What is Blogpaws?

If you google Blogpaws online you'll quickly learn that it is a pet community and social media marketing conference. Pet bloggers gather to network, learn blogging tips and tricks, explore new products and information. It's about making new friends and connecting with old — people and pets alike. It's about moments like those featured here: Coco the Couture Cat

Coco dons some shades

Another Coco Moment

Although there were lots of pets in clothing at Blogpaws, Coco the Couture Cat has to have one of the largest and most impressive wardrobes. Last year, I took a shot of Coco that received a lot of publicity. It appeared along with an article by Jo Singer on a site called Pictures of Cats. Many people had strong opinions against dressing cats in clothes, but seeing all the smiles Coco brings and the stately way she stares out from her perch, it becomes a difficult argument to make.


A ferret and its owner walk the red carpet on the final night of Blogpaws. Although I did not get this creature's name, I enjoyed watching the way it interacted with its owner, draping around her neck and shoulders and resting in her arms. I have often heard that ferrets can be mean, but this little one dispels that rumor.

Ms. California and her doggie celebrities pose with Kimberly Gauthier of Keep the Tail Waggin'

I "met" Ms. California, Shanna Olson and her doggie celebrities online a week before Blogpaws when I liked her Doggie Celebrities Facebook page. Kimberly Gauthier is well known in the pet blogging community for her site Keep the Tail Wagging.


Mealtimes were among my favorite moments at Blogpaws because you'd get to see all these wonderful pets sharing the dining room with the people.

One of the kitties from Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats

This little kitty participated in a fashion show in which participants had mere minutes to design a look from materials on hand.

Tillman the skateboarding dog

Tillman is a rock star and youtube sensation. This skateboard riding dog travels in his own tour bus and loves his board, barely waiting for his handlers to hand it over before taking off.


This 60-pound, six-month-old capybara named Mia, had to be one of the most interesting attendees at Blogpaws. Capybaras are related to guinea pigs and are the largest rodents in the world. I loved watching the dogs checking out the capybara, trying to ascertain exactly what this creature is.

What is Blogpaws? It's a chance to dress up, dispel myths, share information, network, eat, skate your way into each other's hearts, sniff each other out and decide to be friends.  Blogging, the pet industry and the human-animal bond are serious subjects, but the animals at the heart of Blogpaws can't help but make you laugh. These are joy magnets and they draw you back again and again.

A Mission Statement of Sorts

IMG_4568 It was easy starting out. I began on Blogger and Posterous, posting photos and a few simple lines to explain them. Then came the  move to Wordpress. A place to write whatever I wanted. I wanted to share about my friend Joan and her pugs and her unorthodox life and how it had influenced me. I had a lot to say. I was part of a writing group. I was going to share my stories. And, then the question came, "What are you going to do with your blog?" It stopped me cold. I thought I was doing it. But, what was it? And, if I wasn't doing it, how would I start?

I pondered this question and I pressed on, finding it challenging to blog, take pictures, draw, work on my own writing and my work writing. Oh, and did I mention living? Had to work that in. I struggled with all that in my writing and behind the scenes and tried to remain faithful while the writing class went on. But, then it ended. I didn't need to write everyday anymore. I felt discouraged Sure, there were people reading, but what did I have to say? What was I doing with my blog?  How did I maintain it and keep up with everything else. Some days it was a relief that the class had ended. Mostly it was disheartening. I need goals and deadlines. I was floundering.

The beautiful design of my blog felt suffocating, closed-in. To make changes and additions I needed to ask a designer, that required money. I found myself wishing I had called the blog something else and then glad I hadn't. I wondered if I could create another to have more freedom and questioned what that would accomplish, making lists of things to add and rearrange. All the time studying what everyone else was doing and coming up short. I wanted to be as ethereal, funny, open as all these blogs I read, but I was too practical, sometimes too happy, sometimes too angry, always too practical to sound so easygoing. Perhaps I had been writing magazine articles too long? Maybe I had lost my individual voice? Perhaps I had an individual voice and it was all wrong. My blog felt too red and heavy, the pictures too small. I came up short.

I struggle with a niche. There are people with cute dog blogs, beautiful photography blogs, funky art blogs, simple, clean writing blogs, open, revealing memoir blogs -- mine is not one thing. Neither am I. I wondered if anyone was listening. There's a verse in the Bible where Jesus asks "Who Do You Say That I Am?" I want to ask that, to gauge the responses. I'm afraid of the answers. But, I like that Jesus asked the question. I mean if Jesus was wondering if anyone got him, I am in good company, right?

I'm taking a blogging course called Blogging from the Heart with Susannah Conway and she tells us to develop a mission statement - what is our intent, what are we trying to say? Who is our ideal reader? I'm beginning to think that blogging is not about asking these questions, but discovering them along the way. For the last few months, behind the scenes, while my blog postings have seemed sparse or not-even-there, I have been compiling my posts on Joan to see what I have for a book, working on a short story, taking first a publishing class and then a blogging class. I'm moving forward, but I'm not sure of the direction. My teaching life is changing. I can't see the path quite yet, but I'll be damned if I die anchored to shore. I'm pressing forward.

The other day someone asked me "What do you know about yourself?" It took a minute.  I felt too embarrassed to reveal anything and then I did. "I know I'm kind," I said. Here's what else I know about me and the blog.

Some days I'm happy. I enjoy simple things. Going to the movies, my pugs, my friends. My art. I could work on Photoshop for hours. Taking pictures. I love being in a moment, but I hate wasting time. Taking pictures of life around me allows me to do two things at once and satisfies both requirements. I love my friends and my family. I know being a mom isn't easy, but I would love more than anything to have any one of my nieces and nephews for my own. I love nurturing things.

Some days I'm lonely. My heart aches for someone to love, to be part of a pair, to be a mother, to have a home.  Some days I'm lucky. I may be single, but I am loved. I have a complex relationship with a Boy, whom I will never marry, but who sends me a pink Keurig on Valentine's Day and knows how to make me laugh. Love is love, my mother tells me and she is right.

I love to smile and have fun and although everyone says writers have to write, and I suppose they do, I would always rather be doing something than writing about it. Writing is my way of understanding life, not living it. It is hard for me to balance it all. I love my pugs and I write about them. I am tattooed with them. They are my tribe alongside my family and my students and my friends. I find pugs funny. I write about them and draw them because it makes me smile. It makes other people smile. There is more to my life than them, but few things that bring a quicker smile.

I want more than anything to be understood -- through my pictures and my drawings and my words. I don't like being labeled though. I may not always be right, but that doesn't make me wrong. Take me as I am.

I want my blog to somehow reflect this. I want to take you into my world. I want you to know that  although I may not always be happy with every aspect of my daily life,  I am happy with me. I am single and a writer and a teacher and an artist and a photographer and a blogger and a pug owner and a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a friend. That's a lot of things and it's hard to show them all at once. I'm not sure if the blog illustrates this. I'm not sure that I've figured out yet what I'm going to do with  it. But, be patient, I'm getting there. And, you're witnessing it here.