Do you ever miss your days as a Girl or Boy Scout? Maybe you never got the opportunity to be one. Well, have we got an organization for you — and your dogs!
Susan Godwin, owner of a rescue Morkie (Maltese and Yorkie mix) named Tasha, founded PupScouts in 2010 as a way for dogs and their owners to get together and socialize.
The idea came about after she stumbled across a Girl Scout’s costume for dogs in an online boutique called Whimsy Collection.
Godwin has fond memories of her days as a Brownie and Girl Scout, so she came up with the novel idea for PupScouts.
“It started from a fashion point of view,” Godwin told PupJournal. Her dog Tasha has been featured on National Geographic’s television show “Spoiled Rotten Pets,” and boasts over 200 outfits!
But these pups are more than just a cute uniform. They earn badges and help out in the community, just like their human counterparts!
In the six years since the founding of PupScouts, they have grown to nearly a dozen troops around the country — including an online troop for those that aren’t near a city with a full meetup troop.
“PupScouts started getting more attention after people saw our stories in the media,” said Godwin, “and contacted us to see how they could join.”
Now there are PupScouts troops in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, and Beverly Hills (aptly named Troop 90210). Any city can create a troop if they have someone willing to organize and lead. “I’m really proud of how all the troops are doing with fundraisers and events,” Godwin gushed.
The original NYC chapter, Troop 4, meets once per month. In warmer weather, they meet in Madison Square Park (starting with dinner at Shake Shack, of course), and in the colder months they meet at Unleashed by Petco on 2nd Ave.
Meetings begin with the PupScout pledge:
“On my honor, I will try to do my duty to help the dog community and my country. To help make humans smile, and to be there to guard and protect, especially those at home.”
This is followed by roll call, and then they discuss the badge of the month and to which charities they will donate fundraising proceeds. These meetings are held on the first weekend of each month, which aren’t included with badge participation activities and annual fundraising events.
“It grew out of something fun,” Godwin went on to say, “but as the organization got more popular, we wanted to see if we could help other animals.”
In fact, their slogan has recently changed from “We’re Making Humans Smile” to “Go Beyond the Dog Park” to illustrate that they’re more than just that adorable uniform that got it all started.
PupScouts participate in events like Best Friends Animal Society’s “Strut Your Mutt” and The American Cancer Society’s “Bark For Life.” They also hold an urban camping trip every year, and will soon be hosting their third annual Red Carpet Event for New York Fashion Week.
They do fun activities like hay rides and Christmas caroling — even pool parties!
And like the pledge states, they love to make humans smile. For instance, PupScouts will be hosting a Valentine’s event with the Fiver Children’s Foundation where the kids will make Valentine’s cards, complete with PupScouts’ paw prints.
PupJournal spoke with two of PupScout’s Troop 4 members: Mitsu the Miki and Hazel Bear. Mitsu and her owner Lorraine Gates joined the PupScouts in March of 2016 after seeing them on Instagram and running into Godwin at various events. Gates was initially pulled in by the “cute idea” and loved that it was another social outlet for her three dogs.
Their first event as PupScout members was the 2016 Mayors Alliance for NYC Animals’ Adoptapalooza Parade. “Mitsu got to wear her uniform and she was so stinkin’ cute!” Gates said of the experience.
But she went on to say: “Besides all the cuteness of this organization, I also like that we do things for the community and raise money for shelters.”
Hazel Bear and her owner Eric Abello joined the PupScouts more recently in September 2016. He told us:
“Everyone we met has been super nice and welcoming… They’re a great bunch of people! Being dog lovers who like doing good things with cute dressed dogs is also a huge plus.”
There’s also good news if you have more than one dog — the membership fee is per family, not per dog! Gates, being an owner of multiple dogs, is a big fan of this. “I like that the yearly membership [fee] is reasonable and it is per family… so I don’t have to pay for all three of my pups.”
Last year saw a new addition to fundraisers: Wagalong cookies! They’re similar to the Girl Scouts’ Tag-a-longs, but made of all natural ingredients like peanut butter and carob — just for dogs!
Godwin had initially planned to have them for sale only once or twice a year, also similar to the Girl Scout cookie operation, but they have been so popular that she thinks they may have to make them available year-round.
So as you can see, these pups are doing more than showing off their fashion savvy. They’re doing a lot of good for rescue organizations and humans alike, all while having fun. We can’t wait to see what they’re up to next!