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pet blogging, pet blog, pet blogger, pet writing. Our Mom, Robbi Hess, is a social media manager, blogger, long-letter copywriter — oh yeah, and a heck of a pet lover. She’s involved with BlogPaws and works as the blog manager — that means she gets to work with a lot of other pet lovers. How cool is that! She gives me the attention I deserve, whenever I ask for it because she’s pretty well-trained. Stick around and comment on our goings-on. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook at My Divas Dish, Robbi Hess and The Professional Edge. (We’ll like you back!) Robbi is available for speaking engagements, guest blogging and for product reviews. Email her using the link at the right!

DivasDish_Main

Our Mom, Robbi Hess, is a social media manager, blogger, long-letter copywriter — oh yeah, and a heck of a pet lover. She’s involved with BlogPaws and works as the blog manager — that means she gets to work with a lot of other pet lovers. How cool is that! She gives me the attention I deserve, whenever I ask for it because she’s pretty well-trained. Stick around and comment on our goings-on. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook at My Divas Dish, Robbi Hess and All Words Matter. (We’ll like you back!)

6a00e54fa019038833017ee48c6ced970d-120wiRobbi is available for speaking engagements, guest blogging and copywriting gigs. Email her at robbi@allwordsmatter.com


 


Preparing Puppy For First Grooming

Robbi Hess : July 15, 2016 5:37 am : My Diva’s Dish

dogs before groomingMurray is a chicken-baby. I say that with all of the love in my heart for this puppy, but he is truly afraid of his own shadow. His fearfulness makes me fearful that he will grow up to be a “reactive dog” and that could be problematic. He is the kind of dog you can’t just walk up to and pet when he’s sleeping because he startles easily and gets a bit snappy. He is not fond of people coming up behind him when we are walking. He cringes away from loud noises. If he gets scared, he will run over and hide between our legs. It’s good that he knows we will protect him and it’s probably good that he doesn’t feel the need to beat every other dog up the way Henrietta does, but his fear is a bit disconcerting.

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July 4, Lost Dogs & Safety Tips

Robbi Hess : July 1, 2016 5:30 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

July 4th, Lost Dogs & Safety Tips

July 4th is a time of fun and excitement… for humans. If you have a dog with an anxiety disorder, however, the Fourth of July and its crowds, hubbub and fireworks and you have a recipe for disaster. Henrietta, my diva poodle, is fine with the fireworks and crowds as long as I am carrying her. Being surrounded by feet and not being able to see above the legs makes her anxious.

lost pet preventionJuly is also an important time for all pet owners — it’s Lost Pet Prevention Month. While pet owners know it’s important to keep track of their animals year-round, it’s crucial to spend additional time sharing with pet owners, and especially new pet owners, how to keep their beloved pets safe and prevent them from getting lost.

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5 Tips To Get Stuff Done With A Puppy In The House

Robbi Hess : May 18, 2016 5:30 am : Business & Networking, My Diva’s Dish

This is post 8 in a 12 post blogging challenge I’m doing through The Blogging Badass.

Whew! Puppies are tiring. I’d forgotten that having a puppy in the house is like having a human baby in the house. They are demanding. They need constant supervision. They poo and pee on the carpet — puppies, not babies (hopefully).

Because I work from home and because we have a new puppy, Murray, in the house with me I have had to be creative when it comes to caring for him, making certain he doesn’t chew through electrical cords and getting my client work done.time management tips for puppy owners

Here are my five tips for getting stuff done with a puppy in the house:

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Adding A New Puppy To The Family

Robbi Hess : May 4, 2016 12:33 pm : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

13102865_10207615084593509_1320405740213121221_n(Post 3 of 12 in the 12 Blog Post Blogging Badass Challenge)

As you may recall, we lost our Spenser in January. It’s taken us some time, but we feel we are ready to add a new puppy to our family. We did our research and determined that a Goldendoodle had the personality, was the size and is potentially non-shedding and will be a great fit for the family. We found a fantastic breeder in Copper Ridge Doodles and loved Gina’s, the breeder, philosophies and the way she took care of the mom and her puppies. We also fell in love with the look of the puppies on her site and were hooked. We decided this was the breed for us.

Our puppy, Murray (name subject to change!) was born on March 13. Since that time we have received updates with photos several times a week. Gina and I have exchanged, probably tens of thousands of words in our email exchanges about the puppy in specific and the breed in general. I have learned so much and I also love the fact that Gina made us feel a part of Murray’s life even before we got to meet him.
IMG_9268We had our meet and greet a week ago and our love was cemented. His fur is as soft as feathers. He ran to the puppy pad to pee when the need arose. He romped. He chewed our fingers, our shoes, his sister and he snuggled into our arms when we picked him up. I’d forgotten how amazing puppy breath is!

I sat on the floor and had Murray and his sister crawling all over me. It was glorious! Part of the reason I did this was because I wanted Henrietta, the Diva Poodle, to get a smell of him and a sense of him before he comes home. She was wholly unimpressed when we came home. Hen was only concerned with whether we’d had anything to eat because she sniffed our breathe then sat down staring at us. The cats, however, were all over me and my clothes. They know something is up!

Yesterday we went out and invested in a crate, toys a new collar and other puppy-centric items. His first vet appointment is scheduled and we are now counting down the hours until we bring him home — May 8!

Because Spenser was a very large dog (100+ pounds) and wasn’t very well trained — he did drag me and broke bones in my foot and did drag Tim and break his collarbone — we knew this new 51wE7nVnR9L._SX298_BO1,204,203,200_addition needed to be trained to be a good canine citizen. Thankfully, my involvement in the pet industry means I have access to experts and because I work with Larry Kay from Positively Woof I have a copy of Larry’s book and have been reading through it so we know the best way to train our new family addition. We know we want to have the best dog ever and understand that means training him to be the best dog ever! I also had the privilege of hosting Larry for dinner with the family when we were on vacation in San Diego so I had a one-on-one lesson with him about clicker training, target training and other items that will go a long way in helping Murray be the best pup he can be!

Although, when you look at his face in these photos you just know he will be able to get away with just about anything! Wish us luck with the Diva and her meeting of him for the first time on Sunday — her little nose will be all bent out of shape!

 

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I’m A Cat Enabler

Robbi Hess : April 12, 2016 11:12 am : Animal Adoption, My Diva’s Dish

Cats are weird. I say that with full conviction having been around them my entire life. The day after I got my first apartment, I got the first cat I had ever made the complete decision to adopt. She was a Siamese, named Skye. She was a talker, as many Siamese are. Skye was my first, but throughout my adult life, we have had anywhere from one to five cats living in the house with us.

Lucy at the shelter

Lucy at the shelter

Currently we have Parker, Jessie and Lucy.

Lucy is the weirdest cat I have ever lived with. My daughter sent me a picture of Lucy when she saw her on Instagram in a photo the shelter posted. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued and down to the shelter I went. She was odd from the beginning. I picked her up and snuggled her at the shelter and she went all limp and slinky-like lolling around in my arms. She looked into my face and started chattering – she was more of a talker than even Skye had been. She bumped her head against my face, nibbled my fingers and basically demanded that I bring her home – who was I to deny her?

There are several times a week when we play the “what doesn’t belong” game and it’s always Lucy in a space she doesn’t belong. We wonder how she even got in the space we’ve found her, but we have long ago given up trying to figure it out.

Currently Lucy reigns supreme. She chases Jessie away from the food. Parker will be driven off the couch if Lucy decides she wants the cushion he is lounging on. Henrietta doesn’t give in to her bullying and sometimes it ends up in an all out barking, meowing pet war.

Her weirdest behavior, to date, is her obsession with a blanket I bought. The first day I brought it home, she launched herself onto my lap and began kneading the blanket, sucking on one corner and drooling. Gross, but kind of cute. The next day I grabbed the blanket, carried it through the house with Lucy following along, like a puppy. I stopped to catch a snippet of something on the television and she howled and started clawing at me and the blanket. I sat down and she, again, went all kooky with the kneading.

Lucy in THE blanketLucy always sits on my lap. It is almost impossible to read a book because she needs to be in my lap with her belly pressed to mine and her head under my chin. She spins in circles, flicking her tail, until she finally settles in. When the blanket comes out, though, she rolls around, makes odd, throaty noises, kneads and drools. The blanket has been washed. It’s nothing all that spectacular and we have softer, warmer blankets in the house, but for some reason Lucy has claimed this blanket as her own, has imprinted on it and brought her weirdness to it.

It’s become a joke to try and get the blanket out without her noticing it. Never works. She sees it and sprints through the house to claim her lap space. I’d like to think it’s my sparkling personality, wit and inherent ability to pet her for hours, but I believe it’s probably a “blanket thing.” Do your pets have any weird behaviors? I’d love to hear about it.

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My Poodle Is Left-Pawed

Robbi Hess : January 26, 2016 5:30 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

I recently started paying attention to which paw Henrietta used. Why? Bored? Intrigued? Let’s go with intrigued and curious as to whether my poodle is left- or right pawed. I found, after somewhat careful observation that she appears to favor her left paw.

How did I come to my oh-so-scientific conclusion?

  • When I stop petting her she will scratch me with her left paw
  • When I get her dressed to go out, she always comes to my left side
  • When getting dressed, she always lifts her left paw first to be put into her pajamas
  • When she sleeps she sleeps on her left side
  • When she sits on my lap she leans on me with her left side
  • More importantly in my scientific study… when she loses a treat under a chair or her food dish, she digs with her left paw

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Mourning The Loss Of Our Beloved Spenser

Robbi Hess : January 15, 2016 3:55 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

I know Henrietta always takes top billing in the blog. Why? Because she is demanding, and a diva, and I let her. Spenser, however, was always happy to toil away in almost obscurity. He was a loveable lug who didn’t need or crave the spotlight. Now he is front and center and will be forever missed.

As our son, Nicholas, shared in a Facebook post, “RIP Spenser. Had 12 great years together. You were one rambunctious beast of a dog that was terrified of vacuum cleaners, you will be missed!!” Our daughter, Alexa, tried to sum up in hers, “I lost my best friend today and I feel like a piece of my heart went with him. I love you so much and miss you already, Spenser Elizabeth.”selfie

We lost our beloved Spenser yesterday, January 14, 2016 to cancer. I’m afraid it will be a date whose anniversary we will mark with tears for many years to come. My husband, Tim, marked Spenser’s passing over the Rainbow Bridge by posting a selfie — he’s a man of few words.

We rescued Spenser when he was a tiny puppy. Our neighbors owned him but neglected him. They had this tiny puppy tied to the bumper of their car with a chain around his neck in the cold, rainy month of October. We would go over and feed and pet him. It got to the point — after not too many days — when I couldn’t take it any more. I went over and yelled at them for mistreating him and threatened, “I’ll either call the cops or take him home if you don’t take care of him.” They responded, “take him.” Gulp! What?! We hadn’t planned on a second dog. There had been no family discussion on getting a puppy. We weren’t prepared. But, take him I did. What did we have ready for a new puppy? A family with open hearts and a love of animals.car ride

It took us a few days to come up with his name, Spenser. We named him after a character in Robert B. Parker books. He was, as Nicholas stated, rambunctious. Spenser never outgrew the “puppy” stage. He enthusiastically greeted anyone who came to our door. When the kids’ friends came over, Spenser would shove himself between their legs and they’d be lifted off the ground. Not sure if he was trying to be a pony, but they all seemed to get rides from him.

Because of his breed — a husky-lab mix — he blew his coat many times a year. It was a never ending battle to keep the hair off the couches and our clothes. Running the vacuum sent Spenser into a frantic race around the house; it terrified him.

We tried the crating route when he was a puppy. No matter what kind of crate we tried, he could dig or shove his way out of it. After having purchased more than a few to try and contain him, we gave up. He did destroy our carpet when he was a puppy by digging to get into a room with a closed door, but other than that he never made a mess or destroyed anything.

Spenser was the kind of dog you could offer a piece of food to and he would take it so gently you’d allow a baby to feed him. Unlike his sister, Henrietta, who we have to say, “take it nice” about a dozen times and even then it’s a crap shoot on whether you will come away with all of your fingertips.

He was also the family “bone-breaker.” His enthusiasm and strength also lead to my having a broken foot and to having screws in it. I was taking him out before bedtime about eight years ago, he dragged me and broke a lot of bones in my foot when I fell. After my surgery for that I was too nervous to walk him again. Tim usually did have walking duties so that wasn’t a big deal for him. About five years ago Spenser dragged Tim off the porch and that lead to Tim having a broken collar bone. No matter all of that though, he was a gentle giant. He rarely barked, but when he did you know it was for a legitimate reason, not for a leaf blowing across the yard (hint, hint, Henrispenser blanketetta!) Even though I was home with Spenser all day, he was “Tim’s dog” and followed him like a shadow, slept by his side of the bed — always — and looked to him for attention. Spenser loved all of us, but he was definitely Tim’s best friend.

Every time I walked the Hen, day or night, Spenser would position himself in the living room window and watch us. I always felt safe with him there, guarding us. He loved walks and loved meeting new people every time we were out.

When he wanted attention, he would come and lean on you. When a 100+ pound dog leans on you, you pay attention!

For some reason, and it was one of his quirks, he did not like if you pulled your sleeves down over your hands. He’d pace back and forth, shove his nose into the sleeve and generally seem upset until you popped your hands back out again.

It’s odd how your routines change so quickly. Only one dog to feed. I am now responsible for turning off the outside lights and locking the doors because I will be the last one out when I walk Henrietta before bedtime. Not a big deal in the scheme of most people’s lives, but a huge shift in the routine of the past 12 years.

We were with him when his soul left his body.

He loved fruits and vegetables just as much as he loved steak and chicken.

He loved riding in the car.

He loved lying out in the snow in the winter and reveled in the cold.

He loved lying with the cats.

He loved putting his head in our laps when we sat on the couch.spenser looking

He loved us. We loved him. He left a space in our hearts that will never be filled. Run free and without pain on that Rainbow Bridge, 12523041_10153887492086532_4097441841553908526_nSpenser.

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Living My Life Like My Poodle Does

Robbi Hess : January 12, 2016 5:30 am : Baby Boomer, Breast Cancer, My Diva’s Dish

Henrietta, the diva poodle, has the life. She sleeps when she wants. Gets love when she needs it. Eats kind of on the schedule I set for her but with vegetables and fruits in between. After having some down time this past week and fighting a cold or some such bug I watched how Henrietta, the cats and Spenser approach their days. When I did that I came to the realization hat I want to live my life like my poodle does. What does that mean?

Every day is the best day ever.

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#PinnacleHealthyPets Lifestyle & Food Helps Senior Dog

Robbi Hess : October 20, 2015 5:30 am : Animal Adoption, My Diva’s Dish

PinnacleLogoThis post is sponsored by Pinnacle® and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Pinnacle’s reformulated Grain Free Dog Food but  My Divas Dish only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Pinnacle is not responsible for the content of this article.

Spenser is getting old. It’s hard to admit but he’s close to 13 and for a big dog, that is old. His bones seem to creak and snap when he gets up and down. Getting up and down takes him much longer lately as well. We’d been changing up his food to have ingredients for a dog of his age and size (close to 125 pounds) and he didn’t seem to love any of them and they didn’t seem to do anything to help his yakking up or his coat. If you haven’t cleaned up the yak of a dog of that size, believe me, you don’t want to!

It’s not easy to see your beloved pet show signs of aging, especially when his favorite thing had always been long walks in the woods. Hhmmm that sounds like it should hahealthy dog food ve been in his dating profile — if he’d had one — “Spenser enjoys long walks in the woods, chasing cats and butt sniffing!” Anywho… When our bag of Pinnacle arrived you can see that both dogs were more than a little excited. I couldn’t stop Henrietta from licking the bag. She was more than a little miffed that Spenser was getting something new and she wasn’t. I ended up feeding him dinner early because once he got a whiff of the bag he was rather persistent in shoving me toward his food bowl. When you have a 125 dog shoving you toward his food dish, you comply. And honestly, it had been a while since he’d been excited about food. He has gotten rather blase about his meal times and we’ve had to do a lot of cajoling recently to whet his appetite. I was more than a little thrilled to see how excited he seemed to be about this food!

Because of Spenser’s age and because we want to do whatever we can to make his senior citizen lifestyle as healthy and enjoyable as possible we loved the fact that Pinnacle foods fit our desire for a food that is natural and has healthy ingredients. We have long been label readers and we like that on the Pinnacle labels we can understand every ingredient on the package. Pinnacle pet food is providing Spenser with high caliber ingredients that we want to feed him and it is giving him a food that offers total nutrition. Since my breast cancer diagnosis, everyone in the house has been turning to a more natural, holistic lifestlye and it makes us feel good to know that Spenser is now eating a food that is in line with the holistic health and lifestyle we have embraced.

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Baby Boomers And Pets: Unbreakable Bond

Robbi Hess : October 3, 2015 5:30 am : Animal Adoption, Baby Boomer, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

“What sounds good for lunch, Honey?” “Who wants to go for a car ride?” “I think it’s time for bed, what do you think?” Quick question. Am I talking to my family or to the Diva Poodle, Henrietta? Ding. Ding. Ding. You’re the winner if you said Henrietta. Since the kids moved out and I am home alone more often than not, Henrietta has become my confidant, my lunch partner and because we can’t stay awake pat 9 pm, my night time pillow snuggler.

1507957_10206636941417574_1242874129337848372_nBaby Boomer & Pets

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Why My Dogs Are #PinnacleHealthyPets

Robbi Hess : September 21, 2015 4:30 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

This post is sponsored by Pinnacle and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping create awareness about Pinnacle’s Newly Formulated Grain Free Dog Food, but My Diva’s Dish only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Pinnacle is not responsible for the content of this article.

PinnacleLogoIt’s hard for me to think about, but both of our dogs are seniors. My Henrietta, the Diva of Divas Dish, just turned 9 and celebrated her birthday with her big brother, Spenser, who will be 13 in January. We have noticed that Spenser is slowing down a bit. He is more likely to watch Henrietta fetch a ball than he is to chase it himself. He has also become a bit short with the kitties in the house. Frankly, he’s becoming kind of a grumpy old man. But, when we pull out the “walking leash” he gets a spring in his step and knows he will be able to stretch his bones and take a long, leisurely stroll.

While Henrietta tugs at the leash, sniffs every blade of grass and barks at every bird or bunny she sees. Spenser is mild-mannered and just happy to be seeing the sights. We know that both dogs not only love, but need, walks to keep them healthy and more importantly to keep them at healthy weights. Henrietta is more likely to chunk up if we skip walks. Spenser seems to have a higher metabolism and doesn’t show the additional weight as much as Hen does. For the most part, Spenser carries his 125 pounds rather well.1507957_10206636941417574_1242874129337848372_n

Because we love our pets and want to do whatever we can to make them happy and keep them healthy we are always looking for foods that fill that bill. We are very excited to try Pinnacle’s ® new grain-free, holistic dog food. In the past I admit we would feed Spenser anything we had a coupon for. He had an iron gut and would happily nosh no matter what was put in his bowl. Henrietta is another matter as she has a delicate stomach and any abrupt change in her diet means I will be dealing with a dog with a gurgly belly and loose stools.

Once Spenser hit middle age we knew we needed to find food suited for his age as well as his size and started being more cognizant of what went into his bowl and into his belly.

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Cleaning The Gecko Tank #ReptileCare

Robbi Hess : September 17, 2015 6:01 am : Blogging, Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

dirtytankIt’s a fact of life. When you live in a zoo you clean a lot of poo! Whether I am cleaning poo from the yard, scooping it from the litterbox or cleaning it from the gecko tank, it’s an almost never ending chore. But it’s one that comes with sharing a home with pets so I happily embrace it.

We have owned Norbert and Daggett for close to three months now and while I scoop the poo semi-regularly it builds up and there comes a time — usually every three months — when you need to remove them from the tank and do a deep clean and replace all of the sand. One of the benefits of owning geckos is that they always poo in a corner so as long as they have a semi-secluded area and a corner they can get to, scooping is usually easy.

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Caring For Your Aging Cat

Robbi Hess : September 3, 2015 5:30 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

It’s a sad fact of life. We will likely outlive our pets. I was faced with that realization first when my veterinarian called my Diva Poodle Henrietta, “middle-aged.” Then last week when I was taking her for her laser treatment and it was also time to take Parker for his annual check-up. He is eleven-years-old so they mentioned they should do blood work for a baseline for future health. He was a good kitty and didn’t seem to mind his blood work at all. 

There was a concern because he has lost one and a half pounds in the past year. We haven’t changed his food, he doesn’t puke overly much (yes, I know I talk about that a lot but it seems we are full of pukey kitties lately), he is still first to the food dish and hasn’t been acting ill at all. We didn’t notice the change in his weight, even though he is a constant lap sitter. His personality hasn’t changed, but then I know that cats are good at hiding illnesses.

While we aren’t certain who the culprit is, one of the kitties has decided to not use the litter box of late. Every morning there is poo right in front of it. We don’t know who has decided to not use it and why they only poo there overnight, but it could very well be Parker because maybe he is getting ill.

The vet called back and said that there were a few “borderline results” so I have to take him back early September to have a clean urine test done. Apparently, the vet will draw urine from his bladder with a needle. Ouch.

In the meantime, we will still keep on keeping on with our Parker, take him back for the September visit and see what has to be done as he eases into his Golden Years!

Quick question: We have a dog named Spenser, a cat named Jessie and a cat named Parker… does anyone notice a theme to the naming series?

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Living With Reptiles In Our Family Zoo Ongoing #reptilecare tips

Robbi Hess : August 26, 2015 5:30 am : Animal Adoption, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

This post is sponsored by petMD Reptile Center, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but My Divas Dish only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.

Every day in my household is something new. It’s either fantastic or it’s a “stepping in puke,” “the black heat lamp has blown again” “why won’t you eat your breakfast day.” When you live in a zoo like I do, you just never know. Four cats, two ferrets, three lizards, and two dogs bring with them either bouts of bad bellies, blown light bulbs, prima donna pickiness with food or, the “I need to run and get crickets before the store closes” panic stricken moments! Note to reptile owners, you can raise your own “feeding crickets” and we have done that in the past, but for my lifestyle, it didn’t suit me to do that again, I prefer to run to PetSmart and purchase a few dozen at a time.

What I have learned since I brought home my two geckos; Norbert the fancy and Daggett the leopard gecko, is that they have distinct, unique personalities and that Calico Lucy spends much of her time on top of the tank. I’m not sure if she’s tormenting the geckos or soaking up the heat from the lamp. Regardless of the reason, her presence doesn’t seem to disturb the geckos overly much.

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It’s A ‘Calico’ Thing

Robbi Hess : August 20, 2015 6:12 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

I love Lucy. No, not the television show, although it isn’t bad, it’s not my favorite, nor do I love it. The Lucy I’m talking about is my calico kitty, Lucy. The family affectionately refers to her as Lucifer as she is not the friendliest of girls.

Lucy loves to sit on my lap. She makes it impossible to read a book or work on my laptop because my lap is always fair game and she will dig at me and bump me with her face until I eventually give in and let her clamber up. Once on my lap she proceeds to wag her tail in my face, swishing the furry plume back and forth until I become irritated and turn her around so she will lay down.

She has, let’s say, attitude. If anyone else in the house tries to pick her up she will struggle to get away. The noises she makes while in the embrace of anyone other than me are akin to two cats fighting in a burlap bag. Not sure why she only allows me to pick her up and cuddle her, but that’s all right. I tell myself that she knows I am the one who rescued her from the shelter. I tell myself it’s because she and I are home together all day long. I tell myself all of these things, but my vet said that “it’s a calico thing.” She said that she recently returned from a veterinarian’s conference and there were some experts on panels that spoke to the fact that certain colored cats and breeds simply calico act differently than others. Calicos, she said, are “full of attitude.” Lucy is my first calico and she certainly does have attitude.

Lucy is also a talker. She is a snuggler. She will beat up the other kitties for apparently no reason — I truly think she gets bored and just decides to chase the other cats around the house. Whatever the reason, that two-year-old, seven pound bundle of fur certainly keeps the household on its toes.

Note: Henrietta and Lucy are usually at odds as to who gets to sit on my lap. There are times when the fur truly flies.

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#ReptileCare Is An Ongoing Labor Of Love

Robbi Hess : August 3, 2015 5:30 am : Animal Adoption, Blogging, My Diva’s Dish

This post is a sponsored post. I am being compensated to help spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but My Divas Dish only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD ® and PetSmart® are not responsible for the content of this article.

reptile care tips

Norbert and Daggett out prowling for food.

I’ve been living with Norbert, the fancy gecko, and Daggett, the leopard gecko, for a little over a month now and their unique personalities are certainly evident. Norbert doesn’t really care that he is supposed to be nocturnal — he will run over to the cage whenever I open the lid to refill the water bowls or dump in crickets. Daggett is not to be found when the sun is out. He peeps his head out once the daytime heat lamp goes off and the night time lamp comes on.

Where Norbert will let me pet him and will sit in my hand, Daggett wants nothing to do with that. He dashes back to the cave if I try to pet him and it’s hard to catch a glimpse of him eating. Norbert is the “mighty hunter” when the crickets are dropped in. He pushes himself up as tall as he can on his legs and struts around until he snags a cricket. Apparently the “fancy” part of his name lends him to be a bit of a show-off if he gets an audience.

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#ReptileCare Adopting And Caring For Two Geckos

Robbi Hess : July 13, 2015 3:47 am : Animal Adoption, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

This post is sponsored by petMD® Reptile Center, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but My Divas Dish only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.

250x90PMReptileWelcome to the family, Norbert and Daggett! Yesterday we became the proud new pet parents to a fancy leopard gecko, Norbert, and a leopard gecko, Daggett. As part of this blogging program I had the opportunity to add to my family zoo and after researching which type of reptile we wanted, we went to PetSmart and perused its Reptile Center and came home with our two new family members! This was not a snap decision. The first day we went to the store there was no chameleon available,which was what we had originally researched and considering adoption, so we headed back to the car, pulled up the petMD website on our phone and went to its reptile care center and refreshed our memory about how to care for geckos. We knew they were pets for “beginner reptile owners” whereas chameleons are for “advanced reptile owners.”

leopard gecko

Daggett enjoying a cricket

The reason we adopted two geckos is because they were in a tank together at the store and frankly, I would have felt bad adopting one and leaving the other alone. Two male geckos may not get along when they get older, but at this point because they are so young (and are very hard to sex at this age) they are happily co-existing. If, when they get older, we notice they are fighting we will set up a separate tank so they can have their own habitat and that is something we are prepared to do if the situation arises.

Prior to our heading out to PetSmart for the geckos I looked around the petMD Reptile Center. I took the “what do you know about reptiles” quiz just for fun and just to see if I knew as much as I thought I did. Note: I did!  We knew they were for advanced reptile owners, but having owned reptiles of various types —

Checking out PetSmart reptile care center.

Checking out PetSmart reptile care center.

bearded dragons,  an iguana, anoles, a turtle, geckos and a frog — we felt we were up for the challenge.

This is what we learned about geckos from petMD:

  • They need a home that they can grow into. We purchased a 20 gallon reptile tank so they will have ample room to grow.
  • They need to having hiding places. PetSmart sold a reptile starter kit that had everything we needed! Plants, flooring (it’s like a thin carpet), fake plants, water bowls and two cave areas because geckos sometimes like to hide. The starter kit was geared toward desert-dwellers so the accessories have that “feeling” to them and their tank looks as though they are living in the wilds of Arizona!
  • Because they need to be warm the reptile habitat we purchased (the aquarium) has two lamps — one for daytime and one for nighttime.
  • They need constant access to water in a water bowl and our reptile tank came with that. The dishes are shallow to prevent any accidental drowning. This was a change for us as Alice, our bearded dragon, doesn’t require a bowl of water because we mist her daily and she also takes in her water through the lettuce she eats.
  • Crickets and other gecko-friendly food. Because our geckos are babies, we know they will have to fed often and that will require either daily trips to the store for crickets or our setting up a tank to keep and feed crickets at home so that we don’t have to run to the store. We knew that was going to be a commitment we made when we became gecko owners and we are more than happy to take on that responsibility.

    Cart full of reptile care accessories

    Cart full of reptile care accessories

If you’re considering adopting a reptile you need to be aware that many of them are long-lived. Geckos, for example, can live up to ten years. Some of the tortoises we saw at PetSmart in its Mega Reptile Center can live up to 100 years. These are pets that you, as an owner, would need to make arrangements for in the event your pet outlived you!

We also know that for the geckos, moving from their original location at the store into our home could be enough of a stressor for them that they might “drop their tails.” This means just what it sounds like — their entire tail could fall right off! It’s something we hope won’t happen, but it is also something we are prepared for. At this point, though Norbert and Daggett seem well-adjusted and are eating every time we feed them and are out and about — rather than hiding in their caves all day.

Their tank is in the living room and this means they will have a lot of interaction with the family. You never want to buy a lizard or any kind of reptile or pet and have him locked away in a room where they don’t get to see people. Geckos, from my experience, aren’t as friendly as bearded dragons (it’s not that they are mean, it’s just that the ones we’ve owned in the past weren’t as happy to be held as our dragons have been) and while you can pick them up, it’s not something they enjoy like a bearded dragon does.

Owning reptiles is as much of a commitment as owning cats or dogs and it is a commitment we were happy to take on because, frankly, we love pets! Before you make any decisions on reptile or turtle ownership or even owning birds or dogs or cats you need to research them and make certain you’re up for the challenge, commitment and responsibility that comes along with it.

geckos

Geckos getting accustomed to their new home

 

 

 

 

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What You Need To Know About #ReptileCare

Robbi Hess : June 24, 2015 4:30 am : Animal Adoption, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

This post is sponsored by petMD® Reptile Center, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but My Divas Dish only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.

“What’s in your zoo right now?” is a question many of my friends and family ask. I have never turned away a pet in bearded dragon, reptile careneed. I am also open to getting to know new pets and new species. Thankfully my parents were okay with that because growing up I’d had bunnies, a pony (with asthma!), a horse, guinea pigs, gerbils, anoles, indoor and outdoor cats (you live on a farmette and everyone drops off pregnant cats), dogs, ferrets, geckos, a turtle, parakeets, finches, a cockatiel, salt and fresh water fish, my son’s boa, and an iguana the kids won at a county fair. The “what’s in your zoo” question is valid, right?

In my house, right now, are two ferrets, two dogs, four cats and a bearded dragon named Alice. We don’t really know if Alice is a female but we liked the name and it stuck. Alice is our second bearded dragon. We had our first dragon, Charles, for about seven years until he went over the Rainbow Bridge and so enjoyed his personality that we knew we wanted a second one.

Before I owned my first dragon I never considered the fact that they might have unique personalities. I surely never thought they would be happy to see us — you know, like the dogs do. Alice and her tank is in the back family room; when she’s been alone for a few hours and we walk into the back room she will pace the tank and run up and down the log until we talk to her, spray her with some water and give her some lettuce. Once we’ve done that, she either hangs out on the top of her log or on the top of her heated cave, content.

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Caring For A Dog In A Cone

Robbi Hess : June 16, 2015 6:39 am : Blogging, Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

It’s happened again. Henrietta, the Diva Poodle, is in a cone. She’s had to suffer this indignity three times in her life so far:

  1. Anal gland issues (hope you weren’t eating when you read that!)
  2. The second time she’s had to have a wart/papilloma removed

My wonderful vet said this second papilloma didn’t really have to be removed but because it was growing right where her harness sits we decided to have it taken off mainly because I was worried it would cause an issue if we were out walking and it somhentableehow started bleeding. The vet took her from my arms, took her into a backroom and in a few minutes returned her to me with a cone on her head and staples in her shoulder where the growth was removed.

We were sent home with instructions to put an ice pack on in five minute intervals throughout the first day, given pain medication and antibiotics and a caution to not run or jump. Hen and I go back in ten days to have the staples removed. Until then, it’s attempting to not run into walls or walk into open doors because she can’t judge the distance to get through and a lot of bed rest and belly rubs for the Hen.

Here are my non-medical but from living it tips:

  • Remember when you open the door to have a wider berth than usual or your pup will get hit in the cone
  • Going down stairs is an issue because she cannot see below her very well — word to the wise: Carry her
  • Going up the stairs isn’t much easier because the cone gets caught on the steps — word to the wise: Carry her
  • It is difficult to eat dinner from a regular dinner dish with a cone. I have been placing her dinner on a dinner plate so she can reach it rather than trying to fit her cone inside her food bowl.
  • Drinking is difficult. Either the cone won’t fit into the bowl or she comes up with a cone full of water. Solution: Let her drink out of a drinking glass — it fits inside the cone
  • Jumping onto furniture is difficult as well because the cone gets caught on the edge of it. Solution: Pick her up. She isn’t supposed to be jumping anyway because of the staples in her shoulder
  • Take time away from the computer to just pet her and love on her. That is the easiest one of all!
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How To Tell Your Social Media Story

Robbi Hess : June 12, 2015 5:42 am : Animal Adoption, Blogging, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

In their highly attended session, Sybil Stershic and Caroline Golon spoke to attendees at the #BlogPaws conference about how to tell their shelter’s social media story. Julie Duke, executive director of the Pedigree Foundation who caroline golonintroduced the pair noted that, “Social media plays a huge role and we need to get the word out.” The Pedigree Foundation provides unrestricted funds to qualified 501(c)3 shelters.

This session at the conference was a workshop where attendees used the knowledge provided to formulate social media plans for their own shelters and rescues. Sybil kicked off the session by saying, “Once upon a time has long been the basis for every good story, it’s where the hidden treasures reside for the content for your shelter or rescue.”

Caroline shared that she has leveraged her blogs to raise more than $80,000 for various shelters. “I have used content to people keep their pets. The better your content, the more people will share your blogs and the more pets will get adopted.”

Content includes: 

  1. Written content
  2. Video
  3. Photos

How do you create this great content that will get shared? 

  1. Plan what you’ll share
  2. Plan how you’ll share it
  3. Plan where you’ll share it
  4. Plan what form it will take
  5. Plan how often you will share

Caroline said that, “Planning can eliminate the stress that comes from sitting down to write a blog post but not knowing what you’ll be blogging about.” Planning, she said, also helps “exercise your content writing muscles.”sybil stershic

What is “good” content?

  1. It makes you stand out
  2. It is shareable
  3. It builds your credibility
  4. It is not about you, it is about what your audience wants to hear
  5. It should be powerful and tell an inspiring story that educates and solves a problem your audience is facing

What kind of content works? 

  1. Stories of amazing animals
  2. Stories of animals with unusual characteristics
  3. Unusual animal friendships
  4. Tips and hacks (for example, Caroline asked, did you know that spraying the bottom of the litter box with Pam makes it easier to clean?)
  5. Do-it-yourself pet crafts or recipes
  6. Humor
  7. Uplifting adoption stories
  8. Volunteer focus pieces
  9. Stories about pets overcoming all odds

What tools should you use to distribute your content?

  1. Your blog
  2. Your social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn)
  3. Google+ (because it’s highly searchable)
  4. E-newsletters
  5. Media outreach

Shelter and rescue operators were urged to put forth content that doesn’t always have that “Adopt me now, or else” feeling. They should look to content that shows a pet in a great light. For example, rather than showing a sad dog in a kennel with a caption that reads, “Adopt Rocky now… his time is running out!” You should show Rocky outside playing frisbee and have a caption that reads, “Rocky loves to play frisbee, wouldn’t you love to have him as part of your family?”

It is all about the words, images and “feeling” that shelters put forth that can help make a difference in the lives of the pets in their care. How well is your content working for your shelter?

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An Ode To Henrietta

Robbi Hess : June 9, 2015 6:25 am : Baby Boomer, Breast Cancer, My Diva’s Dish

I work from home by choice. As an introvert, working in an office surrounded by people and chatter all day long is mentally and physically draining. I learned this about myself about a decade ago and made a conscious decision to hone my skills, find clients and open my own copywriting and blogging business. It happened and is thriving.

That being said. I do crave human interaction. That need had always been met by my family. Even though they all work outside of the home, I had that human contact, conversation and a hug before they left the house pretty much 20150602_185214every day. I knew that our workdays would end and we would all end up back in the house, gathered around the dinner table.

And then, about five years ago, my son moved out. He had a great job and had just purchased a house. It’s what kids do. They become fantastic adults and then move on. I cried like a baby when he and his friends were packing up his room. I cried for many days after — every time I walked by his empty room. A room which I kept empty for several months, you know, just on the off chance he’d come back.

I was all right. I still had my daughter. That was true until yesterday when she, too, flew the nest. Again, she has a great job and she and her boyfriend wanted to move out of our tiny town to a place more suited for young adults. They both have great jobs and this is definitely a step they should have taken. It doesn’t make it any easier. When Alexa moved out I didn’t cry too much in front of her because of her empathetic nature it would have hurt her more than it hurt me to keep my feelings inside.

This morning I woke up and walked Henrietta. The first thing that hit me was that their cars weren’t in the driveway. Cue tears. At the time I am writing this post she would typically be getting up for work and bustling around. Today, no bustling.

My daughter’s room will remain vacant for a while, you know, just in case…

I know that a parent’s job is to raise happy, healthy adults who are ready to take on the world and I know that we’ve done that.” I am proud of my kids each and every day, but that doesn’t take away the sound of a house that is now far too silent.

Granted, neither of my children have moved more than 20 miles away, but it’s a different animal when you don’t see their faces every day. I truly never thought I’d be hit by the empty nest syndrome. I realize it hasn’t even been 24 hours, but so far it is a lonely, silent fewer than 24 hours.

As to the ode to Henrietta. When I got her, close to nine years ago, it was after much research and planning. I knew what I needed in a pet and a poodle fit the bill perfectly. Henrietta has been with me through many cry-inducing events. She was a tiny puppy when my father was hospitalized and in a coma around Christmastime several years ago. I’d spend long hours at the hospital, come home, curl up on the couch and cry until I fell asleep — Henrietta pressed tightly to my chest. She was there for me when my dad passed away a couple of years ago.

She sits silently in my lap when I come home from visiting my mother in the nursing home and am physically and emotionally spent. I cry and pet her and some of my tension eases and I am able to face the rest of the day.

When I was given a cancer diagnosis a month before my 50th birthday she comforted me and didn’t judge when I would cry and scream and be angry about it. Following my surgeries, treatments and recovery she was vigilant about keeping the other pets away while I convalesced in a recliner. When there were no words I could come up with to ask my family for help getting through it all, she was there. There are simply times when you just don’t know what someone can do to help and all you need is silence and understanding.

As my sister will tell you, I am a crier. It is my superpower. Crying in public is where I draw the line, but in the privacy of my home I can’t hide my emotions.

Today, as I begin the process of growing accustomed to the absolute silence in the house during my workday I will pat my leg and say, “who needs some love” and when Henrietta comes running and presses into me, I won’t quite be able to tell who is giving the love to whom.

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BlogPaws 2015 Is Going Green: Zero Waste Initiative

Robbi Hess : April 22, 2015 5:41 am : Business & Networking, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It’s a mantra in our house and is also mandated by the county in which we live — we have to recycle specific household products and take it out to the curb on “garbage” day in its separate blue box container. Even before we had to recycle, I remember my dad always separating items from the trash and taking some items to the local dump, others to a recycling center and burning others in our backyard burn barrel.

I grew up on a farmette and burning in a burn barrel was the norm. I don’t believe my dad was particularly “into thealexa and clyde environment” the garbage separation was likely more of a matter of saving money on trash pick up. But watching him instilled in me the idea that I wanted to save the environment for my children.

While my family always thought it was a little “much” the way my dad continued to separate his recycling even when it was in the recycling bin; he put newspapers in a paper bag, cans in a cardboard box, bottles in another cardboard box and other items into yet another box and then put all of them into the recycling bin on garbage day. We didn’t always understand his system, but we did learn from his inadvertent teachings — cut back, recycle and reduce the amount of trash that went to the curb.

Today, I try to always use my reusable cloth bags when I go to the grocery store. There are times I admit that when I bring the groceries in and then forget to take the bags to my car. There is also a grocery store in town that doesn’t offer bags for your groceries, you either have to pay $.05 for a plastic bag or use some of the boxes they have up front in the store that are leftover from grocery item on the shelves. It used to annoy me, but then I got in the habit of using my own bag so I embraced their frugality and environmentally conscious way of doing business.

When I walk Henrietta I either use eco-friendly poo bags or I will use the sleeve our weekend Pennysaver comes in to clean up after her. I’d like to think I am making a difference and I believe that every little bit counts so, I think I am!

I love too that this year BlogPaws at its conference in Nashville is embracing a Zero Waste Initiative. They will be urging vendors to eliminate the amount of handouts and material they bring in and leave behind. They will be urging BlogPaws2015-Speaking-160x160attendees to not use plastic, disposable water bottles. They are also moving to an electronic schedule program; rather than printing the program (which you can certainly do at home) you can go to sched.org and see the entire schedule and customize it so you can choose your sessions and have it all available right on your smartphone. What a great idea! I mean, what do you do with those programs once you head home? You probably toss them, am I right? It was the same way at Social Media Marketing World, they used an online scheduler which you customized and which then sent alerts to your phone to remind you of the upcoming session and which room it would be in — genius!

What steps can you take — or do you take — to be environmentally friendly? We’d love to know in the comments below!

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Is Your Pet Travel & Conference Ready?

Robbi Hess : April 13, 2015 5:42 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

I don’t take Henrietta to the dog park, or big family gatherings or the BlogPaws Conference. Why? Oh, it’s not because she is not adorable and I would so love to show her off and have people ohhhh and ahhhh at her, it’s because I’d be bringing her for my benefit, not hers.

When I got Henrietta it was in October in upstate New York and winter was starting. I work from home and the baby hen weather wasn’t conducive to going places and visiting people. Because of that, she didn’t get socialized and is much more comfortable in her home with her furry siblings. If we have a houseful of guests, Henrietta will plaster herself to my legs, pant and not relax until the house is back to our “usual” family.

She is a great traveler, though. We have traveled, by car, from New York to Arizona six times. Put her in a car, strap her into her seatbelt and she is ready to go. Stopping at rest stops require she jump into one of my purses so I can take her in with me — hopefully unnoticed. She complies and sits in their quietly while we shop or, well, whatever it is you do at rest stops.

In a hotel room, as long as she has her blankets and her bed, she calms down and never makes a peep. She has no qualms about visiting Mother Nature regardless of the terrain and travel in general doesn’t stress her.

Henrietta has also never been, and never will be, boarded. When I travel she stays home with the family and we have a couple of kids who are friends of my kids — who she has known forever — stop by to play with her and walk her. For summer vacations we have always chosen a spot that is Henrietta-friendly. She loves the drive to the vacation spot, but doesn’t love it if we want to go to the “downtown” areas to shop or attend events. I push her in her stroller or carry her because she isn’t a fan of being on the ground with a ton of strangers’ feet pounding the pavement next to her.

I make accommodations for her and the lifestyle to which she’s become accustomed. That means that no matter how traveling hen much I’d love to show her off at BlogPaws, I don’t. The noise of the people, the stress I sometimes feel when I am in crowded places and all of the other animals would make her a panting nervous wreck. As a responsible pet parent, I shed a tear when I am packing my bags to head out, but I know she will be happier and healthier at home where she is comfortable.

When I get another poodle, I will make a concerted effort to assure she is socialized and happy in crowds so that she could come to a conference or attend a family get together, but until then Henrietta is who she is and I love her (and don’t subject her to stressors) for it.

Is your pet travel and BlogPaws Conference ready?

 

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Dog Dental Care Made Easy #DogDentalHealth

Robbi Hess : February 26, 2015 5:10 am : Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

This post is sponsored by PetSmart and the BlogPaws Professional Bloggers Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Dental Health Month but My Divas Dish only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. PetSmart is not responsible for the content of this article.PetSmart_Logo_CMYK

There are times that the Diva Poodle, Henrietta, and I like being part of the “in crowd.” In the case of dental disease we do not like that she could be part of the more than 80% of all dogs (and 70% of all cats) over the age of three who could be suffering from dental disease.

Henrietta surrounded by dental health treats

Henrietta surrounded by dental health treats

Henrietta does not always love having her teeth brushed, and honestly I didn’t start getting her accustomed to that until she was “too old” to want to learn that new trick. Because of that we spend a lot of time at PetSmart® perusing the dental health aisle. She and Spenser both love dental treats and have long chewed their Greenies® because our vet recommended them when she saw that the dog’s teeth were showing signs of tartar and plaque.

Because of our participation in this program we decided to check out some of the dog dental health items from PetSmart that we hadn’t tried in the past. When I read the ingredients list on the bag of Blue Bones® I wanted to try

Spenser chewing his Whimzees alligator

Spenser chewing his Whimzees alligator

them because it was a short list of ingredients, but more importantly I wanted Henrietta to have them because they promote joint and bone health and with her issues with her partially torn ACL and the laser treatments she has been undergoing for the past four months, I am always looking for any additional help for those issues. I also don’t like to give her snacks that are “empty calories” ie something that just tastes great but doesn’t offer additional benefits. The Blue Bones fit the bill.

The bag of Whimzees™ caught my eye because… tiny alligators! Not only are these treats high in fiber and low in sugar but they are, frankly adorable! I also thought this would be a treat fit for Spenser who weighs in at about 125 pounds and also for Henrietta who tops the scales at eight pounds. I like that the chews kept Spenser busy as he typically chews through treats in less time than it takes me to zip the bag back up!

Henrietta carried her Whimzees alligator around the house for close to an hour squirreling it away and out of sight so

Spenser's pearly whites

Spenser’s pearly whites

she could gnaw away at it undisturbed. I felt this chew gave both dogs a great dental work out.

I know I need to get better at brushing my dogs teeth, but until that comes to fruition I know that giving them dental health treats is helping to loosen plaque and tartar and helping their teeth stay healthy.

 

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Treats For Dogs Of All Sizes #AlpoDogBiscuit

Robbi Hess : December 30, 2014 5:01 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

I received Alpo Wholesome Biscuits to Review in order to write this post. I am not being compensated in any other form for helping spread the word about the new Alpo Wholesome Dog Biscuits. Alpo / Purina  is not responsible for the content of this article.

When you have a household in which you have a seven pound Diva Poodle and a 125 pound happy-go-lucky husky-lab it’s not always easy to find treats that they both share, it’s not always easy to find dog biscuits for dogs of all sizes — and all in one place when I am perusing the shelves at my local grocery or pet store.Cats Hen Alpo Dog Biscuits

Henrietta (the Diva mentioned above) loves fruits and vegetables and knows that they come from the refrigerator and are given as treats after a visit to the great outdoors is a “success.” Spenser, the big dog of the family (size-wise, because Henrietta has him beat personality and alpha-wise!) is extremely active and loves spending time out in the snow running around so when it’s snack time for him, he is allowed something with a few more calories. Don’t tell Henrietta!

Hen and Spenser waiting for treatsWhen both dogs are given treats I always try to look for healthy ingredients and treats that perform “double duty” — assist in strong teeth and bones or other healthful benefits.

The day the box of Alpo Treats dog biscuits arrived on my doorstep, Henrietta (and as you’ll see in the picture, almost all of the cats) came to check it out. I swear they have the ability to sniff out treats before the UPS guy even drops the box on the doorstep! The cats, naturally, were much more interested in the box while it was all I could do to not have Henrietta gnaw through the bag of treats!Lucy Hen Alpo Dog Biscuits

Henrietta is an active poodle, but recent knee issues have left her on “restricted activity” and that means I have been cutting back a bit on her treats and her food so she doesn’t turn into a pudgy poodle. I felt good giving her an #AlpoDogBiscuit, in place of her usual carrot treat, after our great outdoors visit in part because it contains 23 vitamins and minerals — and she isn’t getting that much nutrition from a baby carrot or from an apple slice.

Some days I feel it takes me longer to read the ingredients and choose food and treats that I trust for my houseful of pets than it does to choose food for myself! I always make sure my beloved Hen is treated to the best treats and food — those that boast wholesome ingredients and are from a company that I trust. ps I was just thankful I was able to get a few pictures of her with the treats because there are times I am convinced she is in Witness Protection the way she runs away whenever I pull out a camera!

Alpo-Wholesome-Biscuits-logo-300x83

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Daylight Savings Time & Your Pet

Robbi Hess : November 3, 2014 5:30 am : Animal Adoption, blog, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

The morning actually dawned with sunlight today. Yes the time change — daylight savings time — had something to do with it. While I believe that DST is an archaic concept, it is nice to wake up to sunshine. I say that now because the “night” hasn’t rolled in yet and with DST that happens prior to dinner time.

Speaking of dinner time… how does daylight savings time impact your pet? Does it impact your pet and his or her behavior or feeding habits? henriettaHere is how Henrietta (and possible the cats) were impacted by the time change:

  • I was hoping to sleep in, but with the time change my sleeping in until 8 am was 9 am to the Hen and that was two hours past her usual breakfast and “outs” time. What did that mean? Essentially I didn’t get to sleep in and she woke at her usual time wanting to visit Mother Nature then top off the outdoor trek with breakfast.
  • The cats were “schooling” around the bedroom door at their usual time. I call it schooling because they are like a hungry pack of sharks and it’s sometimes hard to get through the door with them waiting there to herd you back toward the food dishes. Paws were stuck under the door, loud “feed me meows” echoed in the hallway. I gave into their, and Henrietta’s requests, and got up early.
  • Dinner time for the pets in our house is 5 pm. With the change in the time, I trust that Henrietta will begin the “is it dinner time yet?” stare. A day ago the stare kicked off around 4 pm and lasted until outs and dinner at 5. Sunday the stare began at 3 pm and lasted for almost two hours. I decided at that point to ease the animals into the time zone switch over the course of a week. Their internal clocks don’t understand our human need to change the clock ahead or behind.

Are your pets impacted by the time changes or by changes in the weather?

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#BoomerThoughts: Pets Add Life

Robbi Hess : September 9, 2014 6:30 am : Baby Boomer, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

I was reading an article in the local newspaper today that spoke to the fact that pets are great for the health of individuals as they age. I already knew that but found it interesting to read the reasons why. One of the reasons touched a part of my life because my father struggled with (or more aptly, our family struggled with his) dementia prior to his passing, but no matter what he always remembered that his henrietta birthday Chihuahua, Chico, had to be fed, walked and cared for; Chico may have helped keep his memory active longer than it would have without the responsibility of caring for him.

The reasons noted in the article included:

  • The power of touch. When I visit my mom in the nursing home on the days when the staff bring their pets in, even the residents who rarely interact with anyone are involved and engaged. The mere feeling of a warm body next to you can be enough to elicit a smile. Consider this, if you are aging and alone you no longer have the comfort of someone to hug you or to hold your hand, if you have a pet you have that warm body with which to snuggle.
  • Unconditional love. No matter what your day is like or what your health issues are, your pet loves you no matter what. If you decide not to wear make up and just lie around in bed all day, chances are your pet will be right there with you and he or she will not care if you’ve brushed your teeth or run a comb through your hair.
  • The responsibility of a pet may keep you healthier. As I’d mentioned, my father’s dog may have helped keep his memory intact a bit longer than it would have if he hadn’t owned him. Dad may have forgotten to eat his own meals, but he never forgot to feed Chico. Dad may not have remembered he needed to use the restroom until it was almost too late, but he never forgot to walk Chico. He was his constant companion and friend.
  • A pet may keep you more active. If I didn’t have Henrietta, I am ashamed to admit that I might not move around as much as I do. She needs to be walked and because she is an active diva Poodle she loves to extend her walks to a mere visit to a patch of grass in the side yard. In addition to that, because I want to make sure she stays healthy, I make sure she (and by default, I) stay active.
  • Pets help you make friends. Admit it, if you see someone walking a dog down the road, you are hard-pressed to walk past without asking, “what breed is he” or “what’s her name.” Pets can provide a senior with access to a community he or she may not have had. I know that when my Dad passed and my Mom took over the responsibility of Chico, she would always be greeted with a wave and a smile by her neighbors — something that might not have happened if she hadn’t been out walking the dog. Being solitary as we age can lead to depression and even anxiety and having a pet may just help keep you connected and involved.

I know that when I am having a bad day, just watching Henrietta dashing around the house playing with one of her toys is enough to lift my spirits. When she climbs into my lap and rests her head on my leg and I pet her I can feel the troubles of the day slipping away in the softness of her fur.

What benefits do you think your pets bring to you?

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Diva Poodles’ Take On Dog Days Of Summer

Robbi Hess : July 9, 2014 5:47 am : Animal Adoption, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

Hot enough for ya? That is a phrase that sends angry ripples down my spine — always has. As for Henrietta, the Diva Poodle, the phrase “dog days of summer,” does the same for her. That phrase makes it sound like summer is going to be one heyday of fun-filled activity after another, when in fact those “dog days” typically mean hot, hazy and humid weather — not good for your pets.

What does the “dog days” phrase really mean? Do you know it has nothing to do with your four legged furry friends?  I found this explanation on phrase: “…It comes from the Dog Star, Sirius, which is part of the constellation Canis Major. Each summer between HenriettaJuly and August the constellation appears in the northern hemisphere during what is usually the hottest time of the summer. ” Whatever the meaning, in the hot, hazy, humid summer days in upstate New York are not fun for humans or pets.

If you’re a pet parent you understand that it is critical to note your pet’s behavior during the hot weather to make sure they aren’t starting to suffer from overheating. Remember, that your pets can only cool themselves by panting; even though settling yourself in front of a fan may cool you off, it will not have the same effect on your pet.

I’ve done a bit of Internet research and came across many sites that provided pet safety tips and here they are for your review:

  1. I shouldn’t have to reiterate this point, but I will. Do NOT EVER leave your pet in a car. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t leave them in a HOT or a COLD car, but people still seem to think they are doing their pet a favor by bringing them along for a trip to the grocery store; hint, you’re not. Leave him home! Even on a “coolish” day, the interior of your car could quickly heat up to temperatures that can negatively impact your pet’s health. If you are on a cross country road trip with your pet you will need to consider what you will do with him when you need to take a restroom break. My advice: take your pet in with you. If you don’t have a portable pet like I do, then you need to have made plans in advance for what you will do with your pet.
  2. Why not just leave him in the car in a shaded area while you run in for a quick restroom break? Well, what happens if during your quick trip, someone — just as quickly — breaks into your car and steals your beloved pet? Was your quick trip worth it then? I would think not.
  3. Believe me, I know that Henrietta is incredible and amazing and of course you want to meet her, BUT not at a fair, festival, public market, etc. She doesn’t enjoy crowds and I don’t let her delicate foot pads come in contact with hot pavement. If you want to see my lovely pet, I will whip out my smartphone and show you some of the dozens of pictures I have of her. She doesn’t enjoy festivals and I’ll just bet your pet doesn’t either. Pet parents who bring their pets to these type events are doing it merely to show off, not because their pet was home begging, “ohhhhh take me with you!” Not likely.
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How To Keep An Active Dog ‘Activity Restricted’

Robbi Hess : June 19, 2014 6:07 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

It was almost one year ago that Henrietta suffered a partially torn ACL. That involved her being on activity restrictions because it was her overly active activities that were the cause of her tearing the ACL. Our vet gave me the option of having surgery to repair it or putting Henrietta on a drug and activity regimen to see if it cleared up. I realize that when she gets older she will need to be carried up and down the stairs and lifted on and off furniture because she will be arthritic, but frankly I do a lot of that now. Hen on chair

Two weeks ago another health saga started. Actually it started on a Sunday afternoon when Henrietta launched herself off of the couch  and toward the door because she heard a noise outside. A few seconds after she landed her attitude changed. Her tail drooped. She tried to hide behind the couch. I got her out and called her over to see if she was limping — my first thought was that it was the ACL again. No limping.

Dinner time rolled around and she had no interest — another bad sign because Henrietta always has an interest in food. Then the human dinner time rolled around and we were having fish, which is one of her favorites. She didn’t move from the couch and honestly she typically sits at one off the kitchen chairs while we eat. I grabbed her doggy bed and brought it to the kitchen to have her near me. I offered her a piece of fish and she shoved it away and let the cats take it without even a tiny growl.

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Caring For Pets In The Dog Days Of Summer

Robbi Hess : June 16, 2014 5:23 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

This shouldn’t come as news to anyone, but you should never leave a dog (or any kind of pet) alone in a car. Add to this, any car can become quickly “hot” even on a day that is only 70 degrees, the interior of your car will absorb the heat and the windows act as insulation and very quickly your car becomes an oven. The Weather Channel has a graphic that shows that on a 90 degree day your car can heat up to more than 120 degrees in fewer than 20 minutes — deadly for your pets.

Taking your pet to an outdoor craft fair or event that is being hosted in your community is also something that you do for yourself. YHenriettaou are not doing your pet any favors by bringing her along. Consider the heat of the sidewalks on her tender foot pads and add into that the noises, crowds and unfamiliar smells (in addition to the heat) and your pet can easily become overwhelmed by it all and act aggressively. Leave the pets home — they will be much better off as they truly don’t care about the festivals the way their humans do.

Here are some tips for keeping your pet safe during the dog days of summer:

  1. I’ve already mentioned it, but NEVER leave your pet in your car on a summer day. Don’t leave him in the car on a winter day either. Honestly don’t ever leave your pet in the car. If you’re making a cross country road trip, such as I’ve done several times, you need to make arrangements to take rest stop breaks at places your pet will be welcome or you need to find ways to bring her in with you; for me that was easy because Henrietta fits in a purse quite nicely.
  2. If you’re taking your dog for a walk, avoid the hot sidewalks and roads as it can burn the pads of his feet. Walk in the cooler morning hours or after dusk when the sidewalks and roads will have cooled off.
  3. Always have water and a drinking bowl with you.
  4. In the house, don’t rely on a fan to cool your pet. Because pets cool themselves off by panting a fan won’t help to cool them down the way it will a human.
  5. Stay in shaded areas if you’re out of doors with your pet and limit his activity while the heat and humidity are high.

Your pets look up to you to keep them safe during the hot summer months. Do you have any other hints or tricks to do that? I’d love to hear!

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Commit Yourself To Pet Blogging Success

Robbi Hess : June 3, 2014 8:00 am : Conquering The Overwhelm, My Diva’s Dish

Whether you’re looking for success in your pet blogging endeavors or even success in achieving a work/life balance there are many steps you can take to get yourself there. The bottom line though is that you need to commit to yourself before you make your other commitments.

What have I done (that you can emulate) to commit yourself to pet blogging success? Here are my favorite tips:

  1.  Divest yourself of distractions. Because I work from home it is easy to be pulled away by other items — whether it’s commit yourself to pet blogging successlaundry or taking advantage of a warm summer day — it’s easy to be distracted when your office is in your home. If you can’t stop looking at a floor that needs to be vacuumed, you need to make time to do those chores before or after work or if that is impossible, then close your office door so you won’t be distracted.
  2. Workus interruptus. Don’t let your friends and family pull you away from your work. You may have people in your life who think that because you’re home all day that you’re not really working and that you’d be happy to run errands for them. Hang a virtual sign and let your family and friends know that between 9 and 5 (or whatever hours you choose) that you are unavailable — just as they are when they’re on the clock.
  3. Non work related actions. Let’s face it. Once you open Facebook or Pinterest you are lost and then several hours later you realize you missed a work deadline, right? Set specific times throughout the day to check in on your social media. Hint, if your friends and family notice you on your social media pages throughout the day they will likely not believe that you really do work from home.
  4. Don’t over-complicate your life. Do you say yes to everything? Do you have clients knocking on your doors and find you want to take on all the tasks they offer? If that’s the case you will either find yourself having a) no time to do a good job for anyone b) working 24/7 c) the quality of your work will suffer d) you will have no life other than a work life. If you are saying yes to all work that comes your way take a step back and ask why you can’t say no. Are you concerned you won’t have enough money to pay your bills? Do you worry that this is an opportunity can could send your pet blogging career skyrocketing? Do you find yourself yearning to take on new tasks/roles that might not fit in with your current business model? If that’s the case, you may need to rethink the areas in which you’re spending your time and you may want to rework your business plan to divest yourself of clients/tasks that don’t fit so that you can take on those that do fit.
  5. Do you work in chaos? Contrary to popular belief, it’s likely that you do not work best under pressure. You may need deadlines to get your tasks done and keep you on track, but stress and pressure don’t typically lend themselves to anyone performing stellar work. Take a step back. Look at your daily to-do list and see if it’s manageable. If you don’t write down your daily tasks, you may want to start because it’s a great way to help you determine where you are spending your time. You may find there are time wasters built into your daily tasks that you can eliminate.

What can you do today to commit to yourself and your pet blogging success?

 

 

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BlogPaws 2014 Conference Connections

Robbi Hess : May 15, 2014 8:38 am : Baby Boomer, Business & Networking, My Diva’s Dish

It was a whirlwind time at the BlogPaws Conference. I was trying to keep my mind in the game and not on the fact that Henrietta was home in a cone! It was easy though as the family kept sending me pictures of her (although she looked so pathetic I felt guilty!) and the content of the sessions and the ability to finally meet, in real life, so many of the pet-loving people I have come to know Hen conethrough social media was invaluable.

Because I am a constant networker and getting-out-of-my-virtual-office person I am typically at ease in meeting strangers. I find the best way to break the ice is to say, “Hi, I’m Robbi (if you’re me, of course) what brings you to the BlogPaws Conference?” When you’re networking or meeting someone for the first time, ask who they are and what they do. Don’t make the conversation about you and what you do… until they ask and invariably they will.

I always tell my clients, networking is about getting to “know, like and trust” a potential client or business partner. The best way to do that is to give the person you’re meeting a chance to say who they are and what they do. After all, if someone comes up to you and asks you that question, don’t you feel a bit special knowing that they want to get to “know, like and trust” you?

I gathered many business cards at the BlogPaws 2014 Conference, but with every card I gathered, I made certain I made a connection with that person. Whether it was learning they were a first time conference attendee or a newbie blogger or a longtime blogger with a kick ass way to raise money for animal causes, I learned a bit about them before I handed them my card or asked for theirs. Before I “learned” how to network, my time spent at events was all about bringing home as many business cards as I could – it was like I felt I was going to win a prize or something. “Robbi Hess, finalist in the collector of the most business cards!” Well, that never happened, but what did happen was I got home and looked at the cards and wondered, “John Smith? Now which one was he?” You’re not making a valuable connection if you have that thought in your mind.

As the BlogPaws Blog manager I had the luxury of interviewing conference speakers prior to the conference and then made certainWestin Lake Las Vegas I made the personal, I’d-like-to-shake-your-hand connection. I met Brian Easter, Matt Beswick, Shawna Schuh, Rose Hamilton, Ted Nguyen and finally got to have a conversation with Steve Dale (I’ve read about him and silently stalked him on his radio shows and other media, but hadn’t ever shaken his hand)

BlogPaws2015-RegNowAd-160x160Now that I am home from the conference, I am honestly gearing up to reach out to the contacts I’ve made and make even deeper connections so that when we meet again in Nashville at BlogPaws 2015 we have had a year to get to “know, like and trust” one another! What are your BlogPaws plans?

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30 Days To BlogPaws 2014 in Vegas

Robbi Hess : April 8, 2014 3:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

Last week I did a round up of blog posts from various pet bloggers who were all writing about the fast approaching BlogPaws 2014 conference.

I wanted to share them here in case you missed it. Are you attending the conference?

Picture1BlogPaws has Ambassadors that are helping spread the word about the conference, the weekly Twitter chats and more. Here are two of the posts they’d shared this week”

Ambassador Angie Bailey “got personal about BlogPaws this week. Read her take on the upcoming conference, what she loves about it and why she thinks you should be there, too!

Caren Gittleman, BlogPaws Ambassador blogged about the questions she fields from conference newbies and offered hints and tips  in her post here. She also wrote about how BlogPaws Writes The Blogs That Make The Whole World Read — a phrase coined at our recent BlogPaws Team Summit in Colorado.

If you’re still wondering whether you should invest in yourself and your blogging business you should read what these pet bloggers had to say about the conference: 

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BlogPaws 2014 Conference Fast Approaches

Robbi Hess : April 2, 2014 7:00 am : Animal Adoption, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

I just got back from #SMMW14 in San Diego and shook hands with, learned from, and networked with many greats in the social media world. Now that I am back, I am in the midst of getting ready to head to Las Vegas for the BlogPaws 2014 Pet Blogging Conference. It is a place to reconnect with pet loving friends, make new friends, pet a few puppies and cats and learn from many great individuals in the social media world.

If you are serious about your blogging efforts and want to grow both it and your influence, you need to invest in yourself and attending a conference is one of the best places in which to do that.

Check out this great graphic from BlogPaws’ PR Manager Carol Bryant on what you will be missing if you don’t plan to attend BlogPaws 2014!

bones

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Pet Bloggers What Do You Spend Your Money On?

Robbi Hess : March 14, 2014 10:20 am : My Diva’s Dish

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Baby Boomers, Passions And Poodles

Robbi Hess : February 18, 2014 7:30 am : Baby Boomer, Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish, Writing

The other day I checked the mail and had an envelope in there from the AARP!? What!? When did I get to be “of the age” when AARP is sending me mail? I might have been able to forget about it, but unfortunately I forgot about it and left the envelope on the kitchen table. When my daughter came home she was quick to point it out and to point out my age!

When did I get there? I realized that in my usual panic-stricken way of approaching a milestone birthday 1457563_10201882559560999_1348843864_n(anything that ends in a zero I consider a milestone) happened in 2012, but along with that approaching milestone in May of that year I was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 9 — it kind of put the 50th birthday into perspective. At that point I had bigger things to worry about than the fact I was “getting old” and turning 50! Turning 40 was hard to take and although I cried a lot, I still found time to open gifts and eat cake so I guess I made it through.

Anyway… when I thought of my age right now (and if you can’t do the math, I am not going to do it for you) I realized that my diva poodle, Henrietta, would also be eligible for AARP in her dog years! Yipes, where does the time go?

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Is Technology Taking Over Your Life?

Robbi Hess : February 18, 2014 7:00 am : Business & Networking, Conquering The Overwhelm, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

Sometimes I wonder if technology is taking over my life. Do you ever ask yourself that same question? I see a commercial for yet another new, sparkly smart phone with even more bells and whistles and boy do I want one! Is there anything wrong with my current phone? Nope. I just like gadgets. On my desk right now I have two laptops, a Nook, a Google tablet, two phones and a Picture1Microsoft Surface! Yipes, this is honestly the first time I’d looked at how much tech I am surrounded by.

Honestly, there are mornings when I find myself checking out Facebook or looking at emails before I even get out of bed (even though I’ve blogged about how you should not do that). Once I get up I leave the phone in the office when I’m eating my breakfast and I am able to not check or answer email until I have completed some of the tasks on my to-do list — see I do sometimes practice what I preach!

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Harness Wearing How-To From A Diva Poodle

Robbi Hess : February 14, 2014 5:03 pm : Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

Henrietta says, "When I go walking, I prefer a harness because I get too excited about the scents and smells and a collar is much too constricting when I am tugging at the leash and mom just can't keep up. I wear a harness and 'we' have finally learned how to get it on quickly because once I heard the words, 'who wants to go for a walk.' I am ready to go and don't want to have to mess around!" 

 

Fig8_Harness_how-to_blue (2)

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#BlogPawty: Good Times With BlogPaws Pet-loving Pals

Robbi Hess : February 12, 2014 12:25 pm : Cats, Dogs, Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

BlogPaws is planning its third annual #BlogPawty and it's a great way to interact with pet-loving pals — 1475840_10202171991756623_934827032_nand enjoy some sardine wrapped snacks, bacon sours and other pet-friendly virtual appetizers. 

The BlogPawty features quizzes, virtual drinks served up by our BarkTenders, giveaways (hotel room stays for BlogPaws 2014!) 

The Stray Rescue of St. Louis, a shelter that cares for 200 dogs and 100 cats at any given time will be the beneficiary of the pawty earnings. Recently, when the temperatures dropped to unbearable levels, the staff stayed onsite so they could help any animals brought in after hours. This group is definitely making a difference in the lives of animals. 

This is a blog hop so jump on over to BlogPaws and RSVP for a chance to win a prize! 

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Why I Am Going To BlogPaws… And Why Henrietta Is Not

Robbi Hess : February 4, 2014 10:13 am : Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

I’ve been saving my pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and am on my way to BlogPaws 2014. Why have I been saving? As part of the BlogPaws team it’s my duty to be there but as a pet blogger and social media manager, I NEED to be there.

Hen pjsI work from home and interact virtually with clients and pet loving friends, but it’s rare that I get out and meet any of them — time and distance being a factor, but having access to Internet, smart phones and video chat capabilities… why should I? It’s easy to work from home in pajamas and sip coffee all day long. When the snow is flying or a chill is in the air I have no desire to brave either so I settle into my home office and tap away at the keyboard. 

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#Super Bowl 2014 Puppy Bowl Party Fun

Robbi Hess : January 30, 2014 10:37 am : Cats, Dogs, Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Weblogs

Super Bowl Sunday is only three days away and pizza shops are taking orders, grocery stores are selling out of "staples" such as chips, dip and beer so if you're planning a Super Bowl Super Party you'd better get to the planning! As a pet owners, I know that when I have a houseful of people it is stressful for the dogs and cats.

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Of Course I Dress My Dog, Don’t You?

Robbi Hess : January 24, 2014 8:00 am : Animal Adoption, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

To all of you out there who don't understand the terms: canine kids, or fur-kids or if you don't consider yourself a pet parent, you likely will not understand this post. 

I can't remember where I was recently and someone was talking about "those people that dress their Hen pjspets"… First off, I tried not to correct the grammar noun/pronoun agreement (that was a conversation for another day!) but I had to raise my hand and admit, "I am one of those people." 

When I was researching and trying to decide which would be the perfect breed of dog for me to own once I knew that I was going to be working from home, I knew that in addition to wanting a tiny dog that didn't shed I also wanted one that I could dress up. I assumed that once I became the proud owner of my new pooch that I would start her off young and she'd come to love being dressed up — I was not wrong. 

Henrietta has a closet of clothes that includes her summer dresses (I used to dress her in her Sunday best when we'd go to church and yes she was welcome there, it was why I chose the church); she has pajamas and she has a plethora of winter coats as well as mid-season jackets and rain coats. 

I tried to put her in booties when she was young but she would have none of it, in fact she looked like the dogs in these videos! It was hilarious for me but not so much for her so I gave up my dream of her donning pink suede and sheepskin lined booties… sigh. 

With the recent cold snap we've been having in NY she doesn't leave the house without her pink fuzzy jacket and she wears her pajamas throughout the day. When I look over at her lying in her bed and Hen dressnotice her shivering I know she needs to be dressed. Truly if you saw a child shivering wouldn't you offer him a jacket? That's why I do the same for my fur-kid! 

Do you dress your dog? I haven't gone as far as matching outfits but that may be in our future! 

 P.S. To those of you who wonder whether she likes getting dressed? She will stare at the closet where her clothes are stored, lift her legs to get them into the sleeves and growl a bit when they're taken off… I think she likes being dressed up! 

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Cats Are Like Potato Chips: You Can’t Have Just One

Robbi Hess : January 20, 2014 8:41 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

It's become apparent in recent weeks and interacations with friends and family whom I have not seen in recent months that I am a cat lover/cat collector (Do not tell, Henrietta — I think she suspects but let's not announce it too publicly). 

JessieWhen I am greeted by a friend or family member and one of the first things they say to me is, "So, how many cats do you have now?" It gets a person to wondering… am I cat collector?! Actually, no. I do feel thought that cats are like potato chips and who can truly enjoy just one? 

Growing up we lived on a farmette — we had a few acres of land, I had a pony then got a horse, we had at least two dogs at all times and had a couple of indoor cats and a plethora of outdoor/barn cats. I think when you live in a rural area and have a large garage/barn people feel that they can simply drop off unwanted cats and kittens and they will fare well. At our home they did fare well. We did take many of the cats to the vets to get neutered or spayed and we did fix them a place in the barn that was warm, hay-filled, and safe from the elements or other strays. They ate well and were probably as happy as our indoor cats and they certainly helped with the mouse population. 

Each of the cats that made their way into our barn, and into our hearts were all named, loved and Lucymourned when they passed. When I got older and moved into my own place I adopted one cat… and then another. I admit that at one time we had six indoor cats. I find it hard to say "no" when I see a cat that needs to be adopted and typically I don't. 

Thankfully, I have never had too many issues with introducing a new cat to the menagerie — there are a few days of hissing and ill-tempered behavior but it typically clears itself up in a day or two and then everyone is happily sharing a food dish and sleeping areas. I've never had any litter box issues with the kitties or even much scratching. The cats have all gravitated toward one particular kitchen chair and we have kept that available for them and they're content to scratch that, their scratching posts and nothing else — I call that a win! 

Currently (for those of you keeping count!) I have four cats: Jessie is our talkative tortie — she craves attention, drools when you pet her and rarely breaks eye contact. As I said, she is a talker; if you look at her she will follow you around the house chattering away. 

Clyde and parkerParker is the "old man" of the house. He is relatively aloof but he has taken every new kitten that has come in under his wing, trained them, spent hours washing and grooming them and loves to sit on the bar in the shower staring out the skylight. In fact, he loves to stare at his reflection in any shiny surface he comes across. Parker spends a bit of time every day howling — we don't know why but he wanders around the house making a mournful noise then stops — no rhyme or reason. 

Clyde, is my daughter's cat. She rescued him when she saw a box of kittens on the side of the road at a fruit stand that said "take us." She took him. When he came home he was infested with fleas, his hair was matted, his eyes were goopy and he was generally a mess. I had no compulsion to pick him up and love on him until he was cleaned up. He is now the friendliest cat in the house. He also plays fetch. If you throw a tiny ball or piece of paper he will spend hours chasing it, retrieving it, dropping it at your feet and waiting for the fun to begin again. When he walks into a room where there are people he throws himself on his back, splays out and simply lays there purring. He is also a begger at the dinner table. When we're eating a paw will simply appear on the table and Clyde will be patting around the table to see what he can snag. In the two years Clyde has been in the house he meowed fewer than a dozen times — he is not a talker. 

Lucy is the last kitten I adopted. My daughter showed me a picture of her that the local shelter had posted on Instagram and I was smitten. I went to the shelter (and refrained from adopting her other three siblings) and brought her home that afternoon. She is what I consider a "typical cat" she lets you pet her when she wants attention and no time sooner. If I'm petting her for too long she will bite. I am the only one she will allow to pick her up and mine is the only lap that she sits on. She rubs on me constantly as if to make certain everyone knows she has marked me as hers. She will chirp on occasion when you talk to her or when the food dish is empty. 

Each of the cats is as unique as a person. Unique personalities, unique quirks and ways of interacting with each other and the family. Just like potato chips that are all different shapes and levels of salt or flavor, my cats make the house fun and interesting, full of snuggles and a lot fewer calories than collecting and eating chips! 

 

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Are You A Pet Blogger? Seven Ways To Tell For Sure

Robbi Hess : January 9, 2014 8:15 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Organization & Time Management, Social Media

Not too long ago I asked the question in the BlogPaws Community Writers Group: "When did you know you wanted to be (or were) a writer?" We've had some lively conversation and it's been great knowing when the bloggers in our pet-loving community just knew they had to find a way to make a living with the power of their words. 

That got me to thinking about the top seven ways you know you're a pet blogger (or any kind of writer) when…:

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Will You Adopt A Pet In The New Year? Here Are Some Tips

Robbi Hess : January 7, 2014 8:15 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Social Media

We've all seen the ASPCA commercials. The dogs and cats in kennels staring through the bars with sad and yearning gazes. When watching those I am hard pressed to not leap off the couch and run to my local shelter and adopt all of the pets that are there. That is unrealistic though, but when I am adding to my fur-family I do turn to the local shelter first. 

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Does Your Cat Love You? Really?

Robbi Hess : January 2, 2014 8:00 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Social Media

I am allowed to live in a house with four cats which we adopted either from a shelter or saved from a box at a roadside fruit stand or from a rescue group. Just as people and dogs have unique personalities, so too do my cats: 

  • Jessie, the Tortie talks all the time, has an intense stare and drools when you pet her
  • Parker is the alpha male. He's taught the kittens manners and he loves to stare at himself in any reflective surface he finds
  • Clyde is my daughter’s cat and has the biggest, friendliest personality I have ever witnessed. Oddly enough he never meows
  • Lucy is “my” kitty and she does not like to be held but  is the best lap sitter and meows only when her food dish is empty.

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Have An Hour A Day? Become A Social Media Maven

Robbi Hess : December 30, 2013 8:33 am : My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Organization & Time Management, Social Media

Quick! How much "free time" do you have in the course of your day? If you're like most bloggers (pet and otherwise) you don't have much and you also know that in some cases, social media tasks can take up hours. I know can easily spend hours poking around Facebook, looking at recipes on Pinterest (that I will never make), iguring out Instagram and talking with business professionals on LinkedIn. How do I ever get anything done? 

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I’m Taking The #PetBloggerChallenge In January 2014

Robbi Hess : December 29, 2013 1:55 pm : My Diva’s Dish, Uncategorized

PBC

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Five New Year’s Blogging Resolutions To Implement

Robbi Hess : December 13, 2013 7:00 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

The New Year is looming and with it comes a feeling of "I have to do something to make a change… in my life, blogging, diet, etc." We sometimes get so bogged down in the "What I should be doing" that we get frozen and do nothing.

The same holds true with our pet blogs. We are  bombarded with "do this NOW for blog success" or "don't do this EVER if you want readers to come to your blog." It's difficult sometimes to turn out the noise and simply blog, am I right? There are steps you can take to enhance your pet blogging efforts and there are particular items you should avoid, you need to make the decisions that sit right with you.

Pet blogging is a personal endeavor, but I do have a few vows that I made to myself when I jumped into

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Caring For Your Pets During This, And Every, Holiday

Robbi Hess : December 10, 2013 8:00 am : Cats, Dogs, Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Social Media

Your house is decked out for the holidays and you're continually throwing open the doors and welcoming in the guests. Friends and family mill about and make life and the holidays happy and fun, right? For the humans in the house, that is probably true, for the pets in your house maybe not so much.

I know in our house, two of our cats are very social and will greet every visitor as will Spenser. Henrietta and the other two cats are not fond of strangers or noises so for them a houseful of people is 1465299_10201976723435037_1175613776_n a stressful situation. What can you do? Well regardless of how much the animals love visitors, they are never permitted by the door to greet them because the risk of one of them slipping out the door makes me a nervous wreck. As for the three that are not fond of visitors, I make sure I crack a door in a room that no one else is allowed into and offer them a place where they can get away from the hustle and bustle.

As any animal owner is aware, if you have a small dog, she could run the risk of being stepped on or the big dogs could get a bit anxious about having toddlers in the house who are face-level with them. too many people milling about a pet's food dish could lead to stress and even snappy behavior. 

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Winter Pet Care Tips For Your Pets

Robbi Hess : December 6, 2013 7:30 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

Winter is settling in across the country. We jus had a cold blast here in Rochester, NY and about 11 inches of snow fell in such a short period of time that the city made it to the top of a snowfall this for the season… already. Sigh. At least I know that when I go outside I bundle up — hat, down jacket, mittens, boots, and it got me wondering, what do we do for our pets to help them survive the cold, blustery weather?  

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Celebrating Giving Month With BlogPaws

Robbi Hess : December 4, 2013 8:25 am : Animal Adoption, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Social Media

BP Dec BadgeThis month, BlogPaws kicked off a month-long giving theme. The pet-loving members of BlogPaws and all their followers are looking for, and writing about ways they can become involved in helping out pets in need. 

You don't need to have a lot of money or even time to make a difference in the life of a shelter or rescue pet. Consider a weekend foster arrangement, stop by and offer to walk, or pet the animals in the shelters. Drop off a bag of food or litter. Take photos of some of the shelter pets you've seen and post them on your Facebook or Twitter pages to help raise awareness and amp up the "aaawwww" factor and get those dogs or cats or rabbits or hamsters into forever homes! Save your spare change for a week (you'd be surprised how quickly it adds up) then donate that to the shelter for their use in buying something on the wish list. As was mentioned in a BlogPaws chat recently, by Caren Gittleman buy or make brownies or cookies or other treats and give them to the shelter employees to show you value the work they're doing every day for animals in need.  

What can you do do help a pet in need? 

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You’ve Written A Pet Blog: Where Are The Readers?

Robbi Hess : November 16, 2013 9:11 am : Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media

What a sense of accomplishment. You've written a pet blog, hit publish and now… you … wait. What?
1003779_10201308651173648_1559280480_n
Where are the readers? You've tweeted about it, put it on your Facebook page and even put a picture on your Pinterest page. Why aren't the readers flocking to the post to make a comment?

Do you sometimes feel your social media and pet blogging efforts are like shouting into a crowded room? It sometimes feels like your voice just gets lost in the midst of all of the other social media "noise."

Here are 15 tips you can use to shake things up a bit and get you, your pet blog and your efforts noticed:

  1. Know where your readers gather and make that the hub of your social media efforts. Maybe your followers are more active on LinkedIn than they are on Facebook; if that's the case focus on LinkedIn. 
  2. Create a press release announcing something you're involved in to help local pets
  3. Create a press release that coincides with a particular holiday. For example: "Ways to keep your pet safe when the trick-or-treaters come knocking," or "Why Thanksgiving table scraps are not healthy for Fido or Fluffy." 

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Holiday Season Is Close At Hand: Pets Are NOT Gifts

Robbi Hess : November 12, 2013 9:06 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

1236162_10201362046868507_1518514067_nWe see it all too often. Pets are given as gifts and then once the novelty wears off, the pet is neglected. Bunnies and chicks given at Easter grow up and are no longer as cute and cuddly. Puppies and kittens grow into dogs and cats, but prior to growing up, they need a loving family and they need time and attention and training. It's a decades long responsibility and not one to be taken lightly when the holidays roll around.

Have your children been begging for a new puppy, kitten or other small housepet? How can you tell if your children are ready for the responsiblity of pet ownership? If you don't have children but are considering getting a pet of your own, how do you know that you're ready for the responsibility?

It's an unfortunate fact that many pets end up in shelters because they were bought on a whim (many puppies were purchased because of 101 Dalmations, sales of Jack Russell terriers soared because of the popularity of Eddie on the television show Frasier, bunnies and baby chicks are routinely given as pets at Easter) If the novelty wears out or the cute puppy grows into a large dog, or the tiny kitten becomes a full grown cat, you need to be able to make the commitment to that pet to raise him from the time you adopt him until he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. 

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Adopt A Pet Month May Be Over But The Need Continues

Robbi Hess : November 7, 2013 9:03 am : Animal Adoption, Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish

Do you ever feel like you just want to do something, anything to help address the plight of homeless animals? Does it just seem too daunting? After all, you can't bring home another pet, can you?
1002489_10201699367221305_1255560664_n You don't really have the money to make a huge donation to your local shelter. Does that mean you just toss up your hands, turn your back and hope that someone else steps up? Not at all! There are small steps you can take to assist your local shelter that can make a difference in the lives of the pets that are there awaiting a furever home. 

Here are seven things you could do today (or this week!) to help homeless pets:

  • Make a donation. Call your local shelter and ask them what is on their wish list. They could be seeking items you have around the house: old towels, paper towels, cleaning supplies, bags of dog or cat or rabbit food, mops, brooms, litter boxes. Ask what they need and see what you have around the house that you could donate or start clipping coupons when you go grocery shopping and pick up some cleaning products and make a donation when you do your weekly shopping.

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Adopting My Mom’s Older Dog

Robbi Hess : November 4, 2013 8:53 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

In my house we are the parents to two dogs (Henrietta and Spenser) and four cats (Parker, Jessie, Clyde
6a0120a678c547970b019b00300b68970d-200wi and Lucy) and a baby bearded dragon (Alice Cooper). Do we/did we need another pet? I'd have to say, "no, not really." But when, within the space of two weeks my almost-80-year-old mother broke two ribs then followed that up two days later by falling and fracturing her shoulder, the question was, "Who's going to take care of Chico." Chico is my mom's almost 13-year-old Chihuahua, half blind, mostly deaf, never-overly-friendly to strangers pet. With the fact that my mom was going to be in the hospital for an extended period of time, it was a question that needed to be answered. 

Prior to my arriving at the hospital it was determined that one sibling couldn't take him because his Mastiff prefers to be the only dog in the house, another sibling just didn't have any desire to take him. What were the choices? Put him in a no-kill shelter? What are the chances of a dog his age and his attitude, and health issues getting adopted? None, I'm thinking. Putting him to sleep because our mom might be laid up for a while and be unable to walk him? Could that ever be a choice? 

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Blogging (and Life) Lessons Learned From My Poodle

Robbi Hess : October 18, 2013 5:00 am : Blogging, Business & Networking, Conquering The Overwhelm, My Diva’s Dish

Some days life is a slog. You know what I mean, right? Sitting through another meeting. Writing another blog post. Deciding whether to 562859_10201509975926641_1996313932_nhave coffee or tea or really shaking it up and having hot chocolate to address the afternoon slump. Sigh. What can you do when some days all you want to do is curl up in bed with a good movie a favorite beverage and while away the hours?

You can take a life lesson from my Diva Poodle Henrietta. Here’s what I learned from watching her live her life:

  • Treat every meal as if it will be your last. Eat and enjoy with gusto. There is not a meal or a snack that Henrietta has that she doesn’t appear to enjoy with every fiber of her being.
  • Take time to smell the grass and the air around you. Not as poetic as smelling the roses but since I don’t like the smell and there are none in my yard Henrietta sniffs out a new trail every time Mother Nature calls her. She acts as though she has never inhaled those scents before and gets excited about every new sight, scent or sound. What can you do to excite your senses?
  • When you relax, do it with all of your being. When Henrietta decides that the day is over (and for her some days she seems to make that decision first thing in the morning… ohhh the life of a dog!) she goes into full relaxation mode. She doesn’t feel the need to nudge or bother the cats, check her email, listen for a phone to ring or a knock at the door. She curls up on the couch under her blanket and gives into the relaxation she craves. When is the last time you truly relaxed? When did you walk away from email or texting for a few minutes or an hour? When is the last time you treated yourself to lunch that wasn’t gobbled down in front of the computer screen?

What Diva Poodle lessons can you incorporate into your life today?

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Helping BlogPaws Celebrate Adopt A Pet Month

Robbi Hess : October 17, 2013 10:47 am : Cats, Dogs, Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

BlogPaws Adopt a Pet Month Infographic: October 2013BlogPaws

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Calico Lucy Says: I Love You, Now Get Away

Robbi Hess : October 7, 2013 9:41 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

Photo (30)I've been the pet parent of many cats throughout my life. Like people, all cats have different personalities — sure they all possess the aloof traits, but right now in our house we have four cats. Parker always seems to be chasing something through the house that none of us can see and he loves water, being in the shower, playing in the toilet or sink. Jessie is our mostly black Tortie, she is the talker in the house. She greets us as the door and talks away and if you even look in her direction she will strike up a conversation. (she also drools… a lot… when you pet her) 

The two kittens, Clyde and Lucy, are troublemakers as is the wont of kittens. Clyde is more doglike than catlike in that he will play fetch for hours as long as you're willing to keep throwing him a toy and he dashes to the door to meet my daughter when she comes home from work. He is exceedingly friendly. 

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Measures To Keep Your Pet Safe In Weather Emergencies

Robbi Hess : September 16, 2013 8:00 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

1235046_639237609440375_899963537_nThe recent flooding in Colorado and the not so long ago storms that hit Oklahoma and the areas of the country plagued by wildfires and other natural disasters make you realize that at almost any moment your life could be rocked by tragedy. If you do'nt have an emergency plan in place for your human family and your four legged pet family, and it doesn't matter what are of the country you live in — you need to have one in place in the event of an emergency.

When I read about the pets lost and the organizations that are involved in raising funds to help the misplaced pets, it makes me wonder how I'd take care of Henrietta in the event of an emergency. She is small enough to grab up and run but what happens after that? What about food, water, her  medical records. If my area of the country was struck by a tornado or a flood, how would I do the simple things like hold onto her in the face of a torrent from Mother Nature? And regardless of her size, how would she react in an emergency? It could make it impossible to hold on to her or even to have our usual routine of her slipping happily into a purse when we're traveling. 

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Henrietta And Her Partially Torn ACL

Robbi Hess : September 6, 2013 9:51 am : Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Weblogs

Henrietta, is and this is putting it mildly, a wild woman when it comes to her activity levels in the house. There are times, at least once a day, when she will dash around like she's in an agility class — under the chair rungs in the kitchen, up and over the large end table, bouncing off the back of the couch, grabbing toys, hopping on and off the bed (even when she uses her steps it's still a long leap). On Tuesday, during one of her frenetic episodes everything stopped short when she toppled over and cried out. 

She was limping and listless for quite a few hours. I took her to the vet and the verdict was: partially torn ACL. My vet didn't recommend surgery. At this point we are on pain medications and limited activity. Henrietta is already rather accustomed to my carrying her around and I happily comply with her barky demands. Here's hoping and praying she doesn't need to go through any kind of surgery. My friend, Carol and her lovely pup Dexter have deal with torn ACL issues so I know I have an expert with whom to discuss it. 

Here's my first shot at a video of my limping girl. 

 

  

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Editorial Calendars: A Pet Blogger’s Best Friend

Robbi Hess : September 3, 2013 7:01 am : My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

6a0120a678c547970b017d416a118a970c-150wiI love editorial calendars. Ever since I worked at a newspaper and a magazine, I saw the benefit of these powerful tools. When you're under deadlines it's sometimes hard to come up with an idea and at that time your editorial calendar will be your best friend.  

There's no time like the present to embrace the beauty and productivity your pet blogging can reap from an editorial calendar try these steps: 

  1. Make each month of your editorial calendar home to a monthly theme. Your themes should focuson what the readers want and expect from you when they come to your blog. Know your audience is a mantra you should repeat often.
  2. An editorial calendar helps you avoid the, "What Am I Going To Write About" syndrome. Writing fresh content is not an easy thing to do even when you’ve been doing it daily for years. One problem many pet bloggers run into is “have I already written this post?” syndrome. After a while, believe me, content runs together; your editorial calendar helps prevent that. Keeping track of your content on an excel spreadsheet, is a great way to track what you’ve written and what you want to write.

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Social Media 101: Tips for Pet Bloggers

Robbi Hess : August 30, 2013 6:59 am : My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Social Media, Writing

Regardless of whether you're a long-time, prolific pet blogger/social media maven or if you're new to pet
1010040_10201280586512049_1934657013_n blogging, a refresher course is always a great idea, right? Over time it's easy to forget our social media manners or to lose focus of why you're a pet blogger and the reasons you're taking part in social media conversations. Maybe you just need a boost to breathe new life into your social media efforts

Here are my social media 101 tips and tricks for the pet blogger: 

  • Keep up with the popular pet bloggers. Retweet their updates. Follow what they say. Share their information with your followers.

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Celebrating Black Cat Awareness Day

Robbi Hess : August 17, 2013 2:58 pm : Cats, Dogs, Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish

Henrietta, Diva Poodle, acknowledges that all cats are kind of cool… she at least begrudgingly acknowledges that they are snuggly and they do share the patches of sun on the floor so she wants to help with the celebration! 

 

 

Black Cat Appreciation Day

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BlogPaws Celebrates Senior Pets Great Infographic

Robbi Hess : August 13, 2013 8:18 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Writing

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BlogPaws

Robbi Hess : July 7, 2013 8:43 am : blog, My Diva’s Dish, Portfolio

BlogPaws is Social Media Company focused on teaching pet enthusiasts how to use social media effectively. We also work year round to connect our bloggers and micro-bloggers to the brands they buy every day. Our online community site is for pet bloggers, pet enthusiasts, pet people on Twitter and Facebook and brands eager to tap into a growing, vibrant, vocal community of serious writers, bloggers, tweeters.

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My Divas Dish

Robbi Hess : July 6, 2013 9:02 pm : blog, My Diva’s Dish, Portfolio

Robbi is the blog manager and writer for My Divas Dish, a pet-centered blog spot.

Read more HERE.

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Last Minute Tips For Preparing For BlogPaws 2013 Success!

Robbi Hess : May 14, 2013 8:30 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing


Picture2In less than 48 hours, BlogPaws 2013 will be officially underway. Eeeeppp! Are you ready? Of course you are… probably. If you aren't though, I have some last minute tips you can keep handy to make sure you make the most of your time at
BlogPaws 2013. Naturally, you want to make the most of the investment you've made in the conference — truly, it's the investment you're making in yourself and your pet blogging career. By their very nature, the humans and their pets that attend the conference are tail-waggin' friendly and more than ready to meet and greet, but here are some tips to help you break the ice and reap the full benefit:

  • Why are you attending BlogPaws 2013? Networking? Meeting people you've befriended on socil media? Learning how to monetize your blog? Finding a way to work with pet food suppliers or other pet businesses? Knowing why you want to go will help you focus your efforts.
  • What program sessions are you most interested in? Print out the program, read the descriptions and then decide which sessions you want to attend. Make the most of your time and the learning opportunities available.

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Making A Go Of It As A Part Time Pet Blogger: It Can Be Done!

Robbi Hess : May 11, 2013 9:45 am : My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

In a perfect world, all of us who love pets and pet blogging would be able to quit our day jobs and simply
Picture1 blog about pets all day, right? Sigh. It's not a perfect world, but you can still have it all! The reality for most pet bloggers is they have outside oblgations to work and family but they still want to mark their territory in the pet blogging world. You can have it all, it just takes some fancy footwork, attention to detail and an adherence to a schedule.

At BlogPaws 2013, Sandy Messmer will tackle the subject of "having it all." I can't wait for that session!  

Here are my best tips for "having it all":

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Packing Your Bags For BlogPaws 2013

Robbi Hess : May 9, 2013 8:30 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Travel

I have never been very good at packing for a trip. Whether I am going away for an hour, an overnight or
6a0120a678c547970b017c3899a91d970b-150wi a week, I grossly overpack. For some reason I am convinced that no matter the location, it is in the vicinity of the moon and likely there is not a store in sight.  

This year, I am carpooling to BlogPaws 2013 and know that I will likely be limited to a single, smallish bag – you know one that would be considered a carry on size if I were flying. Gulp! I've been packing and unpacking it for the past week and am still not sure what to bring and what to leave behind. Do I need three pairs of shoes — heels, comfortable dressy shoes and sneakers? Who knows!?

Whether you're a conference veteran or a conference newbie, there are specific items you do want to bring to BlogPaws (or any conference) and here are my ideas on those:  

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Is Your BlogPaws 2013 Elevator Speech Ready?

Robbi Hess : May 6, 2013 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

Picture3"What do you do?" That's an easy question to answer, right? Well, maybe not so much, especially if you're at a networkign meeting or a pet blogging conference like BlogPaws 2013 conference and you want to make an impression.

When someone asks what you do you want to have a phrase or sentence or two that rolls off your tongue that lets the asker know who you are, what you do, and why you do it. If you attend networking events to garner new clients or meet new friends, you need to have an elevator speech prepared. Consider, even if you meet someone at a conference and they aren't a good fit for you and your business, they may know someone who is and if you've crafted a memorable elevator speech, chances are they will remember you later on! 

Here are my tips for honing your elevator speech: 

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Psst Want To Know The Secrets To Great Pet Blogs?

Robbi Hess : April 30, 2013 8:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

Psst! I've got a secret! Truly, there are no secrets to a great blog post, but there are steps you can take 
Picture2to get more eyes on your post and help bring readers to your blog on a regular basis. Settle in and check out my "secrets."

  • “You” is one of the most important words you will use in a blog post. Make your reader believe you’ve penned the post specifically for his or her eyes. Using pronouns like “we’ or “they” or “us” doesn’t build a closeness the way “you” does.

  • We all known $10 words, right? Don’t use them in your blog posts unless that is what your readers are accustomed to. Blog posts are typically written at a fifth to seventh grade reading level.
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    Take Your Pet Blogging Career To New Heights at BlogPaws 2013

    Robbi Hess : April 23, 2013 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

    Blogging is a technology that is here to stay and in fact enhancements are made to the platform and the
    Picture5 way we pet bloggers spread the word on an almost daily basis! Consider that many bloggers have moved away from posts that are all words and have starrted vlogging (video blogging). A blog puts a human face on a product or service and gives your readers insight into who you are, what you do and why. A blog lets people get to “know, like and trust” you and helps the small business owner (which if you’re a pet blogger, that’s what you are) build clientele and set themselves apart from the crowd.

    Your blog is your brand. Using that as your jumping off point… what will you blog about? What topics will you cover? How will you approach your blogging? What will you do to bring quality content to your readers on a regular basis? What’s in it for me? That’s what your readers will be thinking every time they grace you with their presence. Make certain you make their time worth their while. Here are some items to keep in mind when you’re blogging:

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    Rule of Ten For Aspiring Pet Bloggers

    Robbi Hess : April 16, 2013 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

    Picture4Rules for blogging? Of course! There are rules for everything, but just as that has been said, there are rules that are meant to be broken! But for every pet blogger out there, chances are you don't want to be writing in a void and these rules might just help you get more readers to your posts, and that's what it's all about, right? 

    While there are truly no hard and fast rules you need to follow with your blogging other than to be engaging, enlightening and to use proper grammar (!) here are ten "rules" I do try to keep in mind when formulating my posts: 

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    Business Card Etiquette For Meeting And Greeting At BlogPaws 2013

    Robbi Hess : April 12, 2013 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Networking, Social Media

    There's nothing better than going to a networking event or a conference and coming home or back to
    Picture2 your hotel room with a stack of business cards, right? Not so much! When you break it down, business cards offer you and the person you're interacting with a unique opportunity to make an impression on a new acquaintance and offer him or her a tangible piece of real estate from which he or she can connect with you later.

    Think back to your last networking event and remember the individual who walks, grabs a quick handshake, presses the business card into your hand and walks away… what kind of impression is that? Do I really want to 1) do business with that person? 2) chase her down and have a bit of a "getting to know you" talk? Not really. This person has broken the unspoken "rules" of Business Card Etiquette 101. 

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    Preparing For Your BlogPaws 2013 ‘Pitch’

    Robbi Hess : April 8, 2013 8:47 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs

    Many of the pet parents that attend BlogPaws 2013  do so because they want to mix and mingle with
    Picture1 like-minded pet bloggers/lovers, there are those though with the goal of making a pitch to a service provider, a fellow pet lover or a product provider. Your pitch could involve a guest blogger gig, having them guest blog for you, or you may be seeking a job within the pet industry. There are ways to make a pitch that may help you hit it out of the park and there are ways to make a pitch that will have you striking out. 

    Here are my tips for making a a memorable elevator pitch:

    1. Present your pitch in an intriguing manner. The shorter the better. If you can’t hone your product, service, or yourself into a succinct package, the person you’re speaking with will lose interest. Know who you are so you can pitch what you do.
    2. Can you turn your pitch into a question? What if you could shampoo your cat in a quick and easy manner with nary a scratch in sight? (as an example) Well, as a cat owner I’d be intrigued and I’d say, “Tell me more!” Craft your pitch so the audience needs to hear more!
    3. Craft your pitch like you’d craft the subject line of an email. Be intriguing yet not vague. Make your pitch specific and one that raises curiosity.
    4. Can you make your pitch in 140 words or less? If you’re active on Twitter, I’ll bet you can!
    5. Remember the pitch is about what’s in it for them. You know what you can do and the service or product you can provide but how will it enhance their lives? Make it easier or more fun to own a pet? Help them spread the word about what they’re doing?

    I learned years ago that a pitch is not something you can hone spur of the moment – or if you can, please tell me how! To make the most of the time you spend with your fellow pet lovers at BlogPaws, work on a pitch and use it wisely!

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    What Do You Know About When To Be Social?

    Robbi Hess : February 7, 2013 7:45 am : Cats, Dogs, My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media

    Picture4Creating great content for your social media pages and your
    blog posts isn’t always a walk in the park so when you’re sitting down you need
    to make certain you’re optimizing your time and your efforts.

    Here are a few things I’ve discovered during my time as a
    pet blogger and social media manager for maximizing your social media efforts:

    Best times and days to post? Monday and Wednesdays show a higher rate of interaction and posts that go live between 10 am and noon are more likely to be read on Twitter and LinkedIn. For Facebook, engagement appears to be after lunch and late afternoon.

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    Want Media Attention? Don’t Do These 3 Things

    Robbi Hess : January 31, 2013 8:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Weblogs

    Picture8I've spent time on both sides of the public relations/journalist desks and let me tell you, these roles to NOT go hand in hand. I've worked as both as a public relations manager for a hospital and as a journalist that received press releases from various businesses and individuals – I can tell you there are ways to get your news printed and ways to get your news ignored.

    Avoid these top three public relations mishaps and you can set yourself apart from the competition in the pet blogging industry:

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    Five Tips To Stay On Track With Pet Blogging Duties

    Robbi Hess : January 28, 2013 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

    Picture7You must make your pet blogging a priorty! Right… once you complete all of your other daily priorities. Let's face it, there are sometimes just not enough hours in the day to get done what you need to get done. I get it.

    It’s easy to lose focus when you’re trying to squeeze your pet blogging time into your regular daily  activities. If you want to make your blogging a priority though you need to take the endeavor seriously; think of yourself as an entrepreneur and take charge of your pet blogging time as you would every other task.

    There are five tips to keep yourself online and on track with your pet blogging:

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    Will Your Pet Blog Benefit From Pinterest? My 3 Tips

    Robbi Hess : January 26, 2013 9:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

    How much time do you spend on Pinterest? Be honest! You know you should be working, but once you get there you simply get drawn in further and further! If you're like me, you check out Pinterest and the boards of those whom you follow… and then… you get
    Picture6 lost in the pictures of cute puppies and kittens, delicious recipes and yummy photos… and then… all of a sudden you're hungry and darn it, you forgot why you logged into Pinterest in the first place, right? It is a social media landscape filled with distractions, to be sure, but it is also a social media landscape that is a perfect platform for your pet blogging. 

    I recently attended a Greece Chamber of Commerce meeting and a florist and an event planner shared a lot of hints, tips and tricks for making the most of Pinterest — even for those businesses that may not seem to lend themselves to "visuals" (think accountants or insurance agents). 

    Here are the three takeaways I have from the Pinterest session and that I will be applying to my pet blogging: 

    1. If your blog post includes a graphic (and it should) pin that graphic to your Pinterest board and then link back to your website. Great way to build cross traffic. 
    2. Follow, comment and repin other's pins. Remember, Pinterest at its most basic is a social media site — be social. 
    3. Make certain your boards are named in a way to help build your SEO. Check your profile and tagline and make sure you're using SEO. For example, if you want to be known as a pet blogger and be found as a pet blogger then your profile should proclaim that. 

    How are you using Pinterest to grow your pet blogging following? 

    1 Comment »


    Just Say No To Being Perfect!

    Robbi Hess : January 23, 2013 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Weblogs, Writing

    Picture5A recent Mastermind conversation with Mary Cravets. the Business Speed Networker led to the discussion about how individuals don't start their projects because of: Perfection Stagnation.

    Bottom line… you feel your every word, your every project, your every webpage has to be perfect before you release it to the public. 

    Are you being held back by your own fears of perfection? Do you have blog post ideas that you simply haven't put down on paper yet because you're not certain if they're good enough?

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    Wrestling Control Of Your Blogging Time And Your Day: 5 Tips

    Robbi Hess : January 19, 2013 11:47 am : My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media, Writing

    Many pet bloggers that I speak with wrestle with the facts of life — they're juggling work, family, life
    Picture4 and of course, snuggling their pets. For those who hold down a job outside of the home, how do you find the time to blog? Chances are your pet blogging time is precious and to make the most of it you need to gain control of your schedule. There are several tasks you can eliminate from your workday that can help you become more productive by helping you stay focused.

    Here are my top tips to making the most of your pet blogging time:

    1. Don’t overload your to-do list. While writing down a to-do list helps you see what you need to accomplish in a day, it can also lead to overwhelm. If you find yourself compiling a lengthy list of items to be accomplished you may be setting yourself up for failure. When the day ends and you haven’t made great progress on the list, you might feel stressed out. Create a to-do list that is manageable and consists of only essential tasks: write pet blog, interview veterinarian, read pet-related book, etc.

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    Tweeting Your Way To Pet Business & Connections

    Robbi Hess : November 29, 2012 7:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

    BlogPaws hosts a monthly Twitter chat on topics of interest to the members of the BlogPaws
    6a0120a678c547970b017c327ae8f7970b-150wi Community. I attended one recently regarding Time Management for the Pet Blogger. It was interesting and there was a lot of great information being tossed out. 

    As I followed the conversation stream I was also pondering the best ways to get the most out of the hours spent in the Twitter Pawty and this is what I came up with:

    1. Make certain you're interested in the topic being discussed. If you're interested in time management, for example, you will get more out of the chat than if you're just there for the heck of it. As with anything you attend, if you're there to learn or pick up tips, you will. 

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    Pet Blogging & Life: Can You Have It All?

    Robbi Hess : November 26, 2012 7:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media

    You work from home? Great! That means that you can run errands for your friends and family,right? It's not like you're punching a time clock. You don't have a boss breathing down your neck. The flipside of that is you work outside the home so have to deal with the 9-5, commuting, taking care of self and family once you get home at night. How and when do you find the time to blog for your personal enjoyment?

    As a work-from-home-full time-writer, I have the luxury of setting my own work schedule and I have the luxury of not having to leave the house to deal with traffic, but I have a hard time finding time to do my "own" writing — you know the work that doesn't pay the bills but that I do for my own enjoyment and edification. In some ways I am in the same boat as those of you who work outside the home — trying to find time to do it all when it comes to my "personal" blogging and writing. 

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    Have 15 Minutes? 15 Social Media Items You Accomplish

    Robbi Hess : November 19, 2012 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Organization & Time Management, Social Media

    Picture2There just aren't enough hours in the day to do it all, are there? You have to complete Project X, Y or Z, but then I realized that rather than looking at Project X as a HUGE project, I started looking at it as project that could break into bite size morsels and actually complete. The idea of breaking that big project down into smaller portions relieved a lot of stress and got me to thinking… what could I (or you) accomplish in 15-minute chunks.

    When you consider what can be done to build the reach of your pet blogging and social media campaigns in less than 15 minutes a stretch, you will likely be even more productive than you’d ever imagined.

    1 Comment »


    Is Your Pet Blog Getting Love From Google?

    Robbi Hess : November 15, 2012 7:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

    Picture3I'm not sure about you, but I don't write all of my blog posts for My Divas' site with the idea in mind of  getting Google to love me. Sure it's nice when your name and your posts are at the top of the first page when you're searching yourself, but writing my every post with an idea in mind of needing to be top of the page would take away my love of blogging. 

    Here are a few tips for your pet blogging posts that you should be able to easily incorporate and thereby earn yourself some Google love:

    1 Comment »


    Pet Food Giveaway from PetFoodDirect: Christmas Comes Early!

    Robbi Hess : November 13, 2012 9:08 am : Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

    PetFoodDirect.com is giving one lucky My Diva’s Dish reader the opportunity to win a $50 gift card just
    Th in time for holiday shopping. To sweeten the pot, PetFoodDirect also donates food to shelters in need through its PFD Rewards Program.

    PFD Rewards allows you to earn points for joining, purchasing and sharing with friends and family. Your points can be redeemed for specific rewards such as donating meals to shelters and coupons toward toys, treats, and more. Enrollment in the PFD Rewards program is free!

    PetFoodDirect.com has been delivering 15,000+ products to pet parents since 1997 and they believe in helping pets in need, too. From the single largest offering of premium canned and dry pet food to an extensive assortment of pet toys, treats, supplements and accessories, PetFoodDirect.com has it all! Better yet, you can shop for your dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, and other domestic animals all in one place!

    Learn more about the PFD Rewards Program by clicking here. To enter the contest to win the $50 gift certificate, please leave a message here or on Facebook and let me know why you want to win and what kind of pets you have!  The contest ends November 30 so enter soon! Henrietta will be paws-on choosing the winner! 

     

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    The Perks Of Pet Ownership

    Robbi Hess : November 12, 2012 7:30 am : Cats, Dogs, Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

    Masters In Healthcare provided this graphic on the Perks of Owning A Pet. We think you'll agree with the information! 

    Perks-of-a-pet-top

    2 Comments »


    Hurricane Sandy Looming: Pet Safety Tips

    Robbi Hess : October 29, 2012 10:07 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

    I'd written a post about what to do if you're threatened with evacuation because of a weather emergency. What will you do to keep not only your family, but your pets, safe? Read my tips on pet safety in weather emergencies here. 

    1 Comment »


    About Robbi & The Divas

    Robbi Hess : October 29, 2012 9:59 am : My Diva’s Dish, Uncategorized

    RobbiHenrietta2012Our Mom, Robbi Hess, is a social media manager, blogger, long-letter copywriter — oh yeah, and a heck of a pet lover. She’s involved with BlogPaws and works as the blog manager — that means she gets to work with a lot of other pet lovers. How cool is that! She gives me the attention I deserve, whenever I ask for it because she’s pretty well-trained. Stick around and comment on our goings-on. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook at My Divas DishRobbi Hess and The Professional Edge. (We’ll like you back!) 

    Robbi is available for speaking engagements, guest blogging and for product reviews. Email her using the link at the right!


    BlogPaws-PBN-AdUnitLogo2-160x246a00d83456187a69e2017ee48c2748970d-800wi (1)

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    Robbi Speaks

    Robbi Hess : October 26, 2012 1:22 pm : My Diva’s Dish, Uncategorized

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    Howl-o-Ween Safety Tips For Your Pets

    Robbi Hess : October 24, 2012 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

    I don't know how your pets react to strangers at the door, but Henrietta is hyperactive. When you add a
    HenTrickorTreat parade of tiny people in costumes
    that are looking for candy, the "frantic" escalates. Granted, Henrietta will be dressed in a Halloween costume but she won't be going door to door! 

    Halloween, while fun for the kids, can be a stressful time for
    your pets, here are some tips to make the day as enjoyable — and safe — for
    your pets as possible while allowing you to enjoy the smiling faces of the
    little trick-or-treaters: 

    • Candy is not good for your pet.
      Chocolate can be deadly for dogs any time of the year and at Halloween
      when there is more candy than usual lying around, make certain that your
      pet can’t get to the stash.

    2 Comments »


    Three Animal Advocacy Shining Stars

    Robbi Hess : October 8, 2012 7:30 am : Cats, Dogs, Guest post, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

    Guest post by Carol Bryant

    Can it really be October? In honor of “World Animal Day
    (10/4),” “National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month,” and “National Cat Day (10/26),”
    it is an honor to showcase three shining animal advocacy stars here on My
    Diva’s Dish.

    Peruvian Warrior


    Imagine having a
    job, security and everything planned and then you give that up to devote
    yourself to a cause that calls to you. Molly Mednikow is the Founder and
    Executive Director of Amazon CARES, which stands
    for Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety.  They are the
    only animal welfare organization for domestic animals in the Amazon region and
    started in 2004.

    1 Comment »


    Is Your Cat Happy To See You?

    Robbi Hess : October 5, 2012 9:45 am : Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

    Having just acquired a new kitten — one who seems quite attached to me — has changed my blogging
    601592_4296603728667_651172033_n focus this week as I have a new Diva about which to write and Henrietta is not happy! We have always had cats in the house but Lucy is the first kitten we have had that greets us at the door and with a "wagging tail." I'd never seen a kitty wag her tail unti Lucy came along and it got me to wondering what other cat info I don't know. 

    1 Comment »


    Saving A Dog’s Life

    Robbi Hess : September 27, 2012 10:16 am : Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish

    We came across this heartwarming story about Schoep the 19-year-old arthritic dog, and just had to pass it along. 

    Having to make a plan to euthanize your beloved pet is one that many pet lovers will be faced with at some point. How will you make the decision? What will prompt you to say you love your pet enough to let him go? 

    1 Comment »


    Road Trip Pet Safety Tips

    Robbi Hess : September 20, 2012 9:49 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Social Media

    Recently there was news of a local car accident in which a veteran was injured and his service dog
    252527_1994053846359_1825659_n escaped from the damaged vehicle. It took close to a week but the dog was returned to its master and is now safely home. This potential tragedy might have been able to be prevented if the owner of the dog had taken precautions to keep his pet safe. 

    1 Comment »


    Adding A New Diva

    Robbi Hess : September 11, 2012 9:10 am : Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish, Writing

    When I moved back to New York recently, it involved a cross-country car ride. Henrietta, the Diva
    Photo (4) Poodle, is a great traveler and when I had to make a restroom stop, it was easy to pop her into a purse and take her in with me. My kitty, Zoe, however was another matter. 

    I couldn't wrap my mind around how to travel with a cat. I knew she'd be in a carrier, but even that posed a problem because of space issues. What would I have done with her when I need to take a restroom break? It was far too hot to lock her in a car. She certainly wouldn't have welcomed being put into a purse. I made the difficult decision to leave her behind with friends. They were thrilled to have her so I know I made the right decision. 

    I've been feeling a loneliness lately in having my "own" diva kitty. The other day, Alexa showed me a picture on Instagram of a kitten that was up for adoption at the newly reopened PAWs Animal Shelter and I melted. 

    Henrietta won't be thrilled to be dealing with a new kitten as she still finds Clyde bothersome. We shall see. The picture is of the kitty that's up for adoption. I mean, can anyone resist that face? 

    1 Comment »


    Is Your Dog A ‘Stress Destroyer’?

    Robbi Hess : September 2, 2012 9:33 am : Current Affairs, My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

    There was a pet video on Yahoo! recently that showed what pets did to homes when left alone. Thankfully, Henrietta never destroyed anything when she was left alone. In the back of my mind though I always assumed, "she's tiny, how much damage could she have done anyway…?" When I saw the pictures of what one of the Yorkies did, I realized how lucky I was that she wasn't a "stress destroyer." 

    When Henrietta, the Diva Poodle first came home she was put in a crate, mainly because she weighed less than two pounds so our smallest cat — that at the time weighed 10 pounds — considered her a plaything so it was safer for her to be crated. As she got older though I left her out of the cage because she seemed more stressed being in it than out. In the crate she licked her leg raw. It was odd because she loved the crate when she got scared or there was too much activity in the house but being locked there when I was gone was a stressor. 

    Henrietta's only chewing transgression since I've had her was shen she'd eaten a box of flavored chapstick I'd purchased and left in an open purse on a table. It didn't seem to harm her and she had the softest lips in the state so no harm truly done! 

    I'm no animal behaviorist but I have to assume the pets that chewed and destroyed the homes were bored — we'd adopted a German Shepherd puppy at one time that chewed holes in our kitchen linoleum once when we left him alone for less than an hour. It was the last time we left him uncrated and when we crated him he had a lot of chew toys to keep him occupied. 

    2 Comments »


    Enough With The Cat Videos!

    Robbi Hess : August 30, 2012 9:33 am : Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

    Henrietta here (my minion, Robbi is typing my thoughts!) Okay, so I know that humans seem to love piano
    Clydeparker playing cats, and cute kitties in a bathtub, or even cuter kittens all in a pile in a tiny shoe box. How do I know they're popular? Because I hear Mom laughing out loud every time she opens her Facebook page. 

    Now, though I heard on the morning news that there's a Cat Video Film Convention?! Where's the justice? I'm off to find a way to organize a cute Poodle video convention. Who's with me? 

    I spend my day being chased around by Clyde the Out of Control Kitten. Don't let the cute picture of him here, with Parker, fool you… he is typically chasing and generally bothering me as I'm trying to rest. 

    2 Comments »


    National Dog Day … It’s Every Day

    Robbi Hess : August 28, 2012 7:00 am : Current Affairs, Diva Takes On Life, Guest post, My Diva’s Dish

    Henrietta believes that National Dog Day is every day of the year even though it's celebrated on August
    523403_3987728086969_473396203_n 26 annually. 

    Why does she believe this? Partially because she has me trained to obey her commands. A scratch on the hand or a shoving of her head under my hand means, "pet me now." A silent stare indicates a need to go out and visit Mother Nature. Sitting in the chair next to me at breakfast with her head resting on the table means, "there'd better be table scraps coming my way." A scratching at the top of the blankets means, "I just want to snuggle in with you for the night, Mom." 

    While National Dog Day may be celebrated once a year, if you're a pet owner you know that the love and adoration your pet gives you simply cannot be measured and should be celebrated every day. 

    1 Comment »


    Henrietta’s Psychic Abilities Kick In With Impending Travel

    Robbi Hess : August 26, 2012 1:01 pm : Guest post, My Diva’s Dish

    I enjoy listening to Coast To Coast AM radio and hearing about individuals with psychic visions and
    6a0120a678c547970b017c31695480970b such, I always wonder if Henrietta, my Diva Poodle has psychic abilities! I do know she senses my mood when I'm angry or upset. When I'm having either of these emotions, she sits in front of me and stares at me until I pick her up. Well naturally once I pick her up and notice that she's acting nervous, I force myself to calm down so that she will. 

    This week's "psychic event" had to do with the mini-vacation the family planned to the Thousand Islands. I was so excited for this brief getaway, and once I pulled out my suitcase, Henrietta's psychic abilities kicked in. She started hopping in and out of the bag — making it almost impossible for me to pack. She kept dragging her toys out of the suitcase after I'd so thoughtfully packed them for her! Even if I hadn't picked up her toys and put them in the suitcase and packed her traveling water and food dish, she has a sixth sense for when I might be leaving the house. No matter where I moved in the house, there she was, silently stalking as if to say, "Don't even think you're getting out of this house with that suitcase without me!" 

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    What’s The Deal With Cats?

    Robbi Hess : June 10, 2012 7:55 am : Diva Takes On Life, My Diva’s Dish

    580905_4125787898378_1113000332_aThere are some mornings when I just know what Henrietta is thinking and the headline today says it all. We've discussed the new kitty, Clyde, here recently and the saga continues. He doesn't appear to appreciate Henrietta's seniority aka superiority in the household heirarchy. Why does she think this? Because he is continually invading her personal space. 

    She enjoys waking up in the morning, having her constitutional, then quietly enjoying her breakfast. Clyde refuses to appreciate the beauty of a quiet morning because he pounces on her the second she comes out of the bedroom, stalks her as she's getting her collar on and stares, slaps and generally inserts himself between her and her breakfast. Henrietta has been surprisingly patient with him. With the other pets in the house she is more likely to "growl them out" when they get too close. No one, other than the 100+ pound Spenser seems impressed or moved by her growling, but the kitten is oblivious. 

    As I type this, Hen is perched on my lap, dividing her time between watching me type and watching Clyde try to find a way to get up on the desk and get to her. She can't wait for him to grow out of his kitten-ness. 

    1 Comment »


    Sibling Rivalry Continues: Kitten and Diva Do Not Mix

    Robbi Hess : May 30, 2012 11:51 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

    My daughter brought home a kitten recently. He is a cute and very friendly little guy. Henrietta, ParkerSpenserClydeLex however, was not and continues to be not amused with him. I'd also forgotten how much attention kittens want. Clyde is also hellbent on making every other animal in the house love him regardless of what he has to do to get that attention. Spenser the 125 pound dog tolerates him or moves away from his attention. Parker, the king kitty, is teaching Clyde some manners but will allow Clyde to play with his tail and sleep with him. Jesse, the ghost cat, spends most of her time honing her attempts at invisibility that Clyde hardly ever sees her. 

    HenTableNow comes, Henrietta, Diva Poodle. She has zero patience with the kitten's attentions and Clyde, spurred on by her attempts to ignore her "torments" her unmercifully. I give Hen a lot of credit as she spends a lot of the time hopping away from him, but there are times when escape seems impossible as Clyde is relentless. 

    He pokes his head into her food dish. She growls and snaps him away. He climbs up on the couch next to her. She growls and snaps him away. She runs around the house to get away and he thinks she is just a large, furry, snapping toy designed for his pleasure. It's like she is in a no-win situation. 

    I assume that at some point Clyde will outgrow his constant need for love and attention from the pets that aren't interested in him — you know, like in a few years. I don't assume that Henrietta will ever gain tolerance as she is rather set in her ways even though she is only six-years-old. Hhhmmm wonder if she gets her "set in her ways" attitude from me! 

    For now, I play referee just so the kitten doesn't get his whole head snapped off and wait for the newness of the relationship to be over. 

    1 Comment »


    Make The Most Of Your BlogPaws Conference Time

    Robbi Hess : May 1, 2012 11:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Writing

    If you weren't already aware, Blogpaws 2012 is fast approaching! Have you taken time to make your plan for the event? Here are a few of my favorite conference-attending-getting-ready-tips for you:

    1. Check out the program and decide which sessions you want to attend. The best way to determine this is to have an idea of what you want to get out of the conference; is it networking, learning more about writing, monetizing your blog, finding a publisher, etc. 
    2. Dress for the weather. Sure, it's warm outside but the air conditioning in hotel conference rooms range from steamy to downright hypothermia inducing. Bring a sweater. 
    3. If you're bringing your beloved pet, make arrangements for him or her to be entertained while you attend sessins. If you're leaving your pet in the room, make arrangements for him to not escape if housekeeping makes its rounds. 
    4. Bring business cards. Don't have business cards or don't think you need them? If you don't have something on it with your name, email, phone, etc. how will any connections you make at the conference remember you or get in touch? There are many sites at which you can get free business cards. You'll be glad you didn't leave home without them. 
    5. Following the conference, don't forget to follow up. Chances are you will shake a lot of hands, collect a lot of business cards and make numerous connections. Send a follow up email after you get home, remind the contact of your connection and keep in touch until next time! 

    This is just a quick and dirty list to get you thinking about what you'll need to do for this — and any — conference. Bear in mind that at times conferences can get overwhelming and you can get information overload but relax, have fun and shake a lot of paws! 

     

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    Can You Make Blogging Pay?

    Robbi Hess : March 30, 2012 9:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    You're a diligent blogger, putting up at least a couple of posts a week, you're building your Picture12 audience,right? But now you're wondering, "is there anything more for me?" The answer is a definite "maybe!" 

    Chances are you've all heard of Julie and Julia; the blog by the woman who cooked her way through Julia Childs's cookbook, blogged about it, then sold the movie rights? We all want to be her, don't we? While there may be no magic formula for success, we know that diligence and persistence pays off and in some cases it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time. 

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    Reuse Your Writing

    Robbi Hess : March 26, 2012 11:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    This week I want to blog about… hhhmmm didn't I write about that last week at Blog X, Y or Z? Perhaps you did, but then again perhaps you didn't explore all of the options in those blog topics. You know, it is possible to reuse and/or recycle your blog posts, right? It's true you don't want to use the title word for word and the content as is, but they're your thoughts, your words and chances are you can massage them into a whole new blog post. 

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    10 Ways To Break Into The Pet Writing Market

    Robbi Hess : March 23, 2012 10:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    You’ve just become the proud owner of a new dog, cat, ferret or lizard and now you want to tell the world about it! Where can you go to spread the word? What do you even want to write about? One thing to keep in mind is that even though you know your pet is the most adorable, smartest pet to ever walk the earth, if you’re looking to break into a magazine or newspaper market, the readers really don’t want to hear about that. Know why? Because they believe their pet is the smartest, most adorable one in the universe as well.

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    10 Tips To Hone Your Writing Skills

    Robbi Hess : March 19, 2012 10:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    You’ve long dreamed of being a writer. You read alot about how to go about becoming a writer but it still seems out of your reach. You have chosen your niche – you’re going to be a pet blogger. You’re a lifelong lover of pets and have one or more of your own. So, how can you go about becoming a great writer? Well, it won’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort but if you’re looking to build a niche, become an expert and be recognized for what you do and what you know, the benefits are worth the hard work.

    1 Comment »


    What’s Your Blogging ‘Voice’?

    Robbi Hess : March 17, 2012 11:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    Picture11Are your writings humorous? Do you have a serious tone when you write? Are you an expert in your field or do you write about current events? Is there a particular type of animal you love that you want to blog about? Know yourself before you begin writing. 

    If your readers come to your blog on Monday and find themselves laughing out loud, they will likely expect the same thing on Tuesday. If, however, on Tuesday you write in a technical tone the won't know what to expect when they come back on Wednesday. 

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    Blog Posts: Does Size Matter

    Robbi Hess : March 13, 2012 10:30 am : Books, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    Do you judge a book by its size? If it doesn't weigh in at at least 500 pages do you pass it by? Do you Picture10 feel that if you have anything to say it's worth saying it in a LOT of words?

    That may be good, and may work in novel format but when it comes to blog posts bigger is not necessarily better. But, series posts are great! Readers love series (as long as they know when the next post will be available for viewing, that is). If you have a blog post idea that you simply have to tell but if you can't do it in 400 words or fewer, consider doing a series. 

    1 Comment »


    Make A Plan To Find New Markets

    Robbi Hess : March 10, 2012 8:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    Whether you're a new writer or a writer of repute that is looking to break into new markets here is Picture9a quick top seven list for you to make the change from becoming published to becoming even more published. Regardless of whether you're a new or established writer there are no shortcuts to success and publication. Writing is hard work and requires perseverance and dedication. 

    1 Comment »


    How To Draw Readers To Your Blog: 5 Tips

    Robbi Hess : March 6, 2012 8:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    Regardless of whether you’re a business owner or an individual with a dream, you want people to know about you and buy your “stuff,” right? If you have a blog you can become known as an expert, a Picture8 thought leader, and can use your blog to engage your readers.

    Are there bloggers out there that you simply love to read – so much so that you can’t get through a day without checking them out? What do they have that you don’t? They’ve found a way to make their blog a place where things are happening and they want to be part of it. What do the other pet bloggers have that you don’t? Probably a niche. What’s yours? If you can find it you can corner the market on it and soon readers will be flocking to your blog like kittens to a milk dish!

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    Be A Published Writer, Outline A Plan

    Robbi Hess : March 2, 2012 9:30 am : Books, My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Writing

    You’ve written a book on, oh let’s say, “How To Write A Romance” and now you’re looking to snag Picture7a publisher. Which one will you choose? The book publisher that only publishes scholarly tomes on ancient Egyptian history or one that publishes sci-fi cozy mysteries? No, you will want to find a publisher that specializes in romance publishing, right? It would seem obvious but there are many people I found in my career as an editor who will simply see the word “publisher” in a search and drop their manuscript in the mail.

    When I published my magazine – which was for writers and discussed the craft of writing – I would receive manuscripts on how to grow a garden, the number one brake pad on the market or the best grooming tips for your poodle. What the heck? Did they not read our guidelines? Apparently not, right? But, the worst part was when the writer would argue with me about the greatness of their manuscript and that I should publish it. Word to the wise… don’t argue with the editor.

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    Want To Be Known Globally? Blog Local

    Robbi Hess : February 27, 2012 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Weblogs, Writing

    While it's true that your blogging can — and will — be read by people from all around the world, have you Picture6 ever considered blogging for the locals? If you're a pet blogger, chances are there is an animal shelter or rescue group in your area. There are probably even "meet ups" for people who love Poodles, Pugs, or Pomeranians, right? Are there agility groups that come to your neck of the woods? How about a dog or cat show? Who's writing about it? No one? Well, there's your niche!

    If you've ever worked at a newspaper you can become a bit of a celebrity with the stories that you cover and the same goes for your blogging about local pet happenings. Do a Google search for animal-related events in your area — choose a 50 mile radius — then start making contacts. Send some emails, introduce yourself, send links to your blog, let them know that you're the go-to personal for all things animal! 

    From the small events to the large, you will have fodder for your blogging, make contacts within your local community which can then help you spread your influence to the larger pet community. Starting small, especially if you're just starting out as a blogger, is a fantastic way to build a reputation and grow your readership! 

     

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    Is Your Pet Conference Ready?

    Robbi Hess : February 23, 2012 10:30 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety, Social Media, Travel

    The countdown to Blogpaws 2012 continues and I am in the midst of stringing up a dog bone chain — you Road trip know like the ones you made out of red and green construction paper at Christmas time when you were a kid. I've made my travel plans, have found a  roomie for the conference and have made my plans for Henrietta to be taken care of while I am away. 

    Blogpaws is a great event for pet lovers who are coming with pets in tow and I'd love to bring Henrietta but I know her limitations with crowds and especially with unfamiliar locations, sights, sounds and yes, other four-legged would-be friends. Hen and I have driven cross country three times now and she is an amazing traveling companion when strapped firmly into her harness and surrounded by the sounds of the road and her toys, blanket and food dish. When we stop at rest stops and hotels for the evening though, she works herself into a state of anxiety that isn't good for either of us. She paces, pants, jumps (and barks) at every noise — not good for a restful night's sleep for either myself or the other hotel guests. 

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    Do You Spend Too Much Time With Your Pet? Tips To Tell

    Robbi Hess : February 21, 2012 10:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Weblogs, Writing

    There comes a time in every pet lover’s life when you have to ask yourself, “Is it possible that I need to Hen at table
    interact with humans more often?” If you’ve ever wondered if you spend too much time home
    alone with Fluffy or Fido, here’s a checklist to make that determination:

    1. You look over to the pillow next to you and ask your pet if he thinks it’s time to get up yet.
    2. Before you get dressed you pull out a couple of outfits and ask your pet, “Do these jeans make my butt look fat?”
    3. You greet visitors with a belly rub rather than a hello.
    4. You’ve stopped talking back to the television and ask your pet, “Can you believe Snookie just said that?”
    5. When friends ask how old your dog is you say, “Oh, she’s 37 months old.” And you can – and will – let them know not only the date and time she was born, but her weight and length as well.
    6. Your dog sits in a chair at the opposite end of the dinner table for all of the meals and you keep up a running commentary about the news topics of the day.
    7. Your social and/or dating calendar revolves around your pet. There are simply times when she seems out of sorts so you cancel dates.
    8. Your dog’s wardrobe is more extensive than your own.
    9. When you talk about “Sam” with new acquaintances, it takes them a while to realize Sam is a four-legged companion, not a two-legged one.
    10. Your dogs’ birthday parties more elaborate than the ones you’d planned for your children.

    I will admit that a couple of the items in the top ten jump out at me for reasons I should get out of the house more, but thenHenrietta is not seeming herself today so I can run those errands tomorrow, right?

     

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    Keep Your Pets Safe In An Emergency

    Robbi Hess : February 19, 2012 9:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Pet safety

    By now, everyone has heard of the tragedies that have struck the mid-West and it got me to thinking about how prepared — or unprepared — am I to take care of Henrietta in the event of an emergency. Sure, she is small enough to grab up and run but what happens after that? What about food, water, hermedical records. If my area of the country was struck by a tornado or a flood, how would I do the simple things like hold onto her in the face of a torrent from Mother Nature?

    There are countless tragic and heartbreaking as well as uplifting stories being told about pets being reunited with their families and that made me wonder — Henrietta is an indoor dog (to the point of being a house cat!) how would she survive if we were separated? She is skittish around strangers, too bold around animals bigger than herself and has never had to fend for herself. It got me thinking…

    Here are some tips put forth by the federal government on how to prepare your pet and its care in an emergency situation (paraphrased):

    • Food: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
    • Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets, in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.
    • Medicines and medical records: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
    • First aid kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book.
    • Collar with ID tag, harness or leash: Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit.
    • Important documents: Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit.
    • Crate or other pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so.
    • Sanitation: Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate.
    • A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
    • Familiar items: Put items that will make your pet more comfortable in an unusual environment – blankets, chew toys, etc.

    You should pack an emergency kit for your pet and all of your family members and keep it in a closet by the front door. In the event of an emergency situation, you want to be able to grab the items and go. Check the items every few months and replace as needed — in the event the food becomes outdated, etc.

    While you hope it never happens to you, in an emergency situation, it's always better to be prepared well in advance.

     

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    Sharing Isn’t Something Hen Believes In

    Robbi Hess : February 16, 2012 8:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media

    Hen and zoeHenrietta had been an only child for two and a half years and then all of a sudden I felt a yearning for a kitten. I mean, kittens are so cute and cuddly and there are so many cats and kittens out there in need of a loving home. I figured that maybe Henrietta would welcome a new sister, right? After all, if she had a sister and I had to ever leave the house she wouldn't be alone.

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    Find Your Pet Writing Niche

    Robbi Hess : February 13, 2012 11:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Writing

    You love your dog, cat, ferret or fish, right? They are amazing, fun, do the coolest things and you find a way to talk about them to everyone you meet. Your Facebook profile starts with, "I love my bossy poodle…" Oh  it, that's mine! 

    So you've determined you have a passion for your pet and you'd like to spread the word about him or her, right? Do you have a blog? Are you thinking of starting a blog in which you can write about your pet? What's holding you back? Is it lack of time?

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    Henrietta Endures The Grooming

    Robbi Hess : February 12, 2012 11:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Travel

    Henrietta_beforeI knew that today was not going to be one of Henrietta's favorites — it was bath and grooming day — one she dreads. It was a little better for me because I didn't have to be the mean mom who dropped her off. I was at work so had to cajole my son, Nicholas, into driving her there and then calling me so I could tell the groomer what to do with my little cuddly fluffball.

    She is typically a well-behaved girl at the groomers — at least that is what they tell me. I don't hear her barking or crying once I get there but when she sees me she acts like a prisoner who has been locked away in solitary for months.

    I am very disciplined when it comes to strapping her into her seatbelt in the car but after grooming I Hens_after can't bring myself to and, honestly, I can barely get her out from the inside of my jacket where she has burrowed herself. So, today, was no different — I picked her up, she crawled inside my jacket sleeve and spent the short ride home offering up pathetic little whines and making me feel like the worst mom in the world. I am very easily swayed by guilt when it comes to Henrietta and satisfying her ever-increasing needs and demands. But, hey, she gives me all of the love I could ever want, snuggles with me in bed and greets me so enthusiastically when I come home, I can't help but give into her every demand.

    Here is Henrietta — after — all beautified and poodled up with her fancy bow! 

     

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    Mother’s Little Helper

    Robbi Hess : February 11, 2012 11:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Travel

    Henrietta refuses to be left out of any of the action. As you can see here, she is being her usual helpful Hen the helper self when I was trying to make the bed. She either spent her time on top of the covers barking and tossing her toys around or ducking under the blanket and growling when I tried to move her to put the sheet on.

    She's feeling my stress, I think, with the idea of the two of us making our way across the country from AZ to NY. We head out Monday after my meeting with my boss  . Until then, I imagine she's happy the bed is made so she can dive under the blankets when bedtime comes.

     

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    Unhappy Henrietta

    Robbi Hess : February 10, 2012 11:00 am : My Diva’s Dish, Writing

    Hen in reposeHere's a picture I'd like to call, "Henrietta In Repose" that sounds much better than, "Henrietta Being Really, Really Angry With Me for Making Her Get A Haircut and for Looking At Kittens." 

    She loves getting in the car but once I open the door at the parking lot at PetCo she scrambles around on the pavement trying to get back to the car. The store must carry with it the same unique scent that a vet's office has. After I drag her, yes even an eight pound poodle can exert a lot of strength when faced with the scary prospect of a grooming appointment.

    After two long hours — for both of us — I picked her up. She smells yummy and looks even more beautiful than usual but I made the mistake of stopping off to look at the kittens and she made the most horrible noises which I interpreted to be, "you'd better not even look at any other animal, Mom."  I bundled her up and took her to the car but have to admit I am wondering if a kitten might ease her separation anxiety — or maybe it's to assuage my guilt at her perceived separation anxiety, either way — those kitties were adorable!

     

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    In the beginning…

    Robbi Hess : February 9, 2012 10:38 pm : My Diva’s Dish, Social Media, Writing

    At the time of this writing, Henrietta, the miniature poodle,  had been on the earth for 417 days and in my life for 361, Henrietta_and_spenser_002 I can't remember what it was like before I brought her home. Well, actually, I do remember. I seem to recall not having to share my pillow with a whiskery face and not playing the "what am I whining for this time…" game (this game involves me carrying her around the house trying to figure out what it is she thinks she sees and thinks might belong to her — even when it typically doesn't.

    I also don't remember what it was like to come home from work and not be greeted at the door by this whirling dervish who is full of yips, yaps and recrimination for having left her home alone. She launches herself into my arms, buries her face in my neck and lets loose with the most pathetic (and utterly endearing) moans and sighs. She is great at loading on the guilt!

    Even as small as she was/is compared to Spenser (she weighed three pounds to his 120 when she came home) she rules the roost when it comes to his food dish and toys.

    Henrietta came into my life at a time when my family was dealing with a very bad illness with my father. She was my comfort when I came home after a long day at the hospital and never seemed to care that I couldn't make room for words around the tears that seemed to be ever-present at that time. Thankfully, my father recovered, and my bond with Henrietta (or "The Hen" — you know, like "The Donald") was forged.

     

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