BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater resident Susan Willett is an animal lover – she has three dogs and four cats of her own, and writes a pet blog called “Life with Dogs and Cats.”
But when Willett recently won a year’s supply of pet food, she didn’t keep it for herself, instead donating all of it to the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter.
In total, Willett donated 12 30-pound bags of dog food to the shelter.
Willett won the prize at a BlogPaws conference when a video she submitted was chosen to win the “Best Dog Ever” category in a booth sponsored by Merrick Pet Food.
The conference, Willett said, was for pet bloggers, and was held in Lake Las Vegas, Nev. At the Merrick Pet Care booth, attendees were asked to record a video describing why their dog is the Best Dog Ever.
“As someone who lives with three dogs, and holds several more in my heart, I couldn’t pick just one to describe as the best dog,” she said. “So I offered a simple sentiment that every dog whom I’ve had the honor to share my life with is the Best Dog Ever because each one gives so much and asks for so little.”
“I was a lucky dog that day because the kind folks at Merrick randomly chose me out of all the bloggers who participated to win a year’s supply of dog food,” she added.
Around the time of the conference, Willett said, she found out that the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter was having its contract reconsidered with Bridgewater Township after Somerville decided to pull its funding.
The shelter was funded through Bridgewater, Somerville and Manville. Somerville pulled out its funding as of July in favor of going with a different service, and Bridgewater Township was gathering information to determine if it was still feasible to keep the shelter open.
The township has since decided to keep the shelter as is, with funding from only Bridgewater and Manville.
“The community rallied around the little shelter that could,” Willett said. “Their voices were heard, and the shelter was able to stay open.”
Willett said she had adopted her Keeshond mix dog, Pasha, from the shelter, and was always pleased to know it was so close by.
“With all the publicity around the possibility of the shelter closing, I learned more about how the organization helps animals and people in the community,” she said.
Willett said she learned about all the good the shelter does, from rescuing dogs, cats and other animals, to helping families who might have to give up their pets because they can’t afford to keep them.
“Dozens of community volunteers helped socialize the pets,” she said. “The shelter saved feral cats through Trap Neuter Release. A Pets at Home program offered behavioral training to address problems that might have otherwise resulted in surrender.”
With all that she learned, Willett just wanted to do something too.
“I wanted to help,” she said. “I had just won a whole lot of dog food. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
In addition to winning the year’s supply of food, Willett said she also won the Nose-to-Nose Award on the last night of the conference for Best Blog Post.
“A very prestigious award in the pet blogging world, the Nose-to-Nose award is judged by peers – by writers and bloggers – and winning it is an incredible honor,” she said.
Her blog, Willett said, is a site dedicated to the entertainment and infinite love that comes with living in a multi-pet, multi-species household.
“Whether it’s a doggy encounter with a skunk or the mystery of a waterbowled cat toy, there’s always a story somewhere, hiding in a box, splashing through a mud puddle or taking up an entire couch,” she said.
Willett said she blogs about all seven of her pets, posting stories, poems and photography.
“For example, you’ll find a story about how I helped my Border Collie mix Lilah overcome her belief that umbrellas are suspicious contraptions of dubious value,” she said. “You’ll also find Haiku by Cat and Haiku by Dog, in which I channel my pets’ inner poets – I post their humorous haiku accompanied by my photography, capturing what it’s like to be feline or canine.”
To read Willett’s blog, visit lifewithdogsandcats.com.