A week ago, I was in Atlanta for Barkworld Expo. The fabulous learning and petworking opportunity feels like months ago, since it was pre-Superstorm Sandy devastation. However, writing this is helping me recall all of the fabulous experiences of Barkworld, including all the ways that I learned how to expand my dream of helping improve the lives of dogs worldwide.
First, a big thank you to Eukanuba. I submitted my blog post titled “Paws Crossed for a Trip to Barkworld” to their “Win a Free Trip To Barkworld” contest, and I won a free conference pass!!! It also brought a huge smile to my face when I later learned that Eukanuba is partnering with Canine Companions for Independence. You won’t want to miss their livestream channel of a litter of pups from CCI, currently seven weeks old. Since a friend of mine is a breeder keeper for CCI, I was fortunate enough to personally meet and hold a litter of five week old pups recently.
Back to my Barkworld experience, it started as soon as I landed in Atlanta. Bayer Animal Health arranged to pick us up from the airport in a limo. It was so fun meeting in person many of the bloggers I only new from twitterland. And, I was particularly thankful for the limo ride, so that I made it in time to the first event.. “Social Petworking Offline….Speed Dating” for bloggers. I was familiar the with popularity of speed dating, which I’ve tried and didn’t care for in the “single” world. But, in the pet world, I LOVED it. Bloggers had seven minutes to meet and greet brands. It was such a fabulous way to start Barkworld. In addition to meeting new brands, I was able to personally meet representatives from brands I had worked with, including Bayer Animal Health, Adopt-A-Pet.com and the APSCA. Bayer, in partnership with AdoptAPet.com, had sent Through a Dog’s Ear to 1,000 shelters last year, where it is helping to increase adoption rates, and ASPCA was one of our first two pilot shelters to help us launch our “Music in Shelters” program in 2008.
The costume contest, on the first night, was fun for all. People were confused why I was dressed as a cat, when I create music for dogs. They were soon to find out that Through a Cat’s Ear is in the works, to be released early 2013.
The dogs worked hard, dressing up and walking the runway for their costume contest. Some were outright pooped by the end of the evening. The Atlanta Dog Spa sponsored the costume party, and I later found out that they play our Calming music (from the Canine Noise Phobia series) in their daycare.
The first day started with a workout for me along with dropping in to meet canine holistic coach, fab trainer, and Doga instructor Anna Bettina. (Always great meeting trainers that use Through a Dog’s Ear in their classes.) I was very eager to hear Matt Meeker’s Keynote: Building, Growing & Sustaining Online Communities. If anyone knows this topic, it’s Matt Meeker, the co-founder of MeetUp.com. I’ve attended countless meet-up gatherings, related to business, health, and canine topics. And, I had just recently started my first meet-up: Concerts for people AND their Dogs!, as I’ve recently expanded my concerts to include four-leggeds in the audience. Matt is also the co-founder of BarkBox, and ever since I first read about it, I thought Through a Dog’s Ear CD’s would be a perfect inclusion in their gift boxes.
I’m now realizing that if I mentioned everything terrific at Barkworld, this blog would go on for days. For now, I’ll just mention a few more of my favorite highlights…
Blogging up the Right Tree: Exploring and Defining your Inner Bark by Dr. Pia Salk, psychologist, writer, animal advocate, spokesperson, blogger for Martha Stewart, and spokesperson for Adopt-A-Pet.com. Pia asked us to think of our first childhood experience with pets, to see if there was any relevance to how that has influenced our lives. I’ve always tossed off my childhood years as they related to pets, as if they were insignificant. I loved our family dog Doodle, a blond Cocker Spaniel, but I always associated her as my sister’s dog. I never really considered myself a Dog person until I adopted Byron (R.I.P.), my Golden.
However, when I recalled my first memory of a dog, I closed my eyes and remembered Doodle lying by my feet as I played the piano, for hours daily. It couldn’t be more relevant to my current career, as I’ve combined my two greatest loves ~music and dogs! I had tears in my eyes as I realized the huge significance of having Doodle in my life.
The other presentation that brought tears of joy to my eyes was a training demonstration by Lina Eklof, the dog training program coordinator at Petco. I had been enjoying learning about Petco’s inspiring “Think Adoption First” and “Train to Adopt” campaigns. Lina brought a Beagle to the stage and showed us how to train polite manners to dogs, using positive reinforcement, so that they are more adoptable.
I expected sit, down, go to your mat, etc. However, the first thing she did was teach the Beagle the “Do Nothing Exercise”. She reminded us that dogs spend more time just “doing nothing” in homes than almost any other activity. And we expect them to just be able to do nothing. If they can’t, it’s hard to get them adopted. This made complete sense, even though it really had never occurred to me. When watching the demonstration, I also realized how much Music to Calm your Canine Companion helps dogs just do nothing. Watching Lulu learn how to do nothing and be rewarded for it was great entertainment for all. Other polite manners taught include “Sitting with Attention,” “Doorway Manners,” and “Take Treats Nicely”, something I still am teaching Gina.
There were so many more presentations that I really loved along with all of the fabulous networking opportunities. A huge thank you to Denise Quashie for her tremendous work in putting together such a wonderfully inspiring and well organized conference. I can hardly wait until next year’s Barkworld! And it may take me that long for Sanchez and Gina to work their way through all of the fun swag!
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