Dog trains man

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pet Blogger Challenge: The Blog After Kenzo

As you can see, Tilde isn't pleased she will not be the subject of this post.

Today we join the Pet Blogger Challenge, an event where pet bloggers share experiences and tips about blogging.

For you blogger friends reading this, grab a coffee and your "what-not-to-do" list and let's go!

When did you start your blog and, for anyone who is just seeing it for first time, please provide a description of your site. Would you say your blog focuses more on sharing stories with your readers, or providing a resource for your audience?

I started the blog seven years ago. Focus has changed along the way. At first I wrote a lot about the Hovawart breed, its history, their quirks, and what distinguished them from other breeds. For the last couple of years I only share stories about living with my Hovawarts Kenzo and Tilde.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2016?

I have to cheat a little and rewind to mid December of 2015 but in my defense, I didn't participate last year.

When Kenzo died I wrote a post about his passing the day after. It was also my first post after almost half a year of silence in which I was fighting the demons of depression. At first I didn't understood where the need or the strength to write it so soon after his passing came from until I realized how much I also needed the blog for myself. How writing about one of the most devastating days in my life was healing. Healing, for me.

The feedback on that post took me aback. It might just as well have been silent after such a long blog pause but it was not. On the contrary. First then I realized how much more Kenzo had meant to others than I expected. There were not only the comforting words of people who understand what I was going through, but many experienced their own grief over Kenzo's passing as he in a way had become a part of their life too. It made me proud of him. Proud to learn he had touched so many.

Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)

My favorite was The Wild Thing And The Distinguished Gentleman in which we meet Kenzo's only doppelganger in real-life, Baxter from Germany.

Baxter reaches old age and we fantasize if Kenzo would have looked and behaved like him, if he would have reached that same age.

Year after year, one goal that we all seem to share is that we want to reach more people. What one tool did you use or action did you take this year that had the most impact on increasing traffic to your blog?

This is where you need your "what-not-to-do" list.

First, I neglected the Google change from last year in which they announced to punish websites without a mobile experience. They kept their promise. Most traffic came from Google - google for Hovawart and we were there - but some months after the deadline, traffic was decimated. Zero. Nada. Too bad for all those posts introducing the breed to curious people. Nobody found us any more,  no more mails from people asking questions about the breed. Even after I fixed it and Google re-indexed all pages, it placed us far down on the list of search results. Like real far down.  Lesson learned: don't ignore the Big Google and take your SEO seriously.

Second, to give your blog the same name as your dog works fine until that dreadful day comes. When I mentioned earlier how I first understood how much Kenzo meant to many of our readers after he passed, it also came with a downside traffic-wise. After Kenzo died and Tilde took the leading role in most of our posts, people started to unfollow, unsubscribe or just ignore by not commenting every time I posted anything which wasn't about Kenzo. No hard feelings though. I understand why people visited and still glad they enjoyed him.

Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? (Please include a link.) Have you noticed any themes across your most popular posts?

I am not sure if we can still call it traffic, but with a subject like Tilde I am sure that will fix itself!

From the posts I wrote about Tilde, The Hovawart That Won't Wart is the most popular.

It does underline a theme I think, posts about me trying to make sense of her antics and relentless energy and how she is so not like a Hovawart at all, all underline the character she is. At least I hope that's what people recognize in it.

What blog do you find most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog? (Please include a link.)

Bedlam farm and Marking our territory. I am taken by the authenticity of both authors. They inspire me to always strive for authenticity first, before anything else.

I do miss Will my dog hate me and Something wagging this way comes though. Those were the days...

What is one thing your readers don’t know about you or your pets that would surprise them?

That's easy because I always ask the readers I meet in real-life. Their unanimous verdict is that even while they feel prepared for Tilde's power and energy through my stories about her, the written word and photo stills don't even come close to what you will experience when you'll meet her in the flesh. So brace yourself out there if you invite me and my tornado for a visit!

What is something you’ve learned this year that could help other bloggers?

Try to leave your smart phone at home when you are doing something with your pet. You will find it refreshing. Be in the moment, not in the next blog post.

Read this thoughtful piece from blogger Andrew Sullivan, I Used To Be A Human Being, and how blogging success (and smart phones) almost meant the end of him. He can describe it so much better for you, than I can.

What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017?

I need to solve the SEO issue. Just complying with Google hasn't helped, and some attempts I did during the year failed too. But I need to fix it somehow. It hurts me knowing a lot of the posts I wrote which are honest about Hovawarts and what to expect are now replaced with posts with a lot of rubbish information on the search result list.

Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?

If you know our blog, what would be the first word you would use to describe it?



  1. It makes us proud, that meeting our old boy touched you so much. To us the meeting was very special too. He is doing well "im Rahmen seiner Möglichkeiten". Grüße aus dem Ruhrgebiet von Baxter, Katrin & Jörg

    1. It was unforgetable Katrin, thank you so much for your initiative to meet! Glad to hear too, Baxter is still going strong ;)

  2. First word that comes to mind is authentic. Having met you, Merete, Kenzo and Tilde - having visited some of your haunts - the blog brings it all to life and instead of having an imaginary picture in my head, I have a real one. So I can honestly say it is authentic. As for the not commenting - people's lives change as well as our own - sometimes I read but forget to comment, sometimes I read a load in a sitting to catch up, but being busy means that the blog is a brief escape from our real lives, but we quickly have to leave our dreams and wake up again - often without leaving a comment. There is a lesson here in being in the moment, making sure we exit that moment properly instead of dashing out and leaving the imaginary door open.

    Oh - and I was so sad you don't miss River's Song..........ha ha ha - only joking. But I must do some writing....................

    1. Thanks Jan, I am happy to hear the blog is authentic fo you.
      Loved how you described how leaving a comment is about being in the moment and how to leave that moment properly. I am no saint in it either and it will inspire me to also be better at it on the blogs I visit.
      Looking forward to read more on River's song soon! :)

  3. This is my first visit to your blog. I am sorry you have had such a hard time Google. I wish I knew more so I could help you out!

    I also started my blog with my heart dog, Pip. He passed away in 2013 and I wasn't sure I wanted to continue blogging. I took two years off and then returned in 2015, but kept his name. I thought about changing the blog name, but decided to keep it the same. Like you, I was in awe of the support i received from blog followers

    1. I am sorry to hear what happened to Pip. I like you kept the name though, I wouldn't change it either, now that the blog is named after Kenzo, it stays that way.

    2. After visiting your blog you did help me with the SEO. You found a bloggertemplate which is very good at it, I might have to "steal" that ! :)

    3. Hi - Here's where I purchased my template They have all kinds of templates for both blogger and word press. They are reasonably priced and easy to install.

  4. I am touched that you remember Will My Dog Hate Me so fondly; Something Wagging re-emerged and one of these days -- I think -- WMDHM will be back too; I still get far more traffic on it (and offers to enhance my SEO) than the blog I actually write on, so it would be foolish to waste that. And of course, there's a lively new dog to star in any revival I would do.

    Speaking of names -- which you do -- I do wish I had the same name for that blog and my dog book, which I might then convince a publisher to reissue. Even more, though, all the technical stuff you describe is intimidating. I would have to do a thorough revamp, which would be a nightmare. We'll see...

    1. Just that you are considering it is terrific news Edie. My SEO problems might have been solved already btw with the help of Daily Pip and Amy Burket. All I needed was a new responsive/seo blogger template and to rewrite/re-date some of the posts.

  5. We faced the same challenges when Sam died - our blog is named for him. ...but, we decided we didn't want to lose the friend we had made. The name of our blog took on new meaning - we are truly here because of how Sam saw it!

    I love your answers!

    Monty, Harlow, and Ramble

    1. I like that thought and you are right. It is a part of what they left behind and keep writing in their name gives new meaning.

  6. Finding a mobile friendly theme should help if you were penalized by Mobilegeddon. Unfortunately, in my past experiences with Google it can take months even years to rebound back from a slap from their algorithm :( Good luck to you in 2017!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I am afraid you're right. We are already more than 1 year after the fact !

  7. I am sorry to hear of Kenzo's passing. I have been horrible about keeping up with reading some of my favorite blogs the past few years. I've also dealt with depression and other medical issues that just seemed to take over my focus. I need to go back and re-familiarize myself with your blog. I enjoyed so much reading your answers to the challenge questions. I still struggle with SEO. I've learned a lot this year, but I need to learn more. Good luck to you in 2017!

    1. Thank you. Sorry to hear about what you had to go through. I hope all is well now, a good 2017 for you too!

  8. "Good" to know about the mobile site penalty being real. Sorry you took a hit but I do sometimes wonder if these things are a "scare" tactic and nothing that bad really happens. I've been wishy-washy about removing my email subscribe popup. Google said they are going to start penalizing sites that use one. Now I am sure I'm going to remove it. Good luck to you in 2017!

    1. I remember this particular warning popped up in webmaster tools. Basically it was Google telling me directly to change it, or else...
      Ah well, lesson learned for me :)


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