BlogPaws, the annual pet blogger conference, was Summer’s biggest adventure yet. She had to:
• Accompany me as I navigated one of the U.S.’s worst airports (Los Angeles International) and fly four hours to Nashville
• Spend three and a half days in a hotel in the middle of a large, noisy conference
• Visit the exhibition hall with me numerous times and spend over an hour at the Cat Writers Association booth, helping me plug the organization
• Participate in a costume contest
• Be surrounded by 100 dogs, some other cats, a rat, and ferrets
• Come home the same way she arrived
How did she do? Well, the only part she didn’t like was the last one – she wanted to stay there. Oh, and she didn’t enjoy meeting the one ferret that was introduced to her. She thought he was weird. Other than that, you would have thought that the whole conference was put on just for her.
A large section of the exhibition hall was set up as a Cat Style Lounge by Catification expert Kate Benjamin, and that’s the first thing Summer and I saw, shortly after we arrived. I needed to drop off a couple of books with Kate, so Summer got to examine a lot of the cat trees, beds and other products before the exhibit hall officially opened. She had this fun playground all to herself and it didn’t take her long to really take advantage of that.
Once BlogPaws officially opened, I was cautious about bringing out Summer in public, even in her handy sling carrier (a carrier I slung over my shoulder like a purse, with a space for her head to stick out). I was worried that all the dogs and commotion might stress her out. We arrived Wednesday night, but by Friday, I realized I needn’t have been concerned. When we worked the Cat Writers booth, she just perched herself on top of the table and people-and-dog watched. When we were done, I put her in her sling and walked around the exhibition hall. One company had its cat food displayed in martini glasses and Summer stuck her head out of the sling and gave one of them a taste. She was not shy at all.
Her real test, however, was the costume show. It was called Pawject Runway, and the entrants had to use the provided materials to create a costume for their pets. There were just under 20 entrants, most of them dogs. Summer was one of three cats, and there was also a rat. We began by standing onstage next to each other to introduce ourselves and our pets. Summer was a little nervous about being so close to the pug next to us — after all, she had never seen a dog like that before. She’s barely seen any dogs. But once she realized she was safe, she calmly let me wind a rainbow hued feather boa around her and fasten it with sparkly twist ties. I even used some of those twist ties to make a head ornament for her! She was very patient and just squirmed a little when we were onstage – only because she was getting weary of being held. When it was her turn to show off her costume, she actually walked across the stage, pausing several times to look out in the audience … like a diva. In fact, she won for Best Diva, and received a $100 gift card from Only Natural Pet! We donated it to one of the other feline entrants, who was there on behalf of a feral cat rescue, Kitty Bungalow.
The next day, there were a couple of hours between my check out time and when I needed to be at the airport, so Summer and I sat in the lobby with friends and chatted. She was perfectly cool hanging out. She faced the whole conference with patience and enjoyed just about all of it. Now that I know she can handle being around dogs she doesn’t know in unfamiliar places, I’m ready to work on getting her certified as a therapy cat. She passed a big stress test with rainbow boa colors!