REFLECTIONS #AtoZChallenge 2016

51 Comments#AtoZChallenge 2016, Blogfests, Writing/Blogging

#AtoZChallenge 2016: REFLECTIONS

Congratulations to everyone who completed the 2016 April A to Z Challenge! There were so many outstanding themes by talented bloggers worldwide; 1344 in all. This was my third year in a row and I’m going to keep doing it until I get it right. Intentions to have all entries pre-written before April 1 have been stymied for one reason or another, every time. February was supposed to be A to Z prep month, but I got sick instead and couldn’t do it. March is busy season offline, so only A to H were ready at the start. It’s impossible to keep up with blog visits and comments when you’re writing posts every day and that’s my biggest regret. Apologies to those I missed!

Picking a theme is never easy and I stick to the “write what you know” adage. The first year was all about Travel & Culture and the second expounded on Favourite Words. This year, I chose to draw on my life-long experience with dogs. Click on the image to view a complete list of entries:


#AtoZChallenge 2016: DOG BREEDS & ANECDOTES

#AtoZChallenge 2016: REFLECTIONSOne advantage of participating in the A to Z Challenge is more exposure for your blog. Views for The Doglady’s Den increased by a whopping 89% over March and surpassed last year’s increase of 58%. The most popular post was B is for BICHON FRISE, but the largest turnout came on the first day, as there was a related Battle of the Bands entry as well.

The biggest benefit, of course, is the social interaction and support, plus the joy of discovering interesting new blogs. Connections made during the A to Z Challenge often lead to enduring online friendships. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment, especially these frequent visitors:

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My only pet peeve this year is, as usual, about comments. A few people obviously didn’t bother to read the posts and left short generic remarks. along with their link, of course. That pisses me off and is no better than spam! Then there are the bloggers who never reply to any comments at all. I can understand time constraints and overwhelming volume but at least make an effort, otherwise, why bother? Rant over.

Thanks and congratulations to the A to Z Team,
without whom none of us would be here:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh

eremy Hawkins @ Hollywood Nuts
Damyanti Biswas @ Daily (W)rite
Heather M. Gardner @ The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Author AJ Lauer
am Brown Margolis @ An Unconventional Librarian
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
John Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing
Co-Hosts and Helpers




Click on survivor badge for the

Have you started thinking about next year already?
Did you enjoy your A to Z Challenge experience?

Looking forward to you comments!


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Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
Debbie D. on FacebookDebbie D. on GoogleDebbie D. on InstagramDebbie D. on LinkedinDebbie D. on PinterestDebbie D. on RssDebbie D. on TwitterDebbie D. on WordpressDebbie D. on Youtube

51 thoughts on “REFLECTIONS #AtoZChallenge 2016

  1. Love your rant:) I’m late in commenting but I loved your posts as I learned about different dog breeds and enjoyed reading about the Lab of course. I agree with your comments especially when I commented on some every day and they never responded in kind…oh well.

  2. Awesome results, Ms. Dog Lady!!!! 89% increase is really, really good! I’m glad this April was such a huge success for you, and here’s to enduring friendships 🙂

    1. Thanks, Guilie! 🙂 Of course, that drops right back down after April, but it was nice to see, nonetheless. Cheers to us! Salud!

    1. Thanks, Dahlia. I’m honoured that you thought of me for this award! 🙂 I accept, but it will take some time to get a post done. Will let you know when it’s ready. Cheers!

  3. Wow, an 89% increase in traffic is fantastic! I think leaving generic comments does more damage to the person leaving them. Everything you do online reflects on you and things like that stick in people’s minds. After all, we are all writers – it isn’t that hard to come up with a sentence or two assuming you actually read the post!

    1. That increase goes back down after April is over, but it was nice to pick up a few more followers, at least. 🙂 Those “fly by” commenters have only one thing in mind, to increase their own traffic. You’re right – their selfish tactics don’t get them anywhere.

  4. I am in shame… I left some robot responses… I did, sadness. As Homer would say “it’s my first day”…

    We made it…Hope you had a great time, thank you for your Reflection!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]


    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood… is Nuts?

    1. Haha! You’re too funny. 🙂 I know how busy you are as a co-host, but robot responses are bad form, don’t you think? Thanks for dropping by, anyway. P.S. I bought a mug to commemorate getting through the challenge. This was a bit of a rough one for me. Cheers!

  5. I love furry creatures of all kinds and wish I had discovered your blog during the challenge. I’ll have to go back and check your posts out on some of my favorite dog breeds, like labs.

    I tried checking out five blogs each day but also found that some people hadn’t done any A to Z posts or, if they did, never returned to say hi on my blog. By the end of the challenge, I ended up sticking with a regular set of blogs who commented on mine and vice versa.

    1. Yes, I did that as well, as much as possible. It was difficult to keep up, though. Sorry I missed your theme also. Thanks for dropping in! 🙂

  6. Debbie! Congratulations on the completion of the challenge. I was not able to follow all the posts but still loved each one that I read. I hope you get the book done soon now.

    I am still writing my reflections post since I fell off the commenting wagon midway through the challenge and just completed my posts. I hope I can do better next year. Will keep trying. Now I plan to visit through the year to the blogs on the list. 😀

    1. Thanks, Indy. I had a bit of a rough time this year as well and am glad to have pulled it off! 🙂 We’ll just keep doing it until we get it right, yes? 😉 I didn’t have much chance to visit either. Sorry about that.

  7. Hi Debbie: I enjoyed reading your comprehensive critique of the event. I am toying with the idea of entering next year. I tried my hand at blogging years ago but didn’t have the time nor the commitment required to do the Art, Justice. Thank you for taking the time to write reflections of your experiences. I have learned much by reading your posts. Take care. Mary

    1. Welcome to The Den, Mary. 🙂 I’m glad you found the post informative. It would be lovely if you could join us for next year! Thanks for dropping in.

  8. Congrats on completing the challenge. Your theme was new information for me and I enjoyed your posts. I also felt that short comments with links were not a good gesture.
    But a great experience overall!

    1. Thanks, Parul. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to visit that much. Hope to be better organized for next year. People who leave those self-serving comments get no love from me. 😛

  9. You did a terrific job, Debbie! I enjoyed every single post (though I came in way too late a couple of times). You are so right about writing what you know. And it showed most delightfully as you shared your adventures with your dogs with us, one could feel the patience, love and wisdom with which you cared for each and every pup that ever crossed your threshold:-) You too, are an outstanding breed and I can’t wait to see what you write about next!

    1. Thank you so much for that high praise, Diedre! 🙂 I’ve been in love with dogs all my life. I’m sure you can relate. Thanks also for your support throughout the challenge.

  10. Your peeve is the mostly commonly stated one. Maybe someday we can educate all bloggers about this thing of good commenting and reciprocal visits. We try. Good news about your traffic though. Pretty good I’d say.

    Glad you could make another Challenge and thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

    1. Yes, I think the commenting issue will always be with us, unfortunately. 😛 I was pleasantly surprised by the stats, but once April is over, they fall way back down again. Still, it was nice to get a few more followers. 🙂

      Thanks, Lee. I’m glad I managed to pull it off after that major setback in February.

  11. I may have missed a couple, but I did read them thoroughly. I came across many breeds I was not familiar with. Overall, it was a fun and entertaining experience.

  12. Debbie, again congratulations for finishing another year of A2Z! Your theme was a good fit for you and I learned something new with each visit. My only regret is I didn’t get back over to read your informative post more often, but you compiled a list of your A2Z posts and I bookmarked it to make life easier to play catch up. This is a huge help, so thanks! I’m with you on the fly by comments or those who don’t comment at all. I remember on the first day, I did the 5 people following me on the list. A few didn’t have posts up, but at each site I left a comment and you know what? Not one of those people, if my memory serves me correctly, did a return visit. Okay, they didn’t leave a comment on my site. That’s about the only way I know, if someone has visited. Anywho, I found those who faithfully visited/commented was plenty of activity for me to handle. I’m in awe of our hosts/co-hosts, including you, with did oodles more than me. You guys rock! I like how you rolled your stats into your refection post. I need to try to do this next year. Have a good week, Debbie and thanks for giving this kitty some new tips on doggies! 😀

    2016 #AprilA2Z Reflections

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I was struggling this year so your comments are especially appreciated. I enjoyed your theme as well and wish there had been more time to visit. The A to Z really gives our blog stats a great boost. Too bad it doesn’t last much beyond April, but it’s nice to have a few more followers, at least.

  13. I’m hoping to get my reflections post out later this week. I still need to get my results posted. Once, again, I’m falling behind. Many of your rants will be addressed in my reflections post.
    Like the person you visit every day, but they never once visit back. Or most likely, never visit ANYONE else back.

    1. I enjoyed your Reflections post, Jeffrey. Unforeseen circumstances aside, which could happen to anyone, some people just don’t seem to understand the concept of the A to Z Challenge. 😛 Oh well, their loss!

  14. Totally agree with you about the “fly by” comments I call them when you know they haven’t read what you wrote but do say something generic like “really good theme” and “come visit me” with their link. I always tried to read what someone wrote and left what I thought was a meaningful comment. I didn’t make it to your blog during the challenge; sorry, so many blogs so little time, but it sounded like you had a good theme. I will have to check out what you did for C as I once had a corgi.

    I didn’t do a reflections post this year, but wanted to check out some that had to see their thoughts, especially those I didn’t have a chance to visit in April


    1. No worries, Betty. There aren’t enough hours in the day to visit everyone. Thanks for dropping by now, though. 🙂 Sorry, I haven’t met any Corgis, but they are cute.

  15. I very much enjoyed your posts and I was amazed by how many referrals my blog got from your blog. Thanks for all the wonderful photos of your beautiful, furry friends.


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed my theme, Kathleen. 🙂 Thanks for following along. I have a plug-in that adds a do-follow link to your most recent blog post, which encourages not only comments, but also referrals. One of the perks of having a self-hosted website.

  16. Someone once asked me why I like dogs so much. The question did not deserve an answer. I can think of dozens of snide remarks but suffice it to say I am drawn to dogs and dog people like fish to water. And that is how you and I met during the A – Z challenge in 2014. I enjoyed all your posts and certainly learned a few things. I was surprised your most popular one was the Bichon.

    I hope you will continue to blog about dogs throughout the year. I am sure you have many more stories to share.

    1. “Dogs are better than most people”, would have been my answer to that question, Carol. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the theme. No immediate plans for more dog blog posts, but I was inspired to resume writing my “Adventures in Dog Sitting” book. Thanks for following along.

  17. Hi, Debbie the Doglady!

    You are to be congratulated for battling back from a serious illness in time to participate in this year’s grueling A to Z Challenge. Those who plan to do it again next year would be wise to get started now (or yesterday) 🙂 The topic you chose, dog breeds, couldn’t have suited me better. As you can tell, I love dogs, and I enjoyed learning about 26 different breeds and the close relationships you had with individual dogs over the years including ones you boarded and ones you owned. Nearly all of your posts put me through the emotional wringer, but that’s part of the deal for those of us who genuinely love these wonderful animals.

    No one twisted my arm and I didn’t have to do it, but I made an unexpressed commitment to you and a small handful of other friends to demonstrate my support by showing up for all 26 of your A to Z posts. I took time to read your posts from start to finish including linked articles. I took more time to think about what I had read, to comb through my mental files for anecdotes relating to the topic and to write a decent comment worthy of our friendship. I appreciate your rant and share your pet peeve, Debbie. Hit and run bloggers who consistently leave generic Twitter tweet comments are no better than spambots. What’s the point?

    Thank you, dear friend Debbie, for sharing a wealth of new information about the various breeds of dogs along with your touching stories about the special animals that were part of your life.

    1. My illness definitely threw me off track. I was not well organized for this challenge but determined to complete it, nonetheless. (Already working on next year. 😉 ) I’m honoured to know that you chose me as one of a handful of people to follow during the month. Thank you so much for your support, Tom! I could tell from your comments that you are a dog lover and read everything presented here. The sad stories are emotionally draining and just as hard to write as they are to read, but as you say, that’s how it is for animal lovers.

      If there’s a Hall of Fame for writing good comments, you’d be first on the list, my friend. Those “hit and run” people could learn a lot from you!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my theme and also glad that April is over! Struggling to get back to some semblance of normalcy now. Cheers!

  18. Great idea mentioning other blogs in your recap post. A few others are doing this as well. Very generous of you and I will take better notes next year and add this to my challenge repertoire.

    I feel you regarding some of the lack of effort both in comments as well as some of the daily posts. Since this is my first experience getting any level of interaction on my blog, I can’t afford to be too choosy. At this stage of my blog game, any interaction is better than nothing. Small steps LOL 🙂

    1. I would agree that any interaction can be better than none, but those perfunctory comments are completely self-serving. 😛 Blogging is all about engagement and building relationships. Thanks for coming by. Wishing you great success with your blog! 🙂

  19. This year has certainly been a rough one! But congratulations on completing the challenge. I enjoyed stopping by to read about your four-legged friends. Looking forward to the rest of the year and curious to see what next year brings us.

  20. Great round-up on the A-Z Debbie. And thanks for the shout-out! That was really sweet.
    I did have a great time with the challenge this year and met some amazing new friends, which is what this challenge is all about, I think. I’ll definitely do it again next year but at this point have absolutely no idea what I’ll do my theme on. I have one idea percolating but I’m thinking it might be too boring. 🙂 It’s hard coming up with good themes year after year!

    You had a great traffic increase! April is probably the most productive month and it’s such a great way to grow our blogs.

    I absolutely loved your series! Loved reading about all the dogs who have come to be a great part of your life, all the joys and sadly, the heartbreaks. The pictures always made me smile. I’ll be waiting for the book! 🙂

    Thanks for being such a great blog friend! We have the A-Z to thank for that…
    And now, back to our regularly scheduled programs…

    Happy Monday and have a great week!

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. You’ve always been one of my biggest supporters, Michele; much appreciated! 🙂 Making good friends is the best part of the A to Z challenge. The traffic increase was amazing but always falls off again after April. Still, I did pick up some more followers, so that’s cool. I’m glad you enjoyed the series. I do plan on continuing with the book, but am too tired to think about it just now. 😛

  21. I had such a blast this year – there were so many wonderful blogs to read, yours included. If only there were 48 hrs in a day :). I have a few ideas ticking over in my head for next year, but nothing concrete yet ::g::
    Best Wishes,
    Tasha’s Thinkings

    1. There’s never enough time to read everything, I know. Thanks for visiting each day and taking the time to comment as well. Next year, I hope to be better organized. Looking forward to it!

    1. I don’t have any cat stories, But I’m glad you enjoyed the dog tales. 🙂 Thanks for dropping in. It’s a good feeling to have completed the challenge.

  22. What a sweet roundup Debbie! Ah, now we can expect your book, eh? I love how you’ve been brief yet perfectly included everything one might need to be convinced that they MUST do the A to Z! Hugs! Looking forward to next year, yes. Happy to be connected with you! This year was quite low key for me, as I had too much going on offline along with travel. Nevertheless, April is always exciting!

    1. Thanks, Vidya! 🙂 Yes, I was inspired to resume writing the book of dog stories. Sorry I didn’t get the chance to visit much. The A to Z Challenge is a great experience but also incredibly time consuming. Hard to manage when writing the posts day by day. I’m not a “pantser” so that part was more stressful than fun. Next year will be better (I hope). Cheers!

  23. I loved your A to Z series, but I didn’t get here as often as I would have liked (my lack of prep as I was still writing a lot of the time!)

    I really enjoyed the stories about your “charges” and their different personalities, the photos were great, and it brought back memories of some of the random dogs I’ve known – also learnt a few facts along the way!

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the theme, Mars. ? Thanks for coming by when you had the time. I was in the same predicament and hope to do better next year.

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