Monday, January 30, 2017

100 Places To See With Your Dog: Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

Years ago we discovered beautiful Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire.  It's a resort area with a small town square, condos and other lodgings.  It's geared toward outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and other fun activities.  There's an indoor ice skating rink as well.  We had been there a few times many years ago when we didn't have a dog.  We always knew it was family friendly but until recently we didn't know it was also dog friendly.  (this post contains Affiliate Links)

Dog friendly travel; Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Town Square in Waterville Valley resort, NH
The absolute BEST part of taking our dogs with us to Waterville Valley is the dog friendly trail that runs along the back side of the resort.  It's actually a cross country ski trail, but dogs and foot traffic are allowed on this particular trail.  We took the dogs hiking each day.  It's a nice long trail, we had so much fun and it was just beautiful!

Dog friendly Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Icy pulls Phoebe in a sled along the dog friendly trail
We bought this adorable little sled for the trip and Icy had fun pulling Phoebe on it.  However, Phoebe didn't want to stay put in the sled, she kept jumping out!  It was a riot.

As we meandered along the trail, we took in all the crisp mountain air and the gorgeous scenery.  This lovely stream runs all along the length of the trail.  The sounds from the stream and the birds were so relaxing.  We desperately needed to relax and unplug from all the craziness of the last few months, and this was the ideal place to do that!

A beautiful stream runs along this dog friendly trail in Waterville Valley, NH
A section of the lovely stream that runs along the dog friendly trail in Waterville Valley, NH

Enjoying the long, dog friendly walking trail in Waterville Valley, NH
Icy and Phoebe pause to take it all in during our hike
I wish I could lead into telling you we found a great pet friendly hotel to stay in, but that's not the case.  There are very few pet friendly lodgings in Waterville Valley.  Much of the lodgings are privately owned condominiums that aren't pet friendly.  The few we did find were all booked up, you need to book those well in advance.  We found a dog friendly place to stay but it was pretty awful.  The place itself was older but it's a nice rustic lodge.  It definitely could use some updating but with a rustic feel it worked.  What didn't work at all was the dog friendly room!  When you travel with dogs you don't expect the Ritz for sure, but it should at least not be horrible!

Winter Dog friendly travel
The lobby area was one of the nicest parts of our hotel.  The giant scarf around the moose's neck was adorable!
I won't say the name of the hotel, I would never recommend it for travel with pets and I'm not one to badmouth products or places on my blog.  Suffice to say that the dog friendly room was super outdated, and by outdated I mean downright dingy!  Next time we travel to Waterville Valley with our dogs I'll look for a much better pet friendly place to stay.  Either that or I'll just leave the dogs home.  The only good thing about our room was the view of the stream from our window.

Pet friendly travel in New Hampshire
Phoebe stops for a photo by the stream along the dog friendly trail
I was amazed at how much Phoebe loved being in Waterville Valley!  She normally Hates the cold and doesn't even want to go out in the yard to potty.  But something happened to transform my fluffy delicate dog into a snowdog!  She was racing along the trail each day, and even during nighttime potty breaks she was happy to be walking around the village.  Who was this dog?!?  I guess there's a bit of magic in those mountains.

Here's a quickie video of us Icy pulling Phoebe on the sled:


John and I had some fun of our own too, we both had a chance to ski!  You may be wondering how we swung that with two dogs.  I like to downhill ski and John is a cross country skier so we ski separately anyway.  I got to go skiing while he watched the dogs.  When it was his turn to ski I stayed with the dogs.  The cross country trails are right at the resort and the downhill trails are a quick shuttle ride up the road so it worked out great!  We each had some fun bonding time alone with the dogs out on the trail and we both got a chance to ski.  The skiing was terrific, and being mid week the slopes & trails were practically empty, I felt like I had the whole mountain to myself!

Despite the crummy accommodations, it was an awesome trip!  I would definitely recommend a trip to Waterville Valley Resort, just be cautious about where you stay if you brings pets along.  Happy Trails!

What would you think about a trip to Waterville Valley?  Leave us a comment, we always LOVE hearing from you!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Snow Dog Days

Today I'm sharing one of my all time favorite Snow Dog photos of Icy.  It was taken in our backyard following a huge snow storm.

Siberian Husky Icy up to her belly in snow! Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them


Icy was in her glory, up to her belly in snow! She didn't want to come back inside!

Is your pet enjoying any snow this Winter?  Leave us a comment & share, we love hearing from you!















Friday, January 20, 2017

Pet Safety in Winter; Cold Weather Safety Tips for Dogs

We often don't think much about keeping our pets safe from the Winter cold.  They have a fur coat, don't they?  True, but different dogs have different types of coats.  Some dogs, like my Siberian Husky, Icy, have a thick double undercoat.  Some dogs, like Boxers and Boston Terriers have super short coats.  Then there are dogs like Phoebe who fall somewhere in between.  She's a little fluffy white dog with hair, as opposed to fur, that doesn't get very thick.  No matter what breed of dog you have, what size they are, or what type of fur they have it's important to be mindful of the cold and how cold temperatures can effect your dog.  Keep your dog safe from Old Man Winter with these Pet Safety Tips for Winter.

WINTER SAFETY TIPS FOR DOGS

You may think I don't worry about Icy being in cold weather since she's a Siberian Husky, but I do.  Not nearly as much as Phoebe of course, but I'm always mindful of pet safety in the Winter for both of them.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Dogs


ICE MELTS


One of things I worry about most with both my dogs is rock salt, or ice melts on sidewalks and in the road.  Ice melting products can contain chemicals that are toxic to your pet.  Pets can be harmed either by eating it or getting it on their paws or body.  If it gets on their paws it can irritate, or "burn" your pet's paws and skin.  If they lick it off paws or skin they'll ingest the chemicals.

Ice melting products are harmful to pets because they contain:
  • Sodium Chloride (a.k.a. Rock Salt) 
  • Potassium Chloride 
  • Magnesium Chrloride 
  • Calcium Salts (calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium acetate, and calcium chloride)
These Salt and Chloride substances can be found in the majority of ice melting products.  If your dog is exposed to these it can lead to skin irritation ("burns"), vomiting, diarrhea or worse.

There are Pet Friendly ice melting products designed not to irritate pet paws or skin, however they are all a bit different and don't appear to be very well regulated.  Most pet safe ice melt products are both salt free and chloride free.  Several are Urea (a.k.a. carbamide) based.  Although safer for pets, urea based ice melting products can still be harmful if large quantities are ingested.  If your dog finds the bag in the garage, sticks his nose in it and ends up eating it he is likely to get very sick.

I wish "pet safe" ice melting products were better regulated and had more standardization in terms of ingredients.  When you shop for pet safe ice melts read the ingredients list carefully.  If you're not sure whether it's safe for pets, call the manufacturer or go online.  Either way, keep it well out of reach to avoid your dog getting into it.

Keep pets safe from the cold temperatures of Winter
We got this dog towel from Petsafe at a BlogPaws pet bloggers conference.  I use it to wipe the dogs' paws each time they go out.
Although pet safe ice melt is widely available, not everyone uses it.  Even if it makes your walkway safe for pets, other sidewalks, driveways, parks and public places may not use a pet safe ice melt.  It tends to be a lot more expensive than regular ice melts.  I dampen a dog towel to wipe Icy and Phoebe's paws off when we return from walks.  This prevents them from possibly licking ice melt off their paws, ingesting the chemicals.  Learn more about why ice melting products are hazardous to pets in this article I found on the Pet Poison Hotline's web site.

You can use dog booties or paw wax to help protect your dog's feet from dangerous chemicals on the pavement.  This helps prevent ice balls from forming on their feet, and booties can offer some protection against sharp objects under the snow that may not be visible.  Be sure to wipe the paw wax off once back inside so it doesn't end up being a dirt collector all around the house!




ANTI-FREEZE

Needless to say, anti-freeze is extremely dangerous to pets.  Just a few licks can kill a dog or cat. Even if you don't have anti-freeze in the house or garage, a neighbor might.  Keep anti-freeze out of site & well out of reach.  Don't let your dog run loose in the neighborhood, he might get into someone's garage or shed where anti-freeze is stored.  Be mindful of possible anti-freeze spills near roads or driveways as you walk your dog as well.  This should go without saying, really, but no Pet Winter Safety Tips article would be complete without mentioning the dangers of anti-freeze.

Ethylene glycol is the main ingredient in most antifreeze products, and it's poisonous.  It smells good and tastes sweet, making it appealing to pets but it's deadly.  Some manufacturers have added a bitter taste to their anti-freeze products, but you must still be on guard and keep it away from pets.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, it only take a few tablespoons of highly toxic anti-freeze to put an animal's life in peril.  They recommend switching to an anti-freeze that contains propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol, but although it's less poisonous it is still toxic.  Even if you make that switch, a neighbor or neighboring commercial facility might still be using anti-freeze with ethylene glycol.  Paint may also contain ethylene glycol, so if you store paint outside in a shed or garage keep the containers well sealed and out of reach.  If you suspect your dog may have ingested anti-freeze or paint call your Veterinarian immediately.  Symptoms of anti-freeze poisoning include lethargy, disorientation, loss of coordination and vomiting.

PREVENT HYPOTHERMIA IN DOGS 


Some dogs can tolerate the cold better than others.  Icy, my Husky can stay outdoors in a blizzard and be happy as a clam.  We have to make her come inside!  Phoebe, on the other hand hates the cold and often has to be coaxed just to go out in the yard to potty if it's snowing.

Shorter hair dogs such as Boxers, Pugs, and French Bulldogs are more prone to freezing than dogs with thicker, heavier fur.  They can't keep the heat in their bodies the way double coated dogs like Huskies, Collies, or German Shepherds can.  Hypothermia is a real danger to pets in the cold. Dogs and cats freeze to death every Winter in cold climates.   Leaving a dog outside in freezing temperatures for a long period of time can be disastrous.  Of course, leaving a dog in a parked car in freezing temperatures can be just as dangerous.  It's like leaving your dog in the freezer!

Hypothermia has varying symptoms depending on the severity of it.  Strong shivering, rapid heart rate and breathing, muscle stiffness, body temperature below 98 degrees F, and loss of mental alertness are some of the symptoms.  If you think your dog is suffering from hypothermia, get him wrapped in warm blankets (dry him off as best you can first if he's wet), give him some warm liquid to drink, or wrap a hot water bottle in something like a towel and place it against the dog's abdomen.  Contact a Veterinarian as soon as possible.

KEEP PETS AWAY FROM FREEZING OR ICY WATER


If you're like me you love taking your dog to the beach or to parks that have a lake or pond your dog can romp in.  In the dead of Winter however, lakes and ponds can freeze, and the ocean is downright frigid.  Be sure to keep your dog on a leash and steer him away from frigid water and any bodies of water that have iced over.  It's easy for a dog to fall through thin ice.  If that happens it won't take long for hypothermia to set in.  When hypothermia sets in, the dog's body temperature eventually gets too low for normal organ functioning.  If a dog doesn't get treated for hypothermia in time, it could be fatal.  I came across an interesting article on What To Do If Your Dog Falls Through Ice in a post shared by one of my favorite brands, Outward Hound.

A dog doesn't have to fall into icy water to get hypothermia, staying out in extremely cold weather for longer than the dog can handle can also lead to hypothermia.  Keep your eye on your dog and watch for behavior that may indicate the cold is getting to be too much for him.  When we bring Icy and Phoebe out in the cold for one of our adventures I keep a very close eye on Phoebe and a little less of an eye on Icy.  I know how high Icy's tolerance for the cold is and how low Phoebe's is.  We are heading to New Hampshire for some fun and adventure with the dogs soon, and I'm acutely aware of how cold the weather will be.  I've made sure we're prepared for the cold and will be very mindful of how much time we spend outdoors..  Learn more about Hypothermia in Dogs in this article from PetMd.

KEEP GROOMING TO A MINIMUM


Phoebe gets groomed two or three times a year, but I don't shave her down in the Winter.  Shaving her would remove some of her natural protection against the cold.  I also make sure to put a sweater and/or a coat on her when we go for walks or play outside in the snow.  Needless to say, my Husky doesn't need any apparel to keep her warm!

Keep dogs safe from Winter cold with these Pet Safety Tips for Winter


FROSTBITE IN DOGS


One of the dangers for dogs staying out in the cold for long periods of time is Frostbite.  According to Doctors Fosters and Smith Frostbite is: "...the injury or death of tissue from prolonged exposure to freezing or subfreezing temperatures..."

Frostbite is a real concern for dogs in the Winter.  Frostbite is most common on the ears, paws & toes, tail, and scrotum.  As the body becomes colder and colder, blood vessels constrict, depriving tissue of the blood supply needed to warm them. Eventually the tissue freezes and dies.

Symptoms of frostbite include a gray or bluish discoloration of the effected area.  It may feel cold to the touch and may be painful to your pet when touched.  It may also feel dry or brittle.  Be mindful of how much time your dog is spending out in the cold and watch for signs of frostbite.  If you suspect your dog has frostbite, contact your Veterinarian immediately.

Winter Safety For Pets
Being a Husky, Icy would stay outside in the snow all day if I let her!

It's not just my dogs I worry about, I'm also concerned about my neighborhood feral cats and the birds out in the frigid cold of Winter.  Water in the bird bath or in puddles will freeze when the mercury really plummets so I leave water in our bird bath with a small heater in it.  It's a simple, inexpensive device that plugs into an outdoor outlet.  I'm currently trying to convince my husband to help me build a cat shelter on the porch as well.  A simple shelter that blocks the wind with a kitty bed or blanket under it will do just fine to keep our furry feral friends safe from frigid Winter temperatures!

Please, don't leave your dog outside all day in freezing temperatures!  If you absolutely must leave your dog outdoors, if it's totally unavoidable, at least make sure there is a shelter to block the wind and blankets to help him stay warm.  Check his water to ensure it's not frozen and consider investing in a coat as well.  I'd suggest booties too, but if they're not actively walking most dogs will just rip them off!

Follow these cold weather safety tips to keep pets safe when those arctic winds blow.  Enjoy the beauty and fun of the season!

How do you keep your pets safe in Winter?  Share your favorite tip in the comments below, we always love hearing from you!

NOTE: I am not a Veterinarian or a Vet Tech, nor do I play one online!  This information is based on my own personal experiences and research.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Steps to Planning for Blogging Success

In the days leading up to New Year's, I reflected on the year gone by.  The last few months of the year had a lot of chaos and pain for me.  It made me feel like the whole year was awful.  I was relieved to see 2016 end and ring in a New Year.  Then I read a business article on Goal Planning For The New Year that changed my perspective.

The article talked about the importance of reviewing your accomplishments from the prior year, acknowledging and celebrating them.  It reminded me not to judge the success of an entire year by a few lousy months.  It's important to look at the year in full and accurately assess your progress. So that's what I did.

Goal Planning for Blogging Success
It's important to closely review and properly take stock of last year's accomplishments.
I flipped through my calendar, my blog posts, and last year's goals to really take stock of the year.  I was surprised to see that 2016 hadn't been a bust at all!  In fact, I had accomplished quite a bit both professionally and personally, and got through some tough challenges.

It's easy to forget what you've accomplished through an entire year if you focus only on what you didn't accomplish and what the next thing is.  You can quickly lose sight of what you actually have accomplished in 12 months.  This energized me to take on the New Year,  and my 5 Step 2017 Blogging Plan began to take shape.

1. ASSESS LAST YEAR'S PROGRESS AND CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS


I started by taking the time to really assess the results of my blogging efforts last year.  I identified my accomplishments and CELEBRATED THEM!   I literally wrote them out and reviewed each one, absorbing what I had accomplished.  I didn't let my mind jump to everything I still have left to accomplish or where I may not have achieved the success I hoped for.  This exercise surprised me. If you perform this exercise for yourself, it might surprise you too!

My 2016 accomplishments:

> On a personal level, we moved!  We had been living in Phoenix, AZ for over 9 years and were aching to get back to friends and family in New York.  This was a huge step for us, and the dogs! There are many challenges to moving clear across the country with two dogs.

We had to pack up, sell some furniture and other stuff,  and coordinate a cross country move with two dogs in tow.  Our house sold in just 2 days and we were off - Success!  I blogged about the challenges of moving with dogs, and provided some Tips For Moving With Pets.

> For the last few years, going to Alaska for the Iditarod sled dog race was at the top of my Bucket List.  Just when I was beginning to think we'd never get there, in March of 2016, we finally made it!  It was one of those trips of a lifetime.  We were there at the start of the Iditarod sled dog race and got to see those amazing canine athletes do what they do best - RUN!!

We also went on a glacier boat tour through beautiful Blackstone Bay.  We were lucky enough to actually see a glacier calving!  Calving is when a chunk of a glacier breaks off and falls into the ocean.  As the glacier begins to break, you hear what sounds like booming loud thunder!

Alaska was an incredible experience, one I'll never forget.

Blackstone Bay in Alaska

OK, enough about personal stuff, let's get to the blogging accomplishments!  

Along with many of my BlogPaws blogger friends I participated in the BlogPaws Boost Your Blog 10k Challenge.  It's a series of blogging challenges designed to help bloggers reach 10,000 blog page views per month - or to add another 10k blog views if their blog is already getting 10k views a month.  The goal was to reach 10,000 views per month by the BlogPaws Bloggers Conference in May, 2016.

I completed the challenges but fell short of  the 10k monthly blog views by the time the conference rolled around.  However, I hit 14,000 blog views per month by the end of 2016!  I was so bummed at having not made the 10k when I wanted to, I neglected to celebrate the fact that I did achieve my goal by the end of 2016, so I'm celebrating it now!

Another goal I had for 2016 was to significantly improve my photography skills by working on lighting issues and learning how to overlay text, and watermark photos.  Well what do you know, I accomplished my Photography goals!  My biggest challenge was that indoor photos I shot for my blog often came out so dark and shadowy they were unusable.  It was so frustrating, dark photos were the bane of my existence!

Included in the Blog 10k Challenge is a section on improving your photography. This challenge made all the difference for me. Aimee Beltran, BlogPaws executive team member and author of the blog Irresistible Pets recommended a simple Lighting Kit by Limostudio (LMS103)  for just $52 on Amazon.  This quality lighting kit is a great value.  It was the best photography investment I could have made!

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE THE LIMOSTUDIO LMS103 LIGHT SET ON AMAZON 

Goal Setting for Bloggers; improve your photography
An inexpensive lighting kit dramatically improved my photography - no more DARK photos!
I have no doubt that the improvement in my photography had something to do with me being selected for two BlogPaws Ambassadorship campaigns.  An "ambassadorship" campaign is one where you grant exclusivity to a brand for a select period of time, such as 4 months.  During that time period you write several posts for the brand while agreeing not to accept campaigns for competing products.  This type of campaign pays a bit more due to the exclusivity aspect.  I feel very privileged to have been selected for both the Bravecto Flea and Tick Control (Merck Animal Health) #12Bravecto Ambassador Campaign AND the Natural Balance Pet Food #WeBelieveinNB Ambassador Campaign.  I love both of these brands and their products, and I loved working on these two campaigns!

Overall, earnings from my blog almost doubled from last year.  I'm glad I made more money but not nearly as much as I hoped.  2016 was filled with learnings and improving my blogging and social media skills.  In 2017 I'll be more focused on the revenue aspect of my blog.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them sponsored an event for the first time in 2016!   I even created a small swag bag giveaway item for attendees, which I've never done before.  The event was the #WIGGLEBUTTSUNCORKED GALA FUNDRAISER hosted, along with her spouse, by the incomparable Carol Bryant of the dog blog Fidose of Reality.  The funds raised at this gala went to the very worthy non-profit organization, NYC Second Chance Rescue.  Being a Wigglebuttsuncorked sponsor was a great experience for me.

2017 Blogging Goal Planning

The swag bag item I created was this two sided card that lists monthly pet celebrations and awareness.  BONUS:  I had ordered enough cards to give out to brands I have worked with or would like to work with at the 2016 BlogPaws Pet Bloggers Conference!

Those were my most significant Blogging Accomplishments from 2016. After reviewing and celebrating these accomplishments, it's on to preparing for blogging success in 2017!

2. GET ORGANIZED FOR THE NEW YEAR

Isn't this always at the top of your list for the New Year?  It's always on mine, but after packing up an entire house and moving across the country, this was an enormous undertaking!  I couldn't find anything for weeks on end, despite the fact that I was diligent about labeling every box we packed.

I sorted through my home essentials and got those put away months ago.  However, my blog files and blogging paraphernalia were a mess.  It made sticking to my blogging plan difficult!  I'm used to a very organized work space.   The dogs' belongings were stuffed in various bags & boxes and I spent too much time searching for things.  I had only kept their daily essentials handy so I had to continually sift through all their things to find what I needed.

An organized work space is essential to planning & success
What a mess!  I can't believe how much stuff I have for the dogs!
After I pulled all their stuff out of boxes and bags I couldn't believe how many collars, leashes, apparel and other items I have for the dogs!   I'm ashamed to say a few items still had the tags on them.  What can I say, adorable pet products at PetSmart are simply irresistible!
Save 20% off Select Top Paw Collars, Leads & Harnesses at PetSmart.com!

Having a clean and workable space is critical for planning and success.  These last few months of digging through everything to find my blogging files, dogs' belongings, and photo props and supplies were so frustrating!  I spent two days sorting through all of it, getting my space and supplies organized.  After sorting through the mess of dog's things, it translated to this neat, organized closet in the office (Cue the heavenly sounding music):

A neat, organized closet is essential
Voila!  An organized "dog closet"
I call this the "dog closet".  I hung up their costumes, coats & jackets.  I found this plastic organizer laying dormant in the basement, so I cleaned it up and pressed it into service.  I love when I can re-purpose something at no cost!  I put their sweaters in the bottom drawer, bandana's in the one above it and their collars and accessories in the top two drawers.  There's a top shelf in the closet which I use for my photo equipment, backdrops & such.  Now I can actually find everything!

I poured over my blogging files and papers and got them sorted into workable files and stored away. I organized my files into 3 sections:

1. Notes from BlogPaws conferences and other meetings & presentations
2. Collection of Campaign Summaries from blog campaigns I've worked on
3. Folder of clippings from my idea notepad.  I always carry it with me, you never know when an inspirational event, conversation, or random thought will spark ideas for blog posts.  I capture these for later review to see which ones I may be inspired to work into blog posts and add to my blog editorial calendar.  I also collect clippings of articles from bloggers I'd like to connect with.   I want to connect not only with other pet bloggers but with travel bloggers and mommy bloggers as well.  I write a lot about traveling with pets, so I love connecting with travel bloggers.  My Therapy Dog and I work a lot with kids who have trouble reading, so I like connecting with mommy bloggers.  It's a good way to expand my audience beyond just pet bloggers.

After I reviewed, culled and organized blogging items I can now access and utilize them.  I got rid of so much!  It's amazing how much crap you hang on to "just in case".  Am I right??

Organizing my office for 2017.
A neatly organized, cozy corner of my office.
I finally got my files and my bookshelf cleaned up with my most valuable dog books and dog magazines handy to inspire and educate me.   I keep some office supplies in the bottom drawer of the bookshelf too. When my eyes need a break from the computer screen, I can sit in the chair that's been in my family since the 1930's, and feed my head with ideas and information!

I went through all the stuff that had begun to pile up on my desk as well.  The mess was driving me crazy.  I cleared it off and put everything in it's proper place.  It's important to have a clean space in which to think clearly and write!  Now the trick is not to allow myself to lapse into using the desk as a storage surface, letting stuff pile up on it again.

5 Steps to Planning for Blogging Success
Phoebe is hard at work finalizing our 2017 Blogging Plans


3. GET INSPIRED TO BLOG 

We all need a little inspiration.  Aside from my dogs who inspire me to no end, one of the things that inspires me most is being part of the BlogPaws blogging community.  I've made a lot of friends, learned a ton, and gotten so much love and support from this community!  We help, support, and inspire each other to be the best bloggers we can be.  In this photo are some of the holiday cards I received this year from fellow BlogPaws bloggers.  I hung them up next to my desk so I can be reminded every day that I have wonderful blogger friends who are always there for me!

Get inspiration, help and support from a blogger's network like BlogPaws
Being part of a blogging community is inspiring and motivating!
My trip to Alaska and the Iditarod sled dog race definitely inspire me.  When I first got Icy, my Husky, I had done a lot of research on the Siberian Husky breed.  I learned about the Serum Run of 1925, where sled dog teams and their mushers rushed life saving serum to the town of Nome, Alaska. This is the event that inspired today's Iditarod Sled Dog race, which takes place every March in Alaska!  I am continually touched and inspired by that historical event.  I got the Iditarod 2016 poster you see in the above photo in Alaska last year.  They were giving them away at the starting line of the race, along with free selfie sticks!  I hung that poster up in my office so I can look at it as I work and feel inspired by Icy's breed, and by how incredible all dogs can be.

Another thing that inspires me tremendously is the Therapy Dog work I do with Icy.  Seeing her in action blows me away every time. She can melt even the most troubled heart.  We participate in children's reading programs, stress buster events at schools, and other events.  This year we had the opportunity to participate in some programs we hadn't been involved in before. We visited a local  homeless shelter, and visited  adults with mental health challenges and disabilities in our community.  Icy was wonderful with everyone, I'm always so inspired by her.



4. SET MY BLOGGING GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR

Now that I've reflected on last year, gotten organized and I'm feeling inspired, it's time to nail down my blogging goals for 2017.   Goals should be ambitious but realistic.  As I started to formulate my blogging goals for the new year, the list kept growing.  It soon reached a length I knew was unrealistic.  Setting unrealistic goals can be overwhelming and demotivating, so I narrowed it down to 5 Specific Blogging Goals for 2017 that were Realistic and Achievable.  As I achieve these goals I can add others but I'll stay motivated if I focus on a smaller number of goals at one time.

MY 5 BLOGGING GOALS FOR 2017


1. Attend 2 pet industry events.
I've decided to attend the BlogPaws conference in May and Barkworld in October.  Depending on my budget, I may add Global Pet Expo in March as well IF I can swing it.


2. Work with Affiliates.
Towards the end of 2016 I dipped my toe into Affiliate Marketing.  I signed on with just one company to see how it works.  By January I signed on as an Affiliate Partner with 3 more companies. Learning how to best work with affiliates and how to be successful with affiliate ads is high on my list for 2017.  I'm excited to explore this new revenue potential!

3. Get at least 10 campaigns for my blog
This may seem super obvious, of course I want to work on more campaigns!  However, this goal is around negotiating campaigns myself and through new networks.  Specifically, campaigns in addition to those I may be selected for in the BlogPaws network.  I need to expand my sources for campaigns!

4. Improve my video skills and publish 5-10 new videos.
This is a biggie.  2016 was the year I significantly improved my photography skills. In 2017 I'll continue to build on my photography skills while focusing on my video skills.  My video skills need a lot of help!

Some experts were saying that 2016 was going to be the year of Video Marketing.  We definitely saw a big increase in online video last year, but it hadn't taken over.  However, 2017 is proving to be the year Online Video Marketing really dominates, especially on social media channels.  Hubspot.com reported that 55% of people watch videos daily (OMG I'm one of them!).  They also stated that  "by 2017 online video will account for 74% of all web traffic"  WOW!  So you see why improving my video skills is a key goal for 2017!

5. Grow my social media channels, especially Facebook.
I've outlined each of my social media channels and what I want my numbers to be on each channel by the end of 2017.   Lofty goals for sure but I'll do my best!  I plan to accomplish this by allotting a specified amount of time each day to work on the social media channel I want to grow.  I've decided 20 minutes per day per channel is a good chunk of time for me to spend solely on growing each channel.   I've worked out which days I'll work on each channel.   This will consist of not just posting, but sharing other peoples' content more and engaging with people on each channel.  I need to do more of that.

I'll measure the progress on my goals every 3 months to maintain focus on them.  Setting goals and not measuring your progress is a waste of time.  The end of the year will come and you'll have gotten totally off track.  I'm going to maintain focus on my goals and their progress so I can succeed!

5. GET BLOGGING!


Now it's time to Just Do It as they say ! I'm keeping my 5 goals top of mind as I plan my Blog Post Editorial Calendar.  I brainstorm ideas all the time, there are ideas and inspiration all around me.  I just need to capture them and create content that tells my individual stories.  

I schedule most of my posts for 3 or 4 months out.  I don't like to plan posts for the entire year in advance, opportunities and ideas crop up all the time so I like to be open and flexible.  I do, however, schedule seasonal blog posts and some pet related celebration/awareness posts further out.

It's mid-January and my Blog Post Editorial Calendar is coming along nicely, I have lots of interesting and informative blog posts to work on for the next few months!  Following these 5 Steps to Planning for Blogging Success has my 2017 Blogging Plan well underway!

Other Posts you might like:
If you want enhance your blogging & social media skills, the BlogPaws Conference is a Must!
Helpful Blogging Tips & Hacks 
More helpful Blogging Tips & Advice


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Do you have a plan for your blog in 2017?  Leave us a comment and share!  We LOVE hearing from you.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Snow Dogs in Tow


HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!!
Hope this photo makes you chuckle


Uber driving my dogs around town like a pack mule!


Do you ever feel like your dog's Uber Driver  Chauffeur?  Leave us a comment & share!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bring On The New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!

The holidays are over and it's time to plan for 2017!  

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I'm resting up and recharging my batteries.  I'm reviewing my 2016 blog progress, and finalizing plans for the year ahead!  I'll share my blog planning activities and goals in a blog post real soon so please stay tuned.  


Wishing you all Good Health, Much Love, Happiness, and Success in the New Year!!


Are you busy planning for 2017?  Leave us a comment and share what you're up to!

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