On Monday, I got up at 3:00 am to head to the airport--why I chose a 6:00 flight is beyond me! ;) I had plans of meeting up with my friend Mike, who lives in NYC (Jerry and I spent the day with him when we were there in July). The Better With Pets summit wasn't until Tuesday, so I had all day on Monday to do whatever I wanted in the city.
I really didn't want to spend $50 on a cab to get to my hotel from the airport, and Mike told me that I could take a bus and subway, for a total of $5.50. We all know I'm terrified of trying to figure out public transportation, because it's incredibly intimidating to me; but Mike actually showed up at the airport at 8:00 on Monday morning to go with me! That was super nice of him. We took a bus to a train to another train, and then walked to my hotel, where I just dropped off my bag (all I brought was a backpack, because it was just for one night). Then, we headed out into the city.
I've done a lot of the touristy stuff in NYC, so I ended up spending the day "shadowing" Mike--he's a music composer/pianist/singer/songwriter/DJ/producer all rolled into one, and he does a little of it all to earn a living. We went to a recording studio, which was in a really nice building (I can't remember where in the city it was, though). We also walked to Tribeca, where Mike had a piano lesson with a five year old boy. "Upscale" is an enormous understatement when describing the massive, beautiful apartment where this boy lives. I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped when we went inside. His mom was super friendly, and it was cute to watch the piano lesson.
We did a LOT of walking, which was great--28,520 steps--and Mike taught me what he could about the subway system. I felt confident enough that I decided to use the subway (and bus) to get back to the airport on my own Tuesday night! Mike's wife, Renee, met us for a beer around dinnertime, and then I headed back to the hotel. After I'd showered and gotten into bed, a couple of the friends I've met through Purina texted me and said they were going downstairs for a drink, so I threw on my clothes and went down to meet them. It was a busy (but very fun!) day.
Tuesday started bright and early with the Better With Pets summit. It was at the Brooklyn Expo Center, and rather than take the shuttle to the venue, I ended up braving the subway--to "practice" for when I went to the airport later. I made it! I even had to transfer trains, and I didn't get lost. Google Maps is the greatest invention ever.
The main focus of the summit this year was about how our mental health is better with pets in our lives. The venue was amazing! Purina did a really nice job getting it ready for the summit.
I spotted a few people that I got to know at the Meet Purina event this summer, so I sat with them.
Left to right is me, Melissa, Dan, Phil, and Lindsay. Melissa and Phil have an adorable vlog on YouTube (they are really one of the cutest couples ever!); Dan coordinates the blogger events for Purina, and is an all-around super nice and fun guy; and Lindsay blogs at Life of Mulligan about her adopted shelter dog. Lindsay also runs a non-profit that raises money for shelter pets with medical needs to make them more adoptable.
There were three panels in the morning, each speaking about a topic related to mental health and pets. I never realized just how strong of a correlation there is between pets and lower rates of depression and anxiety, which was interesting to me, in particular. One of the things I learned (that I found very interesting) is that pets can be used to help kids with reading disabilities, autism, or developmental disabilities.
When kids have a stutter, for example, it can really help them if they read to a dog instead of a person; dogs will just sit and listen, without getting impatient or judgmental, and kids feel more comfortable--which improves the stutter. Also, kids who have anxiety or depression can make serious progress when they have a pet to confide in or just having a pet as a constant in their lives. If kids have high stress, like parents who are divorcing, or they are moving to a new school, or something like that, pets are one thing that is always there for them and not judging them.
After the panels, we had lunch, and then there were several interactive sessions we could check out. The first place I visited--and where I spent the majority of my time--was the cat room! It was a room that was designed for cats' best interests, and there were lots of cats in there.
|A little play house with a huge rug made of rope for scratching|
|There were lots of kittens with tons of energy to play|
|I want one of these in my house! Estelle and Phoebe would love it.|
|So many places to scratch!|
|LOVE the wallpaper!|
That was my favorite part of the whole day. I love kittens, and I can't even remember the last time I got to play with or hold one!
After the summit, Lindsay and I headed to the airport. She had never been on a subway before, so I was a little nervous about getting us lost (or missing our flights!) but she wanted to come along for the adventure. We took one train to another and then transferred to a bus, which took us to the airport. I didn't make any mistakes getting there ;)
The security line was pretty much non-existant, which was odd, but I ended up getting to my gate with 90 minutes to kill before boarding. I walked around the airport for a while and ate a piece of pizza. When I got to Detroit, I had to take a shuttle to my car, and then drive home. I was SO exhausted from two very busy days. It was a great trip, though! The Better With Pets summit was a lot of fun, just as I knew it would be. And having figured out how to use the subway made me look forward to going back to NYC again someday. I used to hate going there, because it was way too overwhelming for me; but this trip, and the last, were really fun!
(In full disclosure, Purina covered my airfare and hotel expense, but I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are honest, as always.)