Men's Conference and 55 Year Anniversary Flyer

Men’s Conference and 55 Year Anniversary Flyer


Where You Run into Dog on the Roof Guys

Dog on the Roof is the name of a very hardcore ‘men’s only’ group of Alcoholics Anonymous based in Anaheim, CA. The ‘Dog on the Roof’ meeting refers to the weekly ‘home group’ meeting in Anaheim Hills (at 422 E. La Palma Avenue) but ‘Dog on the Roof’ also refers to the community of recovering men.

This is a group that I was exposed to attending men’s stag meetings around Orange County but mainly in Costa Mesa – both on Saturday mornings at Charle Street detox, and also the Soup Kitchen Meetings on Tuesdays nights at the Lighthouse Church (1885 Anaheim Ave., Costa Mesa). Those are both excellent meetings of “pretty hardcore AA guys”, but the Dog on the Roof crew seemed to take it to a new level.  The fact that the members would travel in groups to these meetings far from Anaheim Hills is a clue to how serious they took recovery.

Extremely Strict Alcoholics Anonymous Home Group

According to my friend who was very involved in the group, the Dog on the Roof crew practices militant, “old school AA” , and this is a wonderful thing.  The emphasis on men working with other men is the best way to keep the focus on sobriety, and the accountability of the men to each other in this group would quickly reveal if someone had relapsed.

Members were expected to:

  • attend AA meetings religiously
    • share at the meeting
  • read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous daily
  • say prayers daily
  • reach out to newcomers at every opportunity and throw themselves into the process of ‘giving back’ to AA

None of that is too out of the ordinary for AA “big book thumpers” (extremely devoted members) and I’d encourage newly recovered individuals to really immerse themselves in the 12-step Community and rituals. What distinguished Dog On the Roof was that, according to my friends, members were expected to devote every waking “non working” moment to Alcoholics Anonymous. My friends felt ostracized if they were not following through on the many daily and weekly commitments that Dog on the Roof participated in. For one of my friends, his sponsor was not happy when he would spend holidays with his family during early sobriety.  His sponsor wanted him to be involved with Dog on the Roof even on holidays and pressured him strongly to do so.

Why There’s a Need for Dog on the Roof

I think the ‘low bottom’ alcoholic who feels hopeless can really thrive in a community like the one found at Dog on the Roof. I am talking about the man who fits the description of a ‘real alcoholic’ of the third degree mentioned in the Big Book of AA. This is he who:

…. does absurd, tragic things while drinking. He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk.

A man who has tried to get sober many times and seemingly cannot stay sober needs more structure and monitoring to keep him accountable.  This type of drinker or drug abuser can thrive in the Dog on the Roof community. He will really hear things he needs to hear from the other ‘no-nonsense’ members and he will gain esteem for every sober milestone he achieves, and get the fulfillment of ‘working with others,’  (which many AA members claim is the true ‘secret’ of staying sober, ever since Bill Wilson called a random pastor in Akron Ohio in ‘near relapse desperation’ and begged him to introduce him to any hopeless drinker to work with – leading to the historic meeting of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob).

Why Dog on the Roof May Not Be For You

Personally I am grateful to AA  for saving my life. If it wasn’t for the ‘real talk’ I received from other sober men like my sponsor (and counselor at rehab), I think that I’d be dead from drinking.  However, after achieving a few years of sobriety,  I felt a bit unenthusiastic about attending the ‘hardcore’ men’s stag meetings like the ones mentioned in this article.

After getting a few years of sobriety, and getting my life back including pursuing interests outside of AA, I grew tired of  the controlling nature of ‘old timers’ in these meetings and the demeaning treatment of the newcomers. There is a  hierarchy of status based on consecutive sobriety found in these meetings and sometimes some very ‘un-serene’ individuals get undue respect for accumulating many years of recovery – when it was clear to me that no one else really ‘wanted what they had’ at all, and the AA group became their entire social life.

Dog on the Roof Name and Info

Dog on the Roof has a great website, and you can read about the origin of the curious name. It has to do with the group’s founder Ivan, who in the 60s found sobriety in AA and held meetings in his back house where his dog would climb on the roof.

April 2017 Men’s Conference and Celebration

Apparently, the group is celebrating their 55 year anniversary in April of this year (see flyer). Events like this which AA men’s group seem to love to participate in are uplifting and build camaraderie. Also, true to ‘Dog on the Roof’ form, the aforementioned conference & celebration is not in Anaheim where the home group is headquartered, but rather in Bullhead City, Arizona. I assume that most participants travel to this event without their families and loved ones who are not in recovery. This is another example of the emphasis on spending social time with the group – that they would create an event that required the men to take time away from their families to travel to and participate in.

Still, for a man who is struggling to get sober, especially if he has relapsed many times, I would highly recommend attending a Dog on the Roof meeting (or any of the others mentioned in this article) and reaching out for help from one of the men there.