Be The Change Challenge

By now, most of you have heard me sing the praises of the Blog Paws conference I attended last weekend in Ohio. As great as it is to be part of a thriving online community, there is no substitute for personal interaction. The energy of this committed group of animal lovers is infectious, and one of the most eye opening sessions I attended was called Be The Change You Want To See.  You may have seen the video  from that session earlier this week.

Dorian Wagner and Jessica Vogelsang challenged those of in the room to find a way to make a difference independently, and collectively by discussing the challenge with our readers, Twitter followers and Facebook fans today in order to meet a fundraising goal of $500 for Pets Without Parents.  The fundraiser is one day only, and I urge you to see the widget at the top of this post (now removed) and donate whatever you are comfortable with. I won’t give you the hard sell.

Fortunately, that is not even remotely necessary since the five hundred dollar mark was was reached by noon, the time I had originally planned to schedule this post. When I noticed that the goal had been met I decided it was time to wipe out the planned one post mention, and think a little bigger. While I’m sure many of you would have enjoyed watching me plunge into the arctic waters of Lake Champlain in the name of charity, I believe that a little something more is called for.

To that end, you will notice some big changes here. A stroll through the archives will reveal a lazy approach to blogging that has suited my busy lifestyle. It’s easy to fire off a silly post every day, have a giggle and move on. And while I firmly believe that laughter is the best medicine for most any ailment, there is much work to be done. After the recent downturn in our economy, it’s no secret that shelters are buried in needy animals and increasing debt. Help is needed from every angle.

At the same time, I have watched many of my favorite blogs evolve as writers struggle to find a niche. Many go so far as to poll readers and ask what they would like to see more of. I have considered doing the same in the past, but feared on some level that I may not be pleased with the results. Honestly, I wanted to just do my own thing and have a little bit of fun. For a year, I have done just that – I’ve had one hell of a time, and have met great people along the way. Yet for the last few months, something has been nagging at me, and until last weekend I was not able to put my finger on it.

The Be The Change session fleshed it out. What this relatively small group of passionate animal lovers has been able to accomplish with combined resources is truly inspiring, and has renewed my commitment to blogging. Now that Life With Dogs has grown a little, it’s time to use the added reach for the greater good, and the days of one silly cartoon a day are behind me…sort of.

Rest assured, I have never taken myself seriously, and that is not likely to change. Will there still be silly stories, crazed Photoshop adventures and wisecracking dogs here daily? Of course! Will you have to scroll past a story about animal neglect or a shelter in need to find it? Probably. There are causes that are dear to me, and I hope you’ll bear with me as I transition from fool to well meaning fool. After a year spent convincing myself that nobody would take me seriously if I got serious about anything, it’s time to make a little room here for topics that matter.

It’s after five on a payday, and I’m liking my timing. Ignore the fact that the fund raising goal was already met and help the anipals to knock this ball as far out of the park as possible. You’ll help support a great cause, I’ll be in your debt, and together we’ll make a bigger difference than either of us may have previously thought possible. In my book, that’s a big step in the right direction.

Life With Dogs will be here to greet each new day with a celebration of all things dog, and I’m very excited at the prospect. It’s the least I can do to make a difference, and it’s about time.

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*  Join the special online Be the Change BlogPawty on Twitter, April 21-22, 7 pm-1 am EST