PetSafe Paw Print Blogger Summit
We have just returned from the PetSafe blogging summit and because I know not everyone the opportunity to participate in something like this, I wanted to spend some time telling you about the fun things we get to see and do during events like this.
First off, a “blogging summit” is very similar to a “movie junket” (all you cinema goers and entertainment reporters will know what I mean by that). The difference is that “pet junkets” are a lot more fun because they actually apply to real life solutions for pets, and give us the opportunity to meet and interact with others in the industry.
Let me begin by saying that this was one of the most interesting summits I’ve had the pleasure to attend. Not only did we get to see some of the latest and greatest products from PetSafe; we also got a taste of the Tennessee culture – and let me tell you – I’m a fan… However, while the trip was wildly entertaining and loads of fun, PetSafe didn’t need it in order to sell us on their products or values. We’ve been avid fans of their product lines for over 10 years.
I’m going to do my best to break this very long article out into categories, so feel free to skip around…
[note icon=”yes”]PetSafe provided my travel expenses for the trip I just wrote about, and did not provide any additional compensation. They did not require that I write this blog post, nor did they request it. I have written my honest opinion about how much I loved meeting these people, the products mentioned, and our time on location.[/note][heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]University of Tennessee (UT) Veterinary Medicine Department[/heading]
Orange is the name of the game at UT! I was blown away by some of the innovative things they have going on at this university. They are the foremost leaders on the human-animal bond and are doing some really exciting things with equine science (little known fact – that was once me college major), exotic animal care (TIGERS), sports medicine, and most importantly – the human-animal bond. Here’s a little more info about each:
Human Animal Bond: This section is sponsored by the counseling department and we were so impressed with the assistance they offered to not only grieving pet parents who had recently lost a pet or were experiencing problems with a pet, but also with their commitment to the connection between violence on animals and violence towards humans. They are actively involved with domestic violence and offer foster home assistance to those who are victims. They also offer counseling to perpetrators, which is an aspect of care that you won’t see elsewhere.
PetSafe’s Role at University of Tennessee: PetSafe is heavily invested in making the campus as technologically advanced as possible. Each year, they write a very large check to the college to help with these innovative programs. In addition to that generous check, they’ve donated important equipment like water treadmills activity physical therapy and much more.
Tigers: The neatest thing was to see how they invest in all species. They treat tigers each week from The Tiger Haven, have even treated a tiger for cancer, and offer their help to many other organizations. Color me happy! Just for fun, here’s a chart on how to tell if your tiger is overweight…
Wild Bird Aviary: They have just broken ground on a new wild bird aviary and complete section of the hospital. While we were there, we were able to see an eagle (someone had shot it in the wing and he was being cared for by the UT staff). The new building will be approximately 11,000 square feet and will contain a functional hospital, receiving area with quarantine, isolations rooms and a Bio Safety Level 2 laboratory (which sounds super impressive and a little scary).
[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Our Tour of HGTV Facilities[/heading]
One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Scripps Network. In case you don’t know, Scripps is the company who creates and broadcasts HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, the Travel Channel and Great American Country. During our morning at the Scripps headquarters, we were able to see what goes into broadcasting such a major network.
After coming from the dry deserts of Arizona, I was thrilled to be surrounded by water in Knoxville. The entire campus of HGTV is surrounded by water, so it’s easy to see why the Scripps network shows demonstrate such complete creativity – if your office had a view like this, wouldn’t you be inspired as well?
They sponsor the Dream House project where you can enter to win the home of your dreams. This year, the project will happen in Lake Tahoe and you can bet we’ll be putting our hat in the ring!
Our favorite thing about them is the section on Pet Friendly Design (which we hope to be contributing to soon!). They are also building a new Smart Home from the ground up and will they will be creating a new project called, Urban Oasis. We will be talking more about these projects soon.
[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Jay Clark’s Concert In the Holler[/heading]
The final evening was spent at the home of a very talented local wildlife biologist-musician. Jay Clark is a true renaissance man – he describes himself as an “overeducated” with a B.S. and M.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Science – University of Tennessee, PhD in Wildlife Ecology – Oklahoma State University, is an avid animal rescuer, and he spends his nights writing and creating some of the best music we’ve heard.
He and his band put on a very memorable private concert around a large bonfire, the tastes of barbecue in our mind and delicious banana pudding in our hand. We set up chairs around the fire, or on the porch of the home, and spent the evening listening to Jay’s stories (which preceded each song) under the starlit skies of the backwoods of Tennessee.
How does PetSafe fit into the Jay Clark experience? Well, Jay is an avid animal rescuer and has brought a number of animals onto his 5-acre property. Without PetSafe’s Invisible Fence, he wouldn’t be able to keep the animals (who need a LOT of activity being coondogs) on the property. With the help of PetSafe, they now have 5 fenced acres to run on. I know this has been more about what we did than about PetSafe, but I promise, you’ll be hearing a lot about them in the coming months.
[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Tour of Petsafe Headquarters[/heading]
Joining us on this trip were some of the best petcentric writers and bloggers in the world! Besides me (LOL), we were joined by representatives from Pet Age, The Dogington Post, The Catington Post, Catsparella, Perpetually Speaking, Preston Speaks, Dogs4ThePaws, Pepper’s Paws, Life with Beagle, The Pet Blog Lady, Fetching Communications, and of course, myself from PetsWeekly.
Randy Boyd, President of PetSafe: Randy is one of the superstars of the pet industry. If you had a football team, you would want him coaching. He’s wonderful at inspiring others and we were able to hear how he started the business with his last $6000 at a time when he and his wife were broke. The company is now worth $300M and is on track to meet $500M in sales by the ned of the year.
Mr. Boyd has contributed significantly to improving animal welfare. He has provided the funds to create six public dogs parks in the Knoxville area and has spearheaded a collaborative effort to make Knoxville the most pet friendly community in American. As a part of this effort, Mr. Boyd has supported the development of a new Animal Adoption Center in Knoxville that has more than doubled the number of spay and neuter procedures that can be performed annually in Knoxville. In early 2010, he donated $250,000 to the Blount County Animal Center as well as funded one of the few veterinary school behaviorist positions in the country, within the Small Animal Clinical Sciences department of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville. Mr. Boyd received a degree from The University of Tennessee in Industrial Management in 1979 and a Masters in Liberal Studies from Oklahoma University in 1988. He has one wife, two sons, a dog (Spanky), two cats (Sebastian and Wolfgang), and a parrot (Max).
I want to talk about some of the things we were able to do and show you a few of the amazing innovations from this unique company. Their parent company, Radio Systems, owns many of the most recognizable pet brands in the world. This includes:
- Invisible Fence® Brand (the leading wireless fence brand)
- SportDOG® Brand (the leader in training equipment for sporting dogs
- Premier® Pet Products
- Drinkwell® Pet Fountains
- Innotek® training products
[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Philanthropic Work at Petsafe[/heading]
The philanthropic work that PetSafe engages in throughout the year is amazing. Beyond the financial assistance they offer the UT Vet College, they are heavily invested in creating picture-perfect dog parks in Knoxville and around the nation. They have created innovative programs like “Bark for your Park,” where communities across American can design and build their own PetSafe park with a grant of $100,000. They have earned Knoxville a rank of “Pet Friendliest City” with their community efforts, and they have five dog parks around Knoxville that will, quite frankly, knock your dogs socks off.
You’ll also find the pet-loving hearts at Radio Systems and its brands giving back to the community by sponsoring dog parks, rescue missions, adoption facilities, and dozens of other philanthropic ventures. Thanks to the brilliant mind of Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances (and one of my most favorite people), they are continuing to build a nation of proud pet parents – one dog at a time!