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Puppy playdates lead to creation of student organization

Two dogs enjoy the sights and sounds of the Oval. Credit: Courtesy of Catherine Ayres

The swarm of dogs that takes over the Oval on sunny, spring days does far more than simply entertain groups of students on their way to class.

What began as a simple way to convene and organize playdates for the group’s energetic dogs has turned into the creation of the student organization, Oval Dogs. The group will host a fundraiser on Thursday on the Oval.

“Coincidentally, there was a group message that was started through GroupMe about four years ago. We all just met up on the Oval one day with our dogs and realized that the dogs liked each other, so why not meet up at the same times,” said Tanvi Kumar, the group’s president. “We also wanted to do activities like hikes and make this more legitimate, so we created the student organization.”

Kumar, a third-year in biology and Spanish, said though the organization was just formed in early March, so the group’s leadership is working on several plans it is passionate about fulfilling. These include volunteering at animal shelters, fighting breed-specific legislation and supporting fellow dog owners.

“We’ve set up some volunteering opportunities with the Franklin County Dog Shelter … which I believe is going to involve spending a day with a dog, walking them and showing them what it’s like to be owned,” Kumar said. “We’re going to feature that on our Instagram and put it out there to then have people try and adopt these dogs.”

While the organization works to finalize details for its volunteering opportunities, members will be pairing up with the Phi Delta Epsilon fraternity on Thursday to put on the event “Popsicles and Puppies.” This will allow the fraternity to fundraise for the Children’s Hospital, while bringing attention to the student organization.

“We’re still trying to put our foot in the door and make a name for ourselves, so we’re going to be bringing our dogs to the event, and that’s going to advertise us a little bit,” said Brian Miele, Oval Dogs secretary and a first-year in sociology.

Aside from the other goals of the group, members’ primary goal is to provide a support system for one another through dog sitting and giving training and care advice, Kumar said.

“Owning a dog is like having a kid,” Kumar said. “It’s really hard. From having a busy class schedule and having to run back home in between classes to let them out, to football Saturdays where everyone is outside and your dog is either crated or at home. It’s rough, it really is.”

Kumar said caring for a pet might be challenging, especially during the academic year, but that is what Oval Dogs is all about.

“I met all of these people who told me you don’t have to sacrifice everything for your dog, and told me that there are other people that will help you do what you need to do,” she said. “Meeting those people made my life a lot easier and made me a lot happier.”

Miele said he wishes he had a resource like OSU Oval Dogs when he got his first dog.

“Everybody knows something that you don’t, and everybody has something that they’ve gone through that can help a lot of other members,” he said. “I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that I wanted to get involved. It’s more than just reaching out to shelters, because it’s hard owning a dog, and especially a puppy.”

The “Popsicles and Puppies” event is set to take place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Oval on Thursday.

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