Saturday, May 23, 2015

BlogPaws Conference Jitters

I am a special kind of introvert.  I am an introvert who, days before a lunch date with an old friend, thinks, Oh my god, why did I ever agree to this, I'd rather do literally anything than go out and socialize.  One who hems and haws about whether or not to go on a double date because the other girl is a stranger and meeting new people makes me so very anxious.  I'm an introvert who breaks a sweat at the thought of introducing myself.

But I'm also an introvert who, once back to my room - my husband, my books, my job, my solitude - says, "That was so much fun!  Why don't I do this more often?!"  This is confusing and not very fun for poor Jared, who experiences both pre- and post-event Chelsea, which are nearly polar opposites.

So when it comes to big events like BlogPaws...sigh.  Color me stressed!  I know that I will end up having a great time.  I know I will meet some fantastic people and learn so much more about the pet blogging world.  I know this.  But pre-event Chelsea doesn't seem to know this, and she won't stop worrying! ;)

You might not guess from looking, but I am terrified in this picture.  It was right before a wedding where Jared and I were the guestbook attendants - lots of forced socialization!

Seriously, though, I'm more excited than anything.  Since I've been neglecting the blog lately and trying to get my head on straight, I was worried I wouldn't get as much out of the conference as I might have six months ago.  But I don't think that's true.  And to be honest, this is as much of a getaway for my husband and I as it is a learning experience.  Truthfully, I might be most excited to see all the dogs.  And grab Jared's arm and "Squeeee!" when I see one I recognize from another blog.  (You have not heard squealing until you have heard me around a cute dog.  I apologize in advance.)

I was concerned about getting sick, for sure.  For whatever reason, my "episodes" tend to happen in crowded, public, or embarrassing places (like my first date with my husband, my first day at TWO different jobs, and the biggest shopping mall in the Midwest...), and BlogPaws definitely fits all three criteria.  But I am planning on packing a tote for each day that will have all of the things I need, should I have an issue:  Medications, an ice pack, LOTS of frozen water bottles, packages of salted peanuts, and an iPod full of episodes of The Office.  Plus a super-husband who is well-versed in the art of taking care of his unconscious wife. :D  So I'm crossing my fingers!

Two posts that I have found very helpful so far are:

M. K. Clinton - Packing for a BlogPaws Conference
Cat Wisdom 101 - Packing it All In

They both have packing lists plus great tips for attending a conference!

Do you have any jitters when it comes to social situations?  I sure would feel less silly if you shared them with me in the comments ;)  SO looking forward to meeting you all!  I'll be the one jumping up and down and squealing over your adorable dog or cat! ;)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Kids' Guide to Interacting with Dogs

I am the library director at a very small public library.  This year's Summer Reading program theme is "Every Hero has a Story."  We go for four weeks, and each week will be a different type of hero - superheroes, community heroes, animal heroes, and how to be a hero yourself.  I love trying to integrate my two passions - reading and animal rescue - and I'm excited to have the opportunity to do so for this program. 

For the "Animal Hero" week, I am trying to track someone down who has a certified therapy dog who could come in for a visit.  I know the kids would love taking turns petting the dog and asking all sorts of questions about its training.  I am a bit nervous, though, about the kids interacting with the dog.  We generally only have about 10 kids who attend regularly, ranging in age from preschool to 5th grade, but there's a good chance we could have more this year.  I am worried about grabby hands, loud and excited yelling, and a nervous dog. 

I plan to use these amazing infographics to go over the dos and don'ts of interacting with animals.  I found them through Winding Ridge Lane, but they are the work of the late, great Sophia Yin. 


I'm sure you've seen these before, but aren't they amazing?  Any other suggestions for bringing a dog around children? 
I'm also excited for the "Being a Hero" week, which will focus mostly on positive personality traits and doing various "good deeds".  For one of the crafts, we will be making cat toys, which will then be donated to a local animal shelter.  If you have any other ideas, I am more than open to them!  I'm always looking for ways to get kids interested in both reading and volunteering!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Don't be a Breed Bully

Dobermans were once thought to be the most vicious breed out there.  Then it was German Shepherds...then Rotties.  Now the media is picking on pit bulls, the goofy clowns of the dog world.

What breed is next?  What breed will be added to the "dangerous dog ordinances" that are spreading like wildfire here in Iowa?  Which group of dogs will be publicly damned and banned from attending training classes or living in certain towns?

According to my Facebook feed and comments on recent news articles about BSL (breed specific legislation), two breeds that might be in danger of becoming the media's next targets are the Presa Canario and the Cane Corso.  Both beautiful breeds have the square head and the muscular build that can make them look intimidating, and both have a reputation of being bred for fighting.

But I want you to meet Spike.

Spike's human sister was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age.  His owner noticed that while she was at the children's hospital, Spike began losing weight drastically.  He acted lethargic and refused to eat.  But each time the child returned home in between hospital visits, Spike was back to his old self and eating normally.  Then she would leave again, and he'd stop eating, and so on, until the poor dog himself had to be hospitalized and fed intravenously.  Through it all, Spike was there for his human dad, resting his head in his lap and serving as a source of comfort for the man, who was devastated over his daughter's diagnosis.  

Spike passed away last year.  But his family will never forget his devotion and endless supply of love and support.  Why are stories like this not shown on the news?  Why not show the amazing things these breeds do for us instead of focusing on negativity?  Breeds that the public consistently slanders have such potential to be wonderful pets.  And many aren't given the option - they sit behind bars in shelters because people are frightened of them.  Give them a chance.  It is often the breeds that look the most intimidating that need the most love.

Since we're talking about Presas, here's a beautiful young male up for adoption!  Located in Toledo, Ohio, Tiny is about two years old and according to his fosters, a "big goofball"!  Click the link for more info or to adopt the ironically-named Tiny.  Isn't he gorgeous?!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tuesday's Tails: Garth

Over the weekend, some friends and I visited an animal shelter about an hour away.  It was a beautiful facility, and though all the pets seemed incredibly sweet, we were especially taken with one pittie in particular.  His name is Garth and he is an adorable, petite pit bull mix.

Garth is about three years old and full of energy...and he's always up for a cuddle!  The first thing he did once he got out of his kennel was reach up with his two front paws and give every single one of us a pittie hug and kiss!  My brother-in-law fell in love with Garth immediately - it was very sweet.  He would adopt Garth in an instant if his apartment complex allowed dogs...but, as it is, the sweet boy is still up for adoption.  If you're interested or know someone who might be, please contact the Cedar Bend Humane Society.

Derek and Garth had a special bond! :D

Today is the last day of a very cool fundraiser for the National Mill Dog Rescue.  One of my favorite organizations ever, they are dedicated to saving and finding great homes for puppy mill dogs.  Right now, they are holding an auction in which you can bid on beautiful, handmade bracelets.  Each puppy mill rescue wears a chain or a number around their neck (an easy way for the so-called "breeders" to keep track of them); these bracelets incorporate either a link or the actual tag from a former puppy mill dog.  Each bracelet is unique and comes with a card giving a description of the organization and the specific bracelet itself.  Click the link for your last chance to bid!

One of the bracelets up for bid

I also have a request:  If you know of anyone who might need a transport for an animal in need from May 27th - June 1st going from Iowa to Tennessee or vice versa, PLEASE let me know!  My husband and I are driving to the BlogPaws conference in Nashville from Iowa, and we would love to help save a dog or cat while on the road.  Thank you in advance! <3

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oh Melvin...

This week, the world lost an amazing dog.  It's strange - I don't "know" the writers behind my favorite blogs, but I feel like I do.  When a blogger loses a pet, it's like the whole community has lost that pet as well.  If you have read Oh Melvin in its wonderful entirely, you are surely mourning sweet Melvin too.  Please keep Tracey and Jake the Frenchie in your thoughts and prayers, and please head on over to the blog to share your condolences.

If you're unfamiliar with Oh Melvin, I'm including links below to some of my favorite posts.  Prepare to waste away the next week or so reading through the archives!

Fridays With Melvin:  Her - Melvin's beautifu "tribute" to his Person

Little Victories - Jake and Melvin adorably get to know one another

Happy Birthday Melvin - I love this poetic birthday post Tracey wrote for Melvin.

Stalker - These photos of brotherly love in the form of stalking crack. me. up!

(photo courtesy of Oh Melvin and kate with a camera)

Goodbye, sweet boy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rescue & Romance

I read just about every genre of book, but I have never ventured into romance novel territory.  I don't know, I just always picture a shirtless Fabio with his hair blowing in the wind, and...I go look at the memoirs instead.  The closest I've ever come to reading a bodice-ripper is 50 Shades of Grey, and that's only because the media was all abuzz about it.  But I just might be a romance novel convert, because last weekend I discovered Catherine Mann's Second Chance Ranch series!

No bodice-ripping going on here! (photo from Amazon)

The first book in this series is called Shelter Me.  Yes, the majority of the plot is focused on this couple and their romance - of course - but there is a large subplot dedicated to a Shepherd mix named Trooper.  Trooper was Sierra's father's right-hand man in Iraq, and when her father is killed while serving his country, Sierra is surprised to find his two partners (one human, one canine) on her doorstep.  Sierra and her mom run the Second Chance Ranch, a hectic animal rescue.  The last thing Sierra needs is more stress and painful reminders of her father...but Trooper and his (very handsome) new owner are difficult for her to resist.

You mean you don't get frisky on a picnic blanket on top of a snow-covered hill?!  (Photo from Amazon)

Rescue Me, the second book in the Second Chance Ranch series, features the same setting with slightly different characters.  Sierra is a minor character, while her friend Mary Hannah - who now works at the rescue - is at the forefront.  Mary Hannah has a scandalous history with Detective AJ Parker, who is working with her now to rehabilitate a terrified Boxer named Holly.  Holly was seized by the pair during a drug bust - she is traumatized and unsure.  But Mary Hannah has to heal and train Holly, all the while trying to avoid her feelings for AJ.  

Each book has its share of "sexy" scenes, as well as cheesy lines and silly scenarios.  However, it's very well-written, and the characters are relatable and real.  What I loved most, of course, was the rescue aspect - I so wish there was more of this in fiction!  In each book, there were also a few portions that were written from the dog's perspective, which was super entertaining.  Take it from me:  If you aren't so into romance novels, but you're a dog-lover, try these books!  I'm not sure if the author is planning on a third in the Second Chance Ranch series, but I sure hope so! 

Because it is Tuesday's Tails, I am also including two adoptables:

This is Lady, and (like Trooper in Shelter Me) she is a Shepherd mix.  Lady is 6 years old, fully trained, and good with other animals.  And look how beautiful she is!!  Check out her Petfinder profile here.

Like Holly in Rescue Me, Fargo is a female Boxer.  Fargo loves other animals, children, and running around outside.  She's super sweet but pretty shy - she just needs a bit of extra love to bring her out of her shell.  And yes...her ears are always like this!  Adorable!  Check out Fargo's Petfinder profile here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

7 Ways to Volunteer When You're Short on Time

If you've noticed my silence for the past week or two, I apologize.  Life got in the way, as it tends to do.  I haven't had too much extra time to do the things I love - blogging, writing, volunteering.  I especially miss walking dogs at the shelter.  This made me think:  Lots of people, surely, have this issue.  Not enough hours in the day to volunteer.  So for those of you with too much on your plate to participate in the "hands-on" part of volunteering, a list of other ways to help animals in need.  Feel free to add more in the comments!

AmazonSmile - If you're a frequent Amazon shopper, check out their AmazonSmile program.  It allows you to purchase the same items you would normally buy on the site, while donating .5% of the price to the charitable organization of your choice.  It takes virtually no extra time out of your day, and your online purchases can benefit animal rescues - definitely a win-win!

Share a photo or blog post.  Let's say you're scrolling through Facebook while holding for a work call.  When you scroll by a cute photo of an adoptable kitten or a sad story about a dog in need, stop.  Don't scroll past...instead, click "share."  Just one click.  It really can make a difference.  This blog post is spot-on - I follow multiple pages on Facebook in which sharing and liking photos is what it's all about.  A couple great examples are Susie's Senior Dogs and Minnesota Dogs in Danger.

Remember this pittie-dachshund mix who went viral back in January?  That's what shares can do!!

Make a monetary donation or a donation of supplies.  If you aren't able to donate your time, consider donating in other ways.  Shelters are always in serious need of financial assistance, and they can almost always use practical supplies like bleach, towels, or newspaper.  A monthly donation doesn't take much effort - box up the supplies or seal an envelope and stick it in the mail.  Nonprofits are grateful for whatever you're able to give!

Send an email to your senator.  If your laws relating to puppy mills or animal abuse are anything like ours here in Iowa (awful), send a quick email to your senator.  Explain your experiences with the horror of puppy mills and why these laws need to improve.  Our voices can be heard if we care enough to speak out.

Transport.  Going on a business trip?  Find a Facebook page or website that organizes animal transports in that area and see if there is a dog or cat (or sometimes rat, ferret, or bunny!) that needs to hitch a ride.  There are tons of transport organizations out there, and they appreciate the offer, even if no transport is needed at that time or place.  Plus, animal transports are a blast - read more about my experiences here.  And here!

Ask for donations to a local shelter instead of gifts.  Let's face it:  Shelter dogs need food and comfy blankets more than you need another pair of slippers for Christmas.  Instead of making lengthy lists for Christmas, birthdays, or other parties, ask for donations to help animals in need.

Offer your skills and talents.  If you're a writer, offer to write up descriptions to make adoptable dogs' personalities shine.  If you're a photographer, take some photos of adorable adoptables over your lunch break.  Graphic designer?  Print out some flyers for the local shelter.  IT expert?  See if a rescue could use your expertise in making over their website.  Your work days might seem boring and dull to you, but shelters or rescues will jump at an offer of help.  How might your day-to-day tasks benefit nonprofit organizations?