Yesterday was the kick off of the "31 Days to Building a Better Blog" group for Blog Paws writers, as based on a previous series to help writers improve their blogs. I'll be writing little posts like this one in addition to my regular posts to keep you up to date on the wonders within the group, to detail our progress and the learning curve. Jump in and sign up, it's not too late, and you don't want to miss this.
First Assignment: The Elevator Pitch. Do you know how to sell your blog? Do you know what it is your selling? An Elevator Pitch helps you focus your topics and your blog, and to nail down exactly what you're working on.
While the assignment recommended a piece of 200 words or less, that seemed a little lengthy for me, so I wrote one short version that would be social media friendly, and another that's blog friendly. Here ya go:
Short: "A view into the life of one girl and her White German Shepherd, with helpful advice, product reviews, and interesting stories along the way".
Long: "Whether you’re passionate about White Shepherds, starting your life with puppy, or cherishing years with your canine companion, Life with Arie is a great blog for you. Welcome to my blog, which stands as a chronicle of my life with my dog, Arie, a WGSD, as well as my place to offer up all I’ve learned while having her.
Here you’ll find my tales of tails, interesting stories from around the web about animals and the amazing things they do, as well as about the people who love them, and a great deal about pet care and nutrition to help make your life with your pet as interesting, fulfilling, and long-lived as possible. Join me on my journey and share in my laughter, tears, and know how, and share a bit of your own. Thanks for reading!"
The feedback on our first assignment was really engaging, and it looks like we're going to have a good group to work with. I'm already looking forward to our second task and to getting this blog started right! Do you have ideas or suggestions for my elevator pitch? Please share them in a comment.
Punching a bear in the face sounds like an epic moment from a slapstick comedy or survival movie, but for one Alaska woman, it was last week's big event. So, why would a small woman punch a large black bear square in the nose? To save her dog, of course!
Brook Collins, a 22 year old pet lover in Alaska, had seen black bears around before. They often come through residential areas in Alaska, and some are very used to the presence of people, going for trash and other people produced goodies. Usually, she would just leave the bear alone, or follow it to take pictures, but this time was different--Collins' dachshund, Fudge, was about to become bear chow.
Collins' had let her dogs, a pomeranian named Toki and then Fudge, out in the evening as she usually did. A blood curdling cry from her pup, and Collins saw one of her fears come to life: Her dog was outside, but with a giant black bear over him, holding him in her claws. Adrenaline kicked in, and before she knew it, Collins had acted on a principle she learned about animal behavior; When many animals are punched in the face, they back off. So, this petite 22 year old did just that, and punched the bear square in the face, then took Fudge and ran. Fudge suffered minor marks, but is fine, and Collins ended up with a cut on her thumb. To have taken on a black bear and won, I think those battle scars are fortunately mild, indeed.
Read the full story with Juneau Empire.
How far would you go to save your dog's life? Tell your stories of amazing animal rescue in a comment.
Today many of us spent a moment of silence remembering the tragic events that occurred a decade ago, though for me, it feels like it might have been yesterday. With the attacks on American soil on September 11, many people lost their lives, and many heroes devoted their last hours to ensuring that others might continue a long life. Some of these heroes walked on two legs, some on four, and I think that as we remember all of the lives lost on that tragic day, we should not forget the amazing animals that worked alongside heroic people.
Many dogs helped to discover survivors of the September 11th attacks that were buried under rubble, or helped guide those on the streets to safety. One American White Shepherd (like Arie!) and rescue dog, Thor was even memorialized on the obituaries of urdead2me, a blog remembering lost loved ones. The writer commented on Thor's experience, saying "His most significant [of] deployments was the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 where he served at the Pentagon at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Dogs have served an integral role in search and rescue efforts for years, and even beyond 9/11, are a constant presence in our military. If you haven't checked out War Dogs, it's a great line up of photos showing how dogs have helped the military, with the interesting tag line "There's a reason they brought one to get Osama bin Laden."
These service dogs and the four-legged rescuers of 9/11 are remembered fondly in the minds of their human companions, the people they rescued, and beyond, with documentaries and various articles written about them, like this one. One dog, a German Shepherd who aided rescuers at the World Trade Center site, was remembered even beyond paper and thoughts. Trakr, after being nominated by his owner, James Symington, won a contest with BioArts International to become one of the first dogs to be cloned. Symington and others prized Trakr's heart and rescue ability so much that they created an entire litter of little Trakrs.
Efforts are underway now to create robots that would eventually replace dogs in the military, but I'm skeptical as to how well they'll work out. The creators are trying to make robots that respond and "think" like a dog, but there's a reason why man's best friend's unique instincts and loyalty have been prized for centuries. A bond so unique and so powerful, where dogs willingly risk their lives to please people and save lives, would be hard to come by through machines. Though such robots would mean less lives lost for canines in uniform, they would most likely be much less effective.
Do you know any heroic stories of military dogs coming to the rescue of people in the 9/11 attacks? What do you think of a robot canine-like soldier? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so share them in a comment.
Oh no. No, she didn't. She wouldn't. Really?!?
Almost all canine parents have that moment where they get a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach as they discover, for the first time, a destroyed object that their dog has chewed into oblivion.
I was blessed with my beast--Arie was set on her Kong and toys when she was a little bit, and was not a chew happy pup. However, on two or three very very rare occasions in the past year and half, I have caught her chewing on objects other than her toys. It's never one of the usual suspects, like a shoe. It's always something odd, like this vase. Yes, a vase:
(One a side note, if your puppy is chew-tastic, there is help available). After my vase met it's demise, I was reminded of this nifty tale of a pup's teeth gone awry. It's a great example of how pet parents are dealing with their pet's little mishaps, and how various companies are waking up to the amazing marketing fact that: A) Billions of people have pets and B) Millions of them will spend money on things for their pets and with companies that appreciate their pets.
Summary: Dan had a roommate. Dan's roommate had a beloved Aussie Shepherd, Strummer. Strummer had a thing for Dan's footwear, and loved stealing the soles out of his shoes. It was never a problem, until he brand new Aldo shoes put up a fight when Strummer tried to remove the soles--So she turned one shoe into a chew toy. Dan wrote Aldo, explaining the situation, and asked if he could purchase or have one shoe. The Staff at Aldo, being friends to those of the pet-lovers persuasion, did one better: They mailed Dan a new pair.
To read the full article, and Dan's letter, check it out on The Consumerist.
Do you have any great customer service stories that involve your dog? Do you consciously shop with pet friendly companies? Tell me about your experiences and thoughts in a comment.
Many of us have heard of small dog syndrome, or the equivalent to the Napoleon complex in canines. Yet, for those of us with pets weighing in at over 60 pounds, there is a whole other reality: Large/Giant Dog Syndrome (GDS).
While many small dogs try to compensate for their size by "acting tough." or posturing, some large dogs forget how big they are. This manifests itself in several ways:
The Lap Dog Effect
In my first post, I discussed how Arie, in all of her near triple digits glory, was trying to get into my lap during a particularly nasty storm. While I love this big girl and want to make her feel safe, having a dog her size in your lap is not just a little uncomfortable--It's also an organ crushing, breath suppressing experience that you can't endure for long. Big dogs can be a little challenging with other tasks as well. For instance, while training a puppy, you may have to deal with a little leash pulling. While training a large breed dog, that little tug on the leash can send you flying.
To make things more interesting, my lap is not the only place Arie tries to go that she is too big for. I lovingly call this interesting trait Arie's Houdini Syndrome, as Houdini was always putting himself into places that he ought not to be and had to fight to get out of them. Arie regularly attempts to fit behind the sofa (where there isn't enough space), under the bed (where there is b a r e l y enough space), and elsewhere, often times resulting in knocking over an object or several objects. This has earned her a particularly strong reputation for being clumsy, when the history behind her breed discusses how she is a generally graceful animal.
The Older Sibling Complex
In the final display of GDS in my GSD, I am reminded of my childhood. My sister is six years my senior, so, as you can imagine, I was the bane of her existence growing up, always one life stage behind, and a constant annoyance in her eyes. When we would get into one of our often tiffs, Kristen would occasionally end up hitting me or throwing something in my direction. Afterwards, I would always hear my mom telling her "Kristen, you don't realize how strong you are. You can't hit/throw stuff at/etc your sister; you could hurt her, and it's not nice..." My big girl is a lot like my sister was in childhood, in that she doesn't always realize her own strength. When playing with our other dog, or investigating our cats (she's still not sure about these creatures, and smells them often, or just watches them inquisitively) she can sometimes go outside of the safety bounds, when, just like my mom, I swoop in and dissolve the situation.
How do you deal with GDS in your pet's life? If you have a large breed dog, do you see these signs of GDS in them? Share your stories with me in a comment.
Pedigree is one of the most well-known companies in the animal world--Their name can be seen in every grocery store, most pet supply stores, and plenty of other retailers. Not only does Pedigree function to bring pet parents the various items they need to raise their pet, but they also work to help animals in need. Together with Betty White (Who could have picked a more popular face? I love some Betty White!), they have the Pedigree Foundation, which works to provide aid to shelters and homeless pets everywhere.
In other news, Blog Paws, an annual gathering of pet bloggers everywhere (I was unable to attend, sad face) was held this past weekend. Thousands of bloggers focus on the subject of our furry friends, and Pedigree has realized the power behind that. That's why, for the second year, they're doing something amazing, and donating a 20 lb. bag of food to a shelter for every blog post that mentions the Pedigree Foundation.
So Bloggers, if Arie can show off her smarts as a White German Shepherd and sit, stay, fetch, roll over, etc. on command, you can use your natural talents and skills to burn up the keyboard for a good cause. With your pet sleeping beside/under your chair or perched over your shoulder, write a blog post and include the Pedigree Foundation. For those of you who don't have a pet blog, don't worry--They'll take entries from your voice too!
To see the original post where it all started (at least for me), be sure to Two Little Cavaliers. ***AFTER YOU WRITE YOUR POST be sure to go to the Two Little Cavaliers blog and add your name to the list. This is one of the ways Pedigree will tally the donations.
Once you write your post, put a link to it in a comment for me! I'd love to read your take on it.
I am...admittedly, a shelter magazine hoarder. Well, I don't have magazines piled up in every nook and cranny of my apartment, but I do like to look over a juicy issue of Elle Decor, or to visit Lonny or Design Milk in the wee minutes left from my lunch break at work. Design is something I love, and something I like to bring into my home.
My bedroom currently features a modern aesthetic, with typography wall art, and a black, white, and shades of yellowish-orange color motif. Everything seems to flow with an ease and elegance...until you get to the ugly beige and metal mass that is Arie's crate. I loathe the look of that crate. The crate is important for Arie, because it's her own personal space: The cats don't go in there. Shady, our other dog, can't either. It's her own little hideaway and nighttime retreat, her safe place for sleeping, resting, and for calming herself when she gets overwhelmed. It is also a major eyesore...along with Shady's crate, the litter boxes, and the cat post/tree.
Still, never fear pet owners: Recently, designers have been keeping us in mind, and are making the cutest (EVER!) modern pet accessories, beds, and more, that won't interrupt your space's design. See my curated lust items below.
Who could resist an egg like nook for their favorite pooch or feline, in a fun shade of pink, mint, or beige, and with adorable polka dot cushions? This little nugget of cute, a pEi pod, will set you back $130 for the small size, but like jeans for the same price, it probably won't cramp your style.
Kitty Pod. This is one of my loves. This little "couchette" is a wonder for me, as it's made from a scratching post like material and is designed to comfort your kitty and let your feline love their very own piece of furniture, helping to keep their claws from loving up the side of your couch. These pieces look like a chic, recycled material furniture piece, but are ultimate examples of function. Find this for $122, or check out their site for other options. (P.S. the opening music on their website is pretty sweet, too.)
This next little wonder is adorable for the fish lovers in this world. If your apartment or HOA won't allow you to have mammals, you can go with the ever popular beta, a great low maintenance pet. Still, the bowl could give your stylish new fish...and your apartment...the blues. Instead, consider giving your fish a modern abode that any architect would admire: The fish condo. The best part is, this bowl is highly affordable, at $29.95 via Heliotrope.
What stylish finds do you have to share with us? Share your adorable pet accessory ideas in a comment.
Yesterday the Eastern seaboard felt something it's not very used to: An earthquake. Though the epicenter of the 5.9 quake was in Virginia, people reported feeling tremors as far off as New York and Atlanta. While many talk about the surprise of an earthquake, for the animal kingdom, it's not such a sudden event. Natural disasters and pets have interesting links, from anticipating a disaster to how animals respond to the aftermath.
Animals and wildlife have been anticipating these natural disasters for quite some time, in records going back to the times of ancient Greece.
In 373 BC "Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes" notably abandoned their homes in the city of Helice right before a devastating earthquake in Greece. Since that recording, people have been telling various stories about their pets giving signs to natural disasters or events, as mild as thunderstorms or as devastating as a tsunami.
Though some scientists in Asia are studying this intriguing behavior, for the most part, this warning sign often goes on without second thought or notice. Many scientists discredit it as hindsight bias, saying that the odd and signaling behavior in animals is only noticed after the event has already occurred, and then it could just be a pet acting odd--not signaling natural disaster. Still, when we do pay attention, the pay off can be great:
" In 1975, the city of Haicheng was evacuated days in advance of an earthquake based on the behavior of dogs and cats. An estimated 150,000 lives were saved." -Petcentric, "Pets Predicting Earthquakes"
After a natural disaster has happened, we have plenty of animals working with various groups and in various capacities there to help find trapped or lost people and to give them aid. One has to wonder though, who's helping the animals?
There are several disaster relief groups focused on helping pets, whether it's World Vets in Japan, BtC helping pets displaced by tornadoes, or the Animal Refuge Kansai helping dogs that were left without their families during an earthquake around Kobe. You can help your pet survive a disaster by watching their behavior, having an emergency bag for your pet to go along with your own preparedness kits, and having a plan on what to do in an emergency.
Did your pet act strangely at all before the earthquake? Share your stories in a comment.
It's that season, where people start thinking about film and music nods and awards shows...and preparing their own little lists of who might be nominated in the Oscars, the Grammy's, an Emmy, the Tony's...etc. We look to the Nobel Prize to see who is a true world changer in their time, and to environmental or philanthropic titles to see who is working to make a difference. While we often see our humane favorites get recognized for their hard work and brilliant performances, when is the last time you saw a canine or feline take home recognition for more than meeting a breed standard?
The silver screen and good nature are combining to finally extend a little love and affection from the masses to the heroes of the four-legged persuasion. The American Humane Association is once again presenting their "Hero Dog Awards", this year with the power of animal activist and lover Betty White along with film star Ewan McGregor behind their efforts.
Dogs will be recognized in several categories, such as " law enforcement and arson dogs; service dogs; therapy dogs; military dogs; guide dogs; search and rescue dogs; hearing dogs, and emerging hero dogs, for "ordinary pets who do extraordinary things," the Hallmark Channel revealed. In addition to these recognitions, a special nod will be given to the famous Rin Tin Tin. Did you know that the canine idol of American television was rescued from the front lines in WWI? The amazing dog who fought it out in battle and then won the heart of America is getting a legacy award, one that will be presented to a descendant of the Rin Tin Tin line.
The winning dogs will get to attend their own red carpet gala, walking like the stars they are past the press and admirers. To watch the show with your pooch, tune in to the Hallmark Channel on November 11.
If you want to weigh in on the winners, be sure to vote for the dogs you think are most deserving. Do you personally know of a dog, cat, or other pet that has done something amazing for the community or for someone? Tell their tale here in the comments section.
Those two syllables were finally settled on the day after Arie joined my family. I felt like one of those parents that everyone looks down on for not having their baby named by the time they leave the hospital, but dogs are different. You don't have nine months to get to know them and think about it--You look for a pup that fits you, you bring them home, and then you figure out what the dog's name will be.
Somehow, I landed on a particularly confusing name for others. Let's start with pronunciation.
Her name is not air-ree. This has nothing to do with what we breathe. It's ARR-ree; if you want to get technical about it, it would look like this: är'E.
Now, let's go with where it came from: Arie is not named after India Arie, as is commonly expected. She was also not named for Ari Gold, who I am told is a character on "Entourage", though I never watched the show.
I tossed around plenty of names, from Evie to Abigail. I seriously looked at Aurora, but it sounded like too much for such a little pup, and a dog's name should be easy to call. Eventually, that name did lead me down the path to the one I settled on, finally. Arie is, like many modern girls, (Avery, Kenley, Andy, Bailey) the bearer of a name that was originally (or could be, in some unisex names' cases) a man's. The name also tied in very well with my love of Wes Anderson movies:
I fell in love with the movie The Royal Tenenbaums when I saw it for the first time while in Yemen--Yes, Yemen. The two awkward little boys in track suits that match Ben Stiller's? Their characters names are Ari (Aha!) and Uzi. Hence the name Arie was born.
Now, as you can see Ari is typically a man's name. I needed to feminize it a little bit so that it fit my big girl. I slapped a more feminine (in my opinion) vowel on the end that wouldn't interrupt the natural pronunciation of the name, and there you have it.
How did you choose your dog's name? Are they named after a person, a beloved book or movie character, or just for their personality? Did you pick one of 2010's most popular dog names? Here's the breakdown so you can see.
1.Bella 6. Buddy
2. Bailey 7. Maggie
3. Max 8. Daisy
4. Lucy 9. Charlie
5. Molly 10. Sophie
Share your dog naming story in a comment.