Holy cow, so much information from BarkWorld, my brain is still on overload.
Let me start by saying I was so gld to have my husband who is city savvy with me to do the driving in the city because I would have had panic attacks.
This was my second BarkWorld, so I knew what to expect, but this was the first time I’ve stayed downtown Atlanta so it was entirely new to me. The last BarkWorld I attended was in Buckhead where we found and fell in love with Zesto’s, which thankfully was about a 10 minute drive from downtown.
Atlanta seems to really love quick open fast food, as we were told by my sister-in-law to try The Varsity, so we had that on the way in, Zesto’s the next day and Henry’s Tavern as it was right across from the hotel we booked and the Loew’s where the event was.
I highly recommend all three places if you are driving there, if not definitely stop by Henry’s, they have Parmesan fries. *drools*
For those who have never been to downtown Atlanta, it is pricey to park there during the day and overnight, we paid $20/night to park. The valet parking at our hotel was $25.
Let’s get to the conference portion of it, Thursday night was a premiere party for Lucky Puppy which is a quarterly magazine by Dogster.
Friday was the first official day of the conference and the keynote speaker was Gus Kenworthy, if you’re not familiar with the name you may be familiar with the term “Sochi Dogs” from the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He and his partner rescued 5 of them, unfortunately 1 of them passed while being held by the Russian government, but the rest of them are alive and happy.
Katie Capteron the Editor in Chief of HLN/CNN Digital spoke on Saturday touching on the top 10 viral animal stories, one of which was the two dogs hugging hours before being euthanized. This led to an outpouring of support and the rescue that got them, Angels Among Us was in attendance. She touched on several other stories, such as the dog whose mouth was taped shut, the vet tech who shot the feral cat with a bow & arrow, the two dogs rescued from underneath the I-5 bridge in California by Hope for Paws (who was also in attendance) and of course the #1 story which was Cecil the Lion.
She had the room crying at the injustice, clapping at those that were rescued and reminding us that if we see something online we need to post it, state how we feel and share.
My favorite keynote speaker was Shorty Rossi from Animal Planet’s PitBoss. He warned everyone that we may laugh, cry or not like what he has to say at the beginning of his speech. He went into his background – how he was mistreated, how he got into trouble with the law, found that his love for animals helped him cope and when he got out he knew he didn’t want to go back to doing bad, he wanted to make a difference.
It was then that he found his first pit bull. In trying to get a tv show about his production company he was approached about doing a show about his pit bulls. It was there he found the platform and audience to make a difference in these wonderful dogs lives.
He encouraged everyone to educate themselves on these “bull breeds”, giving the group some surprising statistics such as: Golden Retrievers are the most likely breed to bite, 1 out of 600 pit bulls in shelters get adopted, support the rescue groups that support the dogs and most importantly you can’t change everyone’s mind but if you can change one person’s mind, then it’s worth it.
One of the questions he got from the group was how does he handle negativity on his page, his answer was simple: the first negative post, he deletes it, next negative post he deletes and blocks the user.
He stressed not to judge a breed by one dog and to use social media to make a difference.
These were the big names of some of the speakers, there were other speakers teaching how to use Periscope, SEO and more.
I did my first Periscope with Trista Polo from According to Bella after welcoming her to BarkWorld as it was her first time there and explaining some of the things to expect and look forward to.
Then I got a chance to be interviewed by Lisa Illman. I was petrified, but the chance to talk about my passion helped ease my nervousness, a little bit.
I was lucky enough to speak with Isabella Maso the owner of Isabella’s Pet Shop. She’s 10 and making bowties and flowers to help benefit shelter pets. I couldn’t resist them and picked up two for the furry children.
I spoke to the owner of SleekEz, Kuddly.co, Tomlyn, Vetericyn, PetPages, Smitten, Paintapic.com, Lindsi Jones of Lindsi Jones Photography who volunteers at a cat rescue not too far from my hometown, I met bloggers who were just starting, pet sitters, artists, etc.
BarkWorld was a wonderful experience and they have already announced the dates for next years – October 13-15th at the Loews in Atlanta, GA.
So if you get a chance to go, if you have an Instagram, Periscope, Facebook, blog, Etsy page, a pet related business or blog, go.
It is a whirlwind of information, but you will make friends with the 4-legged and 2-legged alike.
I will be doing reviews, interviews and trying my hand at periscoping.. I did download the app and I apologize in advance as I’m not a fan of being in front of the camera, but rather behind it.