Dogpeople Musings:  Contacting a Kennel Club Mishaps and Tips

By Cara Ryckman

 

When I created Dogpeople, it was a response to censorship.  Not censorship of me.  At the time, I guess I somehow stayed under the radar.  However, watching groups I loved being deleted for no reason, or forced to change their name because they contained the word “breeding” in the title, received my attention.  It has always been against Facebook rules to put an animal for sale; however, by that same token it has been allowed freely from Facebook’s inception.  The sellers are not the only targets.  People who never posted an ad have been targeted.  I have horse rescue friends in tears as their rescue networks have been destroyed and thousands of horses have gone on to slaughter without the connection that Facebook had provided them.  A friend with a nursing bitch was put in Facebook jail for “nudity” (I suggested photo shopping tassels on the bitch’s nipples…)  A horse friend was in Facebook jail for posting a “nude” horse, so she put a coat on him in his next rescue ad.  Another friend is not even a breeder, and had her post removed of her 3 pets.  Some say that Peta buying Facebook shares is responsible; others say controlling groups he does not approve of is part of Zuckerburg’s plan.  In any case, our daily addiction has been changed, dramatically.  And I expect it is not the end of it.

In an effort to keep our purebred dog world communicating, being inspired by a podcast that Bill Shelton did with Pure Dog Talk on re branding the purebred dog world positively, I created Dogpeople to be a free social network for the purebred dog world.  I do not plan to censor it unless a post is illegal or harassing.  I explored a few free to cheap options, but none were user friendly or intuitive – which has been the main complaint I’ve heard about Me-We.  I have just under $2000 in Dogpeople at this time.  I’m trying to create a community where our “dogpeople life” is looked at not as offensive or radical, but as a positive friendly CHOICE as it should be. 

There are many great features, but one in particular I wanted to discuss as the main purpose of this article.  One of the things I wanted to put into Dogpeople was a comprehensive business directory ran somewhat like Yelp.  It has reviews.  In other words, I have Terlingua Chihuahuas up on the business directory, and if I have a puppy buyer who just loves their Terlingua Chihuahua and felt that it was a good positive transaction, she can come leave me a good review on Dogpeople.  This rating system is both with stars and with text, where you can give your opinion.  Other dog-related businesses such as professional handlers, groomers, boarding kennels, veterinarians, and photographers can also put up their business pages there.  It is all complimentary. 

Instead of waiting for clubs to find their way there, I decided to add them to the business directory myself and allow them to be claimed when a club member finds their way online.  This way we can refer those searching for puppies or dog activities directly to the local kennel club or the national breed club and it’s right there.  Hopefully, it will be complete, and a club member will be right there online to assist.  That would be ideal.  However, even the simple listing that the AKC has is better than nothing – and it takes out the extra step of sending them to AKC.

I found a number of issues that I wanted to discuss about our clubs.  First off, before anyone says anything, I know very well what it is like to be in a dog club.  I’m in several, and I have been in many different roles in a club over my 42 years in dogs.  I realize it’s a volunteer effort, and that people have other responsibilities in their lives.  I have 5 kids at home, we have acreage with animals, and I’m a full time student.  I admin several websites, I’m a blogger, I write, I have several litters right now, I have kids in different hobbies including rodeo and dog showing.  I get it.  But I’m going to step right out there and say it:  even if someone says to find us through their local kennel club, in many cases they are not going to be able to do that.

First of all, we may know exactly where a kennel club is located, but an outsider is not going intuitively know – unless the name has the location in it – what the name of the kennel club may be.  Some people are more adept with Google than others.  Time is of the essence for me.  I want to get this thing up and done before the phone apps appear in the app stores and we launch.  So, I’m not going to sit and try to search out each place and try to figure out which club goes with what.  I’m putting the city of the secretary that is listed.  And the website.  And the email for the contact.

Some clubs do not have a website.  This can be fixed with Dogpeople as the business directory actually has subpages where content can be added, so they can create a mini-website there completely free of charge.  If they do not have a website, many people will not know to go to AKC to try to find the club.  They will assume there isn’t one.  A web presence in today’s day and age is really important.  If they do get to AKC, some of these do have contacts listed there.

Unfortunately, a few clubs have no contact information listed at all.  Others have something listed, but it is not a working email address.  Some email addresses are misspelled – I caught a few that were obvious, such as the name being Robertson and in the email it would say Roobertson.  I am sure some of the other non-working ones may be typos as well.  Some issues are possibly the contact person changed their email and forgot to change it on the AKC site.  Possibly the contact person changed entirely. 

Something I have noticed that is a wonderful idea are the clubs who have a contact email such as secretary@bestkennelclub.com  That way when Joyce is no longer the secretary, she just hands the reins and the email password over to Evie.  It looks really professional when you have that contact email and the matching website address.  Makes you very simple to find.  Be sure if you have a really unique club name that does not identify your area to add something identifying when you start publicizing it.  If your club is Big Beautiful Kennel Club, maybe you want to say Big Beautiful Kennel Club Columbia Tennessee.  This will give people a memorable frame of reference as to who you are and where you are.

In any case, if you aren’t findable, I can guarantee you that animal rights and retail rescue are very findable.  When you don’t answer the phone, I am quite sure they do.  They have well-funded slick beautiful expensive websites.  They have well-paid employees, hired by well-meaning donor dollars meant for animals in need.  Every time someone tries to contact your club and comes up with nothing, we risk another convert to the Adopt Don’t Shop bandwagon.

It would be great if every club had a website, at least one if not more contact people, a social media presence on as many different types of social media as they can, and yes, certainly an updated listing on Dogpeople.  These are all FREE!  The one with minimal costs would be the website, as you would have to pay for domain and hosting, but that can be super cheap.  It does not have to be elaborate.  It just has to tell who you are, why you are there, how people can find you, any fun or interesting things your club does in the community and/or for people to attend with their dogs.  If there is nobody in your club that can do this, you contact me.  Buy it on Wix and I’ll do it for you.  No charge.  It won’t be elaborate but I can do exactly what you need.

Worse than any of this is the contact person who is hateful to someone contacting them, or who ignores them entirely.  I only contacted a handful of clubs before my email said I had reached my maximum number of emails before changing to a free email.  I did a handful more on my Hotmail before I decided that postcards would be a better way to reach the clubs without going into a spam folder.  I received a few responses from club contacts saying what a great idea it was, how they’d run it by their club and get back with me, or asking questions.  I had one lady who (without asking me a single question) told me I was obviously a scam, fishy, and that she would tell all her friends to steer clear.  I had to repeat the word positive over and over to myself prior to writing the response to that, which included a link to Terlingua Chihuahuas that has my published articles, my years of Top 20 dogs, and my show pictures that can clue you in that I’m not a Nigerian prince (as I don’t ask for any details at all other than your email address which I obviously already had, and I ask for no money at all for anything, not sure how it could be a scam but ok).  It reminded me of when I first moved to the Nashville area and I had written to multiple kennel clubs, only receiving a response from one out of the group.  Guess which one I joined.

I made a few mistakes, too.  I assumed that anyone who puts their selves out there as contact for a club would like to receive email about that club.  (If you don’t, please give up that seat to someone who does)  That woman did mention that I did not specify which of her clubs I was referring to, which made her suspicious; I did not have time to individually write each letter and I did BCC to each state at once.  I did say I’d been in purebred dogs for 42 years; I did not identify myself or give a link to my Terlingua website, which would have been helpful to give me a little credibility.  I had named it dogpeople.life because .com and .net and .info were all taken.  I liked “life” because we do have a “dog people life.”  But, I think it has been confusing to more than a few people, who don’t recognize it as part of a URL.  A friend of mine suggested that perhaps the .life contributed to this woman’s concerns about me being a scam.  In my excitement to get the word out and to get everyone on board, I forgot how I go through my mail deleting emails from people I don’t know.  I should have done postcards from the beginning.

I did apologize to this lady.  I did not mean to upset her, or to give her a negative impression.  However, it made me wonder if someone contacted her and said “Do you know where I can find a Goldendoodle breeder?” or “Can I bring my Malti-tzu to the show?” how she would respond.  We need to respond.  We need to invite that person to come see what our purebred dogs can do.  We need to treat others like human beings and show kindness.  Like Bill Shelton said in the podcast, we need to turn this around by positive language and showing our positive example.  No response.

I have been doing a lot of research on social media and free advertising lately due to my blog, which is not dog related (though the dogs really want to just take the whole thing over).  They are a big part of my life.  Free advertising is out there.  Social media is a great way to reach people.  Don’t put the same thing on each type of social media.  You can be at one event and send a video to facebook, one picture to Instagram, another picture and a short tweet to Twitter, and post to your Dogpeople group in a few quick minutes.  You can do a lot of those no cost “I’ll help you, you help me.”  Talking to people is huge.  I remember a specialty where a man walked around to each person and shook their hand saying “I’m so-and-so, president of the club…I hope you’re having a good time at our show!”  That was years ago and I still remember it.  It gave me a hugely positive feeling about the club, even though he was the only one who spoke to me.

I always think back to Hot Springs Kennel Club and the article I wrote on their show as a great example of a kennel club approaching officials and businesses in the community to make a dog show a real outreach to the general public.  It doesn’t always have to cost.  Yes, it does take a lot of time.  If you do not have enough people in your club, you need to be doing a membership drive anyway and some of those people who may be the most helpful may be your pet puppy buyers.  Yes, pet people in the kennel club!  People who love purebred dogs.  Think of it that way.    This is going to take a village.

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