How it all began
Vir-Chew-All Enterprizez was born as a natural adjunct to the rapidly burgeoning “Vir-Chew-All Chow Faktree” of the Pets Forum of CompuServe. To introduce our first project, “The Vir-Chew-All Chow Faktree Cook Book” I wrote:
Before the internet became a household word and internet addresses an expected part of most advertising, before the days of lookalike services competing for online members…there was CompuServe and its Special Interest Groups, later known as Forums.
When I first discovered the Cat’s Meow section of the CompuServe Pets Forum, I immediately enjoyed chatting with other pet owners about our experiences, problems, solutions and joys of being “owned” by our critters. I quickly realized that this was an incredible group of people, as warm, sharing and entertaining with newcomers as they are with friends they’ve known for years, both in cyberspace and in the real world. This is the place where the two have successfully merged and improved upon both in the process.
On one of my first days chatting via computer keyboard, my Manx kittie-girl that I had been blathering about received a message from Kathy Jeffries’ Tonkinese Kitty, Wobbs. This was my (and Presh’s) introduction to Critter Chat, which was still in its infancy.
The Critter Chat messags quickly overcrowded the human talk in that section, and in December 1994 Critter Chat was granted its own permanent message section and libraries in what was CompuServe. These forums (and many of the same wonderful people) are now part of the Vir-Chew-All Community – ThePetsForums (http://www.thepetsforums.com – the Calling All Critters forums.)
With few exceptions, the Chow Faktree is populated with real critters, displaying their own personalities, likes, dislikes and points of view. Although the critters often discuss their humans, if a person accidentally stumbles into the critters’ environment, the walls resound with the alarm “HOOMAN ALLERT!! HOOMAN ALLERT!!”. Only by “Speshul Dispensashun” from Prezzadint Presh may a human speak on the Critter Chat message board.
Incredible as it may seem, everything that is Critter Chat – the ChowTesters, the Vir-Chew-All Chow Faktree and their history — has been created and compiled from actual messages posted publicly by numerous participants with no structure, planning, arranging or manipulation of the story in any way. (the language is mostly phonetic, and reading aloud will usually quickly clarify any confusion).
The Chow Faktree CookBook was an immediate sell out, and featured the very best recipes from forum members, (and their pets!) along with original cartoons by Nancy (Swatek) Kent and photos of the “Chowtesters”. That project was followed by the Chow Faktree Special Occasion Calendar – and from there, Vir-Chew-All Enterprizez began the transformation into the Premium Pet Products and Gifts specialty store we are today.
Please feel free to be just a little silly, enjoy our “World of Vir-Chew-All” and visit the ever-expanding gang of critters in Critter Chat.
Barb Downing (Presh’s Mom)