Recently I attended BarkWorld, a social media conference for pet people. I go there to learn (with social media, it moves so fast, you have to run to catch up), to network (reconnecting with folks I’ve met before, meeting new friends, and making valuable connections) and to hang out with the dogs and cats and their people (that’s the most fun).
The conference is owned by i-5 Publishing, the wonderful folks who bring you, among other things Catster.com and Dogster.com (and the print versions of both), as well as DogChannel.com, CatChannel.com, Petcha.com and more. Their philosophy sets the tone for their publications, which is one of the reasons I’m a fan. (Full disclosure: one of the other reasons is I’m a contributing writer for the dot com ‘sters.)
The swag bag was awesome of course, filled with all kinds of dog and cat goodies.
There were lots of brands represented at the conference. Future posts will focus on some of the services and products I think my readers would want to learn more about.
This year, I spent some time getting to know the people, the dogs, the cats, and — yes I will admit it — the celebrities at BarkWorld. Lunches, dinners and cocktails were spent in the company of some really cool creatures.
Like many of the humans who attended, Sophia Loren and Tuna (and their people) met for the first time at BarkWorld, and became instant friends.
Photos were taken of the two celebripups together, with the dog moms enjoying the moment.
I was on hand (on paw) to document their meeting, which was later shared on Tuna’s instagram page, with nearly 37,000 likes and 1300 comments. Ah the power of social media. (Thank you to Courtney for giving me photo credit.)
While there weren’t many cats at BarkWorld, one of my favorite kitties made a brief visit: Sophie, the adorable cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. I’ve interviewed her human and met this cat before, and I can never pass up an opportunity to hang out with her. (Look for feature on Sophie in Catster.com in the future.)
Introducing Lucky Puppy
At the premiere party for i-5’s new magazine Lucky Puppy, dogs and their people walked the red carpet and posed for the obligatory photo.
The speakers were illuminating and inspiring, including Tom Otto and Sean Sears from Canopy Cat Rescue. These awesome dudes volunteer to rescue kitties stuck in trees in Washington state. I think the best sound I heard all week, was the collective “Awww” when a room full of pet people heard the pitiful mews and meows of these frightened felines. It was so obvious that Tom and Sean love cats. My one miss at BarkWorld was not getting a picture of them; they left before I could catch them, on their way home to rescue yet another cat.
But I did see Gus Kenworthy, the Olympic freestyle skiing silver medalist, who captured media attention during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, when he and his partner helped rescue stray dogs from Sochi. An avid fan of the Olympics, I had followed the story of Gus and the Sochi dogs. And I was thrilled to meet him in person. I was slightly disappointed I didn’t get to meet his dogs Jake and Mishka; ever looking out for their welfare, Gus didn’t want to put them through the stress of travelling. Look for my interview with Gus on Dogster.com.
I think the highlight of the entire event was listening to (and eventually meeting) Shorty Rossi, star of Animal Planet’s Pit Boss and champion of bully breeds. His from-the-heart talk touched on his journey from ex-con to experienced bully dog rescuer. Along the way, he credited his first dog Geisha for saving his life, and he’s all about giving back, sprinkling his presentation with thoughts on Breed Specific Legislation (hates it), to approaching a dog you don’t know (ask the human first before you touch her) to how we all can make a difference (volunteer for your local shelter or rescue group.)
Another highlight was meeting G. Ray Sullivan, Jr., author of the gorgeous book Zen and the Art of Dog Walking. Not only is the book beautifully photographed and written, but Ray is a charming, intelligent and incredibly nice person. His path to publishing is one I want to learn, and was happy to share what he knew with me. My hope is that next year, I’ll attend BarkWorld with a book contract in hand, inspired by the success of Ray and others that I met at BarkWorld.
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