Today we’d like to focus the spotlight on Mary-Alice Pomputius, the creator of Dogjaunt.com. Her site is devoted to dog travel, particularly from the point of view of small dogs and their owners. Mary-Alice and her husband are the proud parents of a cutie named Chloe, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who loves to hit the road with them. Packed with great information about dog flying and dog-friendly destinations as well as lots of fun stories, Dog Jaunt is a great resource for all you canine-adoring wanderers out there.
Thanks for chatting with us, Mary-Alice. P.S., we love the new site logo!
What inspired you to start a pet blog?
Our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, named Chloe, came from a breeder in San Diego. We live in Seattle, so literally the first thing I had to do with our new puppy was take her on a two-leg plane trip. I went online to get advice, and found nothing useful. Things have improved since then, but at the time, the only available information was very general -- and I wanted detailed, step-by-step instruction!
During the first month we had Chloe, we took two additional big trips with her, and by the end of the month I had gathered a lot of information about plane and car travel that seemed too good to keep to myself. My husband, a computer guy, suggested that I put all that information into a blog. So I started Dog Jaunt, a blog for people who want to travel with their small dog -- whether it's just around town, or across the country, or around the world.
In all of your dog-friendly travels, do you have any particular memories that stand out?
It's fun traveling with Chloe for a bunch of reasons -- one is that it forces you to get out, on foot, and really see the area you're visiting, at the pace of a small dog. Another is that it allows you to interact with people when they're at their nicest and goofiest. I'm remembering a recent trip to New York, when Chloe and I were waiting for my husband outside a store. A large family (parents, kids, grandparent) came by, and stopped. They turned out to be from Norway, and they had a Cavalier back home, and they missed him terribly. Could they pat Chloe? Of course they could, and it was such a delight to see how happy it made them. Our entire visit was like that -- New Yorkers may be stand-offish at times, but not when you have a friendly dog attached to you.
Will you be attending BlogPaws 2010 West next month? If so, what are you most looking forward to?
Yes, I will! I went to the first BlogPaws this past spring in Columbus, and I'm looking forward to seeing my friends from the blogging and Twitter community. The workshops in Columbus were all high-quality, so I'm looking forward to learning more. I'm not a person who's comfortable walking into a roomful of strangers and making conversation, but attendees' dogs are allowed (encouraged!) to attend BlogPaws, and when your dog is already licking a stranger, it's much easier to introduce yourself to them. It makes for a very comfortable, friendly atmosphere.
When did you realize social media would become such an important part of the pet community, and what are a few of the best ways to use the tools we now have?
I was a real newbie when I began. I had no idea, until I started my blog, that there were so many other pet bloggers out there. Now I realize what a valuable resource they are, providing advice and support on every aspect of pet care. I think the most valuable thing I've done with social media is join Twitter, and start tweeting about dog travel -- there's a big population of dog lovers on Twitter, and the quick, informal messages you send on Twitter make communication very easy. There are also weekly Twitter discussion groups (a different topic each week) that you shouldn't miss, including #petchat and #dogtalk, as well as frequent #pawpawties -- Twitter fundraisers for various pet charities -- that people participate in enthusiastically.
Do you have any advice for people nervous about traveling with their pets?
If it's the owner that's nervous, they should read all they can, on Dog Jaunt and elsewhere, about the logistics of traveling with their pet. There's a lot of information out there, and you can get a really good idea of what your travel day will look like, and how you can make it easier on yourself and your pup. If the owner is worried that their dog will be nervous, they should buy a carrier ahead of time and introduce their pet to it slowly -- associate it with positive things by putting treats and their pet's food bowl inside, and graduate to taking your pet in it to fun places like pet stores and the dog park. Shower your dog with treats while she's in her carrier! On the day of travel, make sure you give your pet a long walk before she goes in her carrier, and consider giving the carrier a spritz of ComfortZone with D.A.P. Although sedation is discouraged for dogs traveling by plane, if you really think that your dog will need it, talk to your vet about the situation.