About a year ago, with the help of two other NYC pittie bloggers Two Grad Students and a Pittie and Prettie Little Pittie, we started a local pack walk called the Big Apple Pittie Pack. We created a meetup.com group, a Facebook page, did research on how other pack walks around the country operated and even had a snazzy graphic designed by our friends at Our Waldo Bungie!
We organized and scheduled a few very successful pack walks, and learned something new from each one, bringing those lessons over to the next until we thought what we had was almost perfect. Then, summer 2012 hit, and it was brutal. Every weekend, the weather conditions were either unsafe for our dogs or unpleasant for the humans. Or both. Temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, sometimes higher, and terrible freak thunderstorms ruined every plan we had for a pack walk during that season.
To say we were bummed is an understatement. We enjoyed our pack walks, and felt like we were having an impact on the perception of pit bulls in the communities in which we walked. We liked being among a group of people who shared similar feelings about dogs and pet ownership, in general. And of course, we loved meeting new people and exposing them to the wonders of a delicious, friendly, adorable pittie. But try as hard as we might, the swing of things just couldn’t get back on track and we lost all momentum.
So after brainstorming a bit about how to resurrect the short-lived Big Apple Pittie Pack, we realized: why couldn’t Bully Project include the pack walks as a bi-weekly, or more likely, monthly program? The benefits would be significant for all involved. We could apply for grants to help fund the program, thusly keeping it completely free for all members, including the organizers who previously had to pay fees to meetup.com to use the service. With the money raised, not only could Bully Project provide necessary resources to those members who needed it like new leashes, harnesses, collars, books, toys, etc., but we could also provide some fun stuff on each walk that was neighborhood specific. Best of all, we would be able to include the program under our insurance so that the members would have some coverage if, God forbid, something went horribly wrong.
As anyone who organizes a pack walk like this knows, a lot of time, effort and energy go into the planning to ensure that everyone can enjoy the experience in a responsible, safe and pleasant manner. We were not convinced, with the new leader, that all the circumstances were being considered while planning the walks. Not only that, the continued use of the group, in a potentially irresponsible and unsafe way, could jeopardize all of the plans we were trying to put into place to make our pack walks even better than they originally were.
So after trying to reason with the new organizer, through explanations and heated email discussions, and being accused of being “sketchy” and purposely ending the group, we have come to this point. And sadly, we have come to the decision that we will no longer be moving forward with the Big Apple Pittie Pack in any way. We will not be organizing any of the pack walks, we will not be participating in any of the pack walks, and we certainly will not be taking the Big Apple Pittie Pack under the wing of Bully Project.
We are so sorry that the selfish and short-sighted motives of one member has led us to this decision. The Big Apple Pittie Pack was something we truly enjoyed, and something we truly wanted to continue and improve upon. But it is no longer enjoyable for us, and we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from the rest of the work we are doing that we still do find enjoyable like rescue, training classes, seminars and community engagement.
To those members of the Big Apple Pittie Pack who read our blog, we sincerely apologize to you all. Maybe there was some way we could have handled this better. Hindsight sure is 20/20. But we hope that you all stay in touch with us, and with each other. We know the pack walks will continue in some manner, though not with the thoughtfulness, responsibility and care we put into them. But apart from those pack walks, we encourage you to gather on your own. Find other members who are local to you and arrange private play dates and play groups. Go on smaller, more local group walks. Become your own advocates and organizers, and work with your dogs to have a direct impact on the people who live in your own communities.
Just because our plans for the Big Apple Pittie Pack have fallen apart does not mean its message is dead. You all can still show New York City that pit bulls, and their owners, are just the same as dogs of any other breed and their owners. And more importantly, that dogs should not be judged based on their breed, but the merits of each dog as an individual.