It was a visit to a local brewery that inspired an award-winning blogger to combine two of her favorite interests: dogs and beer.
A Dog Walks into a Bar, a blog that focuses on “paws, pints and prose — all things dogs and drinking,” is the creation of Bryn Nowell, 36, a Stonington native who now lives in South Hadley, Mass.
She got the idea after visiting Beer’d Brewing Company with her husband, Bill Nowell, and their black and white Boston Terrier, Yoda, in 2015.
“While we were in line I would say 80 percent of the people in the brewery got out of line to say hi to Yoda and to say, oh my god, I have a dog, let me say hi to your dog,” Nowell said by phone Friday. “I realized at that point that a lot of people who were passionate about beer are also passionate about dogs so I merged the two together and created A Dog Walks Into A Bar.”
It was prime timing because Nowell had been looking for an idea to blog about.
Earlier the same year she’d submitted a photo of the couple’s other dog, a brown and white Boston Terrier named Bean, to the BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Awards. She won a spot as a finalist, which gave her a ticket to the annual BlogPaws Conference, an event now in its 10th year. BlogPaws is a professional association for pet bloggers.
At the time, Nowell didn’t have a blog, nor did she know how to create, write or run one.
“I had no blog, no knowledge of blogs, or even an awareness that you could make money doing blogging. So I showed up, went to all these sessions and realized I could actually do this,” she said. “And then I went home and thought about what my purpose would be, what I would be talking about.”
Once she got the idea to combine dogs and beer, her blogging took off and she won awards at subsequent BlogPaws conferences. At the 2016 conference, she was a finalist in the Best New Pet Blog category. Last year she was a finalist for Best Photo and Best Video in a Sponsored Post. At this year’s conference, taking place April 18-20 in Kansas City, Nowell is a finalist in the Best Humor Blog, Best Blog Photo, and Best Sponsored Video categories.
She blogs frequently about pet ownership issues and combines information about dog-friendly and products wherever possible.
“We do try to marry the subjects as much as possible, so we feature dog-friendly breweries or wineries,” she said. “Plus we write about any products that are sort of joining the two subjects as well, or example, there are dog collars that have bottle openers on them.”
The blog, which gets a little less than 5,000 page views per month, also features DIY projects, recipes, product reviews, giveaways, and recommendations for dog-friendly events.
Nowell, who graduated from Stonington High School in 2000 and attended Mystic Middle School and Deans Mill School, said her parents Fred and Nancy Souza still live in Stonington.
Now a senior admissions counselor at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Mass., Nowell said blogging is fun and rewarding but she plans to keep working full-time for the time being.
“It depends on the circumstance, but it would be awesome to do this full-time and maybe one day it will be a thing but right now it’s just basically my side-hustle,” she said.
Income from the blog has allowed Nowell to donate more than $10,000 to animal shelters, which she said is one of her passions.
In the future, Nowell said she’d also like to create a coffee-table book featuring dogs at breweries. For example, on the blog she has a photo of Ginger, a mastiff that is the resident brew dog at Two Henry’s Brewing Company in Plant City, Fla., which Nowell visited while on a vacation.
She also wants to create a directory on the website that would list all of the dog-friendly breweries and wineries nationwide.
“I like to talk a lot about the dog-friendly breweries that exist because if you can bring your dog with you and have that experience together, it not only adds to your experience but it adds to the pet’s experience too,” she said.
Nowell said writing the blog also keeps her entertained.
“I think it’s hysterical that I have a credit card that says A Dog Walks Into A Bar and I can go to a brewery as a business expense,” she said. “I’m appreciative of the fact this opportunity exists and I’m also really appreciative of good beer, so being the able to merge the two is always a fun thing.
For more information, visit adogwalksintoabar.com.