Highlights from BarkWorld: Tuna, Sophia, Gus, Shorty and more

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).

BarkWorld Highlights


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.)

Catster dogster statement

It’s worth reading the entire statement.


The swag bag was awesome of course, filled with all kinds of dog and cat goodies.

Little Sophia Loren picks up her swag at BarkWorld

Little Sophia Loren of Little Dog in the Big City picks up her swag bag.


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.

Belle, author of Dog Only Knows checks in at her booth.

Belle, author of Dog Only Knows checks in at her booth.

This cool dude (actually she's more of a dude-ette) is Surfin' Jack, mascot for Lucy Pet Products

This cool dude (actually she’s more of a dude-ette) is Surfin’ Jack, mascot for Lucy Pet Products, a company that sells shampoos and conditioners, and supports spay and neuter programs.


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.

I had dinner with this lovely lady (Sophia Loren) and her human.

I had dinner with this lovely lady (Sophia Loren) and her human.

Sweet and stylish Sophia Loren is a rescued pomeranian. She's adorable!

Of course I had to pose with her. Sweet and stylish Sophia Loren is a rescued pomeranian. She’s adorable!


At BarkWorld, you’re as likely to sit next to a human as a chiweenie. Like my new friend Tuna, Instagram star of Tuna Melts My Heart.

Tuna Melts My Heart wants popcorn BarkWorld

I think Tuna was more interested in snagging a piece of popcorn than listening to the speaker.

Posing with Tuna of Tuna Melts My Heart

And of course I had to pose with Tuna as well!


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.

Pet moms take photos of pups Sophia Loren and Tuna of Tuna Melts My Heart at BarkWorld

Posing while the moms snap their photos.

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.)

Sophia Loren and Tuna meet.

Tuna has more than 1.6 million followers.


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.)

Sophie holds court with the Executive Editor for Catster / Dogster in the background  on the right, and the human behind Sometimes Cats Herd You.

Sophie holds court with the Executive Editor for Catster / Dogster in the background on the right, and the human behind Sometimes Cats Herd You.

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.

Preston of Preston Speaks stops by the Lucky Puppy launch party at BarkWorld

Preston of Preston Speaks stops by the Lucky Puppy launch party at BarkWorld.


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.

Me and Gus Kenworthy!, Olympic silver medalist and Sochi dog rescuer

Me and Gus Kenworthy!

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.)

Hanging out with Shorty Rossi and Herculues, of Pit Boss

Shorty’s presentation was inspiring. So thrilled I got to shake his hand and meet Hercules.

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.

Ray kindly took time to tell me about his publishing journey.

I would love to meet Ray’s dog Bocephus, the inspiration and star of his book.

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Posted in: Dog and Cat News

4 Comments on "Highlights from BarkWorld: Tuna, Sophia, Gus, Shorty and more"

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  1. That sounds like a great event ! Thank you for sharing with us ! Purrs

  2. Deziz World says:

    Sounds pawsum. Maybe sumday weez’ll be lucky enuff to get to these places.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  3. Theresa says:

    Terrific post! This is the first BarkWorld that I missed. Love the photos and reading all about it!

  4. Ray Sullivan says:

    Susan! I was great talking to you and sharing our experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed talking on several occasions and look forward to reading more of your haikus and stories…. ray

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