The Wonderful World of BlogPaws

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Most of us live in a day-to-day world where our pets are excluded from many of our activities.  We can’t take them to work or to school, out to eat or to most social events.  While more and more hotels allow pets, it’s unusual for a hotel to be full of them.  But for two and a half days in May, a hotel in Northern Virginia was transformed into a magical pet-friendly world for an event called BlogPaws.

BlogPaws is a conference for pet bloggers and anyone involved with pets or pet products interested in learning about social medial.  Attendees of BlogPaws 2013 included pet bloggers, representatives of pet product companies and rescue groups and veterinary associations, photographers, writers, editors, publishers, and various other social media mavens — not to mention dogs, cats, ferrets, baby chickens, and at least one very large bunny.  The schedule consisted of educational programs and informational booths during the day and activities and social events in the evening, and everything was pet-friendly.  Topics ranged from WordPress for Beginners to Copyright Law to Search Engine Optimization to Google Analytics.

Our dog Garth attended the sessions with us, where he usually curled up at my feet and napped.  This was far preferable — to him and to us — than leaving him alone in the hotel room.  He also accompanied us to the conference events, where he convinced people to rub his belly by simply rolling over on his back.

While I found the educational sessions to be very helpful, I enjoyed spending time with the other people and pets more than anything else.  It was wonderful to meet fellow bloggers who I only knew through blogging or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.  In the company of other pet-crazy people and their furry kids, I felt a sense of belonging, even though I hadn’t met any of them before the start of the conference.  I realized how much I like being with people who are at least as crazy about their pets as I am.

The atmosphere in the hotel was crazy too.  Walking through the lobby had an Alice-In-Wonderland-type feel to it, as I’d pass a giant rabbit sitting in a baby stroller and a young Havanese curiously sniffing a ferret on a leash.  Dogs relaxing in lobby chairs didn’t seem at all concerned by cats wearing designer hats rolling by in a carriage.  Many of the dogs also had impressive wardrobes, sporting different outfits for each event.  Occasionally a dog with a video camera strapped to his back would walk by, filming a dog’s-eye view of the proceedings.

The humans who couldn’t bring their pets brought “flat” versions (life-sized photographs cut out and mounted on foam-core board), stuffed animals, or a balloon dog.  The balloon dog somehow hovered upright at dog height, and its little legs moved in a lifelike manner as its human pulled it along by its “leash”.  Garth was alarmed by this strange dog-like creature, and seemed genuinely puzzled when he sniffed it.

It was wonderful to be part of the world created by BlogPaws, and I was very sad when it came to an end.  But I left with much more than a load of pet-related swag and a stack of business cards.  I made some real connections with some wonderful people, and I left feeling energized and inspired to do more with our blog, and to use our blog to do more good.

Crazy, yes, but we’ve already purchased our tickets for next year.

Rebecca Randolph is a blogger, writer, artist, and attorney, but most importantly, a dog mom.   She assists her lab Garth with his blog The World According to Garth Riley (http://theworldaccordingtogarthriley.blogspot.com).

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