Flowers for Pit Bulls & Social Good: Does Your Brand Story Make the World a Better Place?

KOTAW Off the Clock - Adventures of the KOTAW Girl Gang laced with mini marketing tips
Blooms and Brand Storytelling for a Better World | KOTAW Content Marketing

Katherine Kotaw’s rosy red nose pittie, Ivy, rocking her flower crown in support of the Pit Bull Flower Power project.

The concept was simple: Take a picture of your pet wearing a flower crown and post it to Instagram to help raise money for rescue animals.

But like most of life’s true joys, it’s the simple things that often have the most impact.

Which is why when I heard “Pit Bull Flower Power” combined with “a picture of your pet wearing a flower crown,” I didn’t think of Ivy, my sweet red nose Pit Bull — and KOTAW Content Marketing’s Brand Ambassador! — I thought of her soul sister Woofie, who knew with fervor how the simple pleasure of rolling on her back on the soft, fluffy grass in the warm, soothing sunshine meant absolute bliss.

An Unlikely Friendship and a Grand Plan

Woofie was my Golden Retriever Chow Chow who hand-picked baby Ivy five years ago to be her sister and to take care of her family three years later when she passed away.

Woofie, who preferred to meditate in the dog park rather than play with the dogs around her, was a very spiritual being with a very special gift: a grand plan.

As soon as she met Ivy, then five weeks old, Woofie took it upon herself to befriend her.

And Woofie had never been fond of puppies.

Polite Disdain and a Rare Exception

It wasn’t that Woofie wasn’t nice to puppies.  She had a calm, relaxing, peaceful aura and a fluffy, huggable mane that made little kids think she was a lion or teddy bear. But Woofie was so intelligent that she preferred to interact with beings of equal intellect, meaning she found puppies just a little bit boring!

But not baby Ivy.  As soon as Woofie saw her wiggling around on the sidewalk, she ran up to her, put her nose to hers, and claimed her as her sister.

On every walk thereafter (so usually three times a day!) Woofie led my daughters and me to Ivy’s house.  We were quickly given permission to take Ivy on a walk any time we wanted, and we took good advantage of this privilege!  Particularly Woofie, who would lead us to Ivy’s gate — sometimes at midnight —  and refuse to budge until we had taken Ivy out to play.

And if Woofie wasn’t at Ivy’s gate telling my daughters and me to open it to take Ivy out to play, Ivy was at our gate — actually wriggling THROUGH our gate! — on her way to Woofie, and us.

Borrowed Pretense and Lasting Legacy

So for the last three years of Woofie’s life, we kept up the pretense that Ivy was a “borrowed dog,” even though with each passing day, she spent more and more time with my daughters, Woofie and me than at the house three houses over where she supposedly lived.

Ivy made the last three of Woofie’s 15 years on this planet the happiest ever, and when Woofie passed away, she did so knowing we would have a pittie named Ivy to take care of us.

Because in all that time Woofie spent meditating at the dog parks throughout her life, she must have decided she needed a sister and that my daughters and I needed someone to make us as happy as she had.

It took two years after Woofie passed away to “officially” claim Ivy as our own (after her original family moved away!) but Ivy was born to be Woofie’s sister and Woofie made certain that Ivy would be our forever pittie.

It was just another one of the wonderful gifts Woofie gave to Bri, Kelsey and me.

Woofie is the inspiration behind KOTAW Content Marketing and an integral part of our brand story.

Woofie’s fluffy head adorned with a flower crown as she gnaws on a bully stick (her favorite treat!)

Charitable Cause and Crowning Moment

So why did I hear “Pit Bull Flower Power” and “a picture of your pet wearing a flower crown” and think of Woofie, one of the two dogs (the other was my Great Dane, Dakota) who inspired the KOTAW name and philosophy?

This photo of my Woofie angel will explain it. It was taken many moons ago when we still lived in San Diego, long before KOTAW was born. Woofie was eating a bully stick (her favorite treat!) on a sunny spring afternoon and my daughter Bri sat beside her and made her a crown out of clover flowers.

I was happy to go through my boxes and boxes of pictures of Woofie to find this one so I could post it to Instagram and help raise money for animals.

And this is where the “Pit Bull Flower Power” comes into play:

Sophie Gamand Photography came up with the Pit Bull Flower Power project. Sophie Gamand does incredible work taking pictures of rescue Pit Bulls available for adoption wearing flower crowns. Ms. Gamand posts the pictures of Flower Power Pitties to social media, the flower crowns designed to be a symbol of joy and sweetness to help fight against the horrible stereotype that Pit Bulls are anything but sweet and joyful.

For quite some time, Ivy and I have admired the work that Sophie Gamand does for Pit Bulls.

And when we heard last week that we could participate in her Pit Bull Flower Power project — and that Ivy’s sweet rescue kitten-cat Doosis and her loving Poodle Doodle Lucy could too! — we were overjoyed.

As I said, the rules were simple: Take a picture of your pet wearing a flower crown, in support of Sophie Gamand’s Pit Bull Flower Power project, and these pet lovers — ichaity, Harry Barker and PawPack — would donate $1 for each picture to Mr. Bones and Co., an animal welfare nonprofit organization.

I of course thought this was a KOTAWesome cause, so my daughters and I picked flowers from our yard and Ivy, Lucy and Doosis showed their support for Pit Bulls and all animals by rocking their flower crowns on Instagram.

It was simple to do and even though Ivy wondered why there were flowers on her head that were tickling her ears, she smiled and wiggled her happy pittie wiggle when we told her she was helping other Pit Bulls and other sweet animals, and that simple moment of true joy is one we will always remember — and cherish.


As I was writing this Pit Bull Flower Power installment of “Katherine Off the Clock,” I was sent three pictures of Pit Bulls on my Facebook page and three separate notes about pitties.

My favorite note was from Krithika Rangarajan, a talented writer and gifted storyteller, who told me she wants to adopt a Pit Bull so that her pup Oreo will have a playmate. And she said it was because of me that she wants to rescue a Pit.

Writer Katherine Kotaw's rescue Poodle supports the Pit Bull Flower Power project | KOTAW Content Marketing

Katherine Kotaw’s rescue Poodle Doodle LuLu supports the Pit Bull Flower Power project.

Brand Storytelling and a Cookie Dog Story

Less than a year ago, Kit (as I fondly refer to her!) adopted Oreo, a black and white Basset Hound and Labrador mix she calls her cookie.

One of the greatest gifts I have ever received is Kit crediting me for opening her eyes to the love and joy that dogs provide, after being deathly afraid of them her whole life prior.

In “Furry Friends are Forever,” Kit writes with such honesty and vulnerability about her nearly lifelong fear of dogs. She describes an incident in the not-so-long-ago past when she was walking with her husband and “spotted a leashed dog that was wagging its tail furiously and trotting towards us. Instantly, I grabbed my husband in a death grip and began choking back tears. Despite my hubby’s rolling eyes and repeated assurances that the dog was not going to tear away from its owner and bite me, I climbed over a fence that abutted the parking lot and ran towards my car.”

So what happened in the time span between this run-in with a leashed dog and Kit adopting her black and white cookie?

Kit writes: “I got closer to Katherine Kotaw — an imaginative storyteller, a creative personal brand strategist, a lovely human being and a pit-bull advocate. As our online relationship morphed into an enchanting friendship, her passion for dogs transferred to me too. She is the proud owner of the sweetest pit-bull, Ivy, and is on a personal mission to rebrand these (unfairly) tainted breeds. As Kat masterfully weaved her ardor towards dogs into her witty stories of personal branding, she made me realize that our four legged munchkins really don’t ask for much. All they seek is a dollop of love, oodles of laughter and a ton of turkey (well, at least my pup demands chicken and turkey in return for his loyalty :P)”

Oreo has been in Kit’s life for nine months now, and she says “It’s impossible to recall a time without Oreo. This exasperating love-bug hasn’t just encamped himself in my soul. He has stolen my heart so completely that staying away from him for even an hour throws me into a deep hole of depression. Simply put, I feel empty without him. His colorful food bowls, scattered chew toys (read: slippers and remote control :P), playful barks, umpteen treats (read: human food :P), dancing tail and uber-delightful face define my days!”

And now Kit wants to rescue a Pit Bull to be Oreo’s furry playmate, which she also credits to me! I honestly could not ask for a better gift than that.

Rescued by Katherine Kotaw's pittie Ivy, Doosis is a huge supporter of the Pit Bull Flower Power project | KOTAW Content Marketing

Rescued by Katherine’s pittie Ivy, Doosis is a huge supporter of the Pit Bull Flower Power project!

Good Branding and Branding for Social Good

All I can say is that brand storytelling is pretty damn powerful if it can make someone who is petrified of dogs fall in love with them.

The story of Kit adopting Oreo and falling in love with Pit Bulls will forever be a favorite KOTAW moment.

And each time someone tweets me a story about a Pit Bull saving someone’s life or tags me in a Google Plus post about Pit Bull advocacy, my heart is warmed and I know my brand story is being heard loud and clear.

And I know my brand story is doing social good. Which is the best part. Because I want to rebrand Pit Bulls as the sweet and loving dogs they are and I want to give back to causes I believe in, like animal charities and women’s shelters.

My brand story tells the tale of Ivy, a sweet Pit Bull who nursed abandoned kittens and then insisted we adopt one of them — our sweet kitten-cat Doosis.

My brand story tells the world that I survived an abusive marriage to a sadistic sociopath and that it is now my mission to inspire HOPE after domestic violence and to tell the world that smart, successful women aren’t immune to spousal abuse, contrary to dangerous stereotypes.

And I know this part of my brand story is resonating when both women and men share with me their stories of survival.

This is how I measure the success rate of my brand storytelling — is my brand story doing social good?

I’m delighted to say the answer is yes, which is why I will happily keep on telling stories.

IS YOUR brand story doing social good? Do you feel your brand story is being heard? If you have any questions about how to tell your brand’s story in blog posts or across social media, please ask away here or reach out to me by e-mail at I’d love to hear your story!

PS: Want to see more cute pics of Ivy, Lucy and Doosis, the furry members of my KOTAW Girl Gang? Connect with me on Instagram! I’d love to see YOUR cute pics and discover YOUR brand’s story!


  1. Brian J Wood says:

    Sophie’s fundraising project totally looks like a winner to me mostly because I enjoy seeing interesting photographs but also because I really enjoy seeing how creative my online friends can be. Lots of things we do (like participating in causes by posting fun photos of our animals on social media) have unforeseen benefits. Sometimes we find out that others were inspired to do things by our posts but not always. In the big picture analysis of our efforts to strengthen our personal brands there IS a long term payoff. We don’t always get to hear back what the results of our social media posts were and that lack of feedback is a tad bit frustrating. I choose to believe that awesome spinoff results are materializing everyday …and that sometimes my dog owners friends are too busy out playing with their new puppies to nudge me and let me know that I was the one who inspired them to take on the responsibility of owning a new pet! In the end social media users are lucky to have the opportunity to trailblaze that’s for sure

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      It’s a happy thought to think about people playing with their new puppies because your experiences with rescued dogs inspired them. I imagine that a lot of our efforts in social media do not get immediate feedback and that their impact may not get public or private thanks.

      But I firmly believe that everything we do in social media helps shape our personal brands. And your efforts, Brian, are truly Olympian and DO get noticed even if they don’t always get the attention they deserve. And I also believe that your ultimate rewards will be greater than you could ever imagine.

      For good or bad, personal branding is much like snowflakes — our actions swirl in the wind or melt on the sidewalk. But eventually they accumulate and form a snowball, a snowman, a snow village…and the reputation you’re building with your personal brand will be right up there with Squaw Valley, Vail and Telluride.

  2. Oh my – I was having a horrible morning when a Google Plus notification mentioned that my name was featured on Kat’s blog! O-M-G – hell, I don’t have any more dreams as a writer! #HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    You ALWAYS make the world a better place with your stories, Kat! And you have most definitely made MY WORLD beautiful by your presence and by nudging me to bring my Oreo into my heart <3



    PS: Going back to read your article now. I got so excited after realizing that you had used my story on your blog and just skipped to that part – hahahah (PETTY ME!)

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Yay, I’m SO happy I added cheer to your morning. You bring so much happiness to all of my days!



      P.S. You skipped ahead to the best part of the blog! Take a bow!!

  3. Oh Kat – I read the article twice, but my eyes kept straying towards Woofie’s angelic face! What a cutie – she made your world a beautiful place and then moved on to spread happiness to her furry friends above! <3 Wish I could have met you, Woofie, but your spirit lives on in this #KOTAWesome family! #HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    AAaah…and Ivy and Lucy look uber-adorable, but, of course, your stories enrich, enchant and empower us all! <3


    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      That means a lot to Bri, Kelsey and me that your eyes kept straying to our Woofie angel, Kit. We have pictures of Woofie everywhere in our house and there is something about the pictures of her that is different from all our other pictures — they never quite feel like a static, inanimate thing, as pictures often can. The pictures of Woofie feel so alive that if I look up and come face-to-face with a picture of her (pictures of Woofie are in every room except the bathrooms!) it somehow still feels like she is smiling at me.

      Thank you for reading and for sharing with us the joy of our KOTAW family every time you read one of our stories. That makes it feel like you are right here with us, which warms all of our hearts!

      Love always,

      Kat and my whole KOTAW Girl Gang!

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