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BlogPaws: Be the Change

BlogPaws organizers and participants, as a whole, have declared this Be the Change blog post day. It’s an exciting venture not just for today but going forward, where we ask as a pet blogging community just what each of us can do to improve the lives of our animal friends. I have a BIG idea brewing and will need your help in the coming weeks/months, but let’s focus on today.

Be the Change

I did not attend the Saturday session entitled Be the Change, but all of us got to hear and see a bit of the inspiration during the closing ceremony.

Lynn Haigh (famous for @frugaldougal and the Twitter PawPawty), Dr V from PawCurious (famous for eating pet food to raise money for charity), and Dorian Wagner from YourDailyCute (famous for bringing dog and cat porn into daily life) teamed up under moderator Jane Harrell from Petfinder to inspire others into action on behalf of the pets around the world who need our help.

This video, which pretty much made everyone cry, says it all:

** Sorry I don’t know how to scale back the video screen size.

Supporting Animal Rescues & Shelters

BlogPaws selected Pets Without Parents to receive donations collected from this Be the Change blogger extravaganza today. I grabbed the code for this donation widget from Eric at Dog Spelled Forward. If you would like to take part, you can insert the widget on your blog post or into your sidebar today too.

Dog Food Action Day

My own efforts to use my blogs to Be the Change began Wednesday over on my Dog Food Dish blog, where I proclaimed Dog Food Action Day and encouraged people to donate pet food to local community action centers or food banks. Shelters and rescues can use donations year-round, but what about the pets within families that are struggling financially?

We’ve learned all too well recently that pet food CANNOT be purchased using food stamps, so if you’re so inclined, I’d love for you to donate pet food to a food bank (now and maybe monthly), if you can. I say that because a bag of dog food lasts us a month (with 2 dogs).

Rox’s Big Be the Change Idea

My idea is still in its formative stage, but essentially I want to come up with a campaign (local, widespread, or national) to get people to give up/trade in/swap their harsh training tools — like choke chains, pinch collars, and shock collars — for better options. Raising money for shelters or rescues in the process would be great too.

Maybe we raise money and buy the collars to give away

Maybe we get a company to donate them

Maybe we partner with local humane societies

I’m not sure yet. Like I said, it’s only a kernel of an idea, but what impact  could we have on the lives of individual dogs, if we got their families to give up harsh (and I would argue ineffective) training tools?

Dr. V joked this week about “hare-brained schemes,” and … indeed … this feels like that (especially, I’m sure, to longtime readers who know what the last 9 months have been like around here), but what the heck. You never know what you can accomplish until you try.

Remember when we set out to get Poga adopted? That worked!

I’m betting this can too.

The idea came to me in a flash during the closing ceremonies of the BlogPaws event, so that must mean something … right? (Though, it could be a hallucination from the lack of sleep.)

We’re assembling like-minded dog bloggers, dog trainers, and dog handlers into a coalition to brainstorm the best format for this program and to help with all the crazy details likely to come from it.

Deborah from BoulderDog, Hilary from Fang Shui Canines, Susan from The Allie Chronicles, Debbie from Fearful Dogs, Christine from MoxiePaws, and Anna from HappyHealthyPup are already on board.

Join us, won’t you?


P.S. I learned just yesterday that @frugaldougal is quite sick. Please keep the whole family in your hearts. (The post is from February, I guess.)

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Kim Clune - April 26, 2010

Did you hear? Petco has started a program called “We Are Family, Too” to set up pet food pantries throughout the USA! I wonder if they read your blog!

    Roxanne Hawn - April 26, 2010

    I did not know that. Thanks for the heads up.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell - April 19, 2010

You are an inspiration, Roxanne. I look forward to working with you on these initiatives!

Susan - April 18, 2010

There is a reason why positive reinforcement trainers have banded together to discourage shock collars and other aversive equipment:

The reason is that they have discovered through experience and through study of learning theory that the use of such equipment is not necessary to teach a dog what he needs to know. One doesn’t need to hurt a dog to train that dog.

I think, Roxanne, that you’ve got a great idea here.

Karen, I took a look at the AKC obedience regulations, and could find nothing referring specifically to a chain collar. Section 17 does say the following:
“All dogs in the obedience ring must wear a properly fitted collar approved by the judge. No special training collars, such as electronic or prong collars, will be permitted.”

Karen Norteman - April 17, 2010

I agree with others’ doubts about shock collars for training — and pretty much any other time. I am still an advocate of good old-fashioned fencing because I know my dogs would decide whether the shock was worth it if something tempting came their way — and then go through it anyway.

That said, blaming the collar is like blaming shoes because people are wearing them when they kick animals. Understanding and education are the key.

Candy Blakeslee - April 16, 2010

Yeah…but, some tools intend to punish/hurt dogs! That is the tool, not just the user of the tool. Through this great idea both problems can be addressed. There is NO correct way to use a shock collar in my opinion.

KB - April 16, 2010

I guess that I share a few doubts of other commentors, with the feeling that it’s not the tool but the intent of the user that counts. Heck, someone can have a plain flat collar on their dog but kick him every time he pulls. That’s similar to a pinch collar.

But, I do see the symbolism and that it might make people aware that there are gentler ways to train that really tap in a dog’s intelligence. As a way to raise awareness, I do see the value. And, I applaud you thinking really hard about a way to help change our world!

AC - April 16, 2010

Roxanne, I’d love to hear you address some of Karen’s thoughts. I’m sure education about training tools would be part of the swap, but I have this fear of lots of hard work and money going towards equipment that may still be used with harsh training methods.

Unlike a simple donation of food, this may need more work/follow up to be effective. I love the issue you’d be addressing, just worried about how it would work. (Hope that didn’t sound too negative! I’m still all behind you with Be The Change!!)

Candy Blakeslee - April 16, 2010

What a great idea…let me know how I can help!

Unfortunately, an underground shock collar fence does not prevent dogs from running into the road and getting hit…fences do. Dog run through electronic fences all of the time. In their passion they are willing to endure the pain their humans are inflicting on them.

Kim Clune - April 16, 2010

Roxanne, You idea is wonderful … and sadly necessary. Thank you so much for sharing and being the change! I’ll be tweeting your link.

Karen Norteman - April 16, 2010

I’m not sure I agree with the idea of getting rid of training tools just for its own sake. Any tool — be it a Gentle Leader or a shock collar — can be a terrible thing in the wrong hands. Although I have deep doubts about the latter, everyone with an electronic fence is basically using a shock collar to keep pets from gettong killed in the street. As for chain collars, they too are only “choke chains” in incompetent hands. They are still required to show in formal obedience.

Perhaps what is really called for is a more mindful choice of tool. Don’t use one that causes you or your dog distress.

    Roxanne Hawn - April 16, 2010

    I appreciate your candor. Thanks for visiting and leaving a note.

    I’ll address some of these issues in future posts, I’m sure.

MarthaAndMe - April 16, 2010

Kudos to you for this!

Amy@GoPetFriendly - April 16, 2010

I love your big idea!! Let us know if there is anything we can do to help out!

AboutVetMed - April 16, 2010

Hey Roxanne-

This is kind of in line with my “big idea” that was too big to assemble for the Be The Change day. I’ll email you though…! 🙂

Great post – so glad you could make it to Blogpaws!


Amy Palmer - April 16, 2010

I love the idea of donating pet food to food banks! I’m going to do just that. Thanks for posting!

Edie - April 16, 2010

I love the plan for a plan. Count me in, too!

    Roxanne Hawn - April 16, 2010

    Terrific. Thanks, Edie. I’ll add you to the list.

Romeo - April 16, 2010

Roxanne, what an inspiration you are! Love it, love it! GREAT point re: donating pet food to food pantries. That can help keep more pets out of shelters. xo! Caroline, Romeo & Pugsley

    Roxanne Hawn - April 16, 2010

    Well, I’m merely following your lead. Fairyblog mother that you are.

Comments are closed