Pack Walk 2011: A Dog Walk with a Beautiful Purpose
Junior and I and over 1,000 people and 900 dogs came together in Balboa Park in Los Angeles for the First National Pack Walk Event. The event blew me away and to be honest with you, even I was surprised by how amazing something as simple as a dog walk could be.
The whole park became a place to come learn about dogs and communicate with people. It was like Disneyland for dogs. Mutt-i-grees and the International Association of Canine Professionals (with 17 volunteer dog trainers!) were there, we had dogs from Muttley Crew demonstrating agility and fly-ball, and huskies from Urban Mushing. Children could read to service dogs, play video games, and we had our own dog park. It was awesome, and I couldn’t have designed it any better than Warner Bros. did.
Before we started, I could sense all the excitement and anxiety in the crowd because people were about to do something they had never done before, and thinking, “How are we going to do this with nine hundred dogs?” Here’s a Pit bull, over there a yappy Chihuahua, a Rottweiler, some guy with a bunch of terriers—and there’s a lot of barking going on. Most of these people didn’t know each other, and they didn’t know how to help each other. Normally, that’s something that can cause a huge divide. But instead, the walk’s very simple purpose—to bring us all together to head in the same direction—overcame that divide. And that was just a beautiful scene. People were with each other, talking. There was no growling or barking during the walk and everybody was very happy to do that simple activity.
Dog people have a great advantage because they share something very special, therefore we have a responsibility to work for, not against, each other. For example, you can have people of different religions or different politics together—but put a dog in front of them, they don’t talk about religion or politics, they talk about dogs. Dogs are social creatures, and can bring us together. There was an older lady on the walk whose dog died three days ago. She wasn’t even sure if she was going to come, but finally decided to walk for the memory of her dog. Being around and talking to people who love dogs so much just re-energized her, and gave the walk, for her, purpose.
That’s why this just shouldn’t be a once a year occurrence. Pack Walk—all of us moving together—should be part of our everyday lives. We tend to walk away from each other. As a country, we’re not walking in the same direction, but we need to, toward a common outcome, for harmony. I know how happy dogs are when there’s trust, when there’s respect. At the end, it’s just a walk, but it was a walk with a beautiful purpose. That’s what we need to do as a country — walk in one direction, help each other. I know it sounds simple, but it’s very meaningful.