On the morning of Saturday 9th April, the main entrance to Waiatarua Reserve filled with the sound of the joyous barking of an estimated 2,000 excited dogs and their owners/walkers. It heralded the start of the inaugural Auckland BIG DOG WALK WITH LOTS OF DOGS, an event hosted by Alice McKinley that gathered momentum via social media and was embraced by dog enthusiasts from all over the city. The purpose of the event was to gather together dog owners or people who just like being around dogs, and go for a mass walk with their pooches for a bit of light-hearted fun.
And what fun it was!
Small dogs, big dogs, long ones, short ones, lean ones, fluffy ones and lots of in-between ones. There was even a disabled pug-dog happily trotting along with his wheels assisting. With tails wagging the dogs set off to walk the Waiatarua Loop, a track that skirts around the unique wetlands area, dips into a small tract of bush, and offers pathways into the heart of the wetlands to watch the birds.
The swimming hole en route proved a popular destination for the canine duathletes. There was a perfect vantage point from the bridge to watch the hilarious diving styles and antics of multiple dogs trying to retrieve the same stick. Being an easy, flat, amble the walk was enjoyed by lots of young families and parents with prams.
Despite the huge number of dogs milling around together, of many and varied breeds, there was not a single act of aggression. The event was described as the organiser Alice as “pretty near perfect”. There were certainly smiles aplenty amongst the attendees, and the happy, positive social interaction amongst such a big group of people and the exemplary behaviour of their well-socialised dogs was wonderful to see in our neighbourhood.
Participants donated over $1,300 for the charity Chained Dog Awareness in NZ.
With thanks to guest author and photographer Carmel Claridge for this story.