Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 Pet Blogger Challenge

Normally, I don't double up on posts, but there's been so much progress on training Barley and Rye that if I don't do two posts today, I might never get everyone updated on the things we've been working on! GoPetFriendly.com is hosting the annual Pet Blogger Challenge, which is always a good way to reflect on the past year, especially in a year that seemed so exceptionally long.

When did you start your blog and, for anyone who is just seeing it for first time, please provide a description of your site. Would you say your blog focuses more on sharing stories with your readers, or providing a resource for your audience? I started our blog in July 2012 when I was training my dog Barley for the therapy dog test (spoiler: we didn't pass) to keep track of our training progress and our hikes. The focus is still mostly stories about our adventures or about training with a few reviews here and there.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2016? I don't know if I can pick a proudest moment. This year felt like one of those years where we were just trying to get through. One of my proudest moments--though not entirely blog related--was getting foster pup Sal adopted, though. I was so happy to be able to share his happy ending with everyone who had followed our fostering experience.


Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.) I have a couple I really love. One of my very favorites was one of the earliest posts of 2016--our friend Emma had made a comment on another post that inspired "It Must Be Frustrating," a post about what it's like to live with a reactive dog and I think it was probably the best job I've ever done at expressing that. I always also love the posts I write on adoption days and birthdays for Barley (here and here) and Soth (here and here) because I get all mushy and I think they're the most real posts I write all year.

Year after year, one goal that we all seem to share is that we want to reach more people. What one tool did you use or action did you take this year that had the most impact on increasing traffic to your blog? This actually isn't a big goal for me, so I haven't actively done anything to increase traffic to the blog. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to see big numbers of views on posts, but for me, this blog is a way to record moments I don't want to forget and a way to connect with other people because it can be lonely to live with a reactive dog when you don't get to hang out with other dogs and their owners in real life. So, if that connection is with 1000s of people, that's incredible, but it's also ok with me if it's only with one or two people or just my mom (love you!).

Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? (Please include a link.) The one with the most traffic was our recent giveaway, which isn't surprising. The second most popular, though, was "Rediscovering the Geneva State Park"--I'm not really sure what drove the traffic to this one because it's not noticeably different from any of our other posts about visiting parks, but it's one of our favorite places to visit, so I'm glad we were able to share it with so many people.


Have you noticed any themes across your most popular posts? Over the last few months, the most popular posts--not just with a lot of views, but that people have spent the most time viewing--are the ones in the series of training Barley and Rye (here, here, here, here, here, and here). I think stories about reactive dogs really resonate with people now--when I first got Barley, I didn't know that there were so many other people going through similar struggles. It's comforting and reassuring to know that there are other people who have reactive dogs with full lives, so think stories like these draw people in and they're very engaged in the posts and write the most thoughtful, heartfelt comments.

What blog do you find most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog? (Please include a link.) I don't know that inspirational is the best word for how I view any blogs (inspirational might be too sentimental for me)--but the ones I gravitate the most towards are ones that share regular stories about their lives with their pets, such as Wag 'N Woof Pets and 2 Brown Dawgs. Reviews are fine--I've found some great products to try through them--and lists can be fun and informative (and I've done both on my blog), but for me, the blogs that I come back to over and over again are the ones that tell a good story, a story where I feel like I was there for the experience and that I know their pets. When I first starting blogging, it seems like that's what most bloggers were doing and I miss that. Blogs like that remind me that there's still a place for quirky stories about what my menagerie does throughout the year.

What is one thing your readers don’t know about you or your pets that would surprise them? This is a tough one--I feel like I'm pretty much an open book. One thing I might not have mentioned is that it wasn't love at first sight when I met Barley. I walked by her kennel several times before she really caught my attention. There was a 6-month-old purebred golden retriever named Feather a few kennels down from Barley that I was in love with but she was listed as unavailable on the info on her tag (maybe as part of the 72-hr. stray hold? maybe because she'd just been spayed?)--as I walked up to the front desk to pay for Barley, they took off the unavailable sign on Feather's kennel. If that had happened 15 minutes earlier, my life might look very different today.


What is something you’ve learned this year that could help other bloggers? As I said earlier, this year was just one that I felt like I was getting through, so I don't know that I have any real words of wisdom to pass on this time.

What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017? This isn't exactly blog specific, but I want to get back to more adventures. I want to visit new places with my girls and write about that. The months that I struggled with writing were the months when the days all seemed to run together, so I want to spice things up again and find more of that desire to write.

Expect a lot more of this in 2017.

Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? I guess the biggest thing I'd like input on is the content: are there topics you'd like to see more of? What are you favorite types of posts that show up here?

Join the Pet Blogger Challenge Jan 7th, 8th and 9th

Be sure to stop by all of the other blogs participating in the challenge to see what people accomplished in 2016 and what goals they're setting for this year! You never know, you might just find your new favorite read! 


20 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge, Beth! And congratulations on finding the perfect forever home for Sal. I so appreciate the dedication and love that goes into fostering, and your story hopefully inspired others to do the same.

    Of course, I'm a big fan of people taking their dogs for adventures and am 110% your goal for 2017. Keep in mind that we love having guest posts from other pet travelers at GoPetFriendly.com - it would be fun to be able to share your trips with our audience as well. Waggin' trails!

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    1. Fostering was definitely a wonderful experience! I hope other people give it a try, too--even if it's not something they do all the time or for long. Any time a shelter pup can get out of a kennel is a good thing in my mind!

      I'm actually in the process of planning a little hiking and beer tasting adventure (I need something to look forward to to get through these frigid temperatures we're having!). I think I saw a dot near Cleveland on your future road trip map, so let me know if you have any questions about trails or wineries in NE Ohio! Maybe our paths will cross while you're adventuring this way!

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  2. Sounds like you have your hands full. And of course I think more adventures are always in order.

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    1. Yes--this year was definitely a hectic one! Hopefully as we move past the puppy stage, there will be more down time.

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  3. First, thank you for the lovely comment on my Challenge post. Nobby made such an impact on myself and others, I hope to be able to take more lambs on adventures! :)

    Adventures are always fun to read about - and of course pictures! Lots and lots of pictures! I may be obsessed about pictures...

    Also, that thing you said about missing blogs that focus on great stories - preach!

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    1. I can't wait to read about more lamb adventures! I have no complaints about lots and lots of pictures--a new camera is on my list of things to buy this year, so there will probably be even more once I have something that takes better pictures :)

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  4. I am glad your foster dog, Sal, found a great home. That's always a great feeling. I will definitely check out your post about reactive dogs. Ruby is mildly reactive though not consistently, but once in awhile.

    I hope 2017 is better for you.

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    1. I have lots of reactive dog posts! The more recent ones are about teaching my reactive dog to accept our new puppy, but if you have specific reactive dog issues you'd like to read about, let me know and I can point you towards other posts as well!

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  5. So glad you took the challenge! I love the real stories too, the ones where you feel like you were there, or you feel the other person's frustration or joy.

    You know I had been pulling for Sal to be the 'one,' but I'm glad it all turned out well for you.

    I look forward to learning how you integrate the girls. It's amazing how the advice for integrating has changed. Back when we got Delilah, we just took the dogs for a walk, and then boom! We put them together. That GOD that someone was looking out for us.

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    1. I think Sal was a much needed step to finding "the one" :) He's such a good boy and he is living exactly the life he deserves now--the center of his mama's world, a new fireplace, and a comfy bed with no Barleys or Soths terrorizing him.

      That's still the method of introducing dogs that I see on almost every adoption show and website (and something our shelter requires for most adoptions--since I'd fostered Sal, they knew more about Barley and how important training was and made an exception for us) and I think it probably works great for a lot of dogs, but since Barley has never successfully met another dog on-leash (and only one successful off-leash meeting), I'm very thankful to have a trainer that was familiar with other methods to help us get off on the right foot!

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  6. I can't believe I missed "It Must be Frustraing," such a great post that really resonates with me. I remember before I adopted my dog Laika I kept writing in "reactivity" on applications when asked 'what's the one issue you don't feel comfortable with when adopting a dog?' And 5 years later here I am with my own reactive dog and yet I have a completely different outlook on it. Yes it can be frustrating at times, but the amount of time we spend working on it and all of our small victories are so worth it. I feel like it's made my relationship with her so much closer than dogs I've had before because of that strong bond all that training creates.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts in 2017.

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    1. I 100% agree! The relationship I have with Barley is so incredibly different from any other dog I've known because we've spent so much time working as a team. Thank you for your kind words!

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  7. I enjoyed reading your answers. I can relate to wanting to have more adventures this year. I think I do more growing when we get more time to explore. Good luck in 2017!

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    1. I totally agree! Adventures teach me so much more about myself and the world around me. Good luck to exploring more in 2017, too!

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  8. One of the things that I like most about your blog is the pictures. You do a great job walking your readers through your day or adventure. There was one when you went somewhere with Barley and I think you were at a brewery or a winery that sticks out to me because it just seemed like you had such a nice time. I find your blog relaxing.

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    1. Thank you--that might be the most nicest comment I've gotten! Our adventures--and writing about them--are so relaxing to me that I'm so glad that comes through in the posts as well! And good memory! We did go to a brewery last summer (and we'll be going to a few more next summer!).

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  9. First of all, thank you for mentioning me. We love the reality of your blog. We can really tell you have struggles with the reactive dog, with your mileage goals, now the new dog, but you always stay positive and manage to power through. We love how you always seem to succeed in the end. It is something to really be proud of as well as the fact that you can convey such stories and feelings through your writing.

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    1. Thank you for such kind words! We love reading about all of the training you girls do--it's so fun to learn about new dog sports; even if they aren't ones that Barley would like, I love learning about all of the cool things dogs can do!

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  10. Your story about rescuing Barley brought me to tears. What an amazing story of the two of you coming together!

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    1. Thank you! I feel very lucky that we found each other!

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