Holy cannoli friends, it’s a doozie of a Dear Doodlebug this week, mostly because I got SO carried away with one Most Excellent question. Those of you whose questions didn’t get answered this week, just keep holding on, we’ll get to you as soon as we can!
On to the dirty work:
Dear Doodlebug,You always look like such a dedicated sleeper and also very fashionable so I hope you can help us with bed advices. I too am very serious about my sleeps and I need a serious bed! I have one that is one piece bolster bed that mama got at Petsmart a long time ago. It is ok but it is one big piece and I cannot rearrange it. Also it is starting to wear out and it looks very tired. Mama also got me a bed from Westpaw that I like better because it is two pieces and I can arrange the middle piece exactly how I like it. But that one is also starting to wear out and the middle is not as fluffy and comfy as it was. I would like a bed that will stay comfy for a long time or that does not cost too much so mama can keep buying me new ones. I would prefer a bed that is in two pieces but what is most important is that it has a bolster part or something similar where I can rest my giant head. It would also be a big plus if it is nice looking and fashionable but that is not as important as comfyness and headrestyness. So do you have any advices for me about beds? Thanks, Don!
Dear Donald Duck the Chick Look-a-Like,
Did you ever stop to think that you look a little bit like my brother? And maybe it’s because you’re a duck and he is a chicken, I’m not sure. But there is something to it.
As for beds, you are so very right. I have much seriousness when it comes to my sleepage. Sometimes I even fall asleep during agility class on the breaks between my turn and my turn — and that’s on a bed of shredded cedar with NO bolster at all! My brother and I, lately we are extremely loving our new beds that mama adopted from Costco. She says that their adoption fee was only around $30, which sounds like not that many green papers to me. They are a lot like a little dog sofa, with nice cozy headrests on three sides, and a cushion in the middle that I can pick up with my mouth and burrow underneath when I feel like hiding. The only problem with them is that the covers come off so mama can put them in the washer and get rid of all of my hard-earned dog smells — you probably shouldn’t tell your mama about those zippers, or try to hide them after she brings your new bed home. The bed is not very enormous and I know you are taller than me and my brother, but we both like to sleep together in one of ours instead of each dog in his own, and all 110 pounds of us doesn’t think it’s too small.
If that one doesn’t work out for you, our uncle Tex just scored a bed with headrests from Overstock. I haven’t talked to him to hear whether he likes it or not, but maybe some other dogs’ secretaries have left reviews on some of those and can give you a clue on how wonderful or terrible they are?
Love, Doodlebug, Grand Champion Napper
Dear Dude, I am writing to get some advices on how to be as famous as you are. My mom has a blog like your mamma (it’s even named after me!), where she writes about me and my foster siblings, but I am not a star like you and Sir Chick are on the inter-webs. I want to be more famous so I can help mom spread the word about how important it is to share your house with dogs in need. So, just how did you and your bro get so popular and get so many adoring fans (other than by using your pure handsome-ness)?
Thanks in advance,
Nola, The Rising Star of Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses
1. Use high-quality photos. Sometimes mama writes posts that she thinks are very clever and interesting and funny, and then the comments of the people are all about the pictures. Most internet-viewers are very visual people and dogs, so big, bright, interesting photos will draw in a lot of people who otherwise might have skipped along. Our mama is lucky because she has a giant black box that goes click and makes nice photos of me and my brother, but even a simple camera can do the job. There are lots of great tricks on the internet about taking good photos, so read up!
2. Post regularly. For the first year and a half of this blog, mama wrote every single weekday. As you can imagine, this was a lot of work! But the advantage was that our blog was dependable. This was especially important to mama back then, when
my brother was trying to get dogs out of the house as soon as possible they were trying to find the perfect home for fosters. The more people who grew addicted to their stories and would check in every morning before work or every afternoon after lunch, the more potential homes we were reaching. Mama has since gotten lazy slowed down the posting schedule because we are not fostering anymore so readership is not quite as critical, and we have seen a big decrease in the number of blog views per post.
3. Write from the heart. We don’t only share the good stories. We also share the hard stuff. Our post about euthanizing a foster dog, Goodnight sweet Blue, is one of our most-read posts of all time. Chick’s tales of his past issues (I used to love to bake, or how we worked through my anxieties) is another. People love reading about happy dogs experiencing happy things, but so many dog owners — most dog owners — also deal with the hard stuff. The problem is, the hard stuff is also harder to write about, so it gets suppressed, and regular dog owners dealing with regular problems end up feeling isolated and alone. Being open about the good AND the bad of dog ownership and fostering can bring in loyal readers a lot faster than a few cute photos and a sweet anecdote.
4. Network. Lately mama has been too lazy to keep up, but early on, we were doing a lot of reading other blogs and commenting — and forming allies in our community. Making friends with rescues, shelters, non-profits, businesses, and regular ol’ folk in your community can help build your reader base and increase your chances at finding adopters for your fosters.
5. Think big. Writing about bigger policy or advocacy issues is more time-consuming than The Daily Chronicles of Dog and Dog, but it can pay off. Our two most successful posts ever were of this nature — Pit bull awareness — words do matter; and Do Unto Others: intimidation in dog training. We took on sticky topics that can be controversial but that we feel strongly about, and it paid. Each of those posts was picked up by large and popular groups on Facebook and other blogs, and our posts ended up circulating and re-circulating. After each of those posts, we saw a big boost in readership, too.
6. Host fundraisers, contests & give-aways. We have hosted a number of fundraisers and giveaways over the years, and each time, our readership has seen a big-temporary-followed-by-a-small-permanent increase. Early on, we constructed a simple Kibble for Comments fundraiser, in which we donated a pound of dog food for every comment on our blog during a certain period. It was a success! Since, we’ve done more sophisticated fundraisers for specific causes, including one for our darling Elderbull foster Little Zee, who needed a lot of medical care, and one for the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund, an Austin-area non-profit that offers training scholarships for families who need the help but can’t afford high-quality private training. Some new readers come for the story and some come for the loot. But either way, the good people of the internet seem to love having a cause to rally behind.
Dear Doodlebug, My mama buys me puzzles and toys that will hurt my brain thinking but I’m just *not* a chewer. She’ll give me a chewy puzzle filled with yummy treats and I give it right to my boyfriend who is perfectly happy chewing away all day long. We often play fetch, which I love but can you please give her some hints on what else would work for a very clever girl who isn’t mouthy?! Thank you, Bella the very sensitive, and very clever, pibble-mix girl
How can you not want to chew on things that taste or smell like dinners? I don’t even understand it! Have you tried puzzles that are about getting the kibbles out but not chewing, like the Treat Stik or the Kong Wobbler? What about hollow bones stuffed with wet food and frozen? You can’t possibly be a dog and not enjoy those fine delicacies.
But here’s the other thing — my brother and I always have to work for our foods. When mama was first teaching us how to do this, she would measure out our daily portion in the morning and give us bits of it throughout the day in puzzles. Whatever we didn’t finish in 20 minutes got taken away and put back in the dog food bin or in the trash can — so we got that much LESS food during the day. Well as you can imagine, it didn’t take us many days to figure out that we’d better work for those snacks, and quickly! Now, I must tell you that Chick and I were both natural chewers and eaters, but Chick has had some foster dogs who did NOT care to work for their kibbles. But even they came around after a couple days of not eating enough!
Oh, and tell your mama to put you and your boyfriend in separate rooms while you eat. It’s no fair for him to steal your snacks!
Dear Doodlebug, Just about every day mom goes out at 8 and doesn’t come home until about 6. I think she’s hunting for yummy kong treats but my cat brother and sister say it’s mice she’s looking for. Does your mom go out every day like that….what do you think she is doing? Pondering, Jake
Dear Pondering Jake,
We are among the luckiest of dogs, because when our mama leaves the house, she usually brings us with her — especially if she is going for many hours. You see, she works at a dog place where we are welcome. So we come with her, and maybe that’s why she never brings home any mice . . . or maybe it’s because we already have mice living in our yard and garage (and twice even in our house, yuck!).
But my brother and I put our giant, giant brains together, and we came up with some potential things that your mama might be hunting for when she leaves the house for so many hours every day.
She might be hunting for:
- dog treats
- some green papers
- the Holy Grail
- psychedelic mushrooms
- the perfect place to retire
- Red October
- a boyfriend
I hope I helped solve your mystery!
Signed, your Bug-sleuth