I’ve had it on my mind on turning the tables to interview the delightful and oh such a pleasure to be with pet lifestyle expert, spokesperson, writer & author Sandy Robins for several years. As the most recent winner of the Elena Kreigner Paw Necklace at the Barkworld/Cat Writer’s Conference, it gave me the perfect opportunity to finally catch up with her. I’ve had the pleasure of confabbing with her at numerous DWAA and CWA conferences and countless media venues. With Sandy, there’s always something new and interesting to talk about, and I’m thrilled to introduce her to you here.
Everyone has a story to tell about how they got involved writing about pets. What is yours?
From the age of about eight, I wanted to be a veterinarian. But growing up in South Africa, the only veterinary school was in my second language, Afrikaans, so I knew I would never be able to study science-based topics in a second language. I decided to pursue my other love, writing. Along the way, I also studied photography, interior design and landscaping and it has all come together in my world under the collective term “lifestyle.” When I came to America, I found this niche market and I pounced.
Are you a cat person or a dog person, or are you bi-petual?
I am totally bi-petual – equally besotted about both dogs and cats. I grew up with both. Currently I’m a pet parent to two felines and Aunty to every dog on the block in my neighborhood. I brought three cats with me when we moved to America.
You write about pet-related news across various platforms and talk about pets in various platforms, what is your favorite medium and why?
I have two – the written word whether it’s on paper or digital and TV/video – I love the “show and tell” aspect of the medium.
You are an award-winning writer. What is your most favorite award and why?
The Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award awarded to me by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) because the award recognizes individuals in the media who have the power to influence millions of people and use this to positively promote the joys and benefits of pet ownership. Everything I do focuses on enhancing the human-animal bond – that it my “bottom line” so to speak.
Past recipients of this award include Victoria Stilwell, Rachael Ray, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Marty Becker, Steve Dale and Connie Wilson — all people I hugely admire and it’s an honor to be in their company.
Your most recent book is titled The Original Cat Fancy Cat Bible, can you tell us about it and your inspiration for writing it?
I was approached by the publisher and asked to write it. That’s an author’s dream! It’s my legacy. I put everything into it in terms of research. I’m proud of it because it re-writes the Old Testament in light of all the research done in this millennium with regard to the domestication of cats and it also covers the Mew Testament — everything from behavioral issues relating to cats, many of them introduced by people who don’t understand felines properly, the latest information about nutrition and grooming and even social networking with felines. Grumpy Cat is in there too! I’ve written it in a very light easy-to-read style. I don’t expect people to read it cover to cover, but to consider it a resource to pick up when they need to know something specific or just fun facts.
What do you find that pet parents today have the most interest in?
This is a difficult question because what I find most often is that people don’t stop to think about their pet wants and needs. They automatically expect them to slot in to their lifestyles and the lives of other pets in the household.
This can be very stressful for a pet. People need to spend more time learning about their pet’s innate needs and characteristics. The most important role I can play is spelling it out. And I do this with every article I write; TV segment I shoot and radio show that airs. Often it’s information pet parents have never thought about. But once they are alerted, they “get it”. Every day there are new pet parents, so it’s a perpetual learning curve.
One topic you have covered quite a bit is pet safety during travel. What are some tips for pet parents that want to bring their pets with them while traveling?
We strap in our kids, we strap down our luggage – but many people don’t restrain their pets. This is vital for the pet’s safety as well as other passengers in the car and for other vehicles on the road. When people say “Fifi doesn’t like to be strapped in.” The answer is “Fifi doesn’t have a say in this one!” But here is the good news, when it comes to restraining pets in vehicles you have options. SO choose what is best for your pet.
As an avid campaigner for shelters and advocator of pet safety, what are some ways the average pet parent can get involved with their local shelter?
Not everyone has the time to spend at a shelter or the emotional make-up to work with shelter pets. It can be very stressful. But there are so many other ways to help.
If you are a lawyer, make your services available to a shelter. The same goes if you are an accountant or a carpenter or a painter. Every person has something to offer. When you shop for your household, shop for your shelter too, whether its pet food, or paper towels, they need and appreciate everything. Stock up the items for the shelter and deliver them on a monthly basis.
As a pet lifestyle expert, accomplished writer and speaker, what is next for Sandy Robins?
I have a lot of varied projects in the works. I like to try and think outside the box so to speak. I am constantly exploring new avenues – and there are a lot of avenues out there!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I “live” by the saying: Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal. If everyone could adopt this as a motto we stand a good chance of making America a non-kill nation and giving every pet what they deserve — love and respect and a forever home.