Updated: Oct 20, 2019
Five years ago my husband and I moved from Perth to Melbourne. After having lived in Perth for over fifteen years he decided it was time to come home. For me it was about leaving behind all my friends and family and starting over. Sounds easy enough but how do you make friends as you get older. Generally it is through your kids - either their school or their sports. But what if you don't have kids...
When we moved, the family we brought with us was our 5 yr old Bernese Mountain Dog, Oscar and our 12 yr old cat. We both settled into our jobs and bought a house in Beaumaris which we started to renovate.
Our boy got sick, and on the suggestion of our breeder back in Perth, we contacted the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Victoria to seek suggestions on a Specialist Vet. To say they were helpful was an under-statement. I was inundated with help and support from breeders, the committee and other club members. Some had been through the same illness and even sent me copies of their vet reports and test results. I was over-whelmed.
We then joined the club for the princely sum of $25 per year. What a bargain. Five years later I am on the committee of the club as the event co-ordinator and part of the Rescue Team.
A work colleague asked the other day if I have friends who have dogs other than Bernese and I realised I don't have many. Our closest friends we met through the club live 1 kilometre away. We are with them every weekend for walks on the beach on Saturday and Sunday mornings and usually have at least 1 dinner per week with them. We have friends all over Melbourne including the country such as Shepparton, Albury and Warrigal. And you know what the best part is - when we visit our dogs are always welcome.
Aside from making so many new friends, the club has also taken us to new places all around Melbourne. We hold a walk every month at a different scenic location - allowing us to find lots of lovely lakes, rivers and bush walks. We hold a walk every year in April which is co-ordinated with other Bernese owners all over the world - we all walk on the same day and share pictures.
Earlier this year, the Melbourne contingent was in two locations with over 150 Bernese in attendance. The club has introduced us to a whole range of other things we can do with our dogs - confirmation, agility, obedience, tracking and even dancing. There are members engaged in all of these activities who are always happy to teach you and help you.
Then there are the many public events we attend as a club. We are guests every year of the Swiss Club of Victoria for their annual Swiss Festival (Bernese are from Switzerland). We attend the Dog Lovers Show every year with our dogs and talk to people about what to expect when you own a Bernese Mountain Dog and we have a breed stand at the Royal Melbourne Show each year to do the same thing.
Humph and Zuri have even visited the local Guides and Rotary Club to talk about Puppy Factories and how important it is to buy from an ethical breeder.
We run grooming days where we teach our members how to look after their dogs coats, ears and nails and we have fun days. The biggest events of the year are our Christmas Party which we hold at KCC Park and the annual pilgrimage to the snow. We even have a dress-up day and picnic for Australia Day. There are monthly and quarterly newsletters and we are always on the lookout for discounts from businesses we can offer our members.
Aside from the great friends and all the social activities, we have, at our fingertips, a network of over 150 owners and breeders to call on for support or help when we need. Where is the best place to take our dog, what cafes are dog friendly, behavioural issues, health issues - you name it , we are all here for each other.
Our club has it's own rescue team which help rehome Bernese and in one of the most loving gestures I have ever seen, when one of us loses our beloved pet, we are sent a Bernese Guardian Angel memorial pin. We often say it is the most beautiful thing you never want to receive.
Most dog breeds have a club like this and offer the same kinds of things. Who knows it could open a whole new world for you.