Last week was a busy one. However, I was on top of my game on Thursday. I finished my work early so that I wouldn’t be stuck late. Although I was a tad nervous about meeting new people, this sweet post by Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes made me smile and gave me a shot of courage. By mid-afternoon, I was itching for the workday to end so that I could slide out the door Flintstones style and head over to BlogPaws. There were no sessions on Thursday night, just an opening cocktail reception. I’m not one to pass up cocktails and conversation…
However, as is so often the case… a work “crisis” occurred. (Please let those quotation marks convey my extreme sarcasm.) Fortunately, I managed to leave the office only slightly later than planned, but then I encountered massive traffic. It’s the norm in the D.C. area, but Thursday was even worse than usual.
In any event, I finally made it to the hotel. I parked next to a sign informing me that walking of dogs on the property was prohibited. For a moment, I wondered if I was in the right place. However, I did see some dogs (and their people) walking towards the entrance, so I headed towards the lobby. All doubts were erased when I saw these:
I’m guessing the hotel wasn’t enforcing that whole no dog walking thing this weekend. Assured of my location, I wandered through the crowd of people to the registration table. Once there, I signed in and received the largest swag bag I’d ever seen. Seriously – that thing was epic.
In addition to the swag bag, I received a raffle ticket (spoiler alert: per usual, I did not win anything all weekend) and two drink tickets. Feeling a little overwhelmed by the crowd (and the fact that I didn’t know anyone in real life, just from their blogs), I headed to the bar and redeemed my first ticket for a glass of wine. Armed with my glass of liquid courage, I headed into the main room to explore.
I won’t lie – to start with, I felt very overwhelmed and I wasn’t sure what to do. There were tons of exhibitors, so I browsed and made small talk for a while. However, I still felt a bit out of sorts – rudderless, if you will. It felt sort of like the first day at a new school.
Fortunately, my feeling of isolation didn’t last long. I met some fantastic people – Laurie from Smart Dog and Eryka from Kahuna’s K9s. These two are locals like me, and we hit it off immediately. I knew instantly I’d found some new friends – they were fun, clever, and each had an adorable dog with them. Even cooler, they are both dog trainers who use positive reinforcement. I can only hope I soaked up some of their knowledge throughout the weekend.
After making these first two connections, I loosened up a bit and the chatter seemed to come more easily. I met a few other people, including Caren from Cat Chat and Kim from This One Wild Life. I encountered the lovely Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes (and got to meet her husband and Honey the pup). As a bonus, I saw some absolutely adorable ferrets. However, the presence of these two confirmed my decision to leave Bella at home – I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have been able to control her prey drive:
Laurie and Eryka eventually had to head home with their pups. I considered hitting the road as well after losing my two awesome wingwomen (wingbloggers?), but I decided to head back in for a little while longer (after dropping off that giant swag bag in my car, of course). I’m glad I did – one of the things I learned this weekend is that I need to embrace my extroverted side at this sort of thing. (Perhaps I can apply this lesson to work conferences as well, but there are never any cute animals at those.)
Anyway, I headed back inside and ended up meeting a ton of people in the lobby area. In addition to Caren, I met up with several other bloggers. Many of them were cat bloggers. (Among them? The bloggers from The Conscious Cat; The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey; Coffee, Cats ‘n Yarn; Catladyland; and Mr. R.W. Emerson. I’m sure I’m missing a few people – it was quite the gathering. Introductions and business cards were flying like Bella after a squirrel.) Some were new to me, but others were familiar, such as the lovely Teri from Curlz and Swirlz (pictured at right).
In any event, I have to thank those cat bloggers for letting a dog blogger into their midst for a while. (Perhaps they sensed that I have a soft spot for the felines.) What a fun group!
I capped my night off with some quality chat time with Caren (who better?) and Felissa from Two Little Cavaliers. I had a fantastic time talking to these two. Honestly, it felt like we’d known each other for ages.
When it was finally time to go, I reluctantly said good night and headed home. After just a few short hours, I knew I’d made the right decision to attend BlogPaws. I had met some amazing people and couldn’t wait to come back on Friday!
Stay tuned for more BlogPaws updates… I have lots to share, so I’m not sure how many posts will be in this series. If you’re not really interested in hearing about BlogPaws (which seems odd, but to each his own), never fear. I’ll be mixing some other posts in there too. I’m such a people pleaser…