Friday, July 1, 2016

Blog Paws 2016

 by Christine Michaels, President of Riverfront Cats

Christine arrives in Arizona and sees her orange crush from last year--Russell!
(Please don't tell Waffles)

BlogPaws 2016 kicked up furballs, desert dust, and a dandy good time.

If you're a first time visitor to our blog, Blog Paws is the leading social media conference for online pet bloggers. Whether you write about your pet in his/her voice, your voice, or about pets in general or as a vet or vet technician or for an animal welfare group, any pet blogger of any genre is welcome to participate to learn how to improve blogging efforts and build valuable connections.

There's so much to cover, that I'll share some of my favorite highlights.  [Read more on our main blog Pawsitively Humane--To Be Posted Soon].  Also we included links at the end of this blog post to view ALL the photos from the conference taken by conference photographer.

Held in Chandler, Arizona (south of Phoenix), this year Blog Paws  was mostly a time for reflection for me. Built on an Indian reservation twelve years ago, the serenity and the amenities of the Sheraton Wild Horse Resort  provided the ultimate escape from the daily rigors of caring for community cats and guiding residents in their efforts to help homeless cats. While I went from humid heat of Miami to desert heat of outer Phoenix, it was still a welcoming break. I enjoyed every minute of the weather and the conference.

Hotel exterior
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )

Even the hotel lobby with ethereal/spiritual images on circular drop ceiling, boded a sense of tranquility and peace.

Hotel lobby
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )

Deb Barnes and I ready for our spa treatments

Organizers think of everything from the type of seminars, to a dog park and indoor dog sitting room, to the guest speakers, to author book signings, fun activities like Yappy Hour, Meow Hour, and Arts & Crafts DIY pawties. There is never a dull moment.

Pet Daycare (Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )

 Once the conference begins, it's nonstop action! BlogPaws recognizes the dedication and effort of pet bloggers and ensures every one feels welcome and special
Christine Michaels, step-and-repeat at the BlogPaws 2016 kickoff

As a seasoned attendee, the main benefit of BlogPaws was the networking and seeing online friends in person and of course all the pets- dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, ferret, rat, pigs...

These furry attendees are obviously used to posing. Too cute!

And every year there is that one pet, dog and cat, that steals the spotlight and captures your heart.  This BlogPaws it was Samson, the long-haired, 12 week old orange kitten.  I so love orange cats. My first cat is orange, Jean Pierre, he's now 15.

Everyone wanted to hold Samson, and his owner and Samson kindly let me.

rescue cats orange cats Blog Paws
Christine Michaels holds Samson

Orange kitties are the sweetest and smartest.
Samson gets cozy.

rescue kitten orange cats Jenny Lewis Pixel Blue Eyes
Jenny Lewis from Pixel Blue Eyes blog

Pets are welcome anywhere from the seminars to the dining room. All the pets are well behaved and well traveled and accustomed to new scenes and interacting with humans and other pets.

This dog belonging to person next to me,  jumped and nestled on my lap. Love it!

The next highlight is connecting with online friends and fellow pet bloggers. Deb Barnes lives in South Florida, yet we see each other more at yearly conferences. Cat ladies never rest at home.

cat lady bloggers BlogPaws2016
Cat bloggers in cat ears, Christine Michaels and Deb Barnes
Hard work pays off. After consistent efforts in blogging, following the tips, techniques and trade of the best bloggers, a great feeling is the recognition by industry experts in both the social media and your knowledge of the content.  At BlogPaws 2016 I had the opportunity to attend two award ceremonies.  Friday night was the Cat Writer's Association. If you enjoy writing about cats, offline or online, then you must consider joining CWA!  I never realized how many categories and genres there were for cat writers. Visit their website for more information!

Cat Writers Association Awards Banquet
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)

Christine Michaels CWA Cat Writers Association award ceremony
So honored to keep Summer company while her mom, Janiss Garza,
has a chance to get dinner and relax.

Congratulations to Janiss for her CWA Award and to Deb Barnes for recognition for her enlightening article on feral cats!!

Deb Barnes CWA feral cats Dusty Rainbolt
Deb Barnes accepting her medallion at CWA banquet
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)


 The final night is the culmination of excitement and hard work, the Nose to Nose BlogPaws awards dinner and ceremony. This is a celebration of the best of the best. All attendees are invited to walk the red carpet with their pet on their way to the happy hour, dinner and ceremony.

Kitten and two chihuahuas walk the red carpet with owner
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)
Carol Bryant and her dog on the red carpet
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)

Then the finalists of the awards are asked to walk at the end. I was honored to be nominated for Best Cause blog for Riverfront Cats.

Christine Michels red carpet BlogPaws social media awards
Award finalists walk down red carpet

Papparazzi Christine Michaels red carpet social media
(I could get used to this)

Christine Michaels cameras red carpet cat blogger
My fellow nominee (Christina) and  Bernard (BlogPaws staff), me

 Of course none of this would be possible without the Founders, the incredible BlogPaws staff and the sponsors. Special shout out to Purina, Natural Balance and Nature's Recipe for their support. It was truly a fabulous event!

Founder Yvonne Divita, Michael Massey (President of Pet Smart), Chloe Divita and founder Tom Collins

Summer hiding from Paparrazi
 (Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )
This post does not even begin to cover the magnitude and energy of the conference, from the check in, the  social events for mingling, cocktailing and networking, the seminars, meal time, guest speakers, and pet events. I encourage you to click on the links below to view photos from the official BlogPaws Facebook page. 

To view photos of the conference on Facebook:
Day One of the Conference
Day Two of the Conference
Day Three of the Conference

Next year's conference will take place in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Visit BlogPaws page for more information!

*Note: No nonprofit funds were used for this conference.
Most Photos: Courtesy of BlogPaws; Photographer