What It Means To Be A BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Finalist

June 21, 2016

‘Did you pop some champagne?’ My friend Sam asks when I tell her the fab news:

Bodie On The Road has been named as a Best New Pet Blog Finalist for the BlogPaws 2016 Nose-to-Nose Awards!*

‘Er, no…’ I told her.

‘Well how did you celebrate?’

‘I went in search of a dog toy to match the color scheme of the BlogPaws Badge.’

‘You’ve got it bad.’

‘I have. And I love it!’

Despite working as a writer for over 25 years (mostly cheeky women’s magazines and dream destination rom-com novels), blogging has been a revelation to me. No need for a commission or permission – you just write what you want, when you want and press publish! It’s such an addictive process I find I’d now rather be cropping and sizing photos than watching TV and don’t get me started on the joy of creating headers on Canva – when the stars align and the image and font and colors are in harmony I feel like three cherries have lined up on the slot machine and everything starts pinging and blinging around me!

Of course in a world of soaraway internet successes it can seem as if you’re just tinkering around for your own entertainment (and perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that!) But every now and again something happens to give you an affirming boost – a dog-friendly hotel asking if they can use one of your pics/a comment from someone you’re not related to… but this particular announcement got me all in a twirl because, even before Bodie on the Road became a clickable entity, I had been harboring a heartfelt wish: to be nominated for a BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Award…

If you bite me, do I not squeak?

If you bite me, do I not squeak?

The official definition of BlogPaws is “a global community of pet enthusiasts who write about and support pets via social media. They connect brands with pet parents and pet parents with each other 24/7.” I loved the sound of that and booked my first BlogPaws conference ticket in 2013 when I was living in Virginia and the venue was a mere 3 hour drive away. But then I had a flurry of self-doubt and decided that I wasn’t prepared enough to attend – I had the dog but not the blog! I should wait a year. (Crazytalk I now realize, it’s equally well-suited to newbies as old pros!)

Come 2014 I had little more than a domain name and a longing to share a bazillion pics and tips from cross-country road trips with Bodie, but I thought it might be the motivation I needed to take the next steps. Oh ho ho, did it ever! Not to mention the great joy finding my tribe! Before I arrived my personal life had me all emotionally squished but suddenly there I was surrounded by all these lovely big-hearted pet people and I felt so safe and happy! There’s nothing like animal love for bringing out the best in folks and here you had the best of all worlds – the people, the pets, a stunning Vegas venue…

bodie-header-dog-friendly-westin-lake-las-vegas

While I was in the educational workshops Bodie got to play with professional dog handlers and other blogger-dogs in a shady outdoor area. In my breaks I’d go out and delight at his grinning, panting face. He was such a ham one blogger compared him to a Vegas lounge singer – he approached every passer by, leaning in to the fencing and (in her mind) crooning, ‘This one is for you!’

Then came the grand finale – The Nose-to-Nose Awards are like the Oscars of the Pet Blogging Industry, complete with red carpet ceremony and dinner in a glittering ballroom. I was sitting next to my new pal, the hilarious and savvy Susan Willett from Life with Dogs And Cats, pictured here with stand-ins for her beloved crew:

susan-willett-life-with-dogs-and-cats

Susan was up for Best Pet Blog Post and when her name was called I felt such a rush of pride and elation for her. I remember looking around me at all these people on a mission to improve the lives of pets the world over and thought, one day I’d like to be up there – raising the etched glass trophy, not just for the honor of winning but to feel like I was part of this marvelous community.

Fast forward to BlogPaws 2015. My blog finally went live a matter of hours before I touched down in Nashville. I had another great affirming, illuminating conference and then spent the year writing posts on everything from how to pack the dog suitcase to dog-friendly shopping in Santa Fe. Then in May 2016 I got the email from Yvonne DiVita at BlogPaws – Congratulations on being named a 2016 Finalist!

bodie-blogpaws-2016-certificate-best-new-pet-blog

My heart went into free fall and tears streamed down my face. As Oprah says the greatest human need is to feel seen and heard – to know that what you say matters. I felt all those things and more. It was strange, I had been lucky enough to experience a nomination tingle before – a whopping 20 years ago I was nominated as Magazine Columnist of the Year for my Celebrity Date interviews with the likes of Patrick Dempsey and Hulk Hogan (!) and then my Canadian novel Winter Wonderland (which has a dog-sledding hero with Husky-esque bicolored eyes!) was nominated in the Best Romantic Comedy Novel category by the Romantic Novelists Association. This was my 10th novel so it felt like quite a milestone! But I had never reacted like this before – weak at the knees, reeling with overwhelm and gratitude…

I wonder if this BlogPaws award feels all the more significant because it is so intrinsically tied to Bodie, the great love of my life.

Since immersing myself in pet world I’ve met so many people whose careers who have taken a markedly different (and uplifting!) turn because of their animal. I chatted with a woman in Paris who opened a dog salon and boutique inspired by her teacup Yorkie, a Brit whose world now revolves around making canine bow ties and a third devoting every penny and waking moment to rescuing dogs in North Africa (shout out to Michaela at RANA). For me my aha moment came during last year’s BlogPaws conference – I was attending the How to get Noticed by Media that Matters session with bright and bubbly TV vet Dr Katy Nelson and she asked me ‘What is your greatest ambition, your reach for the moon dream?’ I was a stars-in-her-eyes child, always fantasizing about fame and far-away lands but on this day I heard myself say, ‘I just want to write about my dog.’

I can say – with a little toe-scrunch of excitement – that being nominated for this BlogPaws 2016 Best New Pet Blog award makes me feel like Bodie and I are padding a paw print closer to that dream!

BLOGPAWS 2016 BEST NEW PET BLOG FINALISTS:

Good luck to everyone and all the nominees in all the other categories!

A DOG WALKS INTO A BAR

BODIE ON THE ROAD

LITTLE DOG TIPS

THREE CHATTY CATS

Though Bodie and I sadly can’t be in Phoenix for the BlogPaws 2016 Nose-to-Nose Awards we will be watching the live stream on YouTube.com on Saturday June 25th 2016. Some of us are already in position. (And looking decidedly in suspense…)

 bodie-blogpaws-awards

4 comments

  1. Comment by Rachel

    Rachel June 23, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    What an awesome post! I wish you could’ve made it to BlogPaws. But hopefully our paths will cross in the future. Hugs to you and Bodie!

    • Comment by Belinda

      Belinda June 24, 2016 at 7:42 am

      Ahhh! Thank you Rachel! Just having you tap from Phoenix is the next best thing and don’t forget to keep a paperclip for me!!

  2. Comment by Sonja

    Sonja July 29, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Huge congrats! you should totally do champagne! :)

    • Comment by Belinda

      Belinda August 1, 2016 at 7:40 am

      I think I could learn a think or two from your celebrations! I thought your BlogPaws 2016 Nose-to-Nose Awards party was superb – and such yummy nibbles!!

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