Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

When the first couple weeks of the year passed without any of the blogs I follow posting about the 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge, I felt a sense of relief. 2018 was a strange year for our blog (and life in general) and I didn't really want to look back at it--but I knew that if there was a Pet Blogger Challenge this year, I would do it. Then all of the sudden, a few blogs posted their responses to Go Pet Friendly's 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. Before clicking on their posts, I told myself I'd just read their posts and I wouldn't do one myself. But here I am. As always, Amy's questions for the challenge get me to reflect on my writing for the last year and make me feel better about the blog no matter what's happened during the previous year.

For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?
Our first blog post was in July 2012. The main focus of the blog has always been my reactive, rescued border collie mix Barley and our training journey as well as our explorations of trails and breweries. In 2016, I added another rescue dog, a border beagle named Rye. My firstborn, my cat Soth, also makes appearances on the blog.


What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018?
2018 was a slow blogging year for me, but one of the proudest moments was when I achieved my 1050th mile with the dogs during the year--of course, we cut things close and didn't achieve that until December 31, so the actual blog post didn't happen until this year, but our resolution walking goals have been a part of our blog since 2013, so achieving that goal and sharing that with our readers felt really good. 


What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2018, and how did/will you tackle it?
The biggest challenge this year was just finding time to blog. Rye started competing in agility trials in March. Barley continued scentwork. Then Rye started scentwork. Then Barley started competing in agility trials. And somewhere in between all of that Rye started barn hunt. Most of my writing time turned into training and trialing time--and that probably isn't going to change. In the summer when I'm off of work for a few months, I'll have more time to write during the week, but I think that's probably a challenge I'm just going to have to accept and not "tackle." Honestly, I'm having so much fun having these experiences with the dogs that if I don't get to write about them all, I'm ok with that.



Which of your 2018 blog posts was your favorite and why? 
My favorites are always the love letters I write to the pets on their adoption days or birthdays. This year, my very favorite was Rye's because I put a little different spin on it when I wrote a letter to her first family. There were a couple others that were close to being my favorites, though: Soth's adoption day love letter was special to me because a couple years ago, I wasn't sure how many more we'd have and now he's doing so well; Barley's love letter was hard to write and I wasn't satisfied with it, but the next month, I found the words I hadn't found then. 


Which of your 2018 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it does so well?
My most popular was the 8th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge post--which is obviously because of the great community that comes together at this time of year to support each other!  After that, though, it's a tie between Training Mantras to Keep Training Positive and Fun and The Vanilla Ice Method of Dealing with Training Frustration. Besides the fact that they were part of a blog hop, I think these were also popular because this is really the heart of what our blog has been about since day one: working through training struggles, celebrating training successes, and finding the humor in that process. Those are the posts and the adoption day posts are the ones that I feel like my writing style and our personality really come through the clearest.


Did you implement a new series, feature, or practice on your blog in 2018 that you're enjoying?
Sort of. Agility has always been a part of the blog, but I never really thought I'd ever compete in life before Rye, so our posts on agility trials have taken old content in a new direction. For the most part, though, 2018 has been more of a return to wear we started: focusing on a training and tracking progress towards our goals. I've shifted more to writing for me than to writing for an audience.

As the social media landscape changes, how are you promoting your blog posts and connecting with new readers?
This one's easy. I haven't. I hated trying to keep up with our Facebook page, so I shut it down. I use Twitter exclusively for tweeting the Pirates announcers on Pup Nights during baseball season (that platform just got too chaotic for me). Occasionally, I'll mention a blog post in an Instagram caption and find new readers that way, but I have put minimal effort into promoting the blog at all over the last year.

Looking forward to 2019, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is?
I want to get back to focusing on where we started. I want to document our training and our adventures. I want to write stories to remind myself of all of these moments we have together because time goes so quickly (especially when you're on an agility course with a Rye running over 5.5 yards per second). Being able to look back at old posts and remember specific adventures and training successes is what I love most about writing this blog (in addition to the fantastic bloggers we've connected with in the process), so that's where my focus is for 2019.

What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal?
I'm breaking out the Doggin' Cleveland book to look for a few new trails to try this year. We've also got a pretty big road trip planned for later this year, so I plan to document every mile of that adventure. We've also got a full schedule of agility, scent trials, and barn hunt for the year, so I think we'll have plenty of new content to achieve that goal.

Now it's your turn! How can we help? Is there an area where you could use some advice, or an aspect of your blog that you'd like input on? 
Right now, I'm just trying to stay motivated to keep writing--but if there are certain topics in our lives that people want to know more about or certain questions about our training and competitions, I'm happy to focus some future posts on those areas.


Be sure to check out all of the blogs participating in the 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. The Pet Blogging community is such a supportive, positive community, and I always find new blogs to add to my reading list. 


24 comments:

  1. I love your approach, and love reading your posts whenever they happen. You write about exactly what I want to hear about. Barley and Rye and Soth and your positive approach to training. Plus, your mileage is amazing!

    Cheers,
    Chris from Boise

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    1. Thank you! We always love reading your comments--thanks for sticking with us even when we aren't consistent about posting!

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  2. We love reading about your sports adventures since we are doing the same sports. Hopefully we will all have lots of success this year!

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    1. I love that about your blog, too! I think we started training in nose works around the same time and reading about your trials was part of my motivation to do more than just practice at home!

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  3. I've been following you for years as well. It's difficult to work full time, do things with dogs (so you have something interesting to write about) and still find the time to write!

    I also recently acquired a second competition dog and it takes up much more time than I thought. I appreciate your sharing. It's nice to know that others are juggling and struggling too.

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    1. Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. And yes--having two competition dogs is exhausting! At first, Rye just did agility and Bar just did nose works, but somehow now everybody is doing everything and there are just not enough hours in the day! I'm glad I'm not the only one juggling and struggling, too!

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  4. Logging 1050 miles is pretty huge! Congrats! I am pretty tired of Facebook, too, and have definitely considered shutting it down. I do have a blog page, but I tend to ignore it most of the time.

    Time is always a challenge. I wish I had an answer. We can only do the best we can with the time we have.

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    1. Thank you! We've done more than 1050 miles in the past, but this felt much bigger than those goals because of all our extra activities this year! I ignored Facebook for several months and then I got tired of getting regular notifications about updating the page and decided to just bite the bullet and take it down. I'm glad I'm not the only one with that love-hate relationship ;)

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  5. Holy woof - making it to 1,050 miles is HUGE! Congratulations!!
    I love your blog because you do it for you. And you put experiences before blogging, which is so important.

    When you think about it, our pets provide great examples of how to live a happy life and you're one of the bloggers who is actually follow your pets' lead!

    I'm so excited that your embarking on a big road trip! I hope you and the pets have a blast. Waggin' trails!

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    1. Thank you! I'm looking forward to our road trip, too--we've taken smaller ones in the past, but this will be our first one that requires multiple days in the car to get to our destination, so it should be an adventure with an anxious dog and a reactive dog, but we've got enough time to play (and all of your great resources, too) that I think it should just be mostly fun :)

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  6. I really love your training and competing posts... and I also loved reading about reaching your walking goal. I can relate to all of these things. Please keep on blogging. I somehow lost track of your blog over the past year but I'm back now!

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    1. I lost track of yours until recently somehow, too--I'm glad we're both back (especially since you have all of that puppy cuteness to go with all of the other amazing pictures now!).

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  7. If I did all you do with your dogs, I don't think I'd ever find time to blog! Since we don't compete or anything like that, I love reading about your adventures there, and your crew always makes me smile with their antics and their successes.
    I think your goals are perfect....they hit on exactly what blogging is supposed to be all about. Living life and chronicling it to look back on. At the end of the day, even though I'm trying to make money at it, even if I never made a penny, being able to look back at my pet's lives, especially those that are gone, is priceless. ♥
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Thank you so much! Your crew always brings a smile to my face, too--I didn't know I could love birds so much and I always love getting my Luke and Sam fix :)

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  8. I love your philosophy to live with your dogs first and then document after! It's a pleasure to meet you through the Pet Blogger Challenge. Here's to a great 2019.

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    1. Thank you so much! If I don't get out and do something with the dogs first, they'll never let me sit still long enough to write anything ;)

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  9. Writing for you is really important. Sometimes I think we lose track of our "Why". I'm glad you know yours and will continue to write for it.

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    1. I think that was one of my biggest struggles a couple years ago and once I realized that I missed focusing on our training and our walking, it was a lot easier to write again. Thank you!

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  10. I think the idea of competing with a dog is so much fun. My cats just aren't interested in agility * sigh * although I see cats doing it :-)

    Good luck for competitions and the blog in 2019

    Marjorie and the Dash Kitten Crew

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    1. Oh my gosh--I know what you mean! I see videos of people doing all kinds of cool things with their cats and Soth is not interested in that at all. He has trained me pretty well, but he seems to laugh every time I think we might try some training together ;) Thankfully, the dogs are pretty willing to please!

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  11. I'm always impressed with dog sports and love watching videos of them inaction. Have a wonderful 2019.

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    1. We have way too much with our dog sports! I won't admit how many times I've watched some of our videos because it's so much fun to watch them in action!

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  12. Your pups (and cat too) are adorable! I'm just finding you through the blog hop, but will have to stop by more often. I have a reactive dog too, and do quite a few of the same dog sports. Happy 2019!
    www.pawprintpetblog.com

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  13. Best to you in 2019 with your blog and your dog training and sports!

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