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It’s the beginning of March, and spring is just around the corner.  For most people, this means a new beginning. But for my business, spring of 2012 is most likely the end of the line. When I launched my small business, Tiny Growl, in January of 2008, I had what I believed was a good idea, but I had no idea where it was going to take me.

Riley looking like a crazy wild dog, from an early video shoot on Vashon Island for Tiny Growl.

Four years later, I can look back and give myself credit for having taken an idea from thought to fruition. Unfortunately, my invention –  The ScooPup Pocket – did not become the next big thing in the dog product world, but that’s OK. I learned a remarkable number of things about business, the internet, marketing, the dog world, and about myself.  It was a good stretch and any dog will tell you, stretches are always worth taking. I also met an amazing assortment of dogs and dog people along the way.

So, was it all worth it? Yes, absolutely. Do I wish things were different? Of course. I wanted my business to be successful, not just to generate income, but to have the means to help all those dogs out there that weren’t as lucky as my boy Riley. Since I’m a dog lover and animal advocate, this was the driving force that sent a creative, artistic type like me into the business world, albeit with some trepidation.

Word to the wise: if you are a creative, artistic type, be careful where your heart leads you. In my case, jumping into the world of dogs and dog lovers with my heart on my sleeve opened me up to things that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s a cruel world out there for a lot of dogs, and the deeper you involve yourself as an advocate, the deeper the heartbreak and the feelings of helplessness. For someone like me who wants to be able to protect, help and heal every dog in need, it nearly sent me over the deep end.

It took a couple of years, but eventually I realized that even if I had all the resources in the world, it’s just not possible to save every dog. It’s a sad fact, but one that I have to learn to live with. But this is not why I’m giving up. My business was never was able to grow beyond modest sales and I just don’t have the resources or the energy to keep up with the all of the networking that’s essential for a one-woman, small business owner like myself to make my business get noticed in a big way.

Big thanks to all who helped and supported me along the way, and if I can ask one more thing of you, I’m having a going out of business sale at tinygrowl.com through the end of March, 2012. Please pass it on and get ’em while you can. I still think it’s a useful product and I’m still walking Riley with one of my prototype ScooPup Pockets every day. And even though things didn’t work out the way that I’d hoped, I will always be able to say that I tried and I will never have to wonder “what if..?”.

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Happy New Year to all of my readers. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a while. Quite frankly, 2010 was a hard year for most businesses and unfortunately, Tiny Growl was no exception.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might know that I decided to take my invention The ScooPup Pocket from an idea to a saleable product, because aside from never wanting to wonder “what if…?”, I had really hoped to create a successful business that would make enough money to enable me to help dogs. Good product, good intentions = great idea, right?

While I have had great feedback on my product, my website, my blog, the cold hard truth of the matter is that ScooPup Pockets just aren’t hanging off of too many leashes. Oh sure, I’ve sold a few and they continue to sell, but hardly at numbers enough to do any good for either my business bank account or the animal causes that I was hoping to be able to support. I’ve tried very hard to make it work, including lowering the price, contests, giving them away and of course, blogging. And speaking of blogging, that brings me to SEO.

For those of you with web-based businesses of your own, you know all about SEO (search engine optimization, for the rest of you) and how important it is in this age of doing business on-line. You also know the importance of networking with everyone in your line of business and in my case, all of the animal advocacy groups. Unfortunately, that opens you up to a flood of information that someone like me just doesn’t have the psychology to deal with. For some reason, I am unable to process the sad stories and move on, the way that most people can. I even refuse to see (almost) totally “vanilla” movies like Marley and Me because I know Marley comes to a bad end.

Another part of my problem, or what makes up my particular pathology, is that I worry about every dog on the planet and feel somehow that I have the power (or have been charged with the responsibility) to make their pain and suffering disappear, heal them, save them, feed and them and give them all loving and happy homes. Obviously, that isn’t possible for anyone, not even Bill and Melinda Gates. But I thought that by going into business with a usable product, I could at least take comfort in the knowledge that I was making a difference, quietly or otherwise, via donations.

While I was hoping to sell sell sell! and donate donate donate!!! to help as many dogs (and other animals) that I could, what actually happened was that my work days turned into too much time spent reading sad story after sad story, trying my best to flash past the truly horrific ones and finally coming to the realization that I really am quite literally unable to do any good at all for most of these poor creatures.

I know that I have to come to terms with the fact that the world is good and bad and bad things happen all of the time to good dogs and good people. I know that I’m not giving up on my idea or the idea that Tiny Growl still has the potential to grow into the business that I’d hoped it could be, but I also know that I have to back away a bit from that level of involvement.  Both the reading and the writing have taken a toll on me.

In the coming weeks, I will be re-evaluating things, including the point of this blog. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on my wonderful rescue dog Riley and try to get through another dreary Seattle winter.  Thanks for your support and Happy New Year!

Bette & Riley

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It has been too hot to work this past week. Temperatures here in Seattle have been in the high 80s and low 90s. Not really Pacific Northwest temps, but it beats rain. As my office tends to become a little oven-like, I’ve been neglecting the blog this week.

One hot dog

So, we’re going to be taking a much-needed vacation. The housesitters are installed and we’re off to the beaches of Cape Ann, while Riley is off to the absolutely wonderful Roscoe’s Ranch. We’re going to miss him like crazy, but while we know he is going to be well taken care of, we also know that he’s going to have a super fun week at camp.

If the weather is against us, there is a chance of a quick post during the week. In any case, the next entry will probably be added toward the end of the month, announcing our one-year anniversary as an on-line shop at tinygrowl.com. We will be talking about our advocacy work this past year, updating our website a little bit, as well as offering some special sales on our ScooPup Pockets.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and keep your dogs cool!

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