Monday, October 21, 2013

Dog parks, HGTV and horse MRIs: PetSafe summit lessons

It's practically pitch black, save for a roaring fire. Flicks of flame fly into the air like long lit strings.

When I look up, I see stars -- not just the brightest in the sky, but the clouds of stars. And a guitarist singing about how Jesus loves dogs is the accompaniment for this beautiful evening.

How did I get here and what does this have to do with animals?

This evening in the Tennessee mountains was the culmination of three days with PetSafe, a company that makes everything from dog treats to invisible fences. I was invited, along with about a dozen other writers, to learn about the company, its products and the good it does in the community.

So here is what I learned from the PetSafe Summit:

1) The depth of PetSafe's product line is incredible. PetSafe started out as Radio Systems Corporation, making and installing those invisible fences designed to keep dogs in a yard without needing wood or chainlink. Since then they have moved into training collars (static, bark, ultrasonic, spray collars), pet doors, water fountains, kennels, treats, toys, cat litter boxes, harnesses and more.

Now, whether you agree with everything they sell (and I know the training collars and invisible fences are quite controversial), you have to admit that it's an impressive list. And they are moving more and more into positive training products with the purchase of the Premier line, and other products.

There's the Train N Praise treat dispenser, for instance. Your dog does something good, you can push a button and they get some treats.

And the dispenser is being paired with other products, like a potty trainer. Puppy goes on these special pads, treats come out.

2)  PetSafe is creating some amazing new products. Boy I wish I could tell you, but I signed a piece of paper that says I can't. I can tell you that they like to get creative (which explains why their stuff is some of the most unusual I've seen -- especially the toys. Like the Magic Mushroom!).  We learned that they spend years developing and testing products, and not everything gets out onto the market, but they give it a shot.

3) Expect to see more from PetSafe in the coming year. PetSafe is working with Lowe's. Some of the products will be tied to the Iris Smart Home System. Some of PetSafe's products (like the dog doors) can be electronically activated using the Iris system. You'll be able to let dogs in and out while at work from your cell phone, for instance.

While there we also took a tour of Scripps-Howard, home of HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network and others. You'll find PetSafe products in the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes, and DIY Network Blog Cabin.

With Blog Cabin in particular, you'll get to choose what products go into this house, and then you'll get to enter for a chance to win! Those sweepstakes will be up soon.

4) The University of Tennessee is benefiting from PetSafe. We got to tour the University of Tennessee's Veterinary College. The school is enormous. It included small animal care, zoological medicine, pet therapy, livestock studies and equestrian medicine. PetSafe has helped the school out, particularly with therapy equipment -- like a pool and an aqua-therapy treadmill. Take a look at the pictures.

Pool in the small animal therapy room.
Is your ocelot obese?

Large animal MRI room.

A bald eagle who is recovering from being shot.
Surgery room for horses.
Aquatherapy for horses.
5) PetSafe is an amazing place to work. The gym, the library, training seminars, a health and fitness program, a pretty nice lunch area. On our tour of the facility, we spent a lot of time walking through the call center -- when you call with a problem, you get an American. And there's a good chance they'll have a dog beside them.

No cats, just dogs. And there's more on the property for dogs.

The first picture is of PetSafe Village, a big boarding, day camp and training facility. The second picture is of one of six PetSafe dog parks throughout Knox County. The parks, are beautiful -- this park has lake and fountains, and multi-level areas, and a small dog area. They are expanding into surrounding counties too.

These parks are the inspiration for the Bark for your Park contest. Find out how you can win a park for your community when the contest comes around next year.

6) PetSafe and Knoxville are a perfect fit. PetSafe was born and raised in Knoxville, and I think it's a perfect fit. We got to spend some time downtown. Then we got to go into the hills of east Tennessee, where we met Jay Clark and his band. He's the one who sang the song about Jesus loving dogs that last night in Tennessee. You can hear that song on YouTube here, and you can download his band's music on iTunes.

The PetSafe people asked him to host us in his home because they loved his work, and they knew he was an animal lover. The songs were humorous, heartbreaking and uplifting.

There's a folksy, welcoming feeling throughout the community, and PetSafe has the same feel.

By the time I was done, I was ready to move to Tennessee. But then I remembered -- they get winter there. I don't think I could handle those colder temperatures!

Check out all of PetSafe's products at, and I promise we'll be taking a closer look at their products in the coming months.

DISCLAIMER: PetSafe provided the flight and accommodations for the PetSafe Summit. However all opinions are my own, and I wrote this post of my own accord.


  1. Sounds like an awesome visit, Christie! I will have to check them out!
    *high paws*

  2. Sounds fantastic! Looking forward to more later :-)

  3. It all sounds like a wonderful time and a lot of new information! Such a great trip for you - so happy you enjoyed the event!

  4. Hey, Christie! I'm so glad you loved visiting PetSafe. When I worked there, you were one of my favorite bloggers. :) It makes me happy to see you continue your relationship with the brand - best wishes!


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