Great ideas for hosting your own Puppy Meet-ups…

March 26, 2018

Everyone loves a good party. Or at least just hangin’ out with your good friends, doing the things you love to do – together.

Half the enjoyment of having a dog in your life is sharing the fun with others. We meet other dog lovers on social media and wish we could share some real-life experiences together. That’s why a lot of people have started organizing their own dog meet-ups to help fill that social need. So if you’ve been thinking about rounding up some pups and their people for a fun-filled gathering, here are some ideas…

If you’ve lived in Nashville for any length of time, you’ve most likely heard of the Nashville Cavaliers. The Cavi Squad is strong in Music City. When Jessica Snyder moved back to Nashville in 2015, she began actively searching out other Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to play with her dog. Using Nashville hashtags, she was able to connect with a few Cavi owners and they began meeting up at a local dog park. Their 1st official gathering, “Happy Cav Year,” was the following January. What started out as 6 members and 8 dogs has grown to around 195 owners and 220 dogs!!

Those first small meet-ups at the dog park quickly grew crowded. Along with help from Heather Edens, Jerri Malloy and Marci Rosenblum, the Nashville Cavaliers set up their own Facebook page and website and reached out to new members, getting their business cards out to veterinarian offices and pet stores.

 Pawty on, Cavis! – Photo courtesy of Jessica Snyder

 Nashville Cavaliers – photo courtesy of Jessica Snyder

And now?

The Nashville Cavaliers meet-ups are the stuff of legend! Pawties range from “Caventine’s,” “St. Cavi’s Day,” “Cinco de Cavo,” “Red, White and Cav,” “Cavoween,” and “Cavmas.” (Are you seeing a theme here?)They’ve moved from members’ homes and dog parks to the spacious area at The Farm at Natchez Trace, complete with event design, florals, food and professional photography.  You HAVE to see the gorgeous event photos on Mandy Whitley Photography site.

Of course, thirty Cavaliers in one space doesn’t seem overwhelming. But what if your dog is on the big breed list? Can you imagine thirty Great Danes at a catered event?! Or what if your dog is more of the rough-and tumble variety?

More casual meet-ups can be organized, too.

Ryan Luther wanted his two Australian Shepherds to get together and hike with other Aussies in the Nashville area. So he stopped and introduced himself to every Aussie owner he met. After he chatted with Rebecca Garcia, she offered to set up a Facebook page, Australian Shepherd Nashville, as a connection point.

With 111 members, this group takes a more casual approach to meet-ups. Members can post when and where they’re taking a hike or attending an event and those who want to join in can make plans. Generally about 8 to 12 Aussies and their owners attend the group hikes. And let’s face it: most Aussies would rather head out on a strenuous hike than sniff floral arrangements!

 Australian Shepherd  Nashville Meet-up – photo courtesy of Nicole Mackle

 How many Aussies does it take to party in a mud puddle?

Meet-ups don’t have to be breed-specific. All you need are dogs who are compatible with each other and enjoy the same type of activities.  Like anything, dream big and start small.

Jessica has some tips for those who want to start their own meet-ups (although you’ll have some big shoes to fill if you want to catch up with the Cavis!)

~ Begin by talking to the dog owners you already know. If you don’t know anyone, search through your local area hashtags on Instagram. Create your own hashtag (dog breed and city) and start using it.

~ Reach out to groomers, day-care, veterinary offices, pet stores – anywhere that offers services for dogs.

~ Hold your first meeting in a member’s backyard or at an appropriate dog park.

~ As you grow, be prepared for some challenges. You may have to re-think your gatherings and meeting locations to allow for the expansion.

More tips…

~ Have a goal in mind. How many dogs/members do you want to join your pack?

~ What is your meet-up about? Socializing? Hiking? Patio-hopping? Attending dog-friendly events together?

~ Enlist some help. It goes without saying, but the bigger your group gets, the more organized you’ll need to be.

~ Have a back-up plan in place in case of inclement weather.

~ As organizer, take the lead and have extra poo bags and water on hand for members who may be in need. And make sure you check out your meeting location ahead of time to prevent any mishaps or disappointments.

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We’d like to send out some love to the following vendors and artisans whose creativity and hard work made the Nashville Cavalier’s Caventine’s Party so dreamy.

Photography: Mandy Whitley Photography

Design & Decor: Fête Nashville

Rentals: Southern Events

Cookies (for the humans!): Triple Crown Bakery

Florals: Enchanted Florist

Videography: Klassey Productions

Dog Treats: Three Dog Bakery

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