Things I Didn’t Expect When I Started Blogging

by Houndstooth on

Just before my break from school started, I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself. Several of my coworkers were going to be traveling to Florida over break, and I was really wishing I could attend BarkWorld, but the money tree hasn’t started earning its keep yet.  Then, I got an intriguing offer.  I was invited to a blogger summit at PetSafe’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee.  It didn’t take a lot of convincing to get me to go.

Dark Park StatueI admit that I hesitated a little bit.  I wasn’t sure I even knew about the company or what they make, but after a little researching, I realized that I’ve seen their products in a variety of places and was even familiar with a lot of them.  They own Premier brand, Invisible Fence brand, Sport Dog, and Drinkwell fountains.  I’m aware that some people have bad feelings about the company, but I am here to tell you that I am so happy that I went.  All of the people that we met from PetSafe were extremely nice to us and the Southern hospitality was just so pleasant and refreshing, especially Natalie and Robin, who must still be exhausted after all of the excitment today.  They never stopped taking care of us from the time we got to Knoxville Thursday afternoon until it was time for us to go on Saturday morning.  It was a fantastic learning experience for me and I loved it.

DenverThey took us to dinner, put us up in a great hotel and gave us a really fascinating look at what goes on in their company.  During lunch, their CEO, Randy Boyd came and spoke to us about the company, their mission and their values.  I am not surprised that all the college students who hear him speak all fight passionately to get internships at their company.  There are no private offices in their company.  Instead, there are desks set up without partitions or dividers around them.  Even his office, which moves through the different divisions from time to time and is right out there with his other employees, is the same as everyone else’s.  I sat there thinking about how refreshing that would be if the administration at the school district where I work was like that.

Size Doesn't MatterI learned a lot about their company, and they even showed us prototypes of some very cool stuff that they will be coming out with in the somewhat near future.  The techie geek in me was beyond excited.  I’d be no good at planning or designing the things that they do, but I admire the daylights out of people who can make those concepts into reality.

Black Lab A LeapingI also loved seeing what a positive impact their company has had on their local area.  They have helped to build seven incredible dog parks in their area.  Our Thursday evening entertainment was seeing the Smokey Mountain Dock Diving Dogs give a demonstration.  The man in charge of the group told us that the company had come to the dog park and added the dock for them, so the dogs could practice dock diving into the lake.  The dog park we have at home is nice, but this place was amazing.  They also have a lot of other ways that they give to the community, including scholarships for students in their area who are first time college attenders in their families and mentor help for them to make sure they get through the enrollment process with ease.  They help local shelters in their area a great deal.  They helped get local ordinances passed in their area to make the town more pet friendly, too.  Knoxville was recently named the most pet friendly city in the Southeast.  I found myself wishing they’d relocate to Peoria and help our area become more pet friendly.

BuckleyAfter all the fun we had seeing their products at their headquarters, we also got to go and see the University of Tennessee Veterinary College.  That was really awe-inspiring for me in a lot of ways.  The college treats all kinds of animals; birds, snakes, dogs, cats, bears, tigers, elephants and anything in between.  They have some cutting edge cancer treatments there as well as an incredible rehabilitation center.  We were able to meet Mabel, a Beagle who was relinquished by her owners to a rescue because “she wasn’t fun and didn’t run around anymore.”  She weighed 64 pounds when she was turned in, and she should weigh around 20.  She has now lost 34 pounds, and a lot of that is thanks to some products made by PetSafe, which was a really cool way of seeing some other things they do in action.

Mabel on the TreadmillThe trip was a whirlwind learning experience for me, and what struck me the most was how passionate and genuine everybody who works there is.  I’ve never considered myself a very big deal as far as the blog goes or my place in the world, but they treated all of us like we were blog stars.  There are many things I liked about the trip, but the one thing I’m left with is how I want to bring that same passion that I felt there towards pets more into my own life.  I think I feel that passion, but I’m not sure that I always express it well.  I went into the experience with a lot of preconceived notions about some things, and I left feeling a lot more informed.  It changed my opinions about some things, opened my eyes to other things, and strengthened my beliefs about others.  You can’t ask for more than that.  Well, maybe you could ask for an office where everyone brings their dog to work and there are cool pet fountains all over the place, but I guess we can’t all have everything.


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posted in dogs, pets | 39 Comments

39 Responses to "Things I Didn’t Expect When I Started Blogging"
  1. Veronique says:

    You sure had an exciting weekend, and learnt a lot inbetween..
    I’d say you underestimate yourself. You have a lot of influence on your readers, at least on me.

  2. angus says:

    Happy – and safe – looking dogs.

  3. BZ Training says:

    That’s some collar on the harlequin up top! Seriously jealous, here. That’s wide enough it might even be visible past the boys’ ruffs!

    • Houndstooth says:

      The Great Dane is named Denver, and she was recently adopted. They believe she was abused in the past, and she was very skittish around new people, so I tried to give her her own comfortable space. I had to get a picture of that collar, though. Her mom told us that she saved up and paid $400 for that collar, which, for the record, is much pricier than anything Bunny owns!

  4. Sue says:

    Glad you had such a fab timew. I adore Denver the Great Dane.

  5. Roo says:

    What an interesting trip. And so very great of PetSafe to help build all those dog parks! Paws up to them! 🙂

    Waggin at ya,

  6. Mango Momma says:

    You express your passion for dogs very nicely, thank you very much. I loved the little beagle on the treadmill. It’s amazing what we can do now for our furry friends to help them have long and healthy lives.

    Mango Momma

    • Houndstooth says:

      I think everyone there was outraged about Mabel. I can’t fathom causing a dog to be that morbidly obese and then dumping her because “she isn’t fun anymore.” She was 64 pounds when she was relinquished and has lost 34. She gets daily exercise on the water treadmill to protect her joints, and of course she’s on a carefully monitored diet. She still needs to lose about 8 pounds, and then they plan to do a tummy tuck on her to remove the excess skin. I believe she also has her own Facebook page.

  7. sara, oreo and chewy says:

    What a cool trip! The company sounds like a fantastic place to work, and how wonderful that they give back to the community.

    I’d love to see the rehab center at the University. All of our rehab vets/techs were trained there.

  8. It sounds like PetSafe does many positive things. And I love the Premier line of products they recently bought.

    I’m one of those folks who isn’t happy about their line of shock collars and electric fence products. I don’t think those “training tools” fit with the positive values you saw expressed at their headquarters.

    I know you’re hesitant to wade into controversy so I appreciate that you mentioned the disagreement some people have about PetSafe products. And I hope their cultivation of bloggers is a two-way conversation. Perhaps seeing that their philanthropy and innovative, positive products get more attention than their punishment based products will help move PetSafe in a new direction.

    • Houndstooth says:

      I think it’s a matter of perspective. I would rather see someone use correction and keep their dog than relinquish a dog to the pound, where they have a high likelihood of being put to sleep. And I’ve also been around long enough to know that there are some dogs that need both positive reinforcement AND correction. I live with one of those dogs. Correction is a tool, when used PROPERLY can be effective, and there are a variety of corrections that people use. And yes, I did actually touch the e-collar and felt the level of correction. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like a push. It didn’t hurt. One of the guys who was with us said he didn’t feel any discomfort until it was on a level of 12 out of 15. That being said, I did tell them before I went that I couldn’t promote electronic fence on my blog, and they were fine with that. I’m very glad that I went and saw that they are a lot more than that, and I learned about the place of those tools in the world, too.

  9. melF says:

    I am so glad that you went. It’s not only nice to read about all the things they do in their community, but it’s also a good example that there is no black and white in this world. Some may disagree with some of what they do, but clearly they are much more than one product. (You know we have a small Purina division here in my town and I haven’t heard of them doing anything like what PetSafe has done.)

    I love that they interested in making a difference in their community. I also love the man in charge, the boss, is out with his people. I think that says it all, don’t you?

    Thanks for reminding all of us that thinking outside the box (or visiting in this case) is what energizes us and reinvigorates us.

  10. What a great trip. I’m glad you are being recognized for the blog star you are to all of your loyal readers. I can’t think of anyone who talks about pet issues with more clarity and honesty.

  11. Kristine says:

    What an interesting opportunity. I am so glad you got the chance to find out more about the company and could share it with us. I think it’s important to learn as much as we can about things we may disagree with or not understand. In fact, I think it’s more important to research the things we dislike than the things we like. You never know what you may find out.

  12. Goose says:

    It all sound so great. I am glad you went and shared all this with us. It seems to me that the people ywho had Mabel didn’t run around with her or she would not have been so overweight. Poor excuse to abandon your dog. Grrrrr. BUt I am very happy she is getting the help she needs.

  13. Michelle says:


  14. This was INCREDIBLE and I am soooooooooo happy that you went! I knew you would share wonderful information and incredible photos (because you ALWAYS do!!!!)

    My kitty brother, Cody has one question…Why didn’ t you bring HIM a Drinkwell Fountain? BOL!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  15. Sam says:

    Wow – how fun. PetSafe sounds like an amazing company who realizes they need the community to be successful. I’m glad you got to go and really enjoyed yourself.


  16. Patty says:

    You had a wonderful adventure!!!

  17. That looks like a pawsome place! And kudos to them for helping that sweet beagle gal out!

  18. Stella says:

    You are a terrific reporter and I enjoy reading what you learn on your trips. I am also happy that bloggers are being recognized as worthy by some of the big companies. We may find ourselves as agents for change in the pet world, even on a small basis.

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  19. wow, what an exciting opportunity you had! sounds like you had a great weekend.

  20. Benny & Lily says:

    Wow great info and interesting about Knoxville. Is that my cousin
    Benny & Lily

  21. Trent Steele says:

    Thanks for coming out to watch us dock dive! It was a fun day at the park. Thanks to Petsafe we get to enjoy these parks. Alex (the dog pictured at the bottom) and I sometimes tour the dog parks on my off days. Thanks for coming!

    Trent and Alex (the rescued Weimaraner)

  22. Corbin says:

    It’s so great that you were given the chance to go and learn about their company! My life jacket is a premier and I love it!

  23. Sage says:

    It’s so nice to have such an inspiring weekend! You deserved it. This sounds like a company that is more than what’s happening about their bottom line and I’m so glad you were able to witness it firsthand.

  24. I agree with your response to Pamela. I think correction has its place in dog training, when used thoughtfully. We sometimes (still) use a check collar which many people in the dogblog park find offensive but when Georgia is throwing one of her 45 kilo tantrums, a quick jerk works much faster and more effectively than a soft voice, clicking and treats. I’d rather do that than let her eat the cat in her path. Sometimes, we just need to be sensible about stuff like this.

  25. Joan says:

    What an amazing experience!! I think your blog is amazing…you have a real gift for writing and story-telling and I think your passion comes through loud and clear! 🙂 Thanks for sharing all the wonderful experiences….I look forward to reading many more!

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience; thanks for sharing it & PetSafe!

  27. KB says:

    I do believe that they make the “breakaway” collars that we have our dogs wear when they’re in the house. Since Shyla arrived, the wrestling has been non-stop, and she loves to grab R’s collar. The breakaway collars seem to work great and could prevent a horrible tragedy. What a cool trip!

  28. Colby says:

    Yay! I’m finally getting a chance to leave the real world and read a few of my favorite blogs. It was fun meeting everyone and learning more about PetSafe. Knoxville was a blast and I’m so glad I got to join so many wonderful bloggers on this trip.

    Your blog is awesome and you are a blogging star!

    I’m still amazed at all the things PetSafe does for their community.

    I hope you’re recovered from last weekend.

    Take care,

  29. It sounds like it was an absolutely fantastic experience, Carrie. It’s never a mistake to learn – if more people took that approach, the world would be a better place.

  30. Erin & David says:

    I think we have a ways to go before we can qualify as the “most pet friendly” city in the southeast (just two hours east Asheville has definitely got us beat on the dog friendly aspect!) But they are definitely putting their best foot forward. The park you visited is the best one yet, the others are in various states of disrepair. Hope you had fun in our home town! 🙂

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