All posts by amy

How To Make Your Pet Instagram Famous

Who doesn’t spend most of their downtime browsing Instagram for cute cat pictures, or funny dog videos?  I know I do!

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With all of the developments with the internet, one thing remains consistent – bored people love cat pictures.  It was only a matter of time before the adorable animals begun to take over on a celebrity status.  Enter, Grumpy Cat!

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Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) started out with a simple post on Reddit, and has since EXPLODED all over the internet.  She currently has over 2.5 MILLION Instagram followers!

Not to be outdone by cats, the dogs stepped up with a mega-star of their own, Boo!

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This adorable little Pom has over SIX MILLION Facebook fans!  Can you even imagine having that level of popularity?!

So, inspired partly by their fame and partly by my incessant need to constantly post pictures of my pets, I created Burger his very own Instagram account!  You can follow him here.  With over 2,000 fans, he’s clearly not as famous as other internet celebrities, yet chances are that he has more followers than many of you do.

How does one go about creating a successful Instagram page for their pet?  These are some of the tips that I used:

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First and foremost, you need excellent photos.  I am no professional photographer, and my hunch is that’s one of the biggest reasons that Burger’s fanbase is in the thousands and not the hundreds of thousands or millions.  The photos I take are with my iPhone, and luckily I am able to get some pretty decent photos with that.  If you have a newer iPhone, portrait mode is AMAZING for capturing stunning photos.  My phone isn’t equipped with that, however, I’ve found that the Focus mode on Instagram takes pretty great photos as well.  Other tips are making sure that your pet is as comfortable as possible, choosing the right lighting, and making sure that the background isn’t cluttered.

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The next step is to establish a fan base!  You can’t have a famous pet without them having followers!  Start out by following other human and animal social media influencers.  Like and comment on their posts, and check out their fanbase.  Something that helped Burger get his few hundred fans was paying attention to the most active fans on other insta-famous pet pages.  By that, I don’t just mean the person who always comments “FIRST!”.  I looked at people who consistently liked their posts and commented thoughtful comments — especially comments related to the caption or theme of the post.  After pinpointing those active followers, I started following them!  Probably 30-40% of the people I added followed me back, and to this day are some of the most active fans on Burger’s page.

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Posting regularly is extremely important.  This is also something that I struggle with.  If you check out pages of any influencer, they are posting consistently – if not every day, at least every other day.  Along with posting, utilize hashtags!  They are one of the biggest ways for people to find your page – especially if you wind up on the Discover page for one of those hashtags.  I always try to use a combination of hashtag popularity – popular, less common and those in between.  For Burgers page, every 500 fans or so, I’ll search out cat related hashtags.  I’ll pick out a few of those super common, popular tags, such as #cat and #meow.  Those hashtags have MILLIONS of people that use them, which can be great for exposure!  However, your chances of being featured on one of those discover pages is slim unless your post engagement is huge.  I’ll then ,pick out a few hashtags with under 10,000 or so uses (you can find these uses just by clicking on the tag itself – it will show you how many people have used that tag!).  Tags such as #themostinterestingcatintheworld and #catchat.  The chances of your getting featured on those pages are much more likely, because there simply isn’t as much competition.  Lastly, I’ll look for some hashtags with anywhere between 100,000 – 500,000 uses.  These tags, such as #igers and #pamperedcats have a high number as people using them, yet it’s not completely impossible to be featured on their discover pages.  When Burger’s page jumped from 500 fans to 2,000, it was because he wound up featured on one of these pages.

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Endless creativity is SO important.  You could have the worlds best looking dog, but no one is going to want to see the exact same photo of him sleeping day after day after day.  Have some fun with the photos.  Use inspiration from different locations, take photos at different levels, take pictures of your pet in costume celebrating a holiday!  Also, this is a great time to start experimenting with product placement.  Ideally, some day you will be able to make a profit (or at least receive free items) from your page.  This is a great time to play with different ways to showcase products you’re already using – your cats favorite food, your dogs favorite toy.  Be sure to tag the brand who makes that product – occasionally companies will share those fan posts, and that alone can cause your page’s popularity to explode.

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Last but definitely not least, HAVE FUN!  For all of the millions of animal accounts out there, only a handful actually make it big. If you’re doing this only for the fame or the money, you’ll get disappointed fast.  On the flipside, if you’re already taking dozens of pictures of your pets anyway, why not post them and see what happens?

Does your pet have an Instagram page?  Post the link below, I’ll be sure to follow!

<3

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

Just a few short years ago, I NEVER thought I would be one of those crazy people taking a walk with their cat on a leash.  Until one day…I suddenly was.  All of my life, my cats had done so well living inside, never setting a single paw outside of the house after moving in.  When I first got Burger, it was hours after he was diagnosed with FIV.  The couple taking care of him had tried many times to convince him to be an indoor cat, but he would always escape – even going as far as breaking through windows to get out.  With the other stray cats in their neighborhood, it wasn’t fair to let him roam outside, potentially exposing countless other cats to his disease.

A walk

Lucky for me (and for Bug!), after moving in with me, Burger was suddenly content living as an indoor cat.  However, there were times when I would take Oreo out for a walk that Burger would try to sneak out with us.  I couldn’t help but feel a little bad, but the thought of letting him join us outside never crossed my mind.  I couldn’t take the risk of him running off and getting hit by a car, eaten by a bigger animal, or simply just getting lost.

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The first time Burger got really sick after throwing his blood clot, he wasn’t very active at all – all he wanted to do was lay in the window.  I mentioned to a friend that I wondered if he would want to go outside for small amounts of time, just to lay in the sun with his dog.   That friend mentioned that she had a leash and harness from when she used to let her cats go out with her, and she gave it to me to try out.  Burger adjusted to being out on a leash almost immediately, he was soooo happy to be outside!

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I don’t know what it was about being outside, but Burger started recovering pretty quickly after that first time outside with me.  I still didn’t think he’d have very much longer with me, so seeing him perk up so much after his outings, I started taking him out just about daily, we’d lay in the sun after work until the sun would set.  To this day, whenever he isn’t feeling good, I take him outside for a walk on the beach with me, and it provides an immediate boost to his spirits – and to his health!

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I did have one scare with him, back when I was living at my parents’ house.  A super loud car went by and terrified Burger.  He wriggled right out of his harness and took off in (luckily) the opposite direction.  He tried to jump through a fence to get away from the sound but got stuck in the fence instead.  Trying to get him out of a fence in the dark at 3 am was definitely an adventure!  After that, I realized that after his weight loss, I needed to find Burger a harness that fit!  I wound up going with this one after seeing the good reviews it got on Amazon.  Thus far, he hasn’t been able to escape from it.  A lot of the time at my current house, I’ll shut the gates on the fence and let him walk around the yard without a leash on – he stays right by me until he finds the perfect patch of sun to lay on.  I would never try that when he’s out walking the beach with me, though – too many things could go wrong, so he is always in a harness for those trips.

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Part of the reason that I think Burger did so good when he first started going on walks with me is that initially, I would only take him outside when I was taking Oreo out.  Oreo was his best friend and his protector, I think it helped him feel safe and confident.  He would observe as Oreo rolled around in the dirt and the grass, and then mimic him by doing the same thing himself.  When Buddy moved in with me, most of Burgers walks were with him – Buddy moved more slow-paced, which helped Burger meander and explore more things, watch the birds flying overhead, and smell all of the new scents.  Buddy always let Burger dictate the direction they would walk, and the pace at which they would do it.

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It may seem silly, but I really do think that a huge reason Burger keeps fighting off all of his health issues is because of the outdoor time I give him.  He gets to soak up the sights and smells, and I think that it really helps to enrich his life.  What do you guys think?

SUMMER BUCKET LIST

Spending a few hours at the emergency vet with Burger this afternoon had my nerves going into overdrive.  In an attempt to calm myself down, I decided to brainstorm a list of fun ways to spend my summer.  Last year, I spent my only day off every week either drinking away my misery or sleeping until 4 pm and then binge-watching whatever show happened to be on ION.  Yes, I was miserable dealing with my loss of Oreo, but I completely wasted my summer.  Being at the emergency vet made tons of memories flash over me of all the times I spent in various hospitals with Oreo.  One of those memories included the bucket list I made for Oreo.  I had so much fun checking off all of our adventures!  So…in an attempt to recreate that fun and to have a summer full of making memories, I decided to create a summer bucket list for myself.

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Do any of you have things you want to make sure you do this summer?  What are they?  Even more importantly…do any of you want to help me accomplish my to-do list?!

Happy Summer!
<3

The Best Career Advice You’ve Ever Received

Once upon a time (3 days ago, haha) a coworker said to me that if the idea of leaving your job doesn’t make you sad, you should leave.  That little piece of advice helped me feel more certain about my decision to switch animal hospitals.  I’ve loved my time at Greece, but the idea of leaving to go to a different vet didn’t make me sad…it felt exciting.  I used to HATE change.  I liked being comfortable and wanted everything to stay the same, no matter the cost.  However, life happened.  It made me see that for the most part, change is a good thing.  You have to accept it and embrace it in order to see just how positive it can be.

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Because sharing is caring, I asked my Facebook friends what the best career advice they’ve ever received is.  Here are some of the answers that I received on the post/via DM:

1. “The best advice I ever got was from my dad.  His advice was to make someone smile.  Best advice ever!”  — Ashley

2. “Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.  My grampa used to tell me this when going into any new situation” — Dawn

3. “Just be your wonderful self” — Belinda

4. “Take feedback seriously, but not personally.”   — Stephanie

5. “Kill with kindness” — Nicole

6. “You can’t let others stand in the way of you succeeding in your career, sometimes you have to move on from a company to expand and grow yourself, and you can’t let someone stop you from doing that.”  — Savannah

7. “Your job does not define you.” — Todd

8. “Fake it till you make it.  Perception is reality”  — Viv

9.  “When looking for a career, find something that you love to do.  Do it for the benefit of someone else, and be sure to get paid your value.”  — John

10.  “Are you hoping for a dream job? Every job is going to just be a job at some point!” It resonated and it’s true!  — Kate

11.  “Be a problem solver.  Get along with your co-workers” — Bernie

12. “Go with your gut. It’s almost always right!”  — Leanne

13. “Provide value first.  Instead of promoting yourself, promote the benefits you can provide for your employer/customer/client.  Time is your most valuable commodity; don’t waste it and don’t let others waste it either.”  — Jake

14. “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”  — Rachel

15. “Don’t cut corners.  Do the job, finish the job.”  — Dave

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Please tell me in the comments!

<3

 

Depression

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The shadow of depression has haunted me for so much of my life.  The first time I remember feeling it was shortly after my grandpa died.  I was 11.  I remember thinking that what I was feeling was so much more than just being sad, but I didn’t have a word for it.  I tried to hang myself from my curtain rod.  The rod broke, and I fell into a heap, so upset because I couldn’t even kill myself without failing.  I don’t believe that I was truly suicidal at that time…I just wanted to see my grandpa again, and I didn’t know how else to make that happen.

That wasn’t the last attempt, unfortunately.  I met with a therapist who was AWFUL and actually made me feel worse instead of better.  I tried countless amount of meds before I finally found one that worked.  I was on that anti-depressant for several years, until it started causing scary side effects.  I started getting really bad thoughts that I couldn’t push out of my head… wondering how fast I’d have to drive into a tree to die, wondering if I drove my car off the bend at the parkway if I would die or if I’d make it to the road underneath safely; things that constantly swirled through my head that really started to scare me.  I eventually took myself off of the meds and was okay for awhile.  One year ago today, my best friend in the entire world, my sweet Oreo, passed away.  The depression that I had been struggling to push away for so long became too much.  I started self-medicating with alcohol as often as I could, learning to function at work every day despite being hungover or having had no sleep from being up crying all night.  I was falling apart.  Eventually, I mentioned it to my doctor, who immediately put me on meds.  She realized that in addition to depression, I was also suffering from anxiety – something that I had never been diagnosed with before. She put me on a combo of Wellbutrin and Sertraline, and I gradually started feeling better.  Slowly I felt myself wanting to get out of bed in the morning (late morning, but morning none the less) instead of sleeping all day my entire day off.  I am even slowly starting to deal with my extreme fear of fire – I used my stove to make an omelet.  That may not seem like a big deal to many, but it was the first time I’ve gotten the guts to use my stove since I moved in 2 years ago.

Hearing that earlier this week Kate Spade died from suicide, and later this week that a young boy from Greece also committed suicide, my heart just broke for them and their families.  It feels more critical than ever to talk openly about mental health. Suicide can seem especially confusing and disorienting when you’re at a young impressionable age.  With Kate Spade, so many people would never see that coming – what could someone so rich possibly have going on in their lives that would drive them to that point?

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
― David Foster Wallace

  Depression is a disease, not a personality trait.  Depression is an ILLNESS. It’s not weakness. It’s not your fault.  Should I say that louder for the people in the back?  For some reason, mental health still seems so taboo to talk about.  Something that I heard a lot when I would mention to someone that I had depression was “Oh, you don’t seem sad”.  I couldn’t seem to explain clearly enough that it wasn’t just that I felt sad…I felt empty.  I felt alone, no matter how many people were around.  When around friends, I always felt like I was invited out because of pity.  When someone would cut me off mid-sentence, or when I was talking and it was clear that no one was listening, my mind would practically scream “SEE?!  They don’t want you here.  No one cares what you have to say.  Why do you even bother?”  I’m in a much better place now, but those voices still creep back in every now and then.  I still can’t help but walk into a room with new people and be convinced that everyone there hates me and doesn’t want me around – even if they have no idea who I even am.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Depression isn’t just sadness.  Depression is hopelessness.  As far as you can see, there is no “getting better”.  There is no hope.  Your mind will constantly convince you of that.  There is a huge difference between someone who says that they are “depressed” because they’re going through a divorce, or got fired from their job, or lost too much money at the casino.  Those events can certainly trigger sadness, maybe even hopelessness.  However as each passing day goes by, those people start to feel slightly better, until finally, they are back to their normal selves.  The divorcee is dating again, the person who got fired finds a job in a field that they’d always wanted to work in, the gambler decides to stop wasting money at the casino and start investing.  With depression, you don’t usually have that trigger.  There are no feelings behind those experiences…you are empty, you feel like a shell.  At least that’s how I felt.

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”
― Stephen Fry

Talking openly about depression and mental health does help reduce the stigma–little by little.  Sadly, the cost of excellent mental health treatment is rarely covered by insurance. The very best practitioners are private-pay, which means that only the very wealthy can afford the best care.  How is that fair?  Another example of how the world revolves around money, I suppose.

“When you’re surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you’re by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don’t feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you’re really alone.”
― Fiona Apple

People who attempt suicide don’t do it because they want to escape their family, friends or their lives. They do it when their need to escape the excruciating pain and anguish is so extreme, so overwhelming, they can no longer see any other rational options.  What makes it even more difficult is that no two people are affected the same way by depression and there is no “one-size-fits-all” for treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you.  It made me feel so broken when I’d get put on a medication that friends had told me worked wonders for them…and I felt nothing.  Or when it was suggested that I try meditation to clear my mind of the negative thoughts, and the exact opposite happened…being left alone to dig through my mind brought out the worst thoughts.

Sending so much love to anyone who needs it today. You are not alone. Things can get better. <3

If you’re suffering, please call 1800-273-8255, and someone will be glad to talk to you. Or text TALK to 741-741, if you prefer texting.