It’s been a year since the GoPetFriendly RV was parked in our driveway and, boy, do Tim and I miss it. Taking a break from traveling the country reviewing the best pet-friendly places to visit, Amy and Rod Burkert and their dogs Buster and Ty spent a full month with us, although not by choice. Here’s how that happened.
We Blew Up the RV
To make our week-long guests more comfortable, Tim had an outlet installed to run the RVs air conditioner. Our attempt at being good hosts went bust. Once connected, flames shot from the fusebox. The microwave went Ffffft. Well, the whole RV went Fffft, really.
And so we made the best of a month of repairs, but not before Amy, navigator extraordinaire, got us lost for 2 hours in my own home town. And we killed my car battery. And we jammed my hood shut on said battery – with two freshly altered rescue dogs in the back seat on a 90 degree day. After all that, we were still nowhere near even. But we were still laughing. Should I mention that all this happened on the same day?
Can I Get a Fffft for Friendship?
Our husbands, who had never met before, fast tracked a friendship that Amy and I already enjoyed. They talked RVs and lifestyle while Amy and I resized our wedding bands. As a foursome, we celebrated our wedding anniversary, Tim’s birthday, and Rod’s birthday, all within 2 weeks. Amy and Rod dog and house sat during my grandmother’s memorial service and crashed our nephew’s graduation party. Everything we did was fun. Even flinging dog poop was a game, which was the only way to survive our clan of four big dogs in a single dog yard. But the best was the 4th of July…
Can I get a Fffft for Fire-free Fireworks?
Stumped on Rod’s birthday present, Amy suggested an iPad, and other fun thoughts. Rod, a pretty content guy, had no pressing wants. But he did have a bucket list, and on that bucket list was skydiving.
On the Fourth of July, Rod was about to fall from the sky like a firework. He just didn’t know it. But his good friend Tim wouldn’t let him go it alone. Why make Amy the only widow when we could do that in pairs too?
With the RV in for repairs, the Burkerts moved a few things into our man cave for their extended stay. Solid footwear was not one of those things. So we told Rod we were going on a hike in Saratoga and that he ought to wear something more stable than sandals. At the shoe store, we stifled our snickering as we watched Rob prepare himself for what could be his last birthday wish – given our luck with vehicles and fire.
Can I get a Fffft for a 200+ MPH Freefall?
As we pulled into the the small airstrip and passed the skydiving sign, Rod thought we were on our way to a trail head. Amy dropped the bomb. Rod said “Nooooo” with wholehearted conviction, as if it would change the plan. Threatening rains prolonged dreadful anticipation, but then the skies cleared and the plane took off…
Amy and I weren’t the ones in need of new shorts, but Saratoga Skydiving Adventures provided us with complementary thongs all the same – which we promptly modeled for our brave fellas. We may not be crazy enough to jump from a perfectly good airplane, but we rock all the same.
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:
The 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.”
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!
DOG-FRIENDLY – ALL YEAR LONG
For 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.
VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!
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!
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!
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.
BarkWorld Expo is a friendly and supportive social media marketing conference for the pet industry and pet enthusiasts alike. While fresh, fun pet products were on display last October, plenty of people discussed how rescues, shelters and bloggers greatly benefit animal rescue and welfare every day.
I was honored with an invitation to speak, and my session, The Social Good: Marketing Strategies for Animal Welfare Advocates, aimed to bridge all parties by sharing my real-life experiences with global and local advocacy.
I began as a hobbyist pet blogger, like many of you, looking for ways to make my corner of the internet useful for animals in need. I’ve since experienced wonderful successes as co-founder of Be the Change for Animals, an international animal advocacy site, and Dog House Adoptions, a local rescue.
I am still a blogger who works to help organizations. And now my websites have become organizations that work with bloggers. I’ve learned through a ton of trial and a healthy share of error that, together, we can be a powerful and amplified means for persuasive, life-saving storytelling – once we learn where our pieces fit together.
And our animals’ stories don’t have to be limited by the boundaries of our own small towns. Local rescue efforts can often be funded by people around the globe… if your story packs up nicely and travels well. That’s the beauty of social media.
Below, you’ll find a video of my presentation, slides, notes, and a PDF of online resources. If you’re new to online advocacy work, or want to get involved as a blogger, these tips will get you started. If you’re a seasoned veteran, this material may offer fresh inspiration.
The Social Good: Marketing Strategies for Animal Welfare Advocatees
Spark connections with folks who can help, at home and even abroad.
Stock your toolbox with free resources to manage your campaign and increase its reach.
Download the PDF. Included is my session outline and 2 pages of helpful online resource links.
Note: Please pardon the faint sound, the fact that they put li’l ol’ me in this giant conference room where everybody sat at the back, and that I actually cried while talking about one of our awesome rescue dogs. Someday, I will get better at this.
For Prezi impaired devices, visit Slideshare for a copy.
Cheers to your success. I hope your animal cause gains gobs of support through social media!
GoPetFriendly.com just announced their new and improved Friday Photo Challenge – opening up a whole world of opportunity for pet lovers! We’re thrilled to kick this new photo contest off with our entry above, and we invite you to join the fun!
What is the Friday Photo Challenge?
Until now, folks guessed where the GoPetFriendly dogs, Ty and Buster, are each week for a chance to win an awesome “Travels with Ty and Buster” 18-month wall calendar.
Now YOU can submit photos of YOUR pet – and win fabulous prizes from GoPetFriendly and LIFE+DOG, the premier lifestyle magazine for dog lovers!
Don’t worry if your pet prefers the couch to travel. We didn’t really take Shamus and Emmett to… Whoa. I can’t tell you where yet. But, with a little edit to my prized vacation pic, that was easily remedied – and you can do the same!
What’s in it for you? SUPER STARDOM!
If your photo is picked for the Friday Photo Challenge, yours will be “The Pinup Pet of the Internet,” featured in all of these places:
Each month, LIFE+DOG will select one weekly Photo Challenge photo for publication in their magazine! If LIFE+DOG chooses your photo, you’ll receive a print copy of that issue of the magazine, information on how to pre-order additional discounted copies before it’s published, and a 1-year subscription.
Submit Your Photos
Grab the camera and start snapping your furry travel companions with recognizable landmarks (or use photo editing software to pose them virtually) and then hop over for all the details on submitting your photos for consideration!
For the winner: Each week GoPetFriendly randomly selects one winner from the correct entries to receive a “Travels with Ty & Buster” 18-month wall calendar.
The Fine Print
This week’s contest closes on Wednesday, January 23rd at 11:59 pm EST. The winner of the calendar must be a resident of the US or Canada over the age of 18, except where prohibited. All correct answers will be assigned a number and the calendar winner will be selected using www.randomizer.org. Winners will be notified by email, announced on GoPetFriendly’s Facebook page, and mentioned in next week’s Friday Photo Challenge. The decision of the judges is final. The winner of the calendar is responsible for any and all applicable taxes on the prize. Employees and relatives of GoPetFriendly.com and LIFE+DOG are not eligible to win.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Our Halloween dog’s body rocked and whimpered as nightmarish, dirt-nap fantasies tortured his brain. Vultures circled his limp shell as he screamed “I’m not dead yet!” in a horrific howl that no one but he could hear. Circling closer, the big, black birds screeched the deathly sound of hunting Pterodactyls.
Was it all a dream – or a real life nightmare?
Emmett clearly should have come to BarkWorld Expo, where Halloween is fun, not frightening.