The Human-Animal Bond in the Blogosphere: Meet Kimberly Gauthier and Keep the Tail Wagging
Conversation is important to Kimberly Gauthier. And she shows it. Ms. Gauthier blogs for Keep the Tail Wagging, her site devoted to the human-animal bond. She strives to maintain an open discussion with her readers and her site includes all things pet-related, such as offering advice, exploring questions, and discussing topics. These topics include anything from developing the human-animal bond to Cesar Millan to breeding to diet options for pets. Ms. Gauthier was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and answer a few questions about her work in the human-animal bond with us here at HABRI Central.
Blogging was easy for Ms. Gauthier, especially in finding inspiration for potential posts. She has three dogs of her own and found endless ideas for stories based on their behavior, health and general silliness. There is a growing community of pet owners out there and she wanted to help give them a voice and a place to relate. She brought her experiences with her to the blog and has since found a strong, vocal community of animal lovers. She launched her blog on Christmas Eve in 2011 and over the past year and a half has developed an ever-growing list of followers and continues to gain popularity in the pet blogging community.
Her vision for Keep the Tail Wagging was to foster an open discussion about issues that pet owners face daily and help answer questions associated with those everyday issues. For example, a personal question she wanted to explore focused on raising littermate puppies. She explained how many people discourage it, but don’t necessarily talk about it. She wanted her blog to be a positive site that took a look at the connection pet owners have with their pets.
Her dogs may bring her inspiration for articles, but she also listens to her readers and makes an effort to have their questions and observations answered. Some questions have led her to reach out to various pet providers and work with them to find an answer. Her interactions with them have been positive and led to the establishment of good relations for future collaboration. Her posts are relatable to other pet owners (myself included!) and help in continuing to develop our understanding of the human-animal bond. She likes to see how connections are being made through her blog and the relatable stories people share.
It is in this community of sharing and questioning that Ms. Gauthier sees change being made. More people are recognizing the importance of the human-animal bond and pet owners understand the responsibility they have for their pets. The most surprising thing Ms. Gauthier has found through her work has been the appreciation shared by her readers and the level at which they can relate to her posts. She never expected the blog to grow as it has, but is so appreciative for the devotion her fans show.
She has also been surprised at how hard it can be to take a stand. She has witnessed firsthand how strong people’s opinions can be (especially when talking about some polarizing topics) and how resolute they can be in their views. She shared that topics relating to Cesar Millan (widely known as the Dog Whisperer) and dog breeding have led to arguments and insults from readers. It is reasons like this that dialogue then becomes so important. She strives to keep an open mind and find the good and value in all things, and encourages her readers to do the same. Perspective is everything and so is understanding that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
When asked about the biggest problem facing the discipline right now, Ms. Gauthier spoke about a lack of understanding in the human-animal bond and the continued practice of thinking about pets as simply ornaments or fixtures that become disposable when inconvenient or unwanted. Her view is that animals were domesticated in order to interact with humans and teach them through the human-animal bond. Another problem she sees is the lack of education new pet owners’ have when looking into acquiring a pet and may be led to inadvertently purchase their pet from kitten or puppy mills.
Ms. Gauthier continues to become more influential in the pet blogging and animal rescue communities as she continuing to encourage and inspire people to get involved. Recently, she has started speaking publicly about her experience as a blogger and hopes to encourage others to start blogging. She is passionate about the medium and thinks it’s a great way to put thoughts out there and start a conversation. Her advice for people considering blogging is to find a fun topic they are passionate about and to create a list of thirty article topics. It’s a lot of work, but she cannot speak enough about how great it is to have a voice online and the resulting dialogue that develops.
While she doesn’t compare her dogs to kids, she does see her dogs being just as important and equally deserving of her respect. There is an undeniable bond she has with her pets and she said it is okay that she doesn’t necessarily understand it, but simply recognize that it’s there. She shared an example where recently she was having such a bad day that it led her to leave her house and go outside. She didn’t realize all three of her dogs had followed her until they sat down with her and leaned up against her, licking her face and bringing her comfort.
Ms. Gauthier phrased it well when she said, “You don’t have to understand it- I don’t understand kids sometimes- but we need to respect each other and show love to everyone. Many times our pets take away the stress and hurt of the day, because they remind us what’s important, love. No human has ever taught me that.”
If interested in learning more about Kimberly Gauthier’s work, you can find her blog Keep the Tail Wagging at keepthetailwagging.com.
She can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org