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It’s The End of the Pack Walk As We Know It

11 Apr

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 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!

Big Apple Pittle Pack

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 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.

But making this plan come to fruition would take time, and we knew that. And maybe this is where we dropped the ball a bit. We didn’t want to tell anyone what our plans were if, unexpectedly or unfortunately, we couldn’t actually make it happen. We didn’t want to build all of our members’ hopes up just to dash them to pieces in one fell swoop. So, after collecting some information, we purposefully let our dues to lapse, with the hopes that the group would simply disband itself like the terms of use explain. But a member decided, without consulting us first, to pay the dues them-self so that the group wouldn’t disappear. And against our wishes and advice, continued to organize pack walks on their own.

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.

Location, location, location!

29 May

Picking the location for a pack walk is super hard in New York City! The routes that make sense and that are centrally located are within Central Park and Riverside Park. As organizers, when choosing a new place, such as Battery Park City, we consider things such as: will their be too much traffic (people, bikes, dogs, etc), are their separate paths for bike riders and the width of the paths. We have lots of requirements and and realize our options are limited.

We tried to mix things up this weekend. This past Saturday, some attendees might have called it a Hikeabull! The Pack ventured all the way up to my part of the city, Northern Manhattan, or as residents call it, “Upstate Manhattan.” The destination was Inwood Hill Park, which includes almost 200 acres of land that is a mixture of woods and a modern day park with athletic fields and a dog run. Our path was through the woods to the top of a bluff to check out the Hudson River and a nice walk down towards the landscaped part of the park along the marsh.

Alice taking the time to smell the flowers

It never occurred that this walk begins with a long, steep incline that would be considered a challenge or difficult by some. It was exceptionally noticeable because all of our previous walks have been completely flat. We all know what happens when you ASSUME. So from now on, we will make sure to take all of these conditions into consideration. Although the walk was steeper than a few expected, we had a good time with old and new friends:

1. New folks like pittie/boxer, Kaylee and her peeps John and Ginjer, (I’ve known them for years from the dog park, but this is their first Big Apple Pittie Pack walk).


2. Lots of new dogs (and fun breeds) came along, like Helo, the Duck Tolling Retriever and Logan, the Shiba Inu.



3. Lots of familiar faces from our Bully Project classes:


Sonja (for adoption!)

Erika and Hailey

And our regulars:

Bird happy its a holiday weekend!

Lucy always has a smile!

The Warm Up

25 May

While going through our many pictures from our Big Apple Pittie Pack Walks, I saw a theme. Something I probably didn’t realize because I was warming up my Big Terrier. Because we meet in typically busy places like Central Park, Riverside Park and even Union Square on Green Market day (!), the dogs can get super excited and even sometimes overaroused. So, while looking through the pics, I realized all of the early ones are of dogs “working.” How smart and effective…. from tricks to focus exercises, and just good ol’ leash manners. Here is a peek:

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What do you do to get your dog focused and ready to work, walk, or play? And, let’s hope tomorrow’s Inwood area Big Apple Pittie Pack Walk isn’t canceled due to this unfortunate weather!

Big Apple Pittie Pack Picture Post

10 May

Our Big Apple Pittie Pack walk this past weekend was a bit smaller than normal. There was a small rainstorm that, I’m sure, deterred people from coming out – and that’s okay. But the storm passed and the sun came out and we had a beautiful walk with seven pups in tow, most of them being new to the pack! We started out our walk at Union Square, surrounded by the farmer’s market and lots of people who all wanted to say, “Hi,” to our dogs. We wound our way through midtown Manhattan and made a pit stop at the original Shake Shack, where all the dogs got a little sweet treat: Pooch-inis. It’s a little vanilla custard, with peanut butter and dog biscuits! After snacking and hydrating, we continued north and ended up at the icon of New York City: the Empire State Building. Check out our pics:

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Pittie Pack Walk Pals

17 Apr

Even though our pack walking group is called the Big Apple Pittie Pack, we strive to include dogs of any other breed in our outings. Why would we do this, you ask, if we’re pittie advocates? Well – you’ve answered your own question!

As pittie advocates, our goal is to make an impression on the people around us, who may have misconceptions about the dogs we love so much. In adding dogs of any breed to our pack walks, we’re forcing the public around us to see all of our dogs as just that – dogs. Not just judge them based on their breed.

On this past weekend’s pack walk, we had two new walkers join us: Jax and Stella. Some of you may know Jax as the best friend of Havi, the Pittie from Two Grad Students and a Pittie. He finally got to join us on one of our walks, and we hope he continues to come along! Havi loved having him around, and everyone else did too!


Stella is a middle-aged Bichon-y/Poodle-y girl with lots of pep! She’s one of the locals in Josh’s neighborhood and he and Lucy have become very friendly with her and her parents. Stella can sometimes be a little shy around other dogs, but her parents discovered that she’s great around larger dogs like pitties. It gives her confidence a big boost to feel like she’s one of the big boys and girls – and she was the star of our walk. Because of her age, she does have a bit of trouble walking for long distances, so she compensates for it by skipping along.


When people in Central Park saw a group of 12 pitties with these 2 fluffy pups in the mix, it brought huge smiles to their faces – exactly the reaction we’re looking for! They didn’t see the images their minds would normally see, but they saw a group of 14 dogs and their families having a great morning walk in the park!

A Very Busy Weekend

30 Mar

We have a very busy weekend! If the weather holds up tomorrow, we will be walking with our friends at Big Apple Pittie Pack Walk. Lucy and Bird sure hope it doesn’t rain! We are also busy prepping Sunday’s spring Bully Project Classes in Ft. Tryon Park – prepping treats, organizing handouts and goodies! Here is a little video to recap what Bully Project has done over the past couple of years…

From the Muscle-y to the Scruffy…

22 Mar

It’s Bird again and I am finally recovered from a fun weekend! Lots of  chews and sleeping this week!

I loved hanging with the big boys and girls on Saturday and I thought our day was over until…Mom’s friend, Erika and her scruffies randomly walked by! Erika is a doggie celebrity: not only is she huge supporter of animal shelters and animals in need, she is the star of a NYC reality show called “Doggie Moms”! Seems like Mom has known Erika a while and even helped her adopt her Westie named Cubby.  According the humans, our walks weren’t over.

Mom was excited to take this pic:

We went back uptown and met some other dogs and their humans at the Boat Basin. This time, I was the LARGEST dog! Dogs are always welcome.

How cool is that?  Only sad part is that it’s closed during the winter. Here are Cubby the Westie and Ginger the Yorkie:

I also met a cool dude name Sig who was totally dressed for St. Patty’s Day!

 And, this guy, Keiko has his own wheels, too!  Someone mentioned I could fit into a doggie jogging stroller, but I don’t think that’s ME!

A good time was had by all and we will surely do it again!

Tales From A Terrier (The Scruffy Kind)

20 Mar

Another Pittie Pack Walk! We had fun, as always! I never tell my sister, Goose, where we go or what we do because she would be jealous! I don’t think my older sister, Rosie, would care either way.

Waiting for the pitties to arrive!

We started out at the Riverside Park near 59th Street and walked all the way up to 86th Street. I was sad to see that Pinky’s adoption wasn’t perfect but was so excited to see her with Siobhan from the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals. She was not only dressed in green – but looked like a dinosaur!

Pinky is ready for the party!

Mac is a new member of the Big Apple Pittie Pack

I saw some familiar faces like Remi – who is still looking for the squirrels even near the river! Havi, who likes to carry stuff, and Gertie, who has a gentle leader on like me. And, of course our pack favs were there, too…Emma, John and their human baby! I think my favorite new pack walker was Mac, an older gent who was as sweet as can be! And, he is a very lucky dude. He has a rare-ish tick-borne disease and his adoptive parents happen to include a dog and cat doctor!

I got to meet a great couple that not only have a great pittie named Little Bear but they have been fostering a great guy for a long time (too long of a time for me!).  His name is Carlos and he needs a home of his own. Please spread the word!

Carlos needs a forever home!

My mom got super excited because she got to meet Vero! Mom rescued this dog when she was barely 4 weeks old from the Pound here in NYC. Check her out before and after:

Vero - then Betty as a pup

Vero now with her mom!

All in all, this was a fun walk. I think Mom picked up on the fact that I started to recognize people and dogs. I would make a wiggly when greeting some of the regulars. I don’t make friends easily…I need to get to know you.  And, you know what, I met these people and I like them! I am going to end this post with a slide show of the walk but I have SO much more to say about the rest of the day, I will write again – part two will be posted later in the week!

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Our Fifth Pack Walk!

6 Mar

This past Sunday, we had our fifth pack walk with the Big Apple Pittie Pack! With 16 dogs, this was our largest turn out yet, and we couldn’t have been more excited. Lucy, Pinky and Bird all came along for the walk and we had dogs of all shapes and sizes, and everyone seemed to get along great. We walked along the Bridle Path in Central Park, around the reservoir, which gave us some beautiful views of both the east and west side of Manhattan, and the reservoir itself.

My favorite moment of the walk was when we passed an older couple walking in the opposite direction. The man in the couple stopped me and said, “Are you all going to a dog convention or something?”

“We’re just a dog walking group,” I replied.

“Well, those are some great looking dogs!”

And we finally got a good picture of Lucy and Pinky together:

Check out the slideshow of photos from the walk:

We’d also like to give a huge shout out to our friends, Our Waldo Bungie, who graciously created our brand new logo for the Big Apple Pittie Pack:

Tales From A Terrier (The Scruffy Kind)

21 Feb
This weekend I got to check out what my mom is always chatting about – the notorious Pittie walk! I already liked this group because they don’t exclude any breeds – as long as you can appreciate those muscle-ly, big headed dogs.

Since this was my first time out, I needed a wing dog so I invited one of my besties: Alice and her mom. As you can see, Alice is like me – not pittie at all! I convinced her we would have a long walk, lots of sunshine and, if we behaved, lots of treats! The gentle leader is my walking tool of choice – okay, not mine but my mom’s. Poor Alice had to put one on because her mom assumed she would pull with all the excitement of the Riverside walk.
All the pitties were super nice and friendly (aren’t most of them?). I even tolerated Pinky, who is a little jumping machine. She seemed to know my mom and that was VERY confusing to me. I got worried I would have to share my mom with Pinky, but thank goodness she was attached to a nice guy named Josh. We became fast acquaintances. See, here is a pic of me being polite and letting her sniff me…
There is so much to say but I am so tired from the big walk – Riverside Drive and 95th Street to 57th Street! Here are some highlights:
  • Remi LOVES squirrels.
  • Jackson seemed very sweet!
  • Havi is a leader, she even wears a backpack. I assume she had lots of kibble in there in case we got lost!
  • Gertie and her mom picked a sweet route to walk. Why?
    • Paths were wide. Great for dogs like me who can occasionally react to those folks on bikes.
    • It was beautiful. We walked RIGHT next to the Hudson River most of the walk!
    • There was grass most of the time – for pee breaks, sniffing and laying down if you needed it.
  • And lastly, the cutest puppy was there – Dosa! She has the pretty eyes and she looked a little nervous at first and didn’t want to walk. We were all so proud and she kept walking the entire time! I think she liked being part of a pack of grown-up dogs.

Here’s a gallery to tide you over till next time…Bird

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