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Today I had the opportunity to speak with the Principal Nutritionist at Hills Pet Nutrition. His name is Bill Schoenherr and I was seeking information on labeling requirements for a nutritional series I’m writing for PetsWeekly. The conversation was fascinating, but as I hung up the phone, my mind immediately turned to how I can present this wealth of information to my readers.
That got me thinking that you might be interested in ways I come up with articles, write novels, create new worlds, and drop marketing ideas potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars into the laps of people who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to come up with marketing ideas while I remain broke. So here’s a run down of my thought process this morning.
9:05: Tell the marketing director (also on the call) that he should create a series of “tweetable” pet food facts that can be distributed to writers and bloggers (Idea 1). He seems thrilled with idea. Hang up phone with Bill and begin thinking of nutritional labels and how complex they are. Think about how to best present the information to people in a way that they will understand and read.
9:06: Decide the best way to present info is through an interactive infographic (Idea #2) that can be easily shared on “pinterest”. Decide I should email and give them that idea.
9:07: Think I share too many ideas and should be paid for ideas once in awhile. After all, these groups have full time marketing people – why shouldn’t I be paid for consulting? Figure they probably won’t pay me.
9:08: Begin thinking of information that should be included in infographic for food labels. Remember info on AAFCO and start thinking about nutritional guidelines.
9:11: Decide to take shower because that’s the best way to process information.
9:16: Wait for water to warm up. Decide on concept for infographic. Think I should find some sort of government funding or primary funding for a big company to develop their own information. Wonder how I can charge for development of this information.
9:17: Wonder if AAFCO regulates all food, specifically tiger food.
9:18: Remember seeing an ad about a group manufactures tiger food, but can’t remember which company. I will look it up after shower.
9:19: Wonder if jaguars eat the same thing as tigers. Seems like they should because they are both apex predators and both hunt in similar ways. Realize I don’t really know if they hunt similarly – I should look it up. Wonder what would happen if a tiger and a jaguar lived in the same geographic area and decide that would be a bad idea and they probably don’t live in the same area. That’s why you probably don’t see tigers in South America.
9:18: Think I need to research jaguar food because Modnik is a jaguar-shifter in Shepherd’s Moon. Also, she’s feeding her jaguar cubs Pasha and Tau. Try to remember if they are on solid food yet, determine they probably are, and wonder if they should be getting a special “baby jaguar” diet.
9:19: Think that someone in the novel is going to have to feed this diet, so they should be the ones researching food for jaguars – probably either Jace or Aida. Since Jace is a horse-shifter and Aida is a wolf-shifter, maybe that’s not the best idea. Need another big cat character to feed jaguars. Unless Alex tells Modnik not to eat Jace or Aida. Too many characters as is, don’t need another one, so I’ll have to remember to tell Alex to tell Modnik not to eat anyone.
9:20: Think about how the kittens are aging in the book. Realize that they shouldn’t Shift until they hit puberty. That way, the pack avoids the annoying crying baby stage and gets to enjoy the cute kitten stage. Works perfect because they can help Alex once they shift. Make that my rule for Shepherd world.
9:23: Wish I had bought the pens that you can use to write on walls of bathroom because that’s the place you get the best ideas. Think about person who told me that idea (Sonja from PawPosse). Wonder if she and her fiancé left for Europe yet – they just got married. Wish I could go to Europe.
9:25: Think I could probably set one of my Shepherd books in Europe. When the Shepherd’s Series finally hits the NYT bestseller list, I could afford to go! Think I’ll need to have the kittens grow a little more in the next book and wonder when jaguar kittens hit maturity. Decide I should research that.
9:27: Begin drying hair. Think about the Unleashed event and fundraiser for the AAWL that I attended last night and how the puppies there were really cute. Think I need to call and get the photos from yesterday so I can do the next article. Remember I need to profile a pair of pups that haven’t been adopted yet and need to find new home. Wish I’d bought those pens. Happy about being invited to agility event with Amy at Cactus Canine.
9:30: Remember how much the agility teams like the Tagg t-shirts and their slogans and think that Tagg should sponsor an agility person because they travel so much and all agility people seem to love the Tagg t-shirts and slogans. Figure I should tell Tagg because it’s a good idea and wouldn’t cost much (Idea 3). Hope I remember to tell them.Wonder who I should suggest they sponsor. There are some really good teams out there. Amy would be good, maybe her international instructor…
9:40: Start curling hair. Drop curling iron. Burn myself. Think I need to get a hairstyle that doesn’t require curling hair. This is the 3rd burn in a week.
9:50 Get back to computer. Read press release about a Mexican wolf pup from Hawk’s Nest pack that was shot and left on side of road.
9:53 Write article about wolf and post on Examiner. Think about rewriting for posting on PetsWeekly – decide against it because it’s so sad… But, my readers could use the $57k that is rewarded. Wish I knew who shot wolf. Then I would use the $57k reward to set up new protections for wolves. Think if my readers saw a wolf being shot, they wouldn’t even bother to claim reward. Decide it’s not a necessary article for PetsWeekly.
9:55: Get email from Tammy at Grammatic Effects saying I have typo on reward. Should be $10,000 not $1,000 (thanks Tammy!) Hurriedly fix error and repost.
10:00: Wonder if anyone else thinks like this. Think I will probably need a nap before long because it’s been a busy morning.
10:15: decide to post thoughts on blog. But, the post is super long. Decide it doesn’t matter – it’s my blog and I can do what I want.
And what was your thought process today?
Many of you probably saw (or heard) Mitt Romney’s doggy gaff that focused on his long-deceased Irish setter named Seamus. If you missed it, here’s a quick summary:
Romney recently told a story about his family’s one-time Irish setter named Seamus to an obviously flabbergasted reporter. Nearly 25 years ago, Romney embarked on a 12-hour road trip from Massachusetts to Canada with his wife and five young sons. With all of the luggage and kids, there was little room to spare in his station wagon, so he placed Seamus the dog onto the roof of his car and headed up north. While Seamus survived the trip on the roof, the Romney kids recall that their family dog had a severe diarrhea attack (little wonder as the trip probably scared the shit out of the animal). Undaunted by the rain of poop, Romney found a gas station where he could hose down his pet (and his vehicle).
Although the notorious road trip happened years ago, Romney brought it up in a 2007 interview with Fox news, and repeatedly addresses the issue (in an unapologetic way, I may add) which has resulted in the press (and dog lovers throughout the world) rightly latching on to the story. It’s become the subject of many character attacks and according to insiders, Romney is growling mad that dog lovers won’t let it go.
Here’s the thing, Mitt. We won’t let it go because you won’t apologize and use the incident to educate people on how to properly travel with pets. An example of your response can be found in a recent interview with Chris Wallace of Fox TV: “This was a completely airtight kennel mounted on the top of our car. He climbed up there regularly… We had five kids inside the car; my guess is that he liked it a lot better on there (than with the kids).”
While our first instinct was to go on a Romney-bashing rampage and join the multiple Facebook pages and websites that range from titles such as http://www.DogsAgainstRomney.com we took a step back and decided that as animal-loving adults who focus our efforts on training and education, it’s perhaps a good time to offer our services to this incumbent. Why? Because over the years, we have discovered that many people are as ignorant as Romney. So it seems only fair to offer Romney an opportunity to learn.
Open Invitation: And so, this is an open invitation to Mitt Romney. Give us a call and we will be happy to demonstrate the proper way to travel with your pets. In fact, I’m pretty sure we can even locate the proper equipment to get you set up for road trips with pets. It would be a great opportunity for you to educate millions of people and if you get elected (unlikely unless you make a concerted effort on this cause), you could even change some of the outdated laws on pet travel and place a new emphasis on safe travel with pets.
If you decide you don’t have time for a lesson in pet travel, we are also including some important information here as well. Here are the first rules of traveling with animals:
- Pets must remain inside of vehicle while vehicle is in motion. This seems like it should be obvious, but as Romney has clearly illustrated, its not. Pets belong inside of the vehicle: not on top of, tied to the back of, or hanging head outside of the automobile.
- Pets must be secured at all times. Just as it is a law that humans wear seat belts, and children sit in car seats, it is a law (or at least strongly recommended) that pets be secured during travel. There are many ways you can do this. Some of the most popular methods of securing pets are:
- Zip Line and Harness
- Pet Auto Seat
- Harness and Seatbelt
- Pet Carrier
3. Pets should ride in the back seat: Pets do not belong on your lap, in the passenger side of the auto, or on the floor of the front seat. Why? Because you don’t want to turn little Fluffy into your own personal airbag, you don’t want an actual airbag to crush your pet, and you don’t want to see your pet go through the front window. The best place for your pet in the car is securely fastened in the middle or back seat.
Meanwhile Mitt, our doggy door is always open if you have any questions on the best way to travel with pets, it would be our honor to assist you in proper pet travel security. We certainly hope you take us up on the offer to help – it just may be that your political career could depend on it.
In what can only be classed as a great story, the news profiled an 85-year old woman who beat a moose. She didn’t do it because she’s some kind of geriatric animal abuser, but because the moose – a thousand pound animal with giant horns and a bad temper – was stomping her husband to death.
I think it’s funny because this woman is only 5’ tall and weighs less than 100 lbs. Oh, and because she’s 85-yrs old. Oh, and it has a (mostly) happy ending.
It’s also a good example of how people should rightfully fear the elderly and I hope it serves as a lesson to young people that grandmothers are not to be trifled with!
Here’s what happened:
A woman and her husband (surprisingly he isn’t a young hot buck with bulging muscles) are out at the Alaskan airfield exercising their two big golden retrievers. George, the 80-year old husband, is playing with the pups while Dorothea (the wife) is hanging out in the truck – possibly planning her next big rescue.
Along comes a moose. Now, I don’t know how old or how big this moose was, but bear in mind that the average moose (also known as a Eurasian Elk) is the largest species of the deer family. They weigh an average of 1,000 lbs and get as big as 1,500 lbs and stand nearly 7 feet tall at the SHOULDERS. That’s a BIG deer. They don’t have fangs, but with antlers as wide as 6 ft across, who needs big teeth?
So, this moose comes along and he’s pissed. He’s mad at the dogs, mad at people for being on his airfield, probably mad that it’s freezing cold out. But, he’s especially mad at George.
George sees the wild beast coming at him and does what any sane person would do, he dives into the deep snow. This just makes the moose more mad and it proceeds to try and stomp George to death.
Of course the dogs are barking like crazy, and because retrievers are better at retrieving than defense, they don’t know what to do as their dad is getting stomped. But, Dorothea does. At first she thinks her dogs are under attack by the moose, so she jumps out of the car and gets the moose’s attention – which she was remarkably great at doing. The moose turns and comes after her so she retreats to the truck, grabs a giant grain shovel from the back and turns to attack the moose.
She struck the animal in the head, then as it realized what it was up against and turned to run, she chased it down, beating it on the rump.
“When it turned and started to go off slowly, I hit it with everything I had,” she said.
Once the animal was in retreat, the goldens of course swung into action at that point, chasing the animal away. Which is actually a little surprising that they didn’t try to retrieve it.
We’re not sure what happened to the moose, but we are hoping for a happy ending. And luckily, neither George nor Dorothea hold any grudges. “They’re just at the end of their rope,” George said. “They’ll just strike out at anything.”
Other than seven broken ribs and a few major gashes, we’re proud to report that George is doing just fine. As for Dorothea? She remains in good shape, no injuries, and can now say that she has fought a moose and won.
Pretty impressive – even to one who has only ever been chased by an elk. (I’ll tell you that story a little later…)
Myth 1. Pet bloggers only write to get free stuff: Let me tell you a little something about free stuff: In the end, it’s just stuff. Sure, we love getting a first look at the newest pet chews, technological gadgets for pets, and ensuring our pets have the latest apps. But, after awhile, it’s just one more thing that has to be dealt with or disposed of. So you can trust me when I say that the free stuff is not the focus of any pet-writer worth his/her salt.
We write because we love animals and we want what is best for them, and if we can educate even one other person about the best ways to make their elderly pet comfortable, or their young pets easier to handle, or provide a single tool that helps a person keep a pet in their home – then we’ve feel as though we’ve succeeded.
Myth 2. All pet bloggers are pet experts: This is a dangerous myth… Writers are just writers, and writers are notorious for making facts fit where we need them. I’m not saying we make things up because that would be wrong, but for every study you find online that something is bad, I can show you five studies saying that same thing is good. (For example, don’t even get me started on the benefits of vegan diets for pets!)
We write about our personal opinions, experience and history with animals. Some of us have more experience than others, and while I would like to think that we are experts, the fact remains that we are not. Being an expert takes years and years of study, complete and utter focus, countless hours of experimentation. None of us have that. So, take any advice you get online with a grain of salt. Do your research and never, ever rely on only one opinion – because let’s face it – opinion is all it is.
Myth 3. Pet bloggers are “Know it alls”: Well, there is a little truth to this. Sure, we have a bit of attitude. But, what blogger doesn’t? We often have to deal with arrogance within our chosen field, answer questions that (I promise) you would NOT want to have to answer from people who know very little about pets, and we still have to balance (some) demanding vendors and marketing agencies who pay us nothing for extensive marketing. We’ve earned attitude.
Myth 4. Pet Blogging is not a real profession: We’re in a $50 billion industry. We are the people that consumers trust for advice about their pets, the products their pets play with, and the food their pets eat. This is as real as it gets.
Myth 5. Pet bloggers like to cause trouble: We don’t like to cause trouble, we just sort of naturally find it. For example, I’m sure I’ll end up in all kinds of trouble for writing this blog post. Do I care? Sure – I want people to like me. I like being liked and I hate being hated. But, I also think that certain things need to be said and I’m a writer. That makes it my job to say the things that everyone is thinking and no one wants to hear.
Myth 6. Blogging is easy money: First of all, the only easy money I’ve ever seen in my life is during the years I was employed by a large corporation. That’s it. Writing, blogging, drawing – none of that is easy. Think it is? Give it a shot. Go ahead, I dare you…
Myth 7. Page views equal success: False. There are many types of traffic and some bloggers don’t even know what kind they have – occasionally, even if they do know, they will lie about it anyway. While it’s true that more views equal more exposure and ultimately more name recognition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re running a successful website. Know your audience, know your writers.
Myth 8. Bloggers will endorse anything for money: False. Okay, well it’s sometimes true. I guess it depends on the blogger. In my case, I’m very cautious about what I attach my name too. It has to be a product I am comfortable using on my own pets (and I have a very high standard for my pets). I don’t know what other bloggers will/will not endorse. I do know what I won’t endorse, and that is anything that is potentially dangerous to pets, of poor quality, or serves no purpose (besides clothes for pets). Period.
This afternoon, a good friend of mine posted about “defining moments” and I thought, Since i haven’t updated my blog in forever, this would be a good topic for me. And so, without further ado, my “defining moment…”
Today, I am sitting on the couch typing on my iPad. I’m writing because I want to, not because I have to. Well, I mean – I do have to. I have to because this is the life I have carved out for myself and to be honest; it’s all I know. I’m not the best writer, nor the most talented. I just like to write. And when it comes right down to it, I made the decision to do something I like because I didn’t want to spend my life doing something I hate.
Those who know me also know that I’ve never been a fan of running with the pack. The people I love and trust are as diverse as I. This has always made my life much more difficult than it should be…
On the day my life changed forever, I was on vacation in San Diego while visiting Sea World. It wasn’t the norm for me, I don’t take a lot of vacations as a general rule, and I certainly don’t get to see a lot of amazing things.
But when I met Shamu, I was with my then-fiancé standing in an underground cavern with 18 inches of Plexiglas between me and a killer whale. Shamu swam right up to me and stared. When I moved, the whale moved.
As I stood looking into the behemoths eyes, I suddenly knew that I could not continue down the road I was on – a road of corporate lunches and senseless meetings and endless micromanagement. I could no longer live within the confines of an aquarium, looking out at the world as it passed me by. It may be safe. I may have all of my basic needs met, but I wasn’t living.
Like the whale, I had been forced into a role that I didn’t want, and I suddenly started asking myself some tough questions: Was it better to be in an aquarium, fed and doted on and loved by all, but trapped within a 1 acre park of glass and water – or would I be better off in the open sea; taking a chance on being hunted, alone, maybe starving, but having 80% of the world to explore?
I chose the sea.
Upon my return from California, I quit my job. I let companies know that I was available for freelance work. I took to the sea like a killer whale.
And yes, I nearly drowned in the process…
I’ve been hunted and I’ve been hungry and I’ve been lost and I’ve almost drowned. But I learned to survive – I found my way. I discovered a way to navigate. I taught myself to hunt. I learned how to swim.
It hasn’t been easy and there have been many days when I sought the refuge of a harbor, a place to just lie safe under the protection of docks as I nursed my wounds and healed. But each time, I’ve swum back out to sea. I’ve returned to that vast unknown and I learned to use my sonar–that little voice telling you everything will work out–to make the best of every situation.
The sea is a mighty force. Positive thinking and visualization will not save you when a whaling boat seeks you out, or when fishing is bad, or when the weather turns rough. The tides constantly change, but you learn how to move with the ebb and flow. Regions I once considered to be the equivalent of the Dead Sea are now rife with life. Storms I thought would sweep me to my death eventually showed me the way to paradise. And throughout it all, the sea provides.
To be a full-time writer is to abandon the safety of captivity. No matter if you are a killer whale hunting the oceans or a small flounder in leagues of water; you will always be hunted, pursued. You must always keep your guard up.
But the trade-off is freedom from the mundane, and a hope that you will find your way.
And you will. The tides will eventually carry you to richer, more fertile waters. The storms will always pass.
Because when you take a chance in a life and move away from the norm–you focus on the journey, it is only then that you will see the benefit in having no destination.
What was your defining moment and how did it change your life?
We have just returned from our first vacation (in over 3 years). It’s really amazing how much better a break can make you feel about life. We spent a week in Seattle (on a yacht!) and journeyed to two amazing dog-friendly resorts. We’ll be telling you all about that trip in the next few weeks.
Right now, we’re talking about a big week of news about pets and their people. Besides the massive economic crunch which, by the way, did not really effect pet spending (our pack is extremely committed), and the London riots, and the heat dome in the US, and the other things that sort of make you feel like you’re living in the End Days, some good things happened as well…
Wonder Pet Expo
We’re very excited about this sponsorship because we feel it’s going to be a great two-days visiting with and learning about, pets and their people. We will be there with Toyota’s Pet Team, and we’ll be featuring several of our favorite products in our booths. We hope you’ll stop by and see us as we’re going to be right near the stage, which is where Super Smiley and Megan Blake will be having a flash mob, Bonzi and Pinky on the Toyota-sponsored racetrack. You’ll also be able to meet Blanco Farah, the famous Afghanistan stray dog and the Soldiers who saved him.
Speaking of soldiers, Entry on Sunday 9/11 is free for active and retired military, police officers and fire fighters with ID cards. Hurrah for our national heroes!
Make plans to attend – it’s going to be a great show. It’s in the air-conditioned Expo building at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix on September 10-11, 2011
Saturday from 10am-6pm AND Sunday from 11am-5pm. Admission is only $6 for adults. Children 12 and under are free, and parking is available at $7 per car
First off, a new Olmec carving called A Triad of Felines (which we don’t think is a great title but what do you expect from scientists?) was located about 60 miles south of Mexico City. The neat thing about this carving is that it pictures three cats in a sitting position. Usually you see big cats portrayed as large, stalking creatures who sneak up on innocent people. But, these three little guys look purr-fectly content. Personally, they look more like mountain lions than jaguars to me, but that may just be the picture.
This week, we’re looking at a couple of amazing products that are out on the market. The first is the Safety Turtle. This is a great product for all of you water people. As an Aquarius, I also love the water but I worry about my pets while I’m out in a boat. This product ensures that my pets will be safe. Of course, the only real way you can be sure of your pets safety is to be very vigilant in watching them. But, this is a great backup defense system. The collars operate through a base unit (which is battery operated, so you can take it anywhere), and if your pets collar is submerged – a very loud siren sounds. It’s great!
We’re also taking a look at Lickety-Stik which is an amazing product for pets with a weight problem who still need training treats. There is only one calorie for every ten licks and it’s a great way to carry around dog snacks without smelling like dog snacks. It’s in a little deodorant-like tube with a rotating tip. Just undo the lid and let your pet lick it when he/she does something brilliant. This is a great product and will help many animals with both training and weight loss.
In case you missed it, we stumbled across an amazing product called the K-9 Pet Shower. This on-the-go shower holds two gallons of water and can be hung from your car window for trips to the dog park, camping, or just left in the car to wash dirty paws. It’s a perfect solution for keeping paws clean while traveling with pets.
We have some very helpful articles about bad things like Valley Fever and bugs like the Mosquito (whose bite can cause West Nile Virus) and the Black Widow Spider which, incidentally, can be fatal to cats. These articles will offer you some valuable tips in dealing with desert life. Next week, we’ll be talking about the rattlesnake vaccine.
We also have a very informative article on salmon oil and whether or not it’s really doing your pet any good. I think you’ll be very surprised at the answer!
Stories and Pet Tales:
Check out these fun stories about life with pets. While most of them are about living at home with dogs and cats, we also have a little tribute to how a woman traveled over 2,600 miles cross-country with her two cats. This is a tale you’ll love and which shows you that anything is possible!
Hopefully you can take a look at how a man used his cat’s response to life and learned how to overcome adversity.
This story is an oldie but a goodie, and is really more of a picture than a story, but we just found it again and wanted to share. It’s a guide to Mapping the Cat’s Brain.
Hope you’ve had a great week and we hope you’ll join us for more timely information on PetsWeekly.com
As you probably know, we have just returned from a much-needed vacation to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. One of the things that I learned while I was gone is the importance of finding inspiration through vacation, breaks, blogs and more. Work is important, but so is having the ability to relax – and I haven’t had that in a good, long time.
Maybe it was five days of being rocked to sleep on a 65-foot yacht, or being surrounded by patches of raspberries that grow wild on the side of the road. It could have been the light reflecting through old growth forests and pine trees that grow as tall as buildings, or perhaps standing in front of miles of white beaches and staring at the Pacific ocean as sand dollars washed up near my bare feet. It may have just been as simple as getting away from the dark, dingy office during the stifling desert summer…
Whatever it was, I came back refreshed, ready to write, ready to update PetsWeekly, and ready to finish the FINAL edit of that novel I’ve been working on for a year.
While away, I was able to catch up on some reading. Novels, blogs, friends websites, the news… it didn’t really matter. I had hoped that I would be inspired to write while I was away, but mostly I found inspiration on writing in reading.
That said, I wanted to share a few of my favorites. Perhaps a quick glance through some of these will inspire you to do some writing as well.
Travel and Doing the Impossible:
- Chris Guillebeau – The Art of NonConformity: This man has traveled the world on pennies. He never misses a deadline and awlays creates inspiring posts that remind you that nothing is impossible and our only limitation is our self.
- Cheryl Richardson – author: Cheryl always updates once per week with a self-improvement topic that is sure to inspire. Her website is also fun to navigate and I highly recommend the “Touch of Grace” application that is a great pick-me-up between posts.
- The Deadline Dames: A very inspiring and frank look at the world of publishing in urban fantasy. I especially love this blog because several of my favorite authors are the founders and bloggers – that includes Rachel Vincent, Keri Arthur, Rinda Elliot, Lilith SaintCrow, and Devon Monk. They always provide valuable writing advice that help you improve your writing and allow you to reach a bigger audience.
- Guide to Literary Agents: This is a great blog because it offers an insiders look at the publishing world and covers such topics as “Building a platform” and “Using prologues.” Each day provides a different topic, discusses how other authors have reached success and inspires you to work a little harder.
- TheTiniestTiger: Written by a cat, for cat lovers, Gracey the Cat is a brilliant writer who never ceases to entertain with her feline antics. She travels, educates, has special alerts that let everyone know when her food bowl is empty, and is a wonderful strategist. You’ll be very entertained with all of her posts.
- Canidae Responsible Pet Ownership: This is a great blog to subscribe to because the authors come up with creative, inspiring pet-related topics every day. I’m a little biased as I used to write for them before life got away from me, but even without me (smile) they still continue to bring up amazing little tidbits of information and expand on them each day.
While I read a lot of blogs, these are definitely some of my favorites. Building a cross-genre platform can get a little tricky and also be a little overwhelming. Like everyone else, I can use whatever inspiration I can find!
- Animal News
- Contests and Giveaways
- Humans and Pets
- Marketing Pet Businesses
- pet health
- Pet Rescue