CorrespondentJoanne Muscato isn’t intimidated by big dogs. Neither are her Chihuahuas, Diego and Lucas. “I have one that thinks he’s a big dog,” says the Steele Creek resident and active member of the Charlotte Small Dog Society. “When we go to general events that are open to the public, he barks like he thinks he’s the boss. “I’m like, ‘Really? They could eat you like a snack.’ ” No such problem with the Charlotte society, a club for those owning dogs that weigh 20 pounds or less. Members’ focus is on people and pooch socializing, punctuated by offbeat events. “There are a lot of places in Charlotte and meet-ups that cater to the bigger dogs,” says Larrielle Paylor of Matthews, the group’s co-organizer. “Our dogs are 20 pounds or under, so a lot of our members are appreciative that when they come together, the dogs aren’t intimidated or bullied around. It’s just a warming feeling for everyone.” When Muscato, 40, moved to the Charlotte area from Raleigh a couple years ago, she sought some new friends. “It’s given me an opportunity to meet some new people who are as crazy about their dogs as I am,” she says. Dogs need a social life, too, she says: “The dogs had a lot of doggie friends back there that they enjoyed being with, and they’re really social. I felt bad that they were sitting in an apartment all the time, so I thought that would be a good way for them to meet new friends, too.” The group was founded in January 2011 by Shannon Stinson, but she moved to Washington, D.C. Paylor, 22 and a co-organizer with Ashton Teague, does a lot of the membership work. It’s not hard to get in – low-key and low-fee ($5 dues twice a year to maintain the website, Paylor says). The main criteria are the dogs must be small, friendly, and current on all vaccinations. Membership is in the low 80s and growing, Paylor says. The two to four events per month, depending on the weather and time of year, usually draw five to 10 people – although she says there were about 30 for a Valentine’s Day party in February. As the group grows, so does the creative nature of its events. At an Easter bone hunt this year, eggs and treats were hidden in a member’s back yard. At the Halloween party, Muscato says she won three contests for her dog that was dressed as a lobster. “The other went as a T-bird (wearing a black jacket with a T-bird logo on the back).” “I like how creative the events are and the fact that we get to get all the dogs together. They’re really cute,” says Nicole Solis, 30, of the Cotswold neighborhood. She joined this past summer with her two papillons, Napoleon and Juliette. The group even had an ugly sweater party at Paylor’s condo before Christmas. “I’ve never been to an ugly sweater party, so I thought it’d be great to have one,” says the owner of 2-year-old shih tzu Bentley. Meanwhile, members continue to spread the word about the group. “When I meet people at the pet store and they have a small dog, I usually recommend it because it’s great to socialize dogs when they’re little to prevent them from being afraid or snippy,” Muscato says. “You don’t want a dog you can’t bring out in public.”
Friday, Dec. 28, 2012
Small dogs, owners meet and greet
Charlotte social group geared to dogs weighing 20 lbs. or under
Charlotte Small Dog Society co-organizer Larrielle Paylor had a great time with her 2-year-old shih tzu, Bentley, at the second annual Halloween Pawty on Oct. 27 at Dogtopia.
One of Nicole Solis' first events with the group was at the Trails for Tails 1-mile walk in October with her papillons, Juliette and Napoleon.
Want to join? Go to http://www.meetup.com/CharlotteSmallDogSociety/. Guidelines also on the site.
Reid Creager is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Reid? Email him at email@example.com.
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