Scenes from #BlogPaws, Pet Blogging Conference

If you’ve ever been to a business or professional conference, you know the drill. Your days are filled with sessions, presentations, panels, too much food, more sessions, networking, exhibits, more sessions, sponsored cocktail hours, and sometimes a fun event or two.

It takes a clowder

For those who aren’t familiar with a term, “clowder” is the word for a group of cats. Like a herd of goats or a murder of crows.

Take that same conference and add dogs. And cats. And ferrets. And rats. The attendees are people who love them and blog about them. The vendors, sponsors and speakers bring their pets. Doggy day care is available. Water bowls are strategically placed throughout the facility.

Water and toys for happy doggies at BlogPaws.

Water and toys for happy doggies at BlogPaws.

Snacks include treats for dogs and cats.

Cat treats at BlogPaws

Cats get treats, too.

And the swag? I always wondered what the bomb-sniffing dogs at the airports must think when inspecting the luggage after a pet blogging conference.

Recently I returned from BlogPaws, a premier conference for people who blog about their pets. Held in conjunction with the Cat Writers’ Association yearly conference, the event was, as always, purr-fectly paw-some.

Here are a few quick scenes from my adventures at BlogPaws.

Not to be too catty, but…

At BlogPaws, dog people and dogs tend to outnumber felines and their aficionados. But between the CWA members and Hauspanther’s fabulous Cat Style Lounge, the kitty cat contingent was well represented. The Cat Style Lounge, organized by the fabulous Kate Benjamin, features the latest and greatest very cool products designed specifically for cats. Purr-sonally, I lusted after this ladder by Cat Ladder.

I love these cat ladders. I know they would make a difference in my home.

I love these cat ladders. I know they would make a difference in my home.

It looks beautiful, the carpet comes off and you can clean it, and I know the ladder will solve some of cat interaction issues by creating multiple vertical paths and escape routes for my cats.

As a person whose family includes both dogs and cats, I find myself torn between the two groups. I’ve read that cat people tend to be more introverted than dog people. That may explain why I stand firmly in both camps; I’m a full-fledged ambivert, moving back and forth between introvert and extrovert tendencies depending on the situation.

Janiss Garza and Summer cat signing Rescued at the CWA table at BlogPaws

Janiss Garza and the gorgeous and photogenic Summer cat signing Janiss’ book Rescued at the CWA table at BlogPaws.

So I sat on the floor and played with some of the sweet doggies I met. Cuddled the ones who wanted to be cuddled. Got my fill (well, almost) of doggy kisses. With less cats to meet and greet (because, well they’re cats), the cat people found their own ways to feed their feline jones. Cat ears were de rigeur, and yes, I was a photographer at a cat wedding.

The two cats in the center (Astrid from The Island Cats) and Sampson (from Kitty Cat Chronicles) are the bride and groom.

The two cats in the center (Astrid from The Cat on My Head) and Sampson (from Kitty Cat Chronicles) are the bride and groom.

In case you’re wondering, there were no actual cats, just cardboard cutouts and stuffies. And to be honest, no actual wedding. Just a few cat people enjoying each other’s company, exchanging gifts (including rings!) and some laughs. Because. Why not? In a world where bad stuff happens, a cat wedding is as good an excuse as any to find some joy in life.

Sit. Stay. Speak.

One of the best parts of going to these conferences is the people I meet. Each time I go, I come back having met at least one, if not several, people, who I can reach out to with questions, who are willing to help (as I am more than happy to help them), who share great insight and valuable advice for free. Sometimes I meet folks who I know will be life-long friends.

Someone would rather not be in doggy day care.

Someone would rather not be in doggy day care.

This year, I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate a panel for the Cat Writers track, where I was honored to work with a group of four women whose talents and accomplishments are only matched by their generosity of spirit. The title of our program was “From Blogger to Author Getting paid for your words, from freelance writer to book author.” The panel members were authors, editors, and marketers, with nearly 100 books published among the four of them. The fun part of being a moderator is I was able to ask the questions I’ve been wondering about all along, but hadn’t had the courage or access to bring them up. Plus, I asked some of the questions I wish I had asked when I was just beginning to blog, and was trying to find a way to get noticed for my writing.

Me with the publishing panel at CWA / BlogPaws. From left to right: Lonnie Hull Dupont, me, Lynn Maria Thompson, Lisa Begin-Kruysman, Patricia Fry

Me with the publishing panel at CWA / BlogPaws. From left to right: Lonnie Hull Dupont, me, Lynn Maria Thompson, Lisa Begin-Kruysman, Patricia Fry

The panelists included:

  • Lisa Begin-Kruysman, author of several dog books, and the woman who resurrected the concept of National Dog Week. (Can’t wait to celebrate this year!)
  • Patricia Fry, author and editor who’s written dozens of nonfiction books on all kinds of animals, before her successful foray into cat fiction with her Kelpto Cat Mystery series.
  • Lonnie Hull DuPont, author of Kit Kat & Lucy, and executive editor of Revell Books, whose experience gave us insight into what goes on behind the publishing curtain.
  • Lynn Maria Thompson, author, editor and online retailer at Old Maid Cat Lady, who, in five minutes provided keen insight with eight important tips on marketing a book.

Right there are four women I’m thrilled to have met.

Well-behaved dogs welcome

When a group of this many pet-loving people come together, you meet all kinds. Of dogs. And people. If you take the time to study their behavior, you can learn a lot. About dogs. And people. For example, I know of two different bloggers, each of whom has a small, reactive dog. One person kept an eye out for situations that might make her dog uncomfortable. She carried tiny treats with her to reward her dog when she caught him doing something right: staying calm when another dog got close, for example. The other human? She turned her back on her dog several times, and the only behavior I saw to try to ameliorate the reactivity was for her to step between the dog and the stimulus. It was easy to tell who I wanted to learn from.

Posing with the incredible Mr N from Tenacious Little Terrier

Posing with the incredible Mr N from Tenacious Little Terrier.

BlogPaws did a great job this year working with attendees to identify signs of stress in dogs; the result was a peaceable event. Of course, with dogs in attendance, you learn to expect a bark now and again during a session, but every speaker took the woofs in stride and not a single audience member minded. In fact, it was just the opposite; everyone (even the cat people) smiled when the dogs barked, as it always seemed to be at a perfect moment during a session.

Solving a problem

When I visit the sponsors and exhibitors at BlogPaws, I usually have two goals in mind: 1) Learn about new products and ideas that are out there, and maybe blog about them. 2) Look for a product that solves a problem I have. This year, I found two possible solutions to current challenges I’m facing, and I’m looking forward to testing them out. And, for the record, I got samples of these products for free, but received no compensation (other than a great conversation and some smiles) for testing and reviewing.

First, I was looking for an alternative to Hills prescription diet c/d food. My vet feels Dawn needs to be on it, because of her previous issues with struvite crystals in her urine. The problem is, Hills has pork in it. Pork byproducts, water and pork liver are the first three ingredients in their chicken flavor. Royal Canin, another alternative, also has pork among their top ingredients. What’s my problem with pork? Just do the research, and you’ll realize that pigs are as intelligent and can feel as much emotion as dogs. Maybe even more. My conscience nags me every time I pop open a can of c/d. I feel like I’m feeding dog to my cats. When I stopped at the Weruva booth, we discussed their Paw-lickin Chicken cat food. Main ingredient? Chicken. No pork. Not even beef. And their mineral profiles compare nicely to the c/d. I’ll believe we’ll be making a switch soon, after I talk it over with my vet.

Rover, standing in for all my dogs and cats at the Weruva booth.

Rover, standing in for all my dogs and cats at the Weruva booth.

One of the unforeseen issues of a dog-and-cat household is the tendency for my dogs to eat the aromatic treats the cats leave for them in their litter boxes. (For those who haven’t connected the dots here, I’ll be a little more explicit: my dogs think cat poop is delicious.) Over the past few years, we’ve resorted to all sorts of solutions that allow cats access to their litter boxes, while preventing dogs from helping themselves to the snack bar. I met the folks behind Door Buddy, an adjustable door latch that’s easy to install, and may be the answer to my problem. I’ll be testing out a latch or two over the next few weeks and we’ll see if they help.

These are just the CWA swag bags. There was a whole other bag o' swag from BlogPaws sponsors as well.

These are just the CWA swag bags. There was a whole other bag o’ swag from BlogPaws sponsors as well. You can see a few of the Door Buddys that were included in the bags.

If you love your pets, and you’ve never attended BlogPaws, I highly recommend it. Every time I go, I leave with a combination of exhaustion (so much to do, so much to learn, so many critters to pet, so little time) and exhilaration. Next year BlogPaws is in Myrtle Beach, from May 18- 20.

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9 Comments on "Scenes from #BlogPaws, Pet Blogging Conference"

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  1. BOW WOW, pawsome post! What a fun assortment of peeps and doggies and kitties to spend time with!

  2. Great recap! You always have such an interesting take on events you attend, too. The head peep was sorry not to make it to BlogPaws and see you this year. Hopefully next year. In the meantime, we will be waiting to hear if the door buddy worked for you. That sounds like it might solve an issue or two around here, too.

  3. meowmeowmans says:

    Wow, what a terrific roundup of this year’s conference! We hope to get back to BlogPaws one of these years. When we do, we hope you’re there, so we can meet you in person! 🙂

  4. Great roundup, thank you for sharing with us ! It looks like you had great time ! Purrs

  5. It was lovely meeting you and I really enjoyed talking to you. We’re still sorting through all the swag at our house and the bf is like do we really need more dog stuff?

  6. What a great re-cap! Mommy was very happy to get to meet you this year.

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