I don’t know about you, but I am often fascinated by people’s stories. How they ended up doing what they are doing. What motivates them. Who they admire. Places they’ve traveled.
That’s why I was so pleased when Mary Haight of Dancing Dog Blog agreed to do an interview. She has a passion for animals that I can appreciate and she often takes up their case on their behalf. She also does a great job keeping people informed of the most current news, product reviews and is always searching for the facts behind each story. If you’re not following her blog, you should be. I always learn something new when I read her posts and I am sure you will too.
What made you choose to blog about animals and animal-related topics?
I’ve been an animal lover since I was a child. We always had cats in the house growing up and I started riding horses and got my first dog in my twenties. Later I had been involved in not-for-profit work on food safety issues and was passionate about it, but there wasn’t a lot of good news to report in that niche. I’m not a scientist schooled in public health, or a nutritionist, and felt if you don’t make the basis of what you write what you truly know, blogging becomes unsustainable.
With animals, I had the passion to sustain authenticity over time, and I have been involved in that sector for more than a decade. Blogging about animals allowed me to explore topics that would broaden the readership and provide me with opportunities to see another side of life with dogs.
I have also been an officer on the board of Lake Shore Animal Shelter Chicago’s oldest no-kill shelter, for nearly 13 years.
So, how did you get started blogging? What motivated you to start?
A friend of mine who knew I had a lot to say on animal welfare issues told me I should start a blog, but I wasn’t truly motivated to start blogging until something happened at Animal Care and Control in Indiana (ACC).
A request came to shelters in Chicago announcing that ACC was moving into a new facility and had approximately 100 animals they would not be taking to their new place. They informed the shelters in Chicago that if they would like to save them they were welcome to come and get them. Obviously this type of communication wasn’t the best given animals’ lives were at stake. A blog was born.
What topics or issues tend to get your juices flowing when it comes to blogging?
I like to tackle issues. Breed-specific legislation, mandatory spay/neuter, puppy mills, pet shops, pet food problems and internet puppy sales are all related to putting a stop to animal cruelty.
But, most people just want to have fun with their dogs, so I cover ground there too with reports and clips from dog shows and trials, stage and movie reviews. I also offer interviews with trainers and other professionals. And, I like to put together useful information in the tabs section of my blog like: how to figure out if pet insurance is for you, how to choose a boarding/daycare facility, dog play and games, pet friendly hotels, dog allergies, pet beds, and even dog food recipes.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an animal advocate/pet blogger?
Giving animals a voice. Getting the message out. Giving people information they want or need to help them strengthen their relationship with their furry ones and offering helpful information to people on the edge of giving up their animals. Having other bloggers talk about something you wrote that you feel is important for people to know, and then having their readers see it and share it. Word gets out and animals needing help get it.
It’s also rewarding when you get a variety of responses to whatever was written, especially when you see new people speaking up and coming back to do it again. And it’s wonderful how you can feel as if the people who read and comment regularly are more like friends than strangers, even – or maybe especially – if you disagree. I think the pet niche must have the best people in it – there’s so much great camaraderie here!
Favorite blogging moment or experience?
I wrote “Giving Pet Shops and Puppy Mills the Boot” and followed up with an email interview with Best Friends Animal Society Elizabeth Oreck, National Campaign Manager of Puppies Aren’t Products, and several of my favorite bloggers wrote about it or mentioned it in a recap. I was grateful for that and for the response it elicited in the comments section. I even had a great conversation in the comments area with a journalist I respect. The follow-up helped clear up a lot of misunderstandings some in the sheltering community had. I felt lucky and happy with what I was doing.
What did you do prior to blogging?
I had just come off a ten-year stint caring for my mother. I sold the house in August of 2008, moved to another area, and started the blog toward the end of that year. Prior to that, I was president of a manufacturing firm.
Do you have other blogs you follow that are not animal or pet-related?
Sure! Here’s a few: The New York Times, Huffington Post, ScienceDaily, Food Politics, Environmental Working Group, OrganicHatSEO, treehugger, Problogger, Rubin Museum of Art (check out the art from the Himalayas and if they still have slides, Carl Jung’s “Red Book”), Zen Habits, Damian Calvo (filmmaker)