Catfishing for Dogs

by Mary Haight on June 26, 2013

catfishing Guest Post by Kevin Myers

Catfishing is the phenomenon of using the internet via blogs, social networking sites, and other means to fabricate online identities and enter social circles in order to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time). The term derives from the 2010 documentary Catfish in which a group of filmmakers decide to document a friend’s online relationship with a young woman and her family; the results of which were not what they expected.

Those of you that are football fans will recognize what happened to Manti Te’o as one of the most infamous tales of catfishing. So why, you may ask, am I bringing up catfishing for dogs?

Strictly speaking, catfishing is done by people with romantic, mischievous, or revenge-type motives, but there are an awful lot of people out there pretending, for motives other than these. According to this article on TheAtlantic.com, Americans spend around 52 billion a year on their pets, a number that does not even include training expenses as far as I can tell; that means that a lot of people out there have a vested interest in getting you to believe what they have to say about your pets.

Trainers, pet food manufacturers, veterinarians, breeders, rescues, and pet bloggers of all types have opinions and beliefs that we consider our truths. We have a passion about what we do and we really want you to consider our opinions and theories as valid. While I admit there may be a few that are catfishing for a quick dollar in the multi-billion dollar pet market, most of us really do have the best interests of you and your animals at heart.

All of this information expressed with passion and eloquence appeals or repels us to varying degrees; still leaving consumers of this information with the same problem. What do we really know about the author and the information they present?

Not all trainers are certified and even those that are may not have as much experience in certain areas. Bloggers like me may have experience in the areas we write about but can be blinded by our passion for or against a topic. Pet food advocates may truly believe that certain diets are better for dogs but may not fully understand the science behind their claims. And the list rolls merrily along.

Technology allows anyone to be anything they want and the speed of information can allow an unsubstantiated rumor to be reported as fact on national news outlets in a matter of minutes. History can be re-written by anonymously volunteering to contribute to or edit for Wikipedia, a resource that many consider to be equivalent to an online encyclopedia written by professionals. Don’t believe me? From Wikipedia’s own web site:

Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity.

So… in the battle for the hearts and minds of pet lovers everywhere, how do you know who and what is real and who and what is catfishing? Remember that you are ultimately responsible for the consequences of the information you put to use and even pass along. You may have faith in the person who provides the information you read, but you have to use other tools as well. Chief among them is a mind that is able to discard, re-validate, and form new opinions based on the best available facts it can find.

Bloggers are not altruistic super heroes and most of us aren’t catfishing. We’re human beings, hopefully using the best available facts coupled with the fruit of our experience to provide you with what we think is useful information about your dog.  We remember that the theory of the earth being flat was once considered fact. Our words are not timeless and the theories we base our opinions on today may not hold up to scrutiny tomorrow.

A flexible mind becomes the nemesis of catfishing for dogs, or anything else, by holding theories and ideas up to the light of the latest available facts, always ready to adapt to new and reliable information.

About the Author

Kevin Myers is a freelance writer, blogger, and creator of Dog Lover’s Digest. He lives in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee with his wife Jackie, their dogs Gavin, Annie, Tosha, Elbee, and his coffee cup Precious. Follow him on Twitter @dogloversdigest and Facebook 

Many thanks to Kevin for this guest post at a time of great need! I’ve been working on moving this month, intermittently tearing my hair out and hyperventilating…not recommended!

6 comments
HeartLikeADog
HeartLikeADog

Great post!  I know there are times when I've had a firm opinion about something but then had my mind changed because someone presented a clearly written response that opened my eyes to a different point of view.  That doesn't mean I didn't believe it whole-heartedly when I wrote it though. :-D

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @HeartLikeADog I know the feeling! Bloggers should grow and change over time, just like facts change as new research brings new findings and perspectives. Thanks for putting a voice to that ;)

MelF
MelF

Great post Mary and Kevin. I can't believe I missed this one. I can think of someone who was quite good at catphishing. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @MelF Hey Mel! Now you'll have everyone wondering just who you are referring to =) Thanks for the visit!

kolchakpuggle
kolchakpuggle

Great post! I was talking to a friend about this the other day and in a broader scope at BlogPaws. How do you know what blogs to trust? Maybe they're not necessarily "cat fishing", but which blogs are promoting foods or products because they use them and really endorse them or because they're being paid to?It's important to question the information you read. Big time.

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