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Happy Anniversary to Keep the Tail Wagging. Nine years ago today, I joined the dog lover community by launching a blog with the goal of writing about raising littermates (we had two young dogs – Rodrigo and Sydney). Looking back, I can't help but laugh at my arrogance. I knew nothing about raising littermates, not really. And I knew less than nothing about dog training and behavior. But that didn't stop me from launching a blog. And it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Over the past nine years Keep the Tail Wagging has gone through many design changes and my focus has narrowed and expanded. I expect that this will always be the case because, as a dog mom, my focus narrows and expands depending on what I'm learning.

What the Dog Lover Community Taught Me

I joined the dog lover community to teach people about littermates. Instead, I quickly became the student and this amazing community has taught me a lot about dogs and about my role as their human.

  1. I learned the value of a professional dog trainer.
  2. I learned about raw feeding for dogs.
  3. I learned that dog poop tells a lot about our dogs' health.
  4. I learned how to identify a reputable/responsible breeder.
  5. I learned to feed the dog in front of me.
  6. I learned how to be my dogs' advocate.
  7. I learned that dog parks aren't great place to socialize dogs.
  8. I learned how to listen to my dogs.
  9. I learned that I'm blessed to have a partner who loves our dogs.

9 Things I've Learned About the Dog Lover Community

To celebrate nine years as a pet blogger, I want to share nine things I've learned about the Dog Lover Community – the good, the bad, and ugly.

1 – You're Never Alone in the Dog Lover Community

Whether you're bringing home a new dog or saying a tearful goodbye to a dog, the dog lover community will be there for you.

This year, we lost Sydney to hemangiosarcoma and the dog community circled their wagons and provided support in so many ways. From educating me about cancer, crying with me when I was trying to decide what to do next, and sharing their stories. Although I wasn't able to save Sydney, I was able to take everything that I learned through Sydney to help Rodrigo (her brother). He's almost 11 years old, active, happy, and healthy and I plan to keep it that way.

2 – No One Likes to Get Dirty

While some pet parents circle the wagons, others will vanish when trouble hits. One thing I've learned is that if I screw up or attract negative press, I cannot expect everyone to have my back. It may seem like we're friends, but there is a difference between “friends” and “Facebook friends.” Not everyone is ride or die and that's okay. We all have to set boundaries that work for us. But if you plan on rocking the boat, don't be surprised if people in your circle grab a lifejacket and bail.

3 – Everyone is an Expert in Everything, Including YOUR Dogs

As a blogger, I get emails daily from people who tell me who my audience is and what my dogs need and it cracks me up. I get that these are just standard emails that go out to anyone, but I will not work with a brand that thinks they know more about my dogs than I do. I've seen this hubris on social media too – people will diagnose my dogs and prescribe a diet, supplements, and even medication. I've had people tell me that I'm an idiot for the way I feed and raise my dogs because, of course, they know better. I've learned to find humor when I stumble into this conversations.

4 – Passion Can Turn Ugly in Under a Minute

Whenever I witness a social media meltdown or pile on, I wonder what could possibly make people want to morph into playground bullies and attack a stranger. I came to the conclusion that it's because we're passionate about dogs. I think that's the beginning of the drama we witness when all hell breaks loose. Not an excuse, just the beginning.

Admit that you use a harness, training collar, or muzzle with your dog and you're suddenly okay with animal abuse. Adopt a cross breed dog and you're suddenly supporting puppy mills. And so on. An opportunity to share information is quickly buried beneath nasty comments, trolling DMs, and doxxing (publishinging a person's private information, i.e. phone number, address, etc., for the purpose of encouraging harassment and trolling).

5 – It's Okay to be Racist if You're Doing it for the Dogs

I always thought that as a community of animal lovers, we could easily rise above the ugliness of racism. I was wrong. As a black woman, I have experienced my fair share of racism and that includes my time in the dog lover community. The racism usually comes in the form of passive insults and when you call the person out, they deny deny deny, but we all know what they were getting at. What I often experience is in a passionate discussion, a group of white people (because people can rarely do this on their own) will attack my character incessantly, but never respond to any white person who shares my view point. No, it's not because I'm being an a-hole, it's because they're being an a-racist. The thing that sucks about the dog lover community is that so many people will see this behavior and stay silent, continuing to be friendly/friends with these people despite how they treat me and other black people in our community.

Y'all, we see you.

6 – For Some, It's Not About the Dogs

A dear friend of mine once told me that when we start saying our name and talking about our feelings more than we talk about the dogs, then we need to stop and think about why we're here (in the pet industry). Whenever I get all up in my feelings, get offended by the bullsh&% that strangers send my way, and want to quit blogging – I know that I'm thinking more about me than the dogs I claim to want to help. This is a great test on where my priorities currently lie and it helps keep me on track.

But not everyone is here for the dogs and THAT'S OKAY. Some are here for the celebrity, some are here for the money, some are here for both. What immediately comes to mind are the many brands that put out false warnings about feeding fresh food while dogs are dying from eating their food.

7 – We Are Fighting Over the Big Piece of Chicken

I'm coming up on eight years of raw feeding and it blows me away that there are people who have never heard of raw feeding, are shocked by the concept, and are open to learn more. What surprises me even more is when I meet people who aren't part of the pet industry or the raw feeding community, but they feed fresh food because “it just makes sense.”

There is a lot of competition in the fresh food community as more and more people start blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, Facebook groups, and meal formulation businesses. All of a sudden, someone who has fed raw for a few years and took a few fake certification courses has become an expert in animal nutrition. Other than the “fake certification courses,” seeing the number of voices sharing their experience as raw feeders is fantastic. This is helpful to so many pet parents. BUT and, yeah, there's a “but,” all of these content creators are competing for the same slice of pie.

I'm not sure who first stated that 5% of pet parents feed fresh food, but that's what we've been going by for years. I think the percentage has increased, but the point is that there is a HUGE portion of pet parents who don't feed fresh food. Instead of trying to get their attention and share information with them, sometimes we are fighting over the big piece of chicken. I see this with people talking sh&% about each other, people posting passive aggressive comments, and the occasional pile on as people attack their competition.

8 – People Will Sue Your Pants Off

Years ago, I learned that some pet bloggers refuse to post negative reviews. I never understood why because, in my opinion, I appreciate honest reviews – positive and negative – because they help me make a better choice. Just because someone's review is negative doesn't mean I won't purchase a product. What someone sees as a negative may not be a big deal to someone else.

Years later, after threats of being sued many times, I have learned to be careful of what I post on social media. I rarely accept free products from brands, I keep all of my reviews well balanced, and I keep my true feelings about certain people and brands to myself because people will sue you to shut you up. I don't have the funds to fight a frivolous lawsuit that lasts for months or years.

9 – As Crazy As You Are, there is Someone Crazier

I used to be embarrassed by how I felt about my dogs. People who aren't into animals (or dogs) will make statements to diminish the love we share for our dogs. I've been told that if I had kids, I wouldn't be so obsessive about my dogs. I disagree. I think I'd be obsessive about my kids and my dogs. I started this blog to give myself a place to journal about dogs and my love of dogs and what I discovered is that I'm not alone. There are thousands of people out there who are just as crazy, some even crazier, about their dogs.

I Found My People!!!

I went from feeling ashamed to waving my Crazy Dog Mom flag wherever I go because I'm marching alongside my sisters and brothers in derangement.

Happy Anniversary to Keep the Tail Wagging

Nine years of blogging, nine years of dogs, nine years of frustration, tears, happiness, celebration, collaboration, friendship, and community. Good and bad, I love being a member of the dog lover community. I may not love everyone and everyone definitely doesn't love me – but that's not why we're here. We found each other because we have a mutual respect for loving our dogs.

While some people see snow in the forecast as possible school closures, we see it as a heads up to go clean up the yard so that there's less clean up after the snow melts.

While some people are stocking up on Yankee candles for the holidays, we're diffusing quality essential oils and Pet House candles because they're safe for pets.

When someone asks “what model do you follow,” we know they're talking about diet or training, not Victoria's Secret or America's Next Top Model.

And when someone tries to sell us a rare breed for $2,000, we understand that the dog, that is actually a mix of four breeds, is a mutt and we offer a reasonable adoption fee – to a local rescue.

There are times when we fight, we're not all friends, and we have a lot to learn from the furry creatures who share our pillows. But each one of us will happily go ten rounds with someone who is a threat to our dog (or even a stranger's dog). So watch your back.

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