It’s time for my second annual list of favorite blog posts. This year was full of wonderful posts. In fact, there were so many great ones that I had a very hard time whittling it down to just 10. So, I decided to compromise a bit and make it 11 AND to lump those written by the same blogger together (Yes, several bloggers had more than one good post!).
I want to make clear up front that the blog posts I chose were the ones that touched ME most. I know there are many more that people would nominate for their top 10 or 11, and I encourage you to do so in the comments section below or write your own Top 10 or 11 Blog Posts posts and share them. I always enjoy hearing what you found most inspirational, powerful or funny. This year’s list is quite a variety – some are funny, some are sad and some are thought-provoking. I hope you enjoy the ones I have chosen as much as I have.
So, without further ado, here are My Top 11 Blog Posts for 2011…
1. So You Think You Want a Human?- Prologue by Kevin Myers at Dog Lover’s Digest – Kevin is a great writer. He is smart, witty and has a great sense of humor. If you haven’t read his blog you may want to after reading this post and his accompanying piece, So You Think You Want a Human? – The Announcement. Both pieces are written from the dog’s point of view and while extremely funny, they also have a message to convey. They are definitely worth sharing with friends and family who have a dog.
2. Be Gentle: I know my dog is old by Susan Seligson – This post actually appeared on TheBark.com, but I felt it was powerful enough it was worth sharing. So many of my friends have lost their senior dogs this year so it struck home. It’s a good reminder to everyone, dog owners or not, to be gentle (and kind) when you encounter an owner and their senior dog.
3. Blog-a-versary! A celebration in photos by Aleksandra from Love and a Six-Foot Leash – i love Aleksandra’s blog for many reasons. She brings attention to what wonderful dogs pitbulls are, she fosters and finds home for pitbulls who otherwise would have perished in a shelter, she educates people about pitbulls and she takes the most amazing pictures of the pitbulls she fosters. This post is more pictures than words, but I think that’s why I love it so much. She captures so much of each dog’s personality in each picture, proving once again that pictures do matter when it comes to helping a dog to find its forever family. There is one other blog post that Aleksandra wrote that is worth mentioning, “Pit bull awareness: words do matter“. It’s educational and informative and leaves you thinking.
4. Drunken Master IV: Canine Fu by Kristine at Rescued Insanity – I love reading Kristine’s blog. She is exceedingly honest about her relationship with her dog, Shiva, and all that comes with that relationship – the good, the bad, the funny and the inspirational. This is one of her funnier posts. I read it back in August, but have remembered if often with a smile on my face. I hope you find it as funny as I did. I also recommend A Letter Long Overdue. It’s a letter to her dog, Shiva. If you’re a dog owner, I think you will be able to relate.
5. Old Ladies Wear Purple In Heaven by Carrie Noar from Tales and Tails – This was perhaps the hardest post for me to read because it was about Carrie’s grand dame Greyhound, Lilac, and about saying goodbye. I love reading Carrie’s posts about her Greyhounds and German Shepherds, especially when they write their own blog posts. Lilac was a beautiful senior girl who had an elegance and style all her own. It hit all of us fans pretty hard when Carrie shared with us that Lilac had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Carrie’s loving tribute to Lilac’s life is touching and beautiful. I encourage you to read it. I also recommend her follow up post, With Deepest Gratitude, as Carrie shares a little more about how Lilac came to be with her and her husband.
6. Putting the pieces together by Debbie Jacobs from Fearfuldogss Blog – As always, Debbie’s posts leave me thinking. They always offer some valuable piece of insight that leaves me examining my relationship with my own fearful dogs, Daisy and Lady. While Debbie specializes in working with fearful dogs and their owners, this post is particularly applicable to all dog owners, reminding us that our dogs’ issues often cannot be summed up in one root cause, but are only one piece of the puzzle.
7. The Cuteness Curse by Brandi Barker and Megan Ores-Ulrich at Barker Behavior – This post was particularly powerful for me because it covered a lot of the human behaviors I encounter as the owner of a fearful dog. So many well-meaning people have made these mistakes when approaching Daisy or Lady. Brandi and Megan’s advice is clear, concise and straightforward. I shared this one all over the place, so it made sense to include it in my top 10 list.
8. I am living with serial killers by Jan at The Poodle (and dog) Blog – This post is nothing short of hilarious. Jan has a unique way of writing. She is humorous, educational and informative. Her blog has a good mix of everything for everybody. This post takes Jan through an interrogation that will leave you laughing your butt off.
9. Everyday Heroes: Foster Families by StubbyDogs – This one actually came in under the wire, but I knew it would have to be on my list as soon as I read it. Having been a foster parent to several dogs it was nice to see such a loving tribute to foster parents everywhere. I was particularly struck by these two sentences: But when people tell them, “I couldn’t foster because it would be too hard to give the dog up.” They say, “How can it be harder than knowing a dog died because no foster home stepped up?” If you have fostered before or are considering doing it now, this is worth the read.
10. We’re Certified Humane by Lisa Spector of Through A Dog’s Ear (featured on Victoria Stilwell‘s blog Positively) – This was another post that I shared everywhere I could. Lisa’s pondering on the phrase “We’re Certified Humane”, found on a particular yogurt company’s product, and how it could be applied to dog trainers was particularly insightful and thought-provoking. I loved it.
11. The Puppiness Project – You Can’t Change Everything (and You Shouldn’t Try) by Pamela Webster at Something Wagging This Way Comes – All year Pamela has been dedicating her Tuesday posts to The Puppiness Project, modeled after Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I have found myself looking forward to these posts each week because I always know Pamela will have some wonderful insight to share that makes me think our dogs are much wiser than we are as human beings. This one was particularly powerful for me, but I encourage you to check out her other posts on this topic. They are wonderful.
There were a few blog posts that were not pet related but still powerful in their humor (like this one from TheBloggess.com), personal experience (like this one from Jennifer Margulis about the death of her mom or this one from Kim Clune over at This One Wild Life about remembering 9/11) or messages of personal growth (like this one from Marc and Angel Hack Life)
Welcome to the Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop. I encourage you to check out some of the other awesome pet bloggers out there. Much thanks to our most generous and interesting hosts, Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers, and Confessions of the Plume!
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My very first apartment had a lot of amenities I liked – a deck, off-street parking, a huge living room and a large bedroom with a huge closet. It also had something else… a ghost cat. I know. It sounds crazy doesn’t it?
The first time I knew I had a ghost cat was soon after I moved in. I was laying in bed, about to fall asleep, when I felt little cat paws walk up along the side of my body, alongside my leg, and then knead the mattress right next to my hip and lay down. I remember lying there frozen with fear. Did I just imagine that? Was I half asleep and just dreaming it? Was I losing my mind? It kind of freaked me out. The only way I could sleep that night was to tell myself that I had imagined it.
Over time I would come to realize that it wasn’t a dream. I really did have a ghost cat. And, he would often sleep by my side after kneading the mattress. Even after I got my two real cats, Nick and Sebastian, he would come up on the bed and follow the same old routine of walking along the side of my body, kneading the mattress and then curling up beside me. For some reason, it never seemed to bother my cats that there was another kitty, not to mention a ghost kitty, sleeping on my bed.
When I moved to a different apartment across town my ghost cat came with me. His routine was always the same and I began to find his presence comforting.
I once told my mother and sister about my ghost cat, but they just rolled their eyes and tried to humor me. They didn’t believe in ghosts. But I knew that what I was experiencing was real.
When I started traveling for business, my sister would come to stay with my cats so she could give Sebastian his insulin injection in the morning. One evening, I called her to see how my cats were doing and she informed me that she had had a visit from my ghost cat. She told me that the previous evening she had been almost asleep when she felt the little cat paws walking up from the end of the bed and then start to knead. She had assumed it was Nick or Sebastian, but when she looked, both cats were already sleeping next to her. I think she was a little freaked out by the whole thing, but it was nice to have some validation.
Somewhere along the way, my ghost cat just disappeared. I have often wondered what made him go. Was it the new bed and mattress that did it? He seemed to disappear right about that time. Or, did he just find someone else that needed his comforting more? I like to think it was the latter. How nice to think that he moved on to help someone else that needed him.
Have you ever had an experience with a ghost pet of your own?
As a pet sitter with Mel’s Pet Pals, I get to see a lot of cool, interesting, funny and strange things while out and about during the morning, day and evening. I had no idea I was missing so much when I was stuck in my cubicle downtown!
Sometimes it’s what I see on the road while sitting in traffic, or while out on a walk with a dog, or it’s simply one of my kitty or doggie clients acting silly. In any case, I always have my camera handy so I can snap a shot of whatever it is and share it with my client’s parents or with my friends.
I thought I would put together a few of the more cool, interesting, funny and strange things I have seen along the way. Enjoy! And, feel free to share stories of the things you have seen while out and about that caught your attention. I always love a good story!
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)
I posted this blog post a few days ago, but I’m going to include it in Blog The Change For Animals because I am a huge supporter of pet adoption and it is “my” cause. I think every pet owner or prospective pet owner should have to read this before they get a pet. If more people did perhaps there would be fewer animals euthanized in this country. Read On.
If you have never worked or volunteered in an animal shelter, you should.
If you’ve never adopted a shelter dog, you should.
If you’ve never known a shelter manager or shelter staff member, you should.
Maybe then you would realize why it is so important to adopt a pet.
Today, I share with you A Letter From A Shelter Manager. If you think you can’t read this because it would be too hard to read, too much to bear, too much to deal with; you should. Maybe this letter can make a difference in just one person. You.
I think our society needs a huge “Wake-up” call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all…a view from the inside if you will.
First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don’t even know.
That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are “owner surrenders” or “strays”, that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.
The most common excuses I hear are; “We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving too that doesn’t allow pets? Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would”. How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? “We don’t have time for her”. Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! “She’s tearing up our yard”. How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog”.
Odds are your pet won’t get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door.
Those dogs just don’t get adopted. It doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are.
If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long . Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don’t have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.
Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”.
First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.
When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?
I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work.
I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.
Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.
My point to all of this DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE!
Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that
someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this and it made me want to adopt”. THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT
Please Be The Change and Adopt A Pet. There are so many good ones just waiting for a new home.
If this post touched you in some way, please read Mary’s Dogs Blog where she discusses how shelter dogs are treated like second class citizens. If you think the euthanization of shelter dogs is the only issue. Think again.
Dogs love nothing better than to have new territory to explore. Playing on both sides of the fence can be exciting: new places to explore, new friends to meet, new smells to sniff, etc.
But when it involves doing business, does playing on both sides of the fence matter? For instance, is it okay to promote rescue organizations while at the same time doing business with those people who contribute to pet over-population? Is it okay to do so if you are helping rescue organizations in the long run?
Those are the questions I am faced with today.
Recently, while working on some research for a friend, I discovered that someone I respected, and even promoted, was playing on both sides of the fence.
The Pet Web Designer, Michael Ayalon, has been active in the Twitter community, especially with pet-related Twitter folks. According to the ASPCA, he has actively helped “to broaden the reach of shelters beyond their local communities and allow potential adopters to see available pets through a live video website..” called AnimalRoulette.com. The site allows potential adopters to see a pet and his/her personality via live webcam thus helping adopters to determine if the pet would make a good addition to their family. Definitely a good deed.
But, as a fellow Twitterer, I guess I didn’t realize that the Pet Web Designer was also playing on the other side of the fence and helping breeders “to generate 300 new qualified puppy buyers per day” as stated in one of the testimonials featured on his website. Or that he had helped a breeder in the business for 12 years to “sell more puppies than we ever thought we could…” or to help another breeder (from the well-known puppy mill state of Pennsylvania) to sell “… more puppies than I thought was possible. Every day brings hundreds of customers looking for my breeds to my pet website.”
Certainly not illegal. Writers do it all the time.
I want to be fair here and state that he has also helped some of my fellow pet sitters, a doggy daycare, a pet apparel store, an environmentally responsible lawn care service, and as I mentioned above, rescue organizations. He has also published some good articles on working with and caring for your dog/cat.
I am not naive, I realize that businesses play on both sides of the fence all of the time. The question is… does it matter if a business plays on both sides of the fence and is up front and honest about it? After all, the testimonials are there for all to see. Nothing is hidden from those who wish to find it.
What do you think? Is playing both sides of the fence ok?
P.S. I should mentioned that soon after I started writing this piece, Michael (or should I say Ron?) Ayalon, changed all the links at the bottom of his ezines articles to this. Luckily, I had already copied and pasted the ones I mentioned from knol.
Update: Since my original post Michael has decided to include the websites he has created as well as the domain names he owns on the Home Page of his website (scroll down). I think this is a step in the right direction. What he has also done is change all of his online articles by removing the links to this and this. Perhaps this is an altruistic decision, but only time will tell.
I apologize to all my blogging friends and fans. It’s been a little busy at Mel’s Pet Pals this week (I didn’t even get to my Wednesday Winner this week!), but I did want to share an absolutely fabulous, amazing and moving video for this week’s Favorite Video Friday.
This was first shared by a great blog (if you’re not reading it your should be) called Life With Dogs. The video has been making the rounds for the past week and a half and I wanted to make sure to continue the sharing. If you have a dog, then you will love this video.
Just A Dog?
A couple of months ago, I was exploring various interactive toys for my client newsletter and came across an ad for a new KONG product: the Wobbler. I already had a rolling treat ball at home that Jasper (my Sheltie) absolutely loved, but I wondered if he would like the Wobbler too.
He does! And, so does Daisy!
The Wobbler works just like the Weeble-Wobble toys from when I was a kid. There is sand in the bottom that keeps the toy grounded but allows your dog to tip it to get the treats out of the hole on the side. What I like about this toy is how easy it is to fill with treats and clean up afterwards. And, my dogs really do love it.
The first time I placed the Wobbler on the floor, Jasper backed away, uncertain of what this new thing was and what he was supposed to do with it. But once I showed him how it worked, he was busy pushing it around, knocking it over and pawing at it.
Now, before I leave the house for the day, I fill it with his kibble (or special treats) and leave it on the floor for him and Daisy (my Lab). I never know where I am going to find it when I get home, but that’s part of the fun! I’ve found it in the bathroom (behind the toilet!), under a chair, under the entertainment center, at the top of the basement stairs, in my bedroom, etc. It’s now become a game to guess where I will find it next! Clearly, it is a very popular toy with my dogs.
That’s why the KONG Wobbler is this week’s Wednesday Winner!
When I headed off to college I left behind my treasured companion, a Sheltie named Alicia. She was a great little dog that I had gotten from a neighbor down the street and she had been with me since I was 15. She was my best friend. I adored her.
The hardest part about going to college was leaving Alicia behind. I worried that my family wouldn’t take care of her as well as I did. She slept on my bed every night, so I worried about who she would sleep with at night. I worried who would walk her and make sure she got the love and attention she so deserved. I worried she would miss me and become depressed.
But, as it turns out, I needn’t have worried. My family took great care of her and loved her dearly. She was happy when she saw me and sad when I left, but she never seemed to be depressed or lacking in attention and love. Don’t get me wrong, I would have jumped at the chance to take Alicia with me to college, but it was never an option.
Oh, how the times have changed!
In an article from the New York Times (June 4, 2010), they explore the new phenomenon of colleges that are now allowing students to bring their pets with them. Some colleges even have a special dorm set aside for pets and their owners. Who knew?
It makes me wonder…
Knowing what I know now about college life, would I taken Alicia with me? How different would my college life have been if I had? Would I have been as involved in all the activities offered at the college if I had had a dog back at my dorm room? Or, would college have been easier with a companion and friend from home to help me through it?
What do you think?
Is it a good thing that pets are being allowed to go to college with their owners?
Or, do you think it may deter a student from getting involved with college life?