Dog trains man

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pet Blogger Challenge: Round Two

Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy Burket of Go Pet Friendly are again hosting the Pet Blogger Challenge this year.

The time has arrived to show how far we have come after last year's challenge. I will not give up my blog as safe haven for the world of deadlines and numbers without a fight though. Like last year, maybe I can spin myself out of this again?

I gave it a lot of thought:

It sounds like I am cornered. It is time to come clean and give some honest answers, so here we go:

1. Provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

Last year's post was Bad, bad blog, I cheated with the format. And worse, cheated even more by writing another one the next day: The Day After. I'll be a good boy this year though.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

I hadn't made any specific goals. On the other hand the overall goal of the blog is still the same. To provide real-life experiences living together with Hovawarts.

3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

Last year's Pet Blogger Challenge and the discussions that followed, helped in finding more focus on the mission of this blog. After all this is a blog about Hovawarts and I do tend to get carried away in other subjects as well. So I made sure to add more regularity to the Hovawart as the main subject.

During the year we took on the additional goal to help getting the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) repealed in Denmark. Again an unrelated subject, but in the eye of so much suffering and injustice, I can't do anything else than to speak out against it. Whatever the breed, Hovawart or not. We will continue to help the Danes in getting the word out and support Danish organizations like Fair Dog in the fight against BSL. I willl take this opportunity and once more ask you shamelessly if you already signed the petition?

4. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed? Which are you doing now? Do you still worry about lost traffic, momentum, etc?

I still blog as the spirits moves me. But without last year's guilt of not being on a schedule: thanks to last year's Pet Blogger Challenge I came to terms with this. I try to find a good balance between keeping my readers interested and to continue to enjoy what I do. There is nothing more rewarding than that. You will find no schedules here, although I do resist the "publish" button more. Meaning I write as the spirit moves me, but try to "publish" in what appears to be a more scheduled rhythm.

Of course I admit having to swallow an additional time when I see visits plunge after a longer period of silence, like when Viva was diagnosed with Cushings disease and during the latest busy at work episode. Nobody wants to write for an ever declining audience. On the other hand it is encouraging to see search engines continue to send queries about Hovawarts to the blog during periods of silence. I especially like the "Hovawart puppy" searches that go to our post about the Hovawart puppy mill. In the end that it is what matters, that people find the blog when looking for information about Hovawarts.

Blogger statistics, very rudimentary, tell me that I have on average 2,000 monthly readers when I don't blog, and up to 6,000 when I blog. The year before ended with only one third of those numbers, although that was also the year we started with blogging. Two months ago I installed Feedburner and Google Analitics, so I can see better where people are coming from and what they are (not) reading in the future. I am not sure what to use those numbers for, but I love to fiddle around with the techy side of the blog and procrastinate with that. I'll hope to get some clues reading the challenge posts from other bloggers to learn more about how it could help.

5. Are you generating income from your blog? Has this changed since last year?
If you are generating income, how (e.g. sponsor ads, affiliate relationships, spokesperson opportunities)?
If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?

We have no desire to sell anything through this blog. And that will probably not change. But we all know what they say about the offer you can't refuse. I am listening.

6. Have your likes and dislikes about blogging changed since last year?

My likes are still the same. To connect with readers and other bloggers. I am still a sucker for comments that make me see things differently or add to the story. It is that interactivity that makes blogging so much more rewarding than other forms of writing.

What stands out for me in 2011 was how other bloggers rallied behind the BSL campaign on this blog and to what lengths they went to support and help me. Not only writing about it on their own blogs, but also coming with ideas what to do and how to move this forward. I never asked, they just did it. It was inspiring and invigorating.

7. Overall, are you pleased with the progress you made in 2011?

Progress is best measured in real-life results. One of the best reinforcers was when I got some real proof visitors were actively using the blog to form their opinion on the Hovawart. One of them, Kelsey M., was so kind to get back in touch and mention the blog as an "indispensable source of real-life information". Kelsey found a responsible Hovawart breeder and is now living with "Ethana". It gives all the motivation needed to keep on blogging for another year - or more.

8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012?

I would really like to do more with all the contacts established through time with other Hovawart people. It would be great to be able to write, or let them write, about their experiences with Hovawarts as well. I have a plan for this year to try getting them more involved. I have not come around it yet, because I am not looking for breed superlatives and overly optimistic views, but real-life information, and mistakes made which we can all learn from.

There is a huge wild-card though. As we are traveling more and more for our work - if you read this blog before you remember the dogs always join us on those trips - it is not unlikely we start to blog about that a lot more if it all materializes the way I expect it to. A Hovawart Pet Travel Blog, how is that for a niche? I will have a dozen readers at least. But in essence that is what it is about for us. The blog should follow us, Kenzo & Viva. Not the other way around.

It was good coming clean. Now I am off reading all about you other bloggers. I am sure you will be as inspiring to me as last year.


  1. Kenzo (or rather Leo) - this is where we met last year! I admit I'm enjoying this more than I thought I would especially following up on friends :)

    I think a collective hovawarts blog sounds like a great idea. The travel blog too. Definitely a niche that not too many other bloggers can take advantage of.

    Your BSL effort was excellent. You obviously have what I would call a "useful blog"! Something I know nothing about lol.

    Keep up the good work and happy blogging!

  2. I love the idea that your blog has become the go to source of information about Hovawarts -- but that, at the same time, you are able to cover so many related topics, including important ones like BSL.

    You didn't mention, though, the fact that you changed the name of the blog to include Viva which, as a second child whose parents never bothered to take pictures of her, I approve of heartily. Though Viva's name is still in smaller typeface.

  3. I love the idea of featuring honest posts from other Hovawart lovers. It's such a rare and fascinating breed. Even though I will probably never be lucky enough to share my life with one, I would love opportunity to learn more. There should be more blogs with information and stories like these about other breeds. It may help in someone's search.

    Congratulations on all your success!

  4. Until your blog I didn't even know there was such a being as a Hovawart! So, I think that continuing to educate all of us about this beautiful breed, and Kenzo and Viva in particular, is a wonderful idea. I'd love to see lots of pictures of them too. p.s. BSL is such an important topic and that is great that you are helping that cause too.

  5. We'd definitely approve of a Traveling Hovawart blog!! =) Tripling your traffic in a year is really something to be proud of - and I love that you're able to use a search for Hovawart puppies to educate people about puppy mills. Simply fantastic. I'm looking forward to seeing how the blog evolves and follow you all through your transitions in 2012. Good luck!

  6. It's amazing how we think we're setting out to do one thing, then it leads us to a whole other purpose... the work you've done to fight BSL is inspiring. Like Amy said, it's fantastic that you're educating people looking for Hovawart pups on the perils of puppy mills. Go you!

  7. I love the idea of a Traveling Hovawart blog! Though I admit, I still secretly hope to someday get an invitation to the Hovawarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry... it has to be way cooler than Hogwarts, after all.

    My crazy dreams aside, I think your blog is just fantastic. I love that you've become an educational resource regarding Hovawart puppies and your calls to action regarding BSL are inspiring.

  8. As the former owner of a Pit mix, I just want to say thank you for all the work you are doing around lifting breed specific legislation. My Pit was my perfect dog, and it makes me so angry when people want to judge dogs by their breed instead of by their owners.

  9. I am, also, grateful for search engine hits during my 'lull' periods. It sounds like you've managed to get yourself listed for some very valuable searches - which is great! I also have some good ones, too, and it really does help... It's also nice to think that someone might read my stuff, one day.

  10. @GLP
    Ha! we actually met after a dog fight:
    Thanks for labeling us as "useful", I love your funny and creative blog too.

    I misread your comment at first, thought you meant Viva as the 2nd child never got her picture taken :) Glad you noticed Viva as a full member of the blog, we have to do something about the smaller typeface, though it is only an innocent spin to make sure there is a link with the title and the actual URL of the blog. I am sure she won't mind :)

    You are right, a lot of breed info is always the same old stuff, like an broken record that repeats itself. And many times the focus is on all the positive things, not the downsides.

    Thanks for the kind words :)

    @Amy and @Sonia
    I never intentionally wrote it with that purpose in mind. But it couldn't have been a better search match, we have to thank google, it is SEO at its best :)

    Hmmm... I have to do something with that School of Witchcraft & Wizardry ... but what. Thanks for making my wheels spin again.

    I can only imagine how hard it must be to have a "banned" dog. Thanks for your kind words.

    I have no idea if the numbers are substantial, but happy that at least some searches for "Hovawart puppy" land on that page. The position changes, if I try it out now in google, my blog is shown as the third in line. The ones above are suspect though, to say the least :(

  11. You have a great idea going about the Horvawarts coming together here. Real life experiences are so important!
    I can't wait to see this come together!

  12. Hi, thanks for stopping by! I love that you have a specific goal in mind with your blog- educating people about the Hovawart breed. I didn't know about your breed until visiting your blog, and I look forward to learning more about you!!! :)

  13. I'm with Peggy on this one. I never knew about the Hovawart breed until I started reading your blog. I think that Viva & Kenzo are excellent ambadassadors of the breed!

    I enjoy your posts on the BSL issues in Denmark. Since I don't speak Danish, I would never know about these things, so thank-you for sharing.

    Looking forward to a Travelling Hovawart Blog, and through Europe no less! I think that it would be a super idea.

  14. Your BSL posts have been enlightening, showing that this problem is global. We often tend to think within boundaries - physical, ideological and emotional borders. You've helped me and others to open our eyes and minds, taking the issues on in a larger sense.

    I look forward to your Hovawart exploration through the addition of guest posts, while enjoying Kenzo and Viva stories, of course! Congratulations on your 2011 accomplishments and cheers to a successful and exciting 2012!

  15. I've always loved following your posts...even during your quiet periods. :) Perhaps my resolution will be to speak up rather than lurk, so that you know someone is listening. :) Looking forward to another year, blogger buddy!

  16. Thanks all for your kind words, and @Eryka LMAO you like my blog during the quiet periods, haha!

  17. Ahh. ;____; I wrote a big, long, nice comment and my computer yelled at me and now my comment is gone. Let me sit in a corner and cry to myself for a few min-....

    Ah. Okay.

    Moving on.

    I've always loved your blog. =] I think you're one of the very first dog people I ever talked to on twitter, and also one of the first blogs I started to follow. I'm happy with that, too, because the dog-blog-o-sphere is a big place... and you always made blogging - and twitter - seem like a community. Bloggers like you are the ones that bring the place together and make it an enjoyable hobby. =]

    And now I have to stop before I start being sappy. ;]

  18. Loved the moment you took to think. :)
    I love that you are very clear about what your blog is about and what it is not about. I think that's been part of my struggle. Perhaps my blog is just about my dogs, me and our relationship and leave it at that. I believe that someone wise said something similar on my blog (um, that would be you).

    I am glad you did the BSL posts and that you continue to fight that fight. I admire you for doing so. You took on this issue in such a real and proactive way. You can't say that you haven't been an influence in that area. I hope you continue.

    I have to say the story of Kelsey M. touched me most. What could be more rewarding? When we help someone, educate someone or influence someone, that is satisfaction as a blogger at it's best.

    I look forward to reading more about your Hovawarts. I never even knew what one was before you!

  19. If someone asked me if I was interested in breed specific blogs (even about Golden Retrievers) I'd tell them no. But I always find something interesting here.

    I've enjoyed learning about Hovawarts. I've loved the clear descriptions of your tracking work with the dogs. I'd felt sorrow that even humane and progressive countries discriminate by breed.

    And I really enjoyed your personal tales about your travels. Viva has issues that many dog people understand and relate to. Your frank discussions of the progress she's made and the ways you've had to accommodate her fears was very helpful.

    I've enjoyed getting to know you this past year even if we don't have to keep anyone "accountable."

    BTW, I heard a rumor somewhere that Blogger has enabled embedded replies to comments. Are you going to implement it?

  20. Thanks again! Sorry @jaennutter your long comment got lost :( And @Pamela, yes I will but Blogger has not yet released it, we have to be patient.

  21. We first heard about Hovawart's in our sniffing class about 2 years ago. I'm glad to see your blog is devoted to the breed. I just took a peek at your about us page and noticed Kenzo looks a lot like the Golden Retriever we're currently raising. I can't wait to hear more about your travelling adventures in 2012.


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