It helps to get out and talk to you.
Each fall, I have the pleasure of attending two dog-related conventions, one for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), and one for the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA). This year, the meetings overlapped on a weekend, forcing me to miss one day of one and another day of the other, but I wasn’t complaining; they were held in the same state, only a few hours apart, so it didn’t take long to drive my rental car from one to the other.
These meetings serve several purposes for me. First, I have the opportunity to meet in person many individuals (dog trainers and veterinarians) with whom I generally speak only through e-mail and on the telephone. I generally schedule interviews with experts who live far from me. I attend lots of lectures, looking for ideas for articles and expert sources for information on dog training and healthcare. I browse through the exhibit halls, looking for products and foods to review. And I get to meet a lot of you, WDJ’s readers, and hear your feedback about the magazine. It’s great. I come home filled to bursting with ideas, news, and inspiration.
Of course, there are challenging moments. Every so often I bump into someone who has a real bone to pick with WDJ. Getting cornered by a sales representative who is promoting a dog food that I have criticized harshly is probably my least favorite experience ever. And, for me, getting chewed out by someone about something I consider to be unimportant – such as our interchangeable use of the phrase “dog guardian” with “dog owner” – is not unlike a Chihuahua scratching on a sliding glass door. I’m sympathetic, but I can’t take it for very long.
There are some difficult moments, however, that I really do learn from. For example, I had a veterinarian dress me down for WDJ’s lack of articles on kinesiology. This is a diagnostic tool used by some holistic practitioners that I’ve always considered to be far too “woo-woo” for us to talk about. Somewhat flippantly I told the veterinarian, “Oh come on. I just don’t buy that it works!” He proceeded to demonstrate how the method works, on me. What could I say? Uh, well. Okay! I guess I’ll be assigning an article about this to one of my writers real soon. (And thanks for opening my eyes and mind!)
I also had a reader tell me that she loves WDJ, but is sometimes uncomfortable with what she perceives as an anti-veterinarian bias in our articles. Wow. That’s certainly not anything we feel. We rely on and appreciate the contributions of committed, creative veterinarians so much that I feel I should apologize, whether or not that reader is right. And I’ll certainly look out for any traces of this in the future.