DOGS IN CYBERSPACE: Websites for Dogs and Their People
by Deborah Schildkraut, Ph.D.
In 1997, I started a website for the greyhound adoption rescue I work with and from whom I adopted my own greyhounds. Our site was one of the first on the Internet. It has made a big difference in the numbers of successful adoptions. People have a chance to look at available dogs online before coming to the rescue. It is an effective way to communicate events and fund-raisers. It provides educational information. A website is so helpful that now, almost every animal rescue, shelter and sanctuary in existence has a website. In addition there are blogs where people can share information, photos and stories of their dogs. Video sites like YouTube have thousands of dog and other animal-related video clips. Along with these are sites specializing in dog books, dog products, dog pharmacies, dog medical information, poison control, and many more. One of the oldest and most emotional sites is The Rainbow Bridge, dedicated to memorials for pets who have died. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy when you visit the site at: https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/ There is even a site that rates cars according to how dog friendly they are! Check it out at: http://dogcars.com/
A note of caution. You will find many medical and veterinary websites, lists, chats and blogs online. Please be careful with the information and advice you find. There are no editors checking the content for accuracy at most of these sites. Please check with your veterinarian about any medications or treatments you read about online.
From time to time, dog websites will be featured in this column, especially those that are new, helpful or unusual. Lodestar Dog Ranch and Scoop are two New Mexico sites worth visiting. Lodestar is a Labrador Retriever cyber-rescue where you can learn how to start your own cyber-rescue. (Read about Lodestar on Page 7 of this edition of PETroglyphs.) Scoop is a new blog for animal lovers by Santa Fe New Mexican editor and writer Ben Swan. Read in Ben’s own words the story of how his blog came to life. Thank you, Ben, for a great site.
The Scoop on Scoop
by Ben Swan
I blame Scoop, The New Mexican’s pet page and online social network, on dog dancing.
Two years ago, I did a series of articles for Sunday magazine on learning how to “ballroom dance” with my dog Zach. It was fun (Zach’s a much better dancer than I) and it hit, well, let’s call it a dog bone — a chew toy? — with area animal lovers.
Many people felt they had a like-minded contact at the newspaper and didn’t hesitate to call or e-mail story ideas. I did my best to report on what I thought was interesting, but in the back of my mind Scoop was formulating. Why not have a page dedicated to stories on animals?
I pitched the idea to my supervisors. Eventually, Bernadette Garcia, Neighbor’s section editor, offered up the space and gave me two weeks to put it together. I was ecstatic but wondered what I got myself into.
About that time, Web editor Henry Lopez and I were talking about creating a social network Web site for Taste — a site where people could share recipes or ideas about food. We both decided Scoop would be an ideal testing ground for creating social networks based on stories generated from the print edition of the paper. We immediately got busy choosing colors for the site and deciding what format the site should take.
I made a plea to fellow animal lovers for photos of their pets so I could make the Scoop banner appealing and have a local connection. They responded. Most of the photos on the banner are of local pets, even a goat, Isaac.
On the same day that Scoop debuted in the Neighbors section of the paper, March 2, we went live online with SantaFeScoop.com. We called it a “soft” launch because we weren’t really sure what would happen.
Scoop met with a great response and why not? Scoop is a place where we -- animal lovers -- can be proud of who we are, and not have to defend our connection to companion animals. The site offers people a free place to post photos of pets ( more than 650 to date), write and read about animal issues and connect with like-minded people. It has grown into a community of its own with more than 135 lively, diverse and opinionated members. The site expands as we learn more about its capabilities. There’s a place to post videos, create discussions, learn about coming animal-related events and just simply spout off about whatever’s on anyone’s mind. It’s a fun place to visit. And we have more ideas for the site: training videos, pet paraphernalia exchange and an animal resources directory.
The print version, tucked in the Sunday Neighbors section, has been equally fun for me. Since it’s all on my own time, I get to write about whatever I think might interest fellow animal lovers. Yes, I’ve covered dog dancing, but also have tackled topics as diverse as scooping poop, rescuing horses, communicating with animals and dealing with the loss of a pet.
And no, I haven’t forgotten about cats. Those furry critters will have their day on Scoop, just give me time.
If only we could get cats to learn ballroom dancing.
Check out Scoop at: http://santafescoop.ning.com/
Deborah Schildkraut, Ph.D. is an animal behaviorist and educator. She shares her home in Cerrillos with her husband, dogs and horses.