Have you ever wondered if there is a blood bank for dogs? If yogurt is better than probiotics? Do you need help finding a pet sitter? Getting a pet from one state to another? Do you need tips for crate training your dog? Are you looking for breed information to find the dog that’s right for you and your family? Do you need to know if the state you’re moving to has BSL? Well, look no further.
You’ve probably heard of the Internet websites “My Space” and “Facebook”.
They are a current phenomenon known as Virtual Communities: social utilities where computer users can connect with friends, upload photos, share links and interests and learn more about the people they meet online.
Now pet people can have this and more! There are two exceptional virtual communities specifically devoted to pets and their people: Dogster (www.dogster.com) and its sister site, Catster (www.catster.com). Both sites were started in 2004 by Ted Rheingold , John Vars and Steven Reading, who wanted to create a way for people to unite around their common passions.
At either of these websites, you can register your pet(s) absolutely free. Currently, there are over 375,000 dogs and more than 157,000 cats registered on the sites. Pets are registered from all over the world, though the majority of them are from the United States. Each pet has a personal page, where owners can upload photos, stories, videos and specifics about their pet. You can even keep a diary! Both sites offer forums where pet owners can weigh-in and discuss a multitude of pet topics including: nutrition, training, health, sheltering, breed information, competitions, grooming, laws, and legislation. On the Dogster site, there are even forums for setting up play dates with other dogs. Users can invite other pets to be pals, and gift other pets with a variety of virtual treats, purchased with “zealies”, which are like site-specific cash. You can earn zealies by adding businesses to the directory or by rating the businesses already listed. For a paid upgrade to the “plus” version of these sites, there are a host of extra perks, including monthly zealies, the ability to add a photo book, photo and mail enhancements and access to restricted sections of the sites. But the free portion of the site is vast in its scope, providing a huge reservoir of information and expertise as well as hours of enjoyment.
Each of the websites points users to all the pet related contests and news on the web and offers on-site email & live chat. In addition, the sites host a nationwide listing of pet related and pet-friendly businesses that can be searched by zip code. Going on vacation and need to find a hotel that accepts pets? The information you need is just a click or two away. Want to get recommendations for a vet in your new neighborhood? Need someone to talk to about pet loss? It’s all at your fingertips on Dogster and Catster.