Cruisin’ Canines Dog Walking Club: Socialize and Exercise with Your Pet
One Long Island dog walking club is growing, and making a difference in the lives of pets and their owners. Read more below!
Courtesy of Cruisin' Canines
When friends ask me about making plans on Saturdays, I always tell them I have a date—with my dog. My dog Indu and I belong to a club called Cruisin’ Canines, which meets every Saturday morning for a leisurely walk through a park, preserve or suburban neighborhood in Long Island, New York.
Suzanne Johnson, Founder and President of the Cruisin’ Canines Club, started the dog walking group in 2008 with hopes of preventing people from giving up their over-hyper dogs. “After witnessing numerous dogs being returned to the local animal shelter because they were 'crazy', and going to people’s homes to train their dogs and seeing arms ripped off couches and holes bitten through sheet rock walls, I had to do something to help these poor creatures.”
As an Animal Behavior College dog trainer, Johnson knew she could help these dogs if only she could get both the dogs and their owners outdoors. “They didn’t have to be surrendered and didn’t need training—they needed exercise!” she said. In order to get people out with their dogs, she had to make it as much fun for the owners as it was for the dogs and Johnson was able to do this by changing locations each week.
Having been a member for two years, I look forward to exploring a different part of Long Island with my dog and fellow members each week. Twenty to thirty members and their pooches show up for the weekly walks. It’s our time to exercise, get some fresh air and relax. In summer months, we go to the beach. In the fall, the group goes to a vineyard where dogs are allowed in the tasting room. In the spring, we enjoy the blooming flowers at the Old Westbury Gardens that opens its doors for a day for our four-legged friends. In between, we rotate visiting beautiful locations around the island. During the winter, we patiently wait for the weather to get warmer so we can get back outdoors again.
Photo by Lavanya Sunkara
Terry Ballard, a long time Cruisin’ Canines member said, “We’ve been enjoying the Cruisin’ Canines Club for years now, and can’t say enough about the job Suzanne has done. Every Saturday there is a core group of friendly dogs and friendly humans, and each week a few new people try it. The walk is always well planned with exercise and the fun comes from seeing people’s expressions in the neighborhoods as dozens of dogs walk by.”
While the weekly excursions are exciting, watching the dogs on the walks is even more fun. The large dogs roll around with canines their size, the little guys sniff each other contentedly, and the shy ones inch out of their comfort zones to mingle with others of their kind.
The weekly group gatherings also help dogs get over their aggression and fears of other dogs, new people and new locations. Some dogs have even blossomed into therapy dogs. The club was very helpful for socializing Amelia A. Montgomery’s dog who is now a therapy dog. “I’m now trying to socialize another dog I adopted from a shelter who is extremely shy and timid around people. I know with the club’s help that my boy will one day be outgoing and love to meet new people,” said Montgomery.
Photo by Lavanya Sunkara
Suzanne Johnson is quite generous with her time and energy. She doesn’t charge members money to join the weekly outings. She also provides free training advice to those who have issues with their dogs. So far the group has helped countless dogs. As a group, Cruisin’ Canines also participates in doggie fundraisers and collects pet food donations for families who cannot afford to feed their pets in its annual food drive.
To get the group started, Johnson made announcements in local papers, left flyers at dog parks and posted on her website the schedule for the first few walks. When the word spread throughout the community, the group grew. “It is now the largest dog walking club on Long Island with more than 700 members from Manhattan to Montauk,” Johnson said proudly. “This has become such a rewarding experience for me, and a way to give back to the community. It has become a part of my life and I will keep it going as long as people keep coming!”
Let’s hope more groups like Cruisin’ Canines pop up all across the country. Imagine the people and pets that will benefit!
Would you join a dog walking club if there was one in your area? Share in a comment!
- Filed Under: Help Animals