Pedigree’s Ingenious Social Media-Meets-Activism Campaign

“This post has been created in affiliation with Pedigree and their ‘Write a Post Help a Dog’ Campaign. For every blog post written by anyone (pet blogger or otherwise!) about this campaign, Pedigree will donate a 20lb bag of their new formula dog food to a shelter. For each person who ‘likes’ their Facebook Pedigree Adoption page a of bowl of food will be donated. Visit the Pedigree Foundation Shelter Rescue Blog for more information about how you can help shelter dogs.”

While my dogs are spoiled, and I shudder at the thought (and the consequences) of them wolfing down a can/bowl of Pedigree, I applaud the company’s charitable efforts as well as their social media savvy. They have an uber-corpo agency of record, Catapult Marketing, who has apparently won a glut of awards specifically for their work on Pedigree. I do love their “Dogs Rule” campaign with David Duchovny’s voice over, they are lovely. Though, they were also the ones behind those very creepy dog teeth ads, shudder.

Not sure if Catapult is also behind this social media wizardry or not, but it is truly ingenious. From an online, social media, and SEO standpoint, its doesn’t get much better than this—convincing people that they are helping animals while you just sit back and watch as your traffic and stats go absolutely through the roof. As of right this moment, they have over 1.1 million fans on facebook and I am sure that number will grow exponentially by day’s end.

But hey, I am a sucker for it too (though I am also piggybacking on the online bandwagon, link it up on the bloghop!). And, even if the food is craptastic, its better than a little scruff-muffin going hungry and will also prolong shelters’ abilities to keep dogs going for a few more days.

Well played Pedigree, well played.

Fashion, I Quit You. (aka–an Unagility Post that May or May Not Tie Back to Agility)

So I use a website called bloglovin’ to keep up on the majority of my blog readings. It doesn’t work seamlessly 100% of the time, but for the most part, its pretty cool. I have about 25 blogs or so feeding into there, and all I have to do throughout the day (or maybe more like at least 56 times a day), is hit the refresh button and a brand new batch of mostly-dog-centric goodness appears before me to devour. Its like an RSS feed but prettier.

Judging by the home page and their featured blogs, bloglovin’ seems primarily to be used by fashion bloggers, plus a healthy amount of cooking and home sites as well. I love all of that stuff and in my past lives spent probably the same amount of hours trolling those sites as I do now with the dog blogs. I even have a smattering of style sites in my list that spits out new posts. However, in my use of bloglovin’ I have noticed what seems to be a new phenomenon. These are not the fashion bloggers a la New York magazine in which they detail every outfit that came down the Lanvin runway at the Spring shows, but instead, they are along the vein of “look at me I am SO achingly fashionable that I take pictures of myself in new outfits multiple times a day and post them and detail exactly what 16 items and brands of clothing and jewelry I am wearing”. Seriously. These things are apparently a dime a dozen. They get the most “favorited” on the aggregated site and seem to have a LOT of followers. I get the whole “real people’s movement” and DIY and all that, but c’mon. And the ones that are the most favorited are the ones wearing the Alexander Wang leather shorts, platform Prada shooties, and a Chanel headpiece. Something about the self-absorption and corresponding fawning makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Maybe I spend a lot more than the average person on things like food-dispensing tug toys and collapsible crates, but I still dont think I could afford a Chanel headpiece even if all my dog expenses disappeared tomorrow. And I am hardly poor. Who are these 100lb 20-something year-olds with pockets deep enough to laze around at hipster coffee shops and clubs wearing Marc Jacobs and toting a $1500 camera?

Then again, maybe its not any different than what I do. Chronicling every obstacle and every training class, every mood swing of my neurotic pound puppies could be seen as just as self absorbed. Minus the glam factor and bank accounts, with a lot more poop and cut up hot dogs thrown in.

Fashion in its varying levels will always be of interest to me, but I think I am growing out of it. Or maybe I am at least transitioning.  I did spend too much money on some designer-ish running shoes and fancy workout pants specifically for agility use. And I feel fairly confident in saying I wont ever commission a t-shirt that has my dogs’ photo on it. But, I did buy a straw, huge-brimmed old lady visor at the supermarket a few days ago that looked awfully practical.

*shudder*

Hooray for agility. I know no matter what, even in my darkest hour, I know I will never be the least fashionable one out there. And I thank you for that.

Recall Rhetoric

There’s a bunch of talk flying around at the moment about recall, and how according to some highly regarded agility type people, that the quality of it is indicative of your relationship with your dog. When I first read this last week, it ticked me off. It ticked quite a few people off it seems, but we are dismissed as the “whiny” crowd that can’t take criticism. Meh, maybe.

I have thought about it more over the last week, and while I see the “point”—if your dog thinks you are the most amazing object in its universe then how could anything else ever possibly compete with that?—I have gotten over it. I could make excuses for how I have difficult “rescue” dogs, or how I just need to train more, or some other reason to justify “why” Forest’s recall isn’t great. I got a boatload of excuses if anyone wants to sit down with a stiff cocktail and hear me out. But, there’s no point.

On a scale of 1 to 10, his recall probably about a 6. Horrid according to many agility people’s standards. Meaning I am doing something vastly wrong to my poor dog. And yet…

We had class the other night. We had a full house, 5 dogs I think. I was lamenting internally as I watched everyone else that I had the wildest, least foundation-ed-est of the lot as we did our first two drills. Well we actually did fine on the dog walk drill, neither here nor there, but on the sending drill we needed work. But he worked through it just fine and as Laurie said, he didn’t get stressed by the failures/restarts, he worked right through it. That was actually a biggie for us. Anyways, I was watching one dog/handler combo in particular. It is a guy and his Sheltie who obviously have done their homework and groundwork far better than I. He had “fronts” and “closer”s and the whole bit to perfectly get his Sheltie set up. I was envious, while also fully aware that I dont work on that stuff. Ever.

We went on to the final drill, a pretty straightforward small course, with lots of jumps on angles and tunnels times three. It didnt look that hard to me, so I didnt really sweat the walkthrough. I watched the other 2 big dogs before us run it, with handlers way more experienced than I. They struggled a bit, had to do plenty of restarts and redos. Our turn. Nailed it. Perfect. First time and done. And FAST. So proud of him. The rest after us—Sheltie too—struggled as well.

So, no perfect fronts in our household, but when it counts, we just might nail it. I’ll give up a little obedience for a little wildness and quick-on-his-feet thinking any day. Or maybe just dumb luck. Whatever, I’ll take it.

Another win this AM, a small one, but a win. We were at dog beach where Forest is now relegated to dragging his long line. We had plenty of treats with us today, and hungry dogs, which probably helped. However, I’ve had that set up before, and its a crapshoot as to whether it will work in my favor. At the start of our walk we passed a girl with a Bully mix. I was not really worried about the dog, but she looked nervous and was holding him/her(?) on a leash somewhat tightly, so we steered clear and kept going. On the way back we were getting close to cross paths with them again. I saw them about 50 yards away where Forest was in between us and them. He spotted them and started zeroing in without moving towards him, doing his pointy tail hard stare. This always precedes an unsolicited launch into another dogs face for some fun time aggro barking. Joy. I called him once, maybe twice, even three times. My heart started to sink, but I could tell his gears were grinding. Girl pulls up her pittie closer to her waiting to see what happens. Forest stares hard at them, and turns and bolts back in our direction. Yay buddy. Good decision. Big party on our end for that one.

So, I dunno. Maybe I am a sucky dog trainer. Maybe I have lots of dumb luck. But I also have a very aloof, fiercely independent little shit of a dog who I seem to be slowly getting through to. He comes to me to cuddle and play and love on me now. He didnt use to do that, he still very selectively does it with Pete (poor Pete), but I’ve got him now. He may not know it yet but I got him. Perfect recall be damned.

Oh, and Find of the Week: I swooped in on a Clean Run sale notice on the Yahoo list and nabbed a Pac n Play Puppy Tunnel–one available on sale, $45! All mine! Look out local parks, there is a hot pink tunnel and a skinny brown dog on the loose!

Linktastic

I have been spending waaay too much time perusing blogs at work. Here are a few of my recent finds.

edited 3/12 to add another great link on flea and tick meds
* Its that time of year–YUCK.

* Rescuer-turned-hoarder in San Diego County. Icky.

* Dogs Smell Bed Bugs (and I am going to NYC next week, double-icky)!?!?!

* Wifey to the HSUS’s “Humane” Horseman of the Year shows us how to train a distracted horse, the “Natural Way.” Big Fail HSUS. Big, HUGE FAIL.

* Raised by Wolves’ “Top Ten Reasons the AKC’s Registration Revenues are Down the Shitter!”

…I should probably get back to work… Mleh.

Monday Morning Memo

So this weekend was definitely not long enough. I was so exhausted this morning–for no apparent reason–and had to peel myself out of bed. Lots to do at work, so naturally, I am procrastinating.

(I also have both dogs at work with me this morning. They are currently having a silent—and well-natured—battle over the one bone I have in the office. Just caught Diego laying and holding it between his “hands” eyeballing Forest to say “What’re you gonna do punk?” Tried to grab my camera/phone but had to root in the purse so they both jumped up.)

Nothing momentous over the past few days, just lots of tidbits.

– Went to dog beach in Huntington yesterday with a girlfriend. There in the parking lot was a couple with a truck, a crate, a very lactating mom dog, and a handwritten sign that said “FOR SALE: American Bulldogs”. Awesome. It pissed both me and my GF off, so I called Animal Control. You have to have a permit in HB to breed and/or sell dogs. Not that they’ll do anything to these morons, but at very least they said they’d send a cop out. Its asshats like these that are the reason we SHOULD have mandatory spay and neuter laws. I am not against breeding “purebred” dogs. But breeders should be serious; i.e. knowledgeable about their breed(s), willing to test for genetic issues, willing to take the time to place their puppies in appropriate homes, and willing to pay licensing/permit fees to do what they supposedly are doing for the “love of the breed.” If you “can’t afford” it, then you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. I was reading a lot of blogs this weekend and heard someone refer to themselves as a “hobby breeder”. That term makes me want to vomit—those two words should not be allowed in the same breath.

– Speaking of lots of blog reading this weekend, found a few new blogs I very much enjoyed. In my quest to learn more and more and even more about training and behavior, I am enjoying the wide range of opinions and knowledge. I like the theories/ramblings of trainer Sassie Joiris from the East Coast. She has some good recent posts about toy vs. food motivation, and how much we should, or shouldn’t, worry about getting our dogs more toy-drivey. She also runs a Whippet which automatically ups her a few notches in my world. I think I’m becoming a sighthound addict.

– Also, love love love this woman’s commentary/opinions/vast knowledge on dog and animal training in general: Raised by Wolves. She has a few great posts on the Sea World Orca disaster.

– And, thanks Dogster (whose Behavior & Training Forum is driving me nuts. Some people on there are just not very open minded…) for the Most Horrible Dog Invention Yet. Just truly, truly awful in so many ways.

We worked on some short weave sessions this weekend that went well. Definitely finding that our weaknesses are sending him in from the left side, and him learning to decelerate before he hits them so he doesn’t miss that first pole… learning learning. Agility class tonight!!!