for Trekking Our Pooches Dog Owners Group. If your interest lies in training, Dogs with a Job is your vehicle for sharing “career” experiences such as obedience, agility, flyball, dog Frisbee, hunting, therapy or tracking. Also in the Sacramento area, you’ll find Meetup groups dedicated to big dogs, toy dogs, shih-tzus , border collies, Australian shepherds, miniature pinschers, dachshunds, schnauzers, Labrador retrievers, greyhounds, pit bulls, mastiffs, beagles—and, of course, those lovable pugs.
Don’t see anything to fit your schedule? Try broadening your search. Sacramento Health Walkers, for instance, welcomes dogs on many of its outings. So does the very active Sacramento Trail Mix hiking and adventure group. A good place to get acquainted is on the group’s weekly riverfront hikes departing from downtown Sacramento. The pace may be a bit brisk for dogs with “have-to-sniff-everything” fixations, but you’ll meet some great folks and get some good exercise nevertheless.
Photo: "Sacramento Shiba Inu Meetup" - Don Reid
Some Meetup groups don’t require a computer. The Marin County residents who helped establish Remington Dog Park in Sausalito, for example, developed such a strong sense of community that regulars started gathering on Friday evenings to nosh on wine and cheese while watching their dogs run and play. Newcomers are readily accepted into what has become the canine social hub of the community. On sunny fair-weather Fridays, the party can include up to 100 people and as many happily romping canines. It’s a great way to make friends, socialize your dog and get educated (if you’re not already) about dog-park etiquette. Another way to get acquainted is by supporting the fundraising events held by or benefiting Friends of Sausalito Dog Park, a group that helps maintain and improve the facility.
Check the “Dog Travel Events” section on the DogTrekker home page for notifications about other groups that meet weekly, monthly or on an otherwise regular basis for recreation and socializing. German shepherd dogs and their people, for example, convene once a week for an “Informal Point Isabel Rumpus.”
"Pug Meetup" - Geekteach
"Dog Party" - Atomic Workshop
"Sacto Shiba Inu Meetup" - Don Reid
"Beagle Meetup" - Mary Eisenhart, DogTrekker
"Brussels Griffon Meetup" - Brussels Griffon Bay Area
"CJ" - East Bay Animal Rescue and Refuge