Yes, indeedy! There are so many meetups for dog lovers you’ll be challenged to make a choice. And, you’ll soon learn, not all groups listed are worth your or your dog’s time.(But first, a disclaimer: Although we have registered and joined groups on MeetUp, we are receiving no payment, privileges or other compensation for writing this post. We offer it only to help other Los Angeles dog lovers learn how to get more out of living in LA with a dog.)
The backstory on Meetup is that it was formed in 2002 as an online social networking portal to help its members start, find or join groups focusing on a common interest — like a love of dogs, for example.
It offers an easy, local way to find people who share your love of doing things with your dog. Those “things” you enjoy can be hiking, dog park play dates, exploring new dog sports, socializing, dining or partying.
Not all groups have value to add. Some are clearly marketing devices for commercial enterprises. Some are started with good intentions but don’t have the steam to keep going. Some large groups are really just collections of events organized by other Meetup groups.
Signing up with Meetup is free. After that you can join groups. Some groups require approval from the organizer before you can join. Many groups on release details about an event to members of the group.
There are an overwhelming number of dog groups in Los Angeles. Many have a secondary focus as well: a specific breed of dog, a geographical area, age ranges, sexual orientation, fitness interests or even religion (or lack thereof).
As you review groups, pay attention to more than just the number of members. How long has the group existed? How many events have they had since they were founded? How recently did they have their last event? Finally, look at the descriptions of recent events. Do they sound like something you and Fido would be interested in?
Here’s an extended listing of dog-friendly meetup groups. But to give you a better sense of what these groups are like, we’ve highlighted a sampling:
- Dog Rescue with United Hope for Animals (489 members). This group is for volunteers with the United Hope for Animals. The organization helps find homes for animals in need of rescue from local, high-intake shelters. One of their programs is the “Glamour Shot Day” in which volunteers go to shelters to photograph and video shelter animals to post online to help attract homes for them. They rely on volunteer animal handlers, photographers, videographers, scriptwriters and others to do their work.
- Sky Barkers (385 members). The threads that bind this group together are dogs, socializing and hearty partying. Activities include participating in dog community parades, events and fundraisers; doggie play dates; and enjoying dog-friendly bars and cocktail lounges.
- Lakewood/Long Beach Pug-Lovers (290 members). This is a straightforward group that likes to meet at area dog parks or the beach so their pugs can play and have social time.
- Hacienda Heights/Whittier Fun with Our Canines (42 members). These inventive people have gotten together with their dogs to play a batless form of baseball that dogs can enjoy and a swimming party with dogs. Typically, they gather to walk, participate in dog training classes or enjoy local community and dog parks in the Hacienda Heights, La Habra and Whittier area.
- Fitdog Runners Group Santa Monica (94 members). Organized by the owners of Fitdog Sports Club, members of this group and their dogs meet two to three Sundays a month to walk, hike or run in various Westside locations. They also do local 5K, 10K and fun runs. Beginners to advanced runners (people and dogs) of all paces are welcome.
- Sierra Madre Walk and Talk (73 members). This group walks about three miles on various routes through Sierra Madre, stopping for breakfast on some days. Friendly, well-behaved dogs are welcome.
- Long Beach + Palos Verdes Peninsula Walkers (1,080 members). This group has an extensive calendar of walks from beginning to advanced. Each walk gives fitness levels needed, terrain, distance and time requirements. If a walk is dog-friendly that is listed as well.
MeetUps are a nice way to get out and about with your dog, to meet new people and dogs, to get a dog fix if you don’t have a dog and to explore LA. The groups are only as good as their members and organizers. Participation often falls far below a group’s membership. Sometimes, it’s just a pleasure to kick back with some familiar people and dogs.