Global Pet Expo 2014 – Happy Endings and New Beginnings

logo-gpe I have to admit I was not sure I would be going to the Global Pet Expo in Orlando until the last minute. Even once the decision was made, Dan and I questioned the purpose of it – what did I expect to gain from going? Besides the obvious – making new connections, learning about new and innovative cat products, and catching up with friends, I wasn’t sure. I have never gone to a pet expo before and truly didn’t know what to expect or if it was a good venue for me to be at.

As with life, I have learned many times there is a greater purpose to our being, we just don’t know it at the time and you just have to let it all unfold on its own course. Seeing Mr. Jazz in spirit form in the doorway of my office last week, my draw to feral cat advocacy, and my ultimately deciding to go to the expo, but this time with Dan rather than on my own… there was to be a significant connection to it all…

Getting to Orlando was about a 4 hour drive for us and once we arrived, parked, and found our way inside the Convention Center it brought back a rush of memories for Dan and I. We used to work together in the body armor business and had done numerous trade shows together, including one in this very convention center. There is something universally exciting about the hustle and bustle of exhibitors and attendees mingling together and this time I was part of the media (one of the perks of being a blogger) so we got all kinds of great access to press conferences, receptions, and media events.

PetArmorPressConf

My first experience with Global Pet Expo started with a press conference sponsored by Pet Armor. You will see me sitting with Ingrid King of the Conscious Cat if you look at the right side of this photo.

I had mapped out my two-day game plan – what booths I had appointments with and what booths I wanted to visit. After over 15 years of doing stuff like this, I finally have learned to throw vanity out the window and I no longer wear skirts, stockings and high-heels. It’s all about comfort and as long as I could wear my trademark leopard, I was happy. The expo is about a 4 mile trek of exhibits when all is said and done and it is wall to wall with booths exhibiting a plethora of cat and dog beds, carriers, collars and leashes, toys, furniture, foods, medications, and more (as well as stuff for birds, fish, reptiles, ferrets and other creatures great and small).

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Before I get ready to walk the show, an obligatory photo for us cat lovers in front of this over-sized orange cat. This is only the start of an unusual path as to how the event would end for me. I am seen here with Ingrid King of the Conscious Cat and Lynn Maria Thompson of the pet supply site, Old Maid Cat Lady.

I will share a brief overview in pictures for now – there is too much to cover in one post so I will detail specific vendors and manufacturers in the weeks to come with in-depth coverage, product reviews, and giveaways.

Deb&Elvis

And so it begins… my first floor photo of the day is with none other than Elvis!

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My first meeting of the day was with Wheel House Design – they make designer socks for us humans and they brought a limited edition leopard pair just for me! I am hoping to get a giveaway going with them – these socks are ADORABLE!!

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This high-style, incredible cat condo is from petpals Group Inc. and comes in a wide range of designer colors and styles. I think this would even impress my gang!

KittyConnection

This modular Kitty Connection set from Innovation Pet Inc. won third place in the New Products Showcase category for cat products. Similar in concept to building with Lego’s, the only thing that limits you is your imagine as you buy separate components and put them together to suit your own cat’s fancy!

PetFoodWarmer

This product from Animal’s Instinct is especially intriguing to me – it keeps pet food warmed to the perfect temperature and is veterinarian approved. I know when Mr. Jazz was ailing, he liked his food better warmed and I wish I had this for him…

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Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell is partnering with Petmate to launch a new line of interactive toys for cats this July. Based on his years of experience, these toys should be quite popular and I am especially impressed with the toys he invented to interact with cats in shelters who have behavior issues.

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While it’s not his original guitar case, I love how they used one to decorate the Jackson Galaxy line of cat toys!

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Some of the Jackson Galaxy line will include collapsible play tunnels and interactive doughnut toys.

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One of the highlights of the expo for me was meeting the Director of Marketing and Innovation for Petmate – Ann Hanson. There are some people who you know from the moment you meet them that they are special and she is one of them…

Deb&MattWurtzel

I enjoyed a tour of the line of pet products marketed from Propel Communications. One of the companies is Quaker Pet Products who makes cat carriers – I am seen here with good sport, Matt Wurtzel, Director of Field Sales who is donning a pair of my cat ears!

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Matt loads me up with some of the pet carriers from Quaker Pet Products… how odd that they all match my outfit!

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How exciting to be part of a press conference at the Worldwise booth with Kathy Ireland (chief designer). She is introducing a new line of design savvy, yet practical products for pets under the brands SmartyKat, PoochPlanet and Petlinks. And yes, she is beautiful as ever.

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Seen here is Kathy being interviewed by Steve Dale, pet expert and certified dog and cat behavior consultant.

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Here I am with Kathy’s Loved Ones line – this Hollywood chic line was inspired by the two dogs she adopted from Elizabeth Taylor, Gracie and Delilah. Kathy wanted a sophisticated but practical line of toys and products for pets.

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Sigh… another premonition of events to follow that I did not see coming…

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Ingrid and I touch base and make plans to meet up later on in the evening for the reception sponsored by Purina.

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One of the highlights of Global Pet Expo – meeting new friends, Cathi De Meo Marro ( Co-Manager/Librarian at South Florida Flute Orchestra and Musician at Self) and Jodi Nabel Ziskin (Holistic Healthy Pets), catching up with pals Ingrid King (Conscious Cat) and Tamar Arslanian (I Have Cat), and meeting blogging buddy, Julie McAlee (Sometimes Cat Herd You) for the first time at the Purina reception! L to R – Cathi, Julie, Tamar, me, Ingrid, and Jodi.

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Enjoying a breakfast on closing day with Kathy Ireland. She was the guest speaker for the APPA’s Professional Women’s Network and was so inspirational! Here she is sharing a secret with us ladies for staying slim – stand tall and hold your hands at your waist! Voila! Instant slim!

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After her humorous moment of sharing her slimming tips, Kathy goes on to give a speech that was quite enlightening and empowering to the women in the audience (and I dare say inspiring to the men as well).

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A quick snap with Kathy after the breakfast!

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Believe it or not, I actually don’t have one of these in my house… I need this, don’t you think so?

So that was my expo experience in a nutshell… That is until my last appointment on Friday with the folks at Imperial Cat who make a fun and sturdy line of cat scratching products. When I got to the booth there seemed to be a mix-up as to who I was supposed to be meeting with and while I was trying to sort everything out with them, Dan was busy making friends with an orange and white Maine Coon kitten who apparently was given to them by a local rescue group, Florida Little Dog Rescue Group, to keep at their booth in hopes of finding a forever home for her at the expo.

She was about 6 months old and was found living on an abandoned farm with an assortment of feral cats, cows, and goats. Apparently the home owner had died and the animals were all found on the property some point after that. She was taken in by Florida Little Rescue Group and was currently living with a foster family who were socializing her in hopes she would be adopted. It was the end of the show and nobody had inquired about adopting her. I could already see Dan had fallen head over heels in love with her and I was silently cursing to myself… stay strong Deb, be the mature one, Deb.

JazmineAtGlobalPetExpo

If this little face doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what would… Remember the orange kitty photo from the day before… Why do I feel I had no control over this at all…

Sigh… she had me at meow. How was it that she didn’t have a line around the block asking to adopt her? She sat on her Imperial Cat scratching throne ever the regal and dignified young lady and she had no concern whatsoever that she was in a convention center with hundreds of people milling about. I made the mistake of picking her up and she melted into my body with a torrent of purrs and golden topaz eyes that blinked the slow, I love you blink made famous by Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell to let me know she trusted me implicitly.

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This in one plucky, confident little kitty who says, “I dare you not to fall in love with me!”

Dan and I left the booth to pretend we had something to discuss, but it was already in motion. Matrix Partners, a pet marketing and public relations firm that Imperial Cat was aligned with had already paid for the adoption – it was just a matter of meeting the team from Florida Little Dog Rescue Group and signing the papers. The kitty had already been spayed and had all her tests and vaccinations done. As far as transport and all the little details, that was the easy part. Dan and I instantly thought of our new friend, Ann Hanson from Petmate.

Deb&Jazmine

Um… yeah… I have a new feline family member… As I said, you had me at meow, kitty…

We went to share the news with her and were greeted with a massive hug. “Let me guess, she said, you need a carrier?” Which we did. She hooked us up with their newest product, the “See and Extend” travel carrier that they were introducing at the show and was nominated for an esteemed Edison Award for innovation). She also gave us a traveling collapsible water and food bowl as well as a luxurious zip and go pet bed for our kitty to sleep on. All of this was necessary because we were not heading directly home – we were going to be spending the night with Dan’s mom who lived an hour away, so we literally had nothing! Wow! Talk about generous! And the team at Imperial hooked us up with litter and a litter box, toys, a cat scratcher, and food.

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Petmate’s See & Extend Carrier is a breakthrough two-in-one travel and sleep retreat for small pets, providing safety and comfort on the go. It features a side pop-out giving dogs and cats room to stretch, and mesh “windows” for ventilation and visibility.

Why did this all happen? Now that we are home, the pieces have fit together. A mixed up appointment that almost didn’t happen. Mr. Jazz was guiding me all along, letting me know this little being was meant to be and that it was time to open my heart again to another cat in need. This darling girl was his plan for Dan and I to help mend our broken hearts. We did not name her immediately – it took a day to think it over and we think we have it figured out… Jazmine. She has a lovely white and yellow coat like the colors of a jasmine flower and we also chose the name as a way to carry on the Zee and Zoey legacy with the letter “z” in the name, but most importantly, her name is the perfect tribute to Mr. Jazz.

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Jazmine in her new home… She looks like she has been a part of our family since day one… Here she is with her Petmate portable zip and go pet bed.

So, we now are back to a family of 8 cats and I will be sharing Jazmine’s story as it unfolds. Global Pet Expo will forevermore have a special meaning to me –typically an event like this is an opportunity for me to bring home a bag filled with cat swag for my beloved kitties … this time I took a more literal approach and brought home an actual cat in the swag bag…

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To read in detail how Mr. Jazz led me to the Global Pet Expo and the subsequent adoption of Jazmine, please read this post:

Mr. Jazz Makes a Visit and Earns a Nomination in the BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Social Media Awards for Best Pet Blog Post

For more information on Jazmine’s first few weeks in her new home, please read these fun and informative posts:

Jazmine’s First Days… Kitty Knows Best…

Jazmine – Where the Boys Are…

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  1. meowmeowmans says:

    Jazmine is beautiful and adorable! ConCATulations on the newest member of your fabulous family. 🙂

  2. I’m bummed I wasn’t in the big cat picture with you! your baby is ADORABLE! I need to learn the tricks of the trade from you for getting all that free swag. I TOTALLY WANT a See and Extend carrier – LOVE! But do I need to adopt a kitten to get one? Great pics and a great story. Good to see you and to meet Dan, if ever so briefly. Next time it will be at the CLEVLANDER! (sp)! xo TA

  3. Sparkle says:

    OMC, I think you WON the Global Pet Expo! Everybody else got ho-hum swag – and YOU got the awesomest kitten ever! You are so lucky!

  4. Andrea Dorn says:

    She is gorgeous! You were definitely meant to be together. Congratulations.

    I love that extendable carrier. It would have been great when I was traveling to cat shows and staying in hotels. I don’t do that anymore though. But what a great design.

  5. Connie Marie says:

    I left an earlier comment, don`t see it, so
    I just wanted you to know how sweet Jazmine looks, and how lucky you are fate brought you together. She will provide lots of love and healing for you both.

  6. Ms. Phoebe's Mom says:

    ConCATulations! Jazmine is a perfect name for such a beauty and as part of the amazing way she came to be with you. Mr. Jazz worked his magic to bring two souls who needed love together. I can only hope that when the time comes for my angel Phoebe to guide me to a baby in need it will be as an amazingly perfect situation as yours was. Much love to the family and its newest member!

  7. Welcome to your new home, beautiful Jazmine!

    I normally stop whatever I am doing and hop over to your blog whenever I see a new post from you, Deb, but in the wake of my mom’s passing, had not noticed that for some reason, your last several e-mails ended up in my spam box, so I am SO glad you left me a comment to stop by!

    I can see why Jazmine had you at hello! She and Magellan are about the same age and he also does that melt into your body trick that melts your heart and makes you weak in the knees! Can’t wait to see how she and all of the other cats are getting along. I KNOW she is loving life with you and Dan!

    By the way – the global expo looks awesome! Hope I’ll have a chance to do something so exciting one day! 🙂

  8. Deb, I’m rarely speechless but wow, what an amazing experience, all of it and the jewel in the crown, Jazmine. What a blessing and gift. I was a little freaked out when I saw the pic. She looks like the incarnation of my Billie Beans, a female marmalade tabby from long ago. To be continued indeed!

  9. Jackie Perez says:

    I loved that Jazmine found the perfect home with you. She is beautiful! I am sure I would have been weak and swooped her up too if I had seen her. It is so cool to see all your stops at the expo because I didn’t get to much being stuck at my booth. Loved everything you shared.

  10. Robin Stephens says:

    She definitely is a gorgeous kitty. I can’t wait to hear updates on her. It seems like it was destiny, glad you found each other.

  11. Carolyn says:

    I am not doing much blog visiting at the moment, Deb, but saw the link on facebook and had to click to see!!! You were well and truly gotchaed!! I am so excited for you. She is yours, you both knew it. Done deal! Love it. Love her xox

  12. What a fabulous, heartwarming story with a WONDERFUL ending!!! We think Jazmine is PURRfect!! And the Expo seemed really wonderful. We hope we can send our mom there next year, too!