Happy summertime! Hope you’re stayin’ cool! I’m just back from the city of Houston where I attended the annual Cat Writers Association (CWA) conference. I went as a guest a couple of years ago when CWA joined forces with Blog Paws in Arizona, but this conference has more significance for me because I attended as a new Professional CWA Member. My cat stories have so far been published in my newsletters and blog and in last year’s Inspire Love anthology. I have many more to share!

Whatever your goals are, you need to immerse yourself in that world. Going to this conference allowed me to gain industry-specific knowledge and meet new people not only in the cat writing community but within the pet industry as a whole.

One of which was Dr. Marty Becker. Do you remember him? He was the veterinarian expert on Good Morning America for many years.

I had an opportunity to chat with Dr. Becker after his Fear Free presentation. What a wonderful guy! Oh my gosh. When he discussed the three reasons pet owners dread taking their pets to the veterinarian in his presentation, I felt for the first time that someone finally understands! The three reasons are 1) Stress on the Pet, 2) Cost, and 3) Stress on the Owner! Check, check, check. You have got to visit https://fearfreepets.com/ to learn about the Fear Free program. It’s chockfull of information.

The conference was situated in the same hotel as the Regional Cat Show. We got our “cat fix” by visiting the show on Saturday afternoon. Those cats sure were purrdy!

The super fun part about attending a pet conference is that you get to bring home all kinds of swag for your fur kids…treats, wet/dry food, and lots and lots of toys. I’ve noticed that they quickly forget that you’ve been away! May I share with you a little TSA experience in this transporting swag journey?

I thought it might be best to cart all the swag cat food in my carry-on luggage so it would stay cool and unharmed. Per usual when reaching any airport security checkpoint, I “strip” to the most lightest of clothing without rivets or metal of any kind and remove absolutely all jewelry, so as not to set off any bells and whistles before stepping through the metal detector. My “system” proved successful once again, and my body made it through the scanner with flying colors.

As I made my way over to the conveyor belt to pick up my personal possessions, it seemed odd to me that my carry-on luggage, which I had placed first, wasn’t in front of my other items. I looked back and noticed it was set to the side of the TSA agent. The conversation began in my head. Hmm. That has never happened. My bag is about to be searched? Great. I’m getting in trouble for trying to smuggle cat food across state lines! Wonderful. Girls (my felines), see what I go through for you?!

While I’m unlocking the carry-on for TSA, I decide to “confess” as to its contents before the agent opened it. I got prepared for what I would say next if need be. Will you give all this cat food to local animal rescue shelters? (She’ll go easy on me if I’m nice, right?) Turns out, the TSA agent was very kind. She said I wasn’t the first person who has brought pet food through the security checkpoint. I watched her squeeze a three-pound bag of dry cat food and sort through all the cat food pouches and cans. She zipped up my bag and said I was free to board. I thanked her and rolled away with all my feline stash.

Well, I hope I’ve brought a little laughter into your day. Whatever it is you’re moving toward, find humor in those unexpected moments along the way. I have a feeling that this adventure will cross my mind every time I pass through airport security!

Purrs, Denise Lee Branco