Best City for Pet Travelers? VOTE Saratoga Springs!

Best City for Pet Travelers? VOTE Saratoga Springs!

Saratoga Springs  Best City for Pet Travelers

What’s the best city for pet travelers in 2013? Top voted cities will win the annual Best City for Pet Travelers Tournament hosted by GoPetFriendly.com!

Saratoga Springs, NY beat Sonoma, CA in round one;Vancouver, BC in round two; and Sante Fe, NM in round three. While dog parks and pet-friendly hotels are nice, Saratoga has much, much more!

What Makes Saratoga Springs
“Best City for Pet Travelers?”

Saratoga Springs has made a concerted effort since 2009 to increase the dog-friendliness of it’s downtown business district, thanks to Melanie Dallas of Sloppy Kisses, a treat boutique for dogs, and Adrianna Flax of Saratoga Arts. Dog-Friendly Downtown is their brainchild.

DOG-FRIENDLY DOWNTOWN
THE WAY IT WORKS:

Dog-Friendly-DowntownThe blue sticker pictured here, when displayed on participating storefronts, acts as an invitation to walk in with your dog, year round and no questions asked.

Strut right in with your best friend to retail establishments, hotels, restaurants with outdoor dining options and even art galleries. That’s right. Dogs and their humans can see some of the region’s highest-quality contemporary art at The [dog-friendly] Arts Center gallery space!

Visit Saratoga Springs’ Dog-Friendly Downtown website for an interactive map listing all participating businesses and their possible size or food related limitations. According to Dallas, “You can shop, you can eat, you can go to the gallery, go get your nails done, and you can do all that with your dog.”

Sloppy Kisses

For more about Saratoga’s Dog-Friendly Downtown initiative, history, and growth, watch Dallas’ interview on Saratoga.com.

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

DOG-FRIENDLY – ALL YEAR LONG

Howl-o-ween ParadeFor the Howl-o-ween hound
Join Sloppy Kisses for their Annual Canine Costume Parade/Contest!

Have a booze hound?
Yappy Hours are a frequent event. In 2012, they took place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. every other Thursday, May through September. Prior hosts have been The Mill at Round Lake, Gideon Putnam Resort, Saratoga State Park, The Mouzon House, and The Inn at Saratoga.

For the Patriotic Pups
The Patriotic Pooch Parade marched down Broadway as part of Saratoga’s All American Celebration on July 4th.

Is your hound a history buff?
Samantha Bosshart, Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation executive director, led a 2012 tour of the fine homes on North Broadway. Prominent residents included Lucy Skidmore Scribner, George B. Cluett, William B. Gage, Henry Hathorn, and Senator Brackett. Dog treats and water were provided along the route, and the walk was followed by “Yappy Hour” at The Ice House on Putnam Street.

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

WHAT DOG-FRIENDLY LOOKS LIKE:

I took Shamus, my Newf, to shop the shops on Dog-Friendly Downtown Day one year. Afterward, we hit up a rockin’ Yappy Hour at The Putnam Den where Mayor Johnson, his wife and their recently adopted dog Chase mingled with other dog lovers. After a day of meeting & greeting, dogs and owners were well acquainted. We were all “Snacks? Drinks? This party is ON!” Then it was off for a patio dinner with Amy and Rod from GoPetFriendly.com. This is where we met for the first time and where our idea for co-founding Be the Change for Animals was born!

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

THE PARTICIPATING PACK

The best part is that the program is growing. Dog-Friendly Downtown welcomed 4 new businesses for 2013 so far: Dog Friendly Downtown ProgramLucia BoutiqueYellow BoutiquePaperDolls of Saratoga and Saratoga Saddlery & International Boutique. More than 40 participating establishments have joined the pack, escalating totals from last year’s 30+.

Note the providers featuring lovely Upstate New York wines, Sonoma. We’ve proven you’re not the only gig in wine country. And Vancouver, we have you in our sites next.

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

 

Saratoga Springs may be notorious for race horses, but Mayor Johnson wouldn’t mind if it were notorious for dogs too – and that’s no sour grapes. C’mon Saratoga fans! Show your support for Dog-Friendly Downtown!

 

WHO WINS WHAT?

Because I nominated Saratoga, and if I win the Final 4 with your help, I’ll give the following to Dog House Adoptions in Poestenkill, NY for their (our) first birthday fundraiser in May… So, we all win by helping homeless dogs!

The tournament champion will receive: a three-night stay in the super pet friendly Kimpton hotel of their choosing, a pleathora of pet travel gear from Kurgo valued at over $300, dog food, supplements, and treats from The Honest Kitchen, a Critter Zone air purifier, a convenient travel bag set, complete with folding bowls, from Petmate, a snazzy matching collar and leash set from 2 Hounds Design, and a Sherpa soft-sided pet carrier.

Dog House Adoptions Banner

The Doggone Dirt on Pet Blogging

The Dirt on Pet Blogging

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. Today, Amy Burkert – our lovely host from GoPetFriendly.com – invites all pet bloggers to explore their purpose for blogging and to share techniques that best achieve their goals.

I’ll be participating in my own way this year, so please forgive me tossing out every question about post scheduling, audience retention, and monitoring success. My 2011 and 2012 posts address these things and my opinions have not changed. Bottom line: Meaningful titles drive traffic to meaningful content which, in turn, drives meaningful engagement and conversation. It’s the communication that I value most, so there you have it.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about something else…

Top 5 Pet Peeves about Pet Blogging

I absolutely hate certain things about this niche. My goal is to avoid – and have you avoid – each of them like H3N2, the rampant flu plague taking 2013 by storm. I’ve presented with several symptoms of blogging disease at one point or another, but I won’t be responsible for the spread of more. So, what exactly do I hate?

#1 – You’ve Forgotten Why I Should Care

I’ve watched pet bloggers fill up page after page, week after week, year after year. These are terrific people who I genuinely like, and you’re probably one of them – but let’s be honest…

I love my animals most. You love your animals most. Who here feels the need to read some day-by-day account of a medical recovery or to watch somebody else’s dog eat a treat and catch a ball? And, as hundreds of new pet bloggers line up to add more of the same, sadly, the question that all-too-often goes unanswered is “Why should I care?”

THE FIX – Write your post to engage me specifically. In return, I promise to never write self-indulgent drivel unless it also demonstrates something helpful, informational or entertaining – something that applies to you and yours.

Loosely formed diary entries are not educational or entertaining. Compiled information collected over time with a strong hypothesis and conclusion? That’s far more useful than your process of getting there. Blog with purpose, even if that purpose is sheer humor or storytelling. In addition to helpful information, everybody can use a good laugh or a well-crafted story to get in touch with our emotions. Always.

#2 – You Rack Up Comments for the Sake of It

Please stop commenting on other’s blogs strictly so they feel obligated to visit you in return.  If you paste the same “Happy to see you on the blog hop!” message here that you’ve posted everywhere else (You know, the one including a spammy signature link to your blog?), I will not waste a single click or keystroke in return. The number of comments I receive isn’t as important as their quality.

THE FIX – Address something I’ve specifically said with your own insightful thoughts and I promise to continue – as I always have – to do the same here and on your blog. Is there a worthy point to doing it any other way? (That question is rhetorical. The answer is NO.)

#3 – Make Product Reviews about More than the Product

I’m stunned that people are still so obviously in this pet blogging game for the free goods. I once saw one blogger comment to another, “You should totally do reviews. You get all kinds of things and you don’t even have to say much.” Yeah. And I don’t have to read what you write much – or ever again. I’ll bet those products stop flowing like your blog traffic, too.

Have I just stopped caring about goods and gadgets because my blog was overrun by product reviews in 2011? (I’m still so sorry. I lost track in a sea of requests and made too many promises.) Or are many reviews truly what I interpret: sucky avenues to get freebies?

THE FIX – In that rare moment when a product is worthy of celebration, and some truly are, offer a uniquely interesting perspective. Think about what people think about YOU when you write – not just the product.

What I love most about my dogs, cats and birds is that I can thoroughly enjoy them without a special product to enhance the experience. Beyond high quality food, a soft bed that lasts, and a strong harness and leash, pets are perfect packages all on their own. If your review can beat that, perhaps it is worthy. My advice? Make it so.

#4 – Pushy Product Review Requests? Lick My Cat.

Pushing me over the edge in 2012 is the author who thought that every favor he asked for was somehow beneficial to me.

1.) Writing his review added value to my blog.
2.) Putting him in touch with a conference founder and friend was a feather in my “connection” cap.
3.) When gift bags were full and he wouldn’t pay to get his product into the conference like every other vendor, it would add value to my session to hand out free copies.

Uh, Dude? Your book might be mildly whimsical, but it isn’t worth all that reading, writing, image editing, promoting across Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Pinterest, reaching out in your name, managing shipments, hauling your product through hotels, and carpetbagging through a conference on your behalf.

THE FIX – For the love of all things respectful, dear promoter, STOP acting like you’re doing ME the favor of riding on MY coattails.

If you want to entice me, here’s a thought. Offer to share my post in front of your audience on every social avenue you have access to – just like I will for you. It helps you by sharing a third party endorsement and it helps me to reach new people. That’s one way I’ll put you in front of my hard earned readers. And, yes. If you can find some other awesome way to make it worth my while, I’m all ears. But I’m not doing it for the mere price of a dog bone or book ever again.

#5 – What’s YOUR Blogging Beef?

It’s hardly fair for me to spout off without asking for thoughts in return. As much as I hate the aformentioned things, I’d like to end on something I love, hearing from you.

THE FIX – School me in what you hate to see. I’ll do my best to make my place in this niche a better space to read and engage based on your feedback.

Ready? Set. GO! Leave your comment below.

Hurricane Sandy Relief Run Becomes a Rebuild Run

Hurricane Sandy Relief Run Becomes a Rebuild Run

Hurricane Sandy: Coney Island Aftermath

On day 12 of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, a fleet of Army Jeeps rolled slowly down Coney Island’s sleepy 21st Street. They parked in perfect rows at a sandy asphalt tennis court across the street from where I stood. Next came 10 ambulances. Suddenly, the enormity of the situation rang crystal clear. This is why, as members of Hoags Corners Volunteer Fire Company, drove 3 1/2 hours to deliver hurricane relief supplies by morning.

Hurricane Sandy: Coney Island Aftermath

Imagine being elderly, disabled or simply without another place to go when Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Now imagine being stuck 20 floors up with no mobility or elevator power to get down. You can’t refill your meds or bottled oxygen, get food, or call for help as cell service comes and goes. As Hoags Corners Volunteer Fire Company unloaded our 24 foot box truck filled with food, sweaters, coats and boots into the Cristo Viene Church, the Army partnered with ambulance personal to systematically visit every apartment and get medical help to those who need it.

Saturday was day 12 since Sandy made landfall. While NYPD stood watch over many corners to prevent looting and gas theft, this was the first presence of organized help in this neighborhood.

Hurricane Sandy Photo Essay: Worth 100,000 Words

Please take a moment to appreciate both the harsh realities and the human good that have sprung forth from the wreckage in my photo essay below. In the midst of the destruction and heartache, hope thrives in the smiles of displaced children and heroic garbage men who walk a fine line between removing Sandy’s remains and tossing people’s destroyed daily life items. NYPD Officer Anthony Bonilla was a wonderful addition to our team, leading a hand in any way he could and sharing stories of what he’s seen as recovery begins. And teams of volunteers working on overall cleanup spanned the Coney Island boardwalk as far as the eye could see.

(For full size images and captions, visit the slideshow in a new window.)

Upstate Helps Downstate

Hoags Corners VFC Hurricane Relief Drive

Hoags Corners Volunteer Fire Company made this hurricane relief run from New York’s Capital Region within days of a small but important conversation. Austin Wilkinson, the 13-year-old son of local wounded warrior Tech. Sgt. Joseph Wilkinson, watched hurricane news coverage and wanted to take action. Austin spoke with Town Supervisor David Fleming who approached Fire Chief Bradway’s wife Chris for help. And then it all happened as follows:

Sunday: Chris sent an email and Facebook update asking that warm clothes be delivered to the firehouse between 6-8 PM on Monday, November 5. She reports, “Expecting a few bags, we filled the fire house.”

Monday: People came to sort and bag coats and boots by male, female and children’s sizes.

Tuesday:  Donations kept coming. Chris asked who needed what on the Giving Back to Those Affected by Sandy Facebook page and was connected with Cristo Viene Church, a small community space acting as a neighborhood distribution point for supplies, hot meals and support.

Wednesday: Chris says, “The donations didn’t stop. Every time we went to the firehouse, the social hall door had bags of clothes in front of it.”

Thursday: Hannaford of West Sand Lake made a donation so large it took volunteer Linda Reynolds two trips to deliver items to the fire house.

Friday: The Veterans Hope Foundation passed a $500 donation through Lucretia Wilkinson to Chris. With it, Chris bought carts full of dry and canned goods.

The ask was easy. Then came the real challenge. Transportation. Chris says, “We had so much to get there” but options were limited. After the original truck fell through and repeated denials came from several rental truck companies, frustration set in. Saving the day, Fireman TJ Spallane offered use of his 24 foot box truck.

Saturday: We left at 3:45 am, arrived in Coney Island after 7. There, we met the most amazing people and delivered items that truly helped their community get by for a few more days.

Hoags Corners VFC Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive

Bigger, Better Relief to Rebuild

Neighboring Sand Lake Ambulance, inspired by our trip, asked how to organize another in partnership. The tuck and additional vehicles are lined up and donation collection is underway. This weekend we’ll strive to bring Cristo Viene newly requested items, a beautiful list that has since moved from survival mode to rebuild mode:

Soap, cleaning supplies, bleach, laundry detergent, dish washing liquid, Lysol, mops, brooms, sheet rock, insulation, wood panels, nails, tape and compound for sheet rock, floor tiles (commercial heavy duty vinyl), grout, electrical outlets, wiring, amplified sound equipment, microphones, musical instruments, hand tools, and power tools!

Note: We’re adding dog and cat food to the donation drive this time.

Hurricane Sandy Relief Run

Donate money through PayPal, and your money will be used by Sand Lake Ambulance to purchase food and supplies to be loaded onto the truck(s).

Ways to Offer Help

Visit these great Facebook resources! The most immediate needs are posted here on any given day.

My sincerest thanks to all who donated and continue to do so, Chief Bill Bradway, Chris Bradway, David Fleming, Veterans Hope Foundation, The Wilkinson family, Hannaford of West Sand Lake, Linda Reynolds, TJ Spallane, Roger Latham, Tim Clune, Pastor Quiles, Maggie Lebron, Ruth and all the people who help at Cristo Viene Church. Thanks to three great kids who did their share too, Austin Bradway and Will Fleming, both 6th graders, and 4th Grader James Fleming. This experience was tremendous and I am so very grateful to have been a small part.
Remembering to Breathe – With a North American Beaver

Remembering to Breathe – With a North American Beaver

Beaver

Atmosphere Changes.

In the haze of deep summer’s afternoon sun, the heft of moist heat chokes my lungs. Water, Earth’s life-giving ingredient, tips the balance by edging out oxygen, Earth’s other life-giving gift. The viscous atmosphere resists, pushing back as I push forward. Overcoming it’s force – just barely, I enter the artificial, airy oasis of my living room.

Once inside, the walls, floor and even the air vibrates as the air conditioner hums a steady song of cool comfort. Fans join in concert amplifying that song throughout the house, each harmonizing a sonorous drone like a Gregorian chant spun from scratched vinyl. My body finds brief comfort … until perpetual noise binds my conscious mind.

Life Changes.

Changes run hard and swift through my life. They always have. And, as summer edges on, I begin to resist even those I seek. My shoulders lock tight, my breath runs shallow. Success. Change ceases to occur  – but only in places that long for movement. I’m rendered stuck in my natural being and paralyzed by the constant motion of everything around me – too many commitments, too many promises, seeking change in all the wrong places. But this is not who I am. It’s a product of what I fear. The irony? I fear being stuck.

Breath Changes. Everything.

The only way through to me is to breathe – to breathe and reconnect with my own unique and natural rhythm. As this stifling season of my being transitions with new and colorful change, new awareness and opportunity has arrived. Breath has become my change agent for good. It’s now my job. And, when I forget to breathe, I surround myself with others who breathe through every inch of their spines. I have good people, my neighboring North American Beaver, and his firefly friends to remind me.

Perhaps this beautifully fluid moment with nature will remind you too…

We must all breathe and float before we can swim and fly.

Dragonfly

 

Petties Finalist: Honored, Humbled & Declining

Petties Finalist: Honored, Humbled & Declining

HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN?

When I first learned that This One Wild Life was a finalist in the esteemed DogTime Media 2012 Pet Blog Awards, I was between my grandmother’s memorial in New York and off to Colorado for my father-in-law’s 90th birthday.

Preparing photo books, slideshows, travel preparations and pet care, we also had unexpected house guests – for a month –after we blew up Amy and Rod Burkert’s GoPetFriendly mobile home and office with a faulty electrical outlet.

In the midst of these things and many more, I hadn’t updated the blog since mid-March. I had to ask. How did This One Wild Life get nominated for best use of social media?

THANKS TO YOU!

To those who extended this kindness to me, I am honored and humbled.  You make me miss and want to come back to this valuable space. Plans are in the works already and I have you to thank for my new motivation.

WHY I DECLINE THE AWARD

This One Wild Life typically integrates my interests in global change for all animals at  Be the Change for Animals and our new local dog rescue at Dog House Adoptions. These individual projects – not This One Wild Life – have been competing for my time as of late.

Had the nomination been for a  specific person using social media, not in relation to a particular blog, I might feel differently thanks to my combined efforts at BTC and DHA. That is not the case. (Nor is our rescue eligible for DogTime donations. While a registered New York State non-profit,  the IRS is backlogged by at least 6 months in approving 501(c)3 status nationwide.)  OUR 501(c)3 STATUS WAS JUST APPROVED!

SO, MY VOTE GOES TO…

Hard working folks like Stephanie from Catsparella have been working day in and out to share informative and entertaining content through every social media channel possible. My vote goes to her and others in every other category who share her work ethic.

VOTE FOR WORTHIER FINALISTS TO BENEFIT RESCUE!

Vote through July 31st, 2012 at http://petties.dogtime.com. Winners will be announced in an online ceremony broadcast on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 3pm PST. Each winning blogger will be awarded with a $1,000 donation to the non-profit animal shelter or rescue of their choice!

SHELTER VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD

Starting July 23, 2012 DogTime’s Petties will open nominations for the DogTime Media Shelter Volunteer of the Year award. This award is to honor one of the many unsung heroes whose dedication to the animal community has helped save countless homeless dogs and cats. The winner will be chosen by DogTime Media and will be announced at the Petties Award Ceremony in September. The winner receives a Petties trophy and a $10,000 donation from DogTime Media to the non-profit 501c3 rescue/shelter of their choice. This one, too, is so worth your vote.

Birth of Dog House Adoptions and Puppies!

Birth of Dog House Adoptions and Puppies!

Kim Clune and Tony - Photo: Lisa Drury

Involved with every Blog the Change for Animals event since the start, I have always shared beautiful causes that are important to me while encouraging others to take up a cause of their own. That call to action doesn’t come lightly or without personal expectation, too. That said, I have an exciting announcement to make…

Having banded together with Lori Harris, Audra Bentley, and my husband Tim Clune, it is with great pleasure that we introduce our new rescue child into this world… along with the first litter of gorgeous stray puppies who need us!

Dog House Adoptions

MEET DOG HOUSE ADOPTIONS OF RENSSELAER COUNTY, NY!

Dog House Adoptions provides a safe, loving place for unclaimed strays to go when their holding time is up. The way we see it, dogs are not throw away items. Their lives have value and, when the community comes together to support their needs, the dogs do something miraculous. No matter how weary, weathered or worn, they give back with their whole hearts.

Our plans are lofty (more on that later), but our priorities are simple:

  • Care for the dogs who need us now
  • Educate children to protect the dogs of the future
  • Provide dogs a means to serve the community who serves them
  • Accomplish each stage with a sense of humor

WORDS: REALITY’S BUILDING BLOCKS

While volunteers offer hands-on care and boarding of strays, the board crafts policies that help both animals and people. My job is to build a presence with words and beautiful images, to tell a moving story that engages people to great ends, and to do so in a way that feels good – because the shadow of sadness hanging over rescue deters people from becoming a committed solution. And our approach is working!

COMMUNITY: OUR LIFEBLOOD

We want to offer our dogs ways to engage with the community, to create a symbiotic relationship of giving and getting back between people and animals, yet we are currently receiving so much more than we offer. Generous and knowledgeable people keep calling to help – without solicitation. Just a few examples:

  • The Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce offered a ribbon cutting ceremony for us at their 112th Annual Dinner in front of more than 450 local businesses.
  • Marlene Wagner, a certified dog trainer for whom I hold the highest regard, offered to speak about the differences between family dogs vs. rescue dog interactions at next week’s maiden volunteer orientation.
  • My neighbor, Debbie Beaudoin, called to say that she read every word and checked every link on our website for accuracy and functionality.

As exciting as this all is, none of these moments were…

THE MOMENT IT BECAME REAL

Leave it to a dog to open my eyes. Bristol, a sweet and speedy young girl who we affectionately call a Nascar Lab blend, came to us with scars and scabs from a traumatic mating and with her own puppy pit crew on board. Lisa Drury, a reputable lab breeder, took Bristol in, delivered her pups, and is caring for them until they are properly weaned. When I asked to photograph the puppies without imposing on Lisa more than we already had, her response is what brought it all home:

Not an inconvenience at all! They are YOUR puppies!!

I HAVE PUPPIES

The weight of those words settled in around my shoulders like warm wrap. This was not a burdensome weight, but a commitment of love and determination to do my best for these innocent lives. I sat still with that thought, wholly embraced it as my version of motherhood, and then grabbed my photo gear with the excitement of a child off to a birthday party.

Meet the  Puppy Pit Crew: Danica, Dale Jr., Tony and Kasey!

Did I mention that folks think they might be Nascar/Bull Mastiff blends? I guess that means I have PUPPIES (<- in big letters). These kiddos are already larger than a healthy lab pup at just 3 weeks. This video is from week 1, and there will be much, much more to come!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Many of you have heard our lofty ideas (to be announced soon) and encouraged this project. I am so grateful for the enthusiasm. To Mike Arms, the entire staff at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, and Kyla Duffy , we couldn’t have come this far so fast without your trail-blazing knowledge, experience, guidance and inspiration.

For those of you who wish to support us through our first growth spurt, please share our adoptable dogs, volunteer, and get our e-newletter through DogHouseAdoptions.org. You can also follow us on Facebook Twitter, and Google+.

Join us on this amazing journey.
The dogs would love to have you.