Thursday, January 12, 2012

31 DBBB Tasks 18, 19, 20, 21 & 22 (I was in a holiday schlump)

Task 18 - Create a Sneeze Post
To create a page that propels people in different directions deep within your blog by highlighting a variety of posts that you’ve previously written.

Welcome to my blog!
Post 2 - Goals of the blog, things have changed
Experiencing Medical Cat Trama
Who is my blog?
My first cat toy review
My first giveaway
An Interview with Jackson Galaxy! Wowza!

Task 19 - Write an Opinion Post
My first blogger challenge post! - Not really an opinion post that they are asking for, but it's not on my schedule! This does have my opinion about my blog.

Task 20 - Leave comments on other blogs
Not a task I need to do!  I do this all the time!

Task 21 - Breathe Life into an Old Post
Here I'm going to refer back to my first blogger challenge post. It was the second year of the challenge, but only the first year I posted. But it touched back on what my blog is about and how it got started - so I did this task without knowing it!

Task 22 - Pay Special Attention to a reader
I love my readers!

YOU ARE THE BEST!

If you don't know me, I would love if you would drop me a comment or an email (rachel.shubin@gmail.com) and let me know what you think of my blog, and how you came across it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Second Annual Pet Blogger Challenge - my first go round

Go Pet Friendly is having their second annual Pet Blogger Challenge today, January 10, 2012! I did not participate last year as I had not started my blog yet, so this is my first go round!

Go Pet Friendly is a website to help assist pet owners in pet travel, dining at restaurants, and leisure activities in the United States and Canada.

1. When did you begin your blog? I began my blog in March 2011, to chronicle the fostering process of my pregnant cat Sandpiper.
2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog? My original purpose in starting this blog was to tell Piper's story and possibly find someone who would be intersted in adopting her kittens after they were born.
3. Is your current purpose the same? No
If not, what’s different?My purpose is not the same, because Piper lost her kittens the first night she was in foster with me. Instead, I use this blog to first dicuss Piper's tradgedy and continue telling her story, and now I use my blog to feature anything cat related.
If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals? I feel like I started at square one with my blog, with just friends and family reading. Now, I have many professional blogs following my blog and giving me creative comments and feedback.
4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you? I try to blog on schedule, at the very least once a week.
If the former, how often — and what techniques do you use to stick to it? As it turns out, I try to blog when I am not busy with school. Sometimes I blog for a break from my school work.
If the latter, do you worry about… well, whatever you might worry about (e.g. losing traffic, losing momentum)? I worry about maintaing my readers, but I think for the most part I have faithful readers!
5. Are you generating income from your blog? I have not used my blog to make an income.
If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how? I enjoy my blog and love to use it as a creative outlet. If an opportunity to make money came up, I would look into it, but for now I am happy to write for myself.
6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)? What I love the most about blogging is the friendships I have made with fellow bloggers. I have had so many wonderful experiences with my blog. I have giveaways that I wouldn't have been able to do if my blog hadn't been taken as a professional blog.
7. What do you like least? What I like least is that sometimes I don't have inspiration to write, when I really need to post and when I actually have something to post, I'm in the middle of something.
8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012? I see my blog getting more fans and attentuion from professionals who want me to review and/or giveaway their products.

I really enjoyed answering these questions and writing answers. I love my blog and work hard on it to make it the best it can be. I can't wait to participate in this challenge next year!

-Rachel and Sandpiper



Friday, January 6, 2012

Cats have nine lives, but humans only have one: An interview with Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell

Sometimes I forget that I’m only eighteen. I do some pretty overzealous things for an eighteen-year-old. I started my own personal blog, wrote two articles for a newspaper in Cape May, NJ, attended BlogPaws by myself, started a blog for the Fairfax Patch online newspaper, and traveled to New York alone to attend the CWA conference. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.

Image from Jackson Galaxy.

 Today’s post I am here to share an intriguing man’s story. This man is the humble Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell. I never dreamed that I would be waiting at the kitchen table, laptop ready to go and cup of water near-by, to interview a Hollywood television star.  As soon as the phone rang, I was eager to answer and begin the interview. Of course, the moment I answered, the phone died.

About ten minutes later…I was on the phone with Jackson Galaxy.
Rachel: What’s the best piece you ever got about your job?
Jackson:” It is funny because I didn’t have any role models really, it’s not like we have a community, you know what I mean? I was kind of working in a vacuum.”
He paused here to chuckle and tells me that this was an interesting question.
 “You know what’s interesting is the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten about being a cat behaviorist I got about acting from an acting teacher. He said, ‘Don’t even think that you know people. Remember to be a student of the given conditions.’”
Jackson continues to tell me that thinking we know cats, is a trap we can fall into.
“To think that we know them all and that all cats will do this when this happens, that falls under the categories that you don’t know cats. They will surprise you, humble you and shock you,” Jackson said.
This part of our conversation struck me. It really is true, we assume all cats will act a certain way in a situation and they might do a complete 180 degree opposite.
Rachel: You worked at the Humane Society of Bolder Valley, Colorado for years before starting your business. What kind of behavior did you see in the shelter animals that motivated you to start your own business?
Jackson: “[With] a cat in the shelter environment, you’re stripping them of everything that makes them a cat. Territory - they mark a little chunk of the world and that’s gone the next morning. There is no environmental enrichment in cages. You are trying to keep them from going crazy. And get them adopted.
Sully went from cowering in his litter box, to out on his new cat perch. Image from Valerie Allen.
The behavior I was fighting was fear, shut down and sort of being. The thing is that it was a terrible irony, people wanting to see them act like cats and in this environment no one was getting to see them act like cats.”
I completely agree with Jackson on this point. Being a volunteer for a rescue, if a cat is cowering in their litter box at the back of the cage, they’re completely less likely to get adopted than a cute kitten playing with a toy. I mentioned this to Jackson and he said that it was exactly his point.
“My work in the trenches was very much about the necessity being the mother of the invention. That informs the work I do today. I bristle at the thought of getting a cat to pee in the toilet; I want to keep to their nature,” he said.
Rachel: On your show, you seem to deal with people’s interactions with cats, and retrain the people more than the cats. Have you ever dealt with situations where the people weren’t the problem but it was cat versus cat?
Jackson: “I use positive association and reintroduce them together to get the cats back on the same page, if they ever were in the first place. And then it’s about getting them to recognize each other’s play language, communication language.”
My point in asking this question was to help me better understand the issue my cats Brooke and Sabrina have getting along.
“Cats don’t necessarily own the same communications skills. Dogs for the most part have the very set part of their nature are to have the playtime and bear teeth. But cats because they have such a small window of socialization by the time they’re 9 weeks old they have learned all their cues. It’s basically teaching two beings from another county to teach each other their language and do it peacefully.
Rachel: What is your typical work day? How do you prepare for filming?
Jackson: “There is not a lot of preparing I do. I don’t like to go in with a set game plan. I go in with a general knowledge of the people and personalities of the cat I’m dealing with.  I like thinking on my feet [because] I get to think of new techniques and keep it really fresh and not do something out of habit.
Once I’m on set or in the house I couldn’t even tell you what happens for the next 10-11 hours. I am just moving. I try not to get too buried in the process, but also get cats to come out and demonstrate something in the presence in front of people, which is not easy! It is less preparation and more thinking on your feet.
When Jackson is not filming he does one to two private consults a day – one in person and one by Skype.
“Over the past year and a half if I’m not doing [consults], I’m working on the book which finally is pretty much done and other than that I try to find time to spend time with my own cats and dog.”
Rachel: That’s right! You have a book coming out May 10, Cat Daddy: My Life with the Original cat from Hell (pre-order on Amazon here). What was the motivating factor to write this book?
Jackson: “Basically the cat in the book, Benny was dying and our time together was ending. I was just struck by how his presence in my life guided my knowledge about cats and the work I do with them and the techniques I have worked on and the theories that I have used.
And in our time together he also was there to witness and help turn me around. I just told him at that point that I just wanted to honor him and would write about him. It’s our story about our life together and how the techniques became shaped by my life with him. It’s a memoir but there are a bunch of tips and how to’s with things inspired by him.”
For those who have not seen My Cat From Hell, Jackson carries all of his cat consult equipment in his guitar case, in lieu of a guitar (though he is a musician!)

Image from Animal Planet.

Rachel: Besides cats, your other hobby is music. Tell me about that.
Jackson: “Well I have been a songwriter, singer guitar player since I was ten or eleven and it is funny because until animals became a dominant form in my life, it was the only thing I was really good at. You either get me talking about music or animals for pretty much six or seven hours straight, I won’t stop. As time has gone on, because of my love of art and animals it has expanded my ability as more of a spiritual being and experience life in a much deeper way.
When you learn how to do something at a young age you learn how to express yourself in one way, it becomes a part of your fabric.  It’s definitely my other passion and I’m excited to get back to it, the show has put my music on hold for a bit. “
I told Jackson that I completely agree, writing is my passion and it truly is the best way for me to express myself.
Our interview nearing the close, I asked one of my last questions about the Spirit Essences that Jackson promotes using. We personally use Bully Remedy, Obsession and Peace Maker.
Rachel:  You are the owner and president of Spirit Essences; can you explain how they work?
Jackson: “No!” he told me. We both chuckled for a few minutes before he finished his answer.

Image from Jackson Galaxy.

“Flower essences are a 100 year old modality. Basically the woo-wooey version is from the box rescue remedy and remedies like that.  There are 38 different types of flowers that have an energetic figure. It’s a gentle modality. [It’s the] opposite of western meds which are the remedial of a sledge-hammer.
[Spirit Essences] are part of every consult I do. It gets people thinking in a different way. Everything is not solved with a pill or a shot. You have to work for results.”
Voila! The end! Jackson and I talked for a few minutes before saying good bye. His answers had blown me away. Jackson is so down to Earth and easy to talk to. I could tell how passionate he is about his work with cats.
If this interview isn’t indicative of Jackson’s amazing talents, tune in to My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet at 8 pm EST January 7, 2012!



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tabby Cats and the M's on their Foreheads

My cat May is what is referred to as a "torbie" - a patched tabby that is a combination of a tortoiseshell and calico. Photo (C) Rachel Shubin 2012.

I think that at some point or another, most people have either had or come across a tabby cat. The typical brown, striped or spotted cat might even be the most common type of cat people think of when they talk about cats.
Something that not all people know about, is the tabby "M". As cats.about.com says:
"Probably the most distinctive feature seen in common on all tabby cats is the "M" on their foreheads. You will also see this M on many of the big jungle cats, such as tigers, cheetahs and ocelots."

Living in my own little cat knowledge world, it didn't occur to me that my friend Yousif would not realize that tabbies' having "M"'s on their foreheads is not an unusual thing. His comment on his Facebook picture of his new kitty housemate Majin Buu, was "Look at his forehead! There is an M!!"

My friend Yousif's new housemate, Majin Buu. Photo by Yousif Al-Amin.
 So it is not surprising to see that tabby cats' foreheads have an "M" on them. It's that distinguishing factor that makes tabbies unique!










Tabby "M" Source: http://cats.about.com/cs/tabbycats/a/tabby_cats_2.htm