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December 24, is my blogging anniversary. 8 years ago today I published my first blog post about raising littermates and the rest is history. Blogging professionally isn't easy, but it's fun. I've learned so much over the past 8 years and today, I celebrate! If you follow Keep the Tail Wagging, what do you like the best about my blog? What would you like to see in 2020?

Eight years ago today, I published my first blog post on a new blog called Keep the Tail Wagging. My goal was to turn this blog into my full-time business and I spun in circles for years until I finally figured out how to make online marketing work and now Keep the Tail Wagging is a business. I have a trademark, I pay taxes, and I have a payroll (one person – me).

Read So You Want to be a Pet Blogger

8 Lessons Learned in 2019

Once I realized that I'm here to learn and not teach, my blogging took on an entirely new energy that I enjoyed. I will admit that it feels good to have strangers know me, want to talk to me, and buy my books, but that's not why I'm here. I'm here to learn how to raise healthier pets and share what I learn to others. And, with that in mind, here are eight things I learned this year.

People are stressing so much about balancing their dogs food and I think the stress is unwarranted.

1 – When it Comes to Raw Feeding, Balance is Bullshit

Okay, so I've known this for a while, but saying it and believing it are two different things. For the past year or so, I've been delving deep into the idea of balancing a raw food diet and every time I thought I figured one thing out, I came up with more questions. The main ones being, “balance according to whom?”

I'm not saying that you're wrong if you want to seek balance when feeding your dog a raw food diet. I'm saying that the stress pet parents are experiencing right now (some people are crying about this) is unnecessary. Feeding our dogs a raw food diet isn't rocket science.

Read “Balance” Is the Elephant in Raw Feeding Groups

Having 5 dogs means that I've had to become creative to keep them on a raw food diet without breaking the bank.

2 – To Save Money, Sacrifices Must Be Made

This year, I made a goal to get my raw feeding budget down to $200/month. I was working my way there, but couldn't quite get there consistently, until we added a fifth dog to our family and I was forced to take a hard look at my budget.

My goal shifted to $300/month and I'm doing a great job. The trick, for me, was to stop buying proteins that cost more than $3/pound. With a dog that has issues with the basic proteins (chicken, turkey, and beef), I have had to make some concessions. For him, I also feed rabbit, emu, elk, wild boar, and venison. All of these cost more than $3/pound and I stock up on them when I get unexpected money.

It's all about my dogs. So what if I have to make one meal for four dogs and another for Rodrigo. Yeah, it's extra work, but the money I'm saving makes it worth the extra time I'm taking.

Read 30 Ways to Save Money on Raw Dog Food

A fifth dog joined our family in 2019. Apollo is a Goberian, a Siberian Husky / Golden Retriever mix. This sparked an intense discussion on my Facebook page.

3 – Cross Breeding Dogs is a HOT TOPIC!

When we added Apollo to our family, I posted an announcement on my Facebook page. What happened that day shocked the hell out of me and by the end of the day, I had banned at least 10 people and unfriended and blocked one. People had issues with Apollo's breed (Siberian Husky / Golden Retriever mix). When I was trying to learn more about this cross (I had never heard of it before) I found that it's called a Goberian, which cracked me up. But sharing that was a mistake, because people accused me of supporting puppy mills.

It was a shit show.

But, of course, I'm here to learn and when I was able to shut down the drama, I turned my focus to learning why people have an issue with cross breeds. Some people are just plain bigots and believe that their special pure bred dog shouldn't have to breath the same air as cross breed dogs and mutts. One of the loudest critics has a pure bred that started as a cross between two dogs, which I enjoyed pointing out.

When it comes down to it, to me, a dog is a dog and we were in a position to help someone out and accept their puppy into our family instead of seeing the dog end up in a shelter or going from home to home (because he's been a challenge). The breed politics don't interest me.

Read Are Goldendoodle Owners Hapless Idiots?

Are Fish Skin Treats Safe for Dogs? Rodney Habib was a speaker on a Dogs Naturally Raw Round Up a few years ago and he brought to mind that fish skin treats may not be the safest to feed our dogs because toxins are stored in the fat and skin.
Image 1: DepositPhoto/mvaligurskey; Image 2: TheHonestKitchen.com

4 – Beams by The Honest Kitchen Have Zero Competition

So, over the past year, I've distanced myself from The Honest Kitchen. I used to be their Number 1 fan (or one of them) until a strange email exchange where they requested a phone call to discuss one of my blog posts. As a blogger, I didn't feel comfortable with the conversation, I felt like I was being called to the principal's office. As a customer and fan, I was livid. Looking back, I probably over reacted – I wasn't THAT offended – but the offer of a coupon when my readers purchased their food was a bit strange to me because I wondered if they paid their staff, publicists, attorneys, and accountants in coupons.

It's sucks when brands don't value bloggers. Not saying that The Honest Kitchen doesn't value bloggers. My point is that many brands don't see us as business people. They see us as pet parents who will do anything in exchange for a bag of treats or a $5 coupon. I can't pay my mortgage with dog treats. It would be convenient if I could, but I can't.

Anyway, I decided to stop buying The Honest Kitchen products but DAMMIT my dogs LOVE their Beams and they do so well on them so I'm stuck buying cases of those damn fish skin treats.

You win THIS round, The Honest Kitchen.

Read Are The Honest Kitchen Beams Fish Skin Treats Safe for Dogs

Mourning the Ending of a Friendship - a blog post on my new blog Dog Mom Style that delves into what I learned after being dumped by a good friend.

5 – Not All of My Friends are My Friends

This has been a recurring lesson throughout my career as a blogger and recently, I began going through my friend list on Facebook and unfriending people that I never interact with either online or in real life. I've been hesitant to do this in the past because I abhor confrontation and I've had people catch me online or at events to ask why I unfriended them. I'll say “we never interact,” to which they respond “I always love seeing your posts.”

LIARS!!!

The Facebook algorithm adjusts our news feed based on what we like and interact with. So if they aren't interacting with my posts, then they're not seeing them. If our only comments back and forth are to wish each other a happy birthday because Facebook sent a reminder, then why are we connected? I want to have real connections. No, I can't know all the details of all 1,000+ of my Facebook friends, but I want to at least recognize a name and profile picture.

Read Mourning the Ending of a Friendship on Dog Mom Style

6 – Everyone Judges Everyone, Even Me

I spent years trying to convince everyone to “get along,” and this year I realized that I was being a hypocrite. What I really was trying to say is that I want everyone to like me, I want trolls to go away, and I want to win this silly popularity contest. And then, one day I realized that we will always judge each other, harshly at times. And sometimes those judgments are warranted.

How did I come to this epiphany?

Earlier this year, I got involved in a discussion to defend a friend. I was stunned at how aggressive people where being as they publicly attacked my friend. The things they were saying about him were awful. Well, that friend dumped me a few months later and since then, I've said some of the same awful things about him.

I judged him harshly and I stand behind many of the things that I had to say. But the point of me sharing this is to say that we're human and we're not always going to connect and like each other just because we love animals and that's okay. I'm lucky, because my time as a blogger has taught me how to engage online and I have the confidence to walk away from a debate that's going no where. Not everyone has these skills. So I've learned to cut everyone a break and worry about my own shit.

My boyfriend thinks there's bacteria everywhere because we feed our dogs raw food! Yeah, I was surprised by this confession too!
The accumulation of bacteria. Vector illustration. Isolated on white background

7 – My Boyfriend is Grossed Out by Raw Feeding

Okay, so he wasn't a fan when I decided that I was going to feed our dogs raw meat to cure Rodrigo's allergies, joint pain, and digestive issues, but he went along with me because we had a deal – the dogs are my domain. But today, six plus year later, he admitted that he's grossed out that I make dog food in the kitchen, that there is raw dog food in the fridge next to our food, and that he pictures bacteria everywhere.

Yeah, I was shocked too.

Because this is a partnership, instead of making him read blog posts about the safety of raw feeding, instead of giving him the “if you can cook chicken, you can feed raw” lecture, and instead of rolling my eyes (so he could see) and telling him that he was being stupid – I compromised.

This month, I purchased a fridge/freezer for the garage and because he didn't have time to clean up his garage to make room for my new appliance, I did it myself. Now the dogs' food is in a dedicated fridge and I have space to mix up raw in the garage until we can finish my She Shed this summer.

I Am A Blogger, I Love What I Do, But That Doesn't Mean I Work for Free

8 – Blogging is a Lot of Work and It Never Ends

This year, traffic to my blog dropped by more than 50%, which means that my plans to give notice at my day job on July 1, 2019 had to be canceled. I would love to blog full time, but I have to have multiple streams of income in order to support myself and the beasts when I walk away from my day job.

Because of that traffic drop, I adjusted my business hours to include learning. When I'm commuting to my day job, I'm watching videos and taking courses on all topics related to having a blogging business.

AND I LOVE IT!!!

I have learned so much and it's been a blast. I needed that reminder that learning never ends. And now I have a second blog – Dog Mom Style – and a game plan for 2020.

Dear Pet Bloggers | Open Letter to the Pet Blogger Community by Dog Nutrition Blogger Kimberly Gauthier
DepositPhoto/Solovyova

Top Blog Posts in 2019

I popped over to my Google Analytics to capture a list of the most visited blogs during 2019. These aren't necessarily blogs written in 2019.

  1. What Would Cause My Dog's Stomach to Turn Black? – 67,926
  2. 5 Raw Dog Food Mistakes I Made – 50,868
  3. What I Learned After I Hit My Dog – 37,586
  4. 5 Alternatives to Rawhide Chews – 37,275
  5. Stop Feeding Your Dog Coconut Oil – 35,923
  6. How I Cured My Dog's Yeast Infection Naturally – 30,424
  7. What to do When Your Dog Eats Chocolate Cake – 29,853
  8. How to Remove Anal Gland Scent from Your Sofa – 25,841
  9. Stop Using Dish Detergent as Dog Shampoo – 24,236
  10. How Many Times a Day Should I Feed My Dog? – 23,509

I find it interesting (and exciting) that for a blogger know for writing about raw feeding, only one of these posts is about raw feeding. This means that I have so much room to grow and explore as I delve more into dog wellness.

December 24, is my blogging anniversary. 8 years ago today I published my first blog post about raising littermates and the rest is history. Blogging professionally isn't easy, but it's fun. I've learned so much over the past 8 years and today, I celebrate! If you follow Keep the Tail Wagging, what do you like the best about my blog? What would you like to see in 2020?

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