The power of the Internet to do good is astonishing.
Its power to expose a good or bad story is immense. We’ve all seen the Internet used in tasteless personal ways, such as the well-trod sex tape to fame path. I’ve been thinking about the Internet a great deal this month as I prepare for my speaking engagement next weekend at BlogPaws — the pet bloggers conference (www.blogpaws.com).
This conference is where people who write about pets and the people who love them gather to learn the latest about social media, marketing and to reconnect with old friends.
I’m headed to Tysons Corner, Va., to present my speech, “How to Write and Publish a Book in 90 Days.” It’s based on my experiences as a divorce lawyer writing and publishing “What About Wally? How to Co-Parent a Pet With An Ex.” This is my third year in attendance and first as a speaker. I’m looking forward to catching up with friends again this year. Pet bloggers are an interesting and fun group of people.
There’s the usual cat ladies, and bird men. They write the traditional stories of what their pets are going through on a daily basis, and add in tips on care and enjoyment of the tabbies and titmice. The Tripod Team is also there — three-legged dogs that are an inspiration to all.
The capybara is an unusual but intriguing pet that will be honored. Essentially it is a giant guinea pig. Weighing in between 75 to 150 pounds and standing about 2 feet tall, it is the world’s largest rodent, and yes it has its fans as a semi-domesticated pet.
Ferret folk are lovers of the little creatures. Frequently they run around on leashes and are a sure hit amongst the young at heart in attendance.
There are filmmakers like Kenn Bell who does dog-based documentaries for his website, www.TheDogFiles.com. He’s an amazing filmmaker and if you can take a few minutes and watch his movies I bet you’ll at least tear up on “A Few Good Dogs” — his documentary on military dogs and the soldiers who train and love them. Bell also created a short called “Pit Proud: The History of the Pit Bull.” It was such an amazing short that it is being turned into a feature length movie.
My writing partner, Steven May, will be speaking on taking your blog from “0 to 200,000 in the speed of a click.”
For the past nine months, I’ve been watching the Internet be used for the good of an animal, a dachshund named Obie. He came to the public eye in August of 2012 as a 77 pound dachshund. His story is one of too much love and not enough exercise. His caretakers were elderly and they couldn’t exercise him enough, but they could feed him. It’s a sad story with a very happy ending.
Nora Vanatta took over the care and exercising of Obie and has done an amazing job of not just caring for him, but telling his story on the Internet by way of updates on his Facebook page, Biggest Loser Doxie Edition. His website is obiedog.com and he has become an international sensation and is putting a face on the epidemic of pet obesity.
As a co-parent of a doted-on dachshund, I’ve truly enjoyed watching the progress of Obie as he has slimmed down. He recently underwent skin reduction surgery (a first I believe in the veterinary world) to remove 2.5 pounds of excess skin and fat. Obie is now looking a lot more like a traditional dachshund. Vanatta has used the Internet to raise funds and awareness and she deserves to be recognized for the good work she has done.
The Internet has a lot of silly trash on it, but it does serve a great purpose. It brings people together both literally as a raison d’etre for conferences like BlogPaws, and figuratively for those of us who support efforts like Vanatta’s on changing the life of Obie. It’s a window into someone else’s life — oftentimes for good, and occasionally to turn our stomachs.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.