For the past year I've been a small part of a program that very few people know about. It's called AniMeals on Wheels. Most people are familiar with the Meals on Wheels program; they provide meals to those who for one reason or another cannot get out of the house or cannot cook for themselves. When it was noted that some of the Meals on Wheels recipients were sharing their limited food and resources with their pets, AniMeals took things one step further by helping to provide for those pets.
AniMeals' mission is:
To keep pets healthy and with their humans.
AniMeals on Wheels is part of a nationwide program funded partially by Meals on Wheels America, and local donations. It is run by volunteers and provides pet food, litter, most veterinarian expenses, some grooming costs, and boarding when necessary.
So many of these people aren't able to leave their homes very often, so the companionship that they share with their pet is almost tangible when you talk to them. They each have a story to tell . . . "I've had her since she was a puppy" . . . "I got him when my wife died" . . . "She found me when I needed her the most." Their stories are heartwarming, heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. These pet owners will tell you how much they love their pets, and it's pretty obvious that these pets love them right back.
If you think that you might like to be a volunteer for Sioux Falls AniMeals on Wheels, please give them a call or shoot them an email. Volunteer positions range from delivering food and supplies, to walking dogs, to providing transportation for pets as well as other opportunities. AniMeals is located in the Active Generations building in Sioux Falls and you can talk with Samantha or Penny at 605-333-3302. If you'd rather email, you can do so at email@example.com.
This is where I say . . . give your pet a hug. ;O)
"I would love to have great pictures like those,
but my dog has to be on a leash."
This is what I hear most when I talk to my clients for the first time. They love the images that they see in the gallery, but assume that their session images could never look like those because their dog has to be on a leash when outdoors.
Here's a little secret . . . 98% of the images on my site were taken with the dog on a leash and his owner at the other end of it. Can you tell from the gallery images that the owner was standing there, sometimes right next to the dog? I myself, don't think any dog should be off a leash unless they are in their own fenced in yard where they are safe from cars, other dogs or anything else that might be a danger to them. Why risk it? The last thing anyone wants is to see a pet hurt when it could have been prevented. (And, that my friends is as political as I get.)
While there are images that, in my opinion, need that leash to stay as part of the story, most of the time it needs to be edited out for esthetic reasons. Now, let me say right now that Photoshop is not something that you do to an image. It's not a magic wand that corrects an image instantaneously. Photoshop is a software used by artists for any number of projects. For photographers, it's an editing tool. When starting out, Photoshop is not simple and it is not easy, but with practice AND patience one can learn the skills necessary to meet their needs. For pet images it is wonderful for editing out eye boogers, slobber, . . . and leashes.
Here's the truth of it all . . . When you and your pet join me at a pet session, your pet will pretty much run the show. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is. I've never had a pet respond to, "Ok Lucy, you come sit over here facing this way, and why don't you have your tail going this direction so everything is nice and balanced in the frame." I also can't say, "Oh wait, can you move that leash out of the way," because if I do they are already on to the next thing (translation: squirrel ). So, we walk around with them a bit and lead them in the direction we want them to go. And, pretty soon it happens . . . the pet that you know and love comes out to play (even on a leash! ) We always have so much fun and you know what? We get those shots. We get the shots of your pet and all that you love about them . . . and then I edit out the leash. :O)
Here are a few before and afters of editing and leash removal.
When sessions are held in a studio the photographer has control over everything from backgrounds, to lighting, to the posing of his subject. There is some amazing stuff that can be done in a studio. When pet photographers are doing an on-location shoot or an outdoor session they have control over . . . well, very little if none of that.
There are questions that every photographer asks themselves before clicking the shutter. They might start with something like: What do I want my viewer to feel when they see this image and how could I evoke that feeling? From there they might ask: Would this image be best zoomed in on one thing or zoomed out including the surrounding elements? Do I want to include the bright lighting that is coming from behind or would the image have more emotion silhouetted?
When getting ready to click the shutter on my camera, one of the first things I look at is the background. I can't say to a dog, "Ok, could you please turn slightly to the left so I can get those concrete blocks out of the background?" No, but there are some things I can do to help make the image a better one. I can move myself and my camera so that the blocks are no longer in view (and hope the animal doesn't come to investigate why I'm moving), or I can adjust my camera settings so that the background takes on a more painterly effect making the blocks less noticeable (again, working quickly as not to lose the attention of my subject).
Here is an example for this week's
Project 52: Questions
• In the first image there is a lot of clutter in the background that I was not able to crop out of the scene when I crouched down closer to my subject's level. (And . . . Hermes is about to jump out of his skin in anticipation of the treat that was in my hand. sheesh)
• In the second image I moved 2 steps up onto the stairs that were behind me to change the angle of the shot (and to be a little further from Hermes so that he might stay put.) It's better, but it's a little busy with that carpet. We can see it's a dog, but the carpet is fighting for attention.
• To take care of all that busy-ness I adjusted my camera settings so that the viewer is drawn straight to Hermes' face. (Just look at those adorable eyes.)
I encourage you to try different angles when taking pictures of your own, especially when taking them with your phone. Just tip your phone a little up or down or even side to side. I think you might surprise yourself. :O)
This week you can follow the project ring and see the thought process of other photographers when trying to get the perfect shot. Head over to Boston pet photographer, Blue Amrich Studio to start the round. Be sure to click on the link at the end of each blog post to continue back around the circle.
Enjoy your weekend!
Street photography has been around almost as long as cameras have. Street photographers capture the true feeling and spirit of places and people through this documentary style of photography. Public places are free game to photographers and they do not have to have permission to take someone's picture. On top of that, the photographer owns the rights to these images. Done right, these images are brilliant in their artistry and I am a huge fan.
Just like street photographers, portrait photographers own the legal copyright to the images that they produce and that photographer can use those images for whatever purpose he sees fit in order to help his business. He might use the images for marketing brochures, advertising, booths, shows, contests, etc. A photographer is an artist and he owns the rights to the art that he produces. It's as simple as that.
I am all for art and I totally agree that the images produced by photographers should belong to the photographer. That artist's blood, sweat and tears go into those images and you have no idea how many hours are spent on a single photo session. A photographer is extremely picky about so many aspects of an image starting from the first camera setting to the placement and opacity of their watermark when revealing those images to the client. They want to make sure that they offer their clients something that they will cherish and be proud to display; at the same time, they are creating for their clients a piece of art that represents their own personal style and artistry.
This is one reason why I think it is only right to ask permission of a client before using a photo from their session for promotional purposes. None of us sees ourself the way others do. My feeling is that if the person in the photo is not comfortable with everyone seeing it, then it has no business being shown to anyone else. Images taken by a photographer for a client are for the client first and foremost. If that client is comfortable with the photographer using their image for his business then that's a bonus for the photographer.
If a photographer asks you if he or she can use one of your session images, it's because she is very proud of it and thinks it represents her business perfectly. (Remember, photographers are picky people). If you are not comfortable with your picture being out there, then just say so. If you are, or even if you are on the fence, trust your photographer when she thinks that others will see your photo as the beautiful image that it is.
Who hasn’t yelled (at least once), “STOP IT!” when their dog just won’t stop barking? We tend to let it slip sometimes when we have heard enough of our furry family member making his presence known at the front door or the back fence. Hermes will bark at every human, animal, or leaf that is in view of the front door, back door or across the field. He’s not picky.
If you have a barker, it wont do you any good to try and stop him with loud commands. however, if you want to try and control the barking, then here is one exercise that might work for you and your pet . . .
As soon as your dog starts barking, calmly, but sternly say “Enough” and then get up and walk towards him with a small treat until the treat is within inches of his nose. Make soothing clicking noises as you do this to get his attention. When you have his attention, don’t give him the treat, but palm it in your hand and say “Good boy” a few times luring him away from the thing he was barking at. When he is away from the situation and stops barking this is when you can give him the treat. You have lured him away by signaling for him to stop (“Enough”), created a situation in which he did stop barking (luring him away with the treat), and then rewarded him for being quiet (giving him the treat). It sounds easy I know, but it’s a little harder than it appears so don’t give up. If you continue in this manner each time your dog barks, it will become familiar to him and you will see progress.
Lure him away with a treat; then when he stops barking, give him the treat.
Start small when you first embark on these training sessions. Don’t start when he’s out of control, barking like mad at the man who’s walking across the field with three dogs all pulling on their leashes. Instead, you want to start when he’s a bit less agitated. If you can foresee a situation ahead of time that will cause your dog to bark, this is best as you can be ready to say "Enough" before your dog is past the point of no return. You can also have a friend walk by or even knock at the door while you lure your dog away with a treat. You might have to go all the way up to your dog and hold the treat right smack in his face to get his attention, but that’s ok. The main thing is that you have to set up your routine and stick to it . . . He barks; you say “Enough” and lure him with a treat. After he’s quiet for a few seconds (make this time longer as you progress) give him the treat. Eventually, when your dog hears you say “Enough” he will coming trotting up to you on his own to get the treat.
It is important to remember that to get a dog to stop barking is not as easy as teaching him to sit or stay. It’s much harder for a dog to stop doing something that is natural for him. Barking for a dog is linked to emotion and physiological arousal just as laughing, squealing and yelling is for kids. Who doesn’t remember a time in their childhood when a parent or teacher said to “Stop” and there was just no stopping the giggles that escaped no matter how hard you pressed your hand over your mouth? Now, picture your dog with his paw over his muzzle. Yep, makes a little more sense now doesn’t it? :O)
[A lot of the dog behavior wisdom that you might find on this blog, I credit to books I’ve read by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. The exercise I've just described is from one of her books entitled, The Other End of the Leash. Hermes and I will work on this and hopefully we will come to an understanding . . . I hope.]
It's been so hot these past few days that when Hermes asks to go outside he sits in a sunny spot, and then within 3 minutes is back inside. I bet he went out only to come back in nine or ten times today. I don't blame him one bit. He's a warm weather dog and loves the sunshine, but the humidity is a killer. Please take care when the temps get high. Here are some interesting facts about pets and heat.
Dogs bodies are comfortable at a lower temperature than humans. This means that the hot days that we have been having feel even hotter to them. Since dogs still need exercise to stay physically and emotionally healthy, it is best if they go on walks early in the morning or later in the evening when it's cooler outside. If you have a path that is not paved, such as a dirt road or a grassy area, this is the best place for these walks as dog's bodies use the pads of their paws to regulate their body temperature. When they walk on hot pavement, their body heats up, too. Plus, the hot pavement can burn their paws.
Breeds with shorter noses, like Pugs and Boxers have a harder time breathing in the heat so you might want to keep an eye on them while exercising in the summer months. The concern is heat stroke with symptoms like excessive panting, disorientation, higher body temperature, blood in the stool, and seizures. If you suspect heat stroke, pour cold water over their body and call your vet. Which reminds me, kiddie pools can provide a cool relief for your pet, just make sure the water is shallow and not heated too much by the sun.
Some dog owners shave their dogs in the summer because they feel they will be too hot. This can be tempting, but be careful because some breeds, like Siberian Huskies actually have fur that keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Other dogs, like Pomeranians, really enjoy the coolness of a short do in the summer. If you think your pet looks too warm with their long hair, just do a little research before you get out the clippers.
Shaved or hairless dogs and cats can sunburn just like people. If you know that your pet will be exposed to the sun for an extended amount of time, some vets recommend that you use a kid or pet sunscreen on their ears, nose and face. This being said, I'm betting you can find a nice cool place indoors for them to play with squeak toys or laser lights. :O)
The other night, it cooled off a bit so I took Hermes for a short game of frisbee. He loved it even though we had to quit early. I don't think he minded. . . he was hot but he was happy.
Some of the information for this post was obtained from an article written by Rebecca Kelley for Pet Care RX.
One of my ongoing projects is helping with AniMeals here in Sioux Falls. AniMeals on Wheels helps seniors feed and care for their pets through grants and the help of volunteers.
You've heard of Meals on Wheels? This is an organization who provide meals to seniors who are homebound? Well, AniMeals does the same for their pets. AniMeals also helps with medical care, grooming needs and boarding. The owners of these pets are so very grateful to have AniMeals helping out and have stories that will both melt your heart and some that will truly break it.
AniMeals in the Sioux Falls area is only 6 months old and hopes to have a Facebook page soon. In the meantime, they are looking for volunteers and donations so that they can provide for more pets as the program grows. Some of the volunteer opportunities are (but, aren't limited to):
• Food Deliverers
• Dog Walkers
• Pet Boarders
• Pet Transporters
If you are interested in helping, you can call Penny at (605) 333-3302. Penny is the volunteer coordinator and is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 - 1:30. If you would rather, you can email her at SNorman@activegen.org. Penny can answer any questions you might have about volunteering and she also has a running wish list for AniMeals donations that are needed.
I think this is a wonderful organization and after meeting so many of the recipients, I can tell you that these lovely people are so grateful and so appreciative. Because of AniMeals they are better able to care for their precious furry (and feathery) friends without worry. The bond between these pets and their owners is so very obvious and I love knowing that many of them will be able to stay with their owner because of AniMeals and their volunteers.
Here are a few images of program recipients and their owners (who kindly allowed me to share). It was a joy meeting them.
Puppies are adorable and puppies are perfect in young families where they can grow with children. They teach kids about responsibility and unconditional love amongst many other things that we could list. But, some have taken advantage of the cuteness and it's attraction. National Puppy Day wasn't founded to just look at cute puppy pictures (although it makes for a day full of smiles if you're on Facebook). It was created to bring awareness to the fact that there are puppy mills and other sources for puppies that might not be ideal.
"National Puppy Day is a special day to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives. But more importantly, it's a day to help save orphaned puppies across the globe and educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills, as well as further our mission for a nation of puppy-free pet stores." - Colleen Paige (founded NPD in 2006)
So . . . with that being said, I hope you Facebookers smile all day long from the overload of puppy pictures. Enjoy! :O)
“Piles of digitised material – from blogs, tweets, pictures and videos, to official documents such as court rulings and emails – may be lost forever because the programs needed to view them will become defunct," Google’s vice-president, Vint Cerf has warned.
"Humanity’s first steps into the digital world could be lost to future historians," Cerf told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting, warning that we faced a “forgotten generation, or even a forgotten century” through what he called “bit rot”, where old computer files become useless junk.
Cerf added, "If there are photos you really care about, print them out.”
There are a lot of photographers, me for example who are just too chicken to put all of our files in one folder, so to speak. I have client images backed up on my computer, 2 external hard drives and now another external that is kept in my safe deposit box. What about my personal photos? hummm, well, I have them backed up . . . not to that extent, but they are in more than one folder. . . sad. I should know better.
I need to make prints of the images that document my families lives and make prints of the images that are my favorites for whatever reason. There is nothing wrong with a box of photos, or an album of photos to be found by future generations. I for one would be happy to discover something of my grandparents or great grandparents that told me more about their life. I have books that I have made with photos from a specific year or vacation or event, but I need to get those everyday photos documented with something tangible. After all, I have a business that revolves around the everyday, the candid, and story telling imagery, so there is no excuse to risk losing these pieces of my own life.
Here is what one photographer wrote on the subject of Print Vs Digital:
Will Your Grandchildren be Very Upset With You? by Fred Molesworth
I’m willing to bet they will
Imagine, 50 years from now, as your grandchildren or great grandchildren are going through the boxes in the attic. Finding all kinds of treasures and keepsakes, they’re enthralled with what they are, and how they tie into the story of your life.
Amongst all the old items, they find a number of round silver objects. Some have writing on them, some are blank, but they resemble some kind of a small platter about 4 inches across, with a hole in the middle.
Puzzled, they take them to their parents.
“What are these, mom?” they ask.
“Oh, I think those are all of grandma’s photographs. Yep, here’s one labeled “My Wedding”. Here’s some more labeled “Family Photos”, and some more labeled “vacations”.
“How do we look at them?” they ask.
“Well, I’m not sure we can. First of all., no one has the device that reads these any more. And besides that, I doubt after all these years that they’re any good any more. Being stored in the attic, the heat and cold probably ruined them”.
The kids are very disappointed. Nowhere amongst all the treasures are any actual prints. All that history is lost. Their connection with the past, and all the wonderful stories that might have gone along with all those photographs are gone as well.
Along with all the wonders of our digital age come some significant problems that most people have never thought of.
Did you know that something over 90% of all images taken on today’s digital cameras are NEVER PRINTED? I’m guilty of that myself. I have gigabytes of personal photographs that have never been seen other than on a computer screen.
In the old days, film went to the lab, and everything that was printable was printed. Even if it was a bad photograph, it still was a hard copy, a part of your family history, and it had permanence. Even if it never went in an album, it at least went into a box, to be discovered as treasures years later. I just came across some wonderful old prints of my mother’s childhood from back in the 1920s. They’re TREASURES. They connect me with my past, and keep alive some of the memories of the stories my mother told me about growing up.
Along with those were lots of other family-history photographs. Grandparents and great grandparents I never knew, but I have photographs of them. Yes, I’ve had to do some restoration on them, but I had the hard copy that allowed me to do this.
But that’s not even possible with images that never leave the hard drive, and. are lost when the hard drive fails. Or with images that are placed on CD’s or DVD’s, because the chances of being able to read them in 50 years is just about zero.
Try to fmd an 8 track tape player today. Or one of those large 12 inch floppy drives, or even a 5_ inch floppy. And those were popular less than 20 years ago.
The same problem exists in professional portrait studios today. Many people are simply asking for the images on CD. “I’ll print them later” or “I’ll design my own wedding album” are common phrases. Usually this is done with the thought that they’ll save some money by doing it themselves.
But you know what? Most never make it into any kind of an album. Life gets busy, other things get in the way, and 5 years later, they’ll still only have a disk. Kids come along, and life gets insane, and 20 years later, they’ll be looking for some way to read those disks, if they even happen to think about it.
And then 50 years later, the grandkids are having the conversation with their parents.
I work with a wedding planner – a professional in the wedding business – who fit’s this description perfectly. Her photographer simply gave her some proofs and a disk. Five years later, that’s all she has, and she’s admitted that it’s likely that it’s all she’ll ever have, because now with a new baby, she’ll probably never get around to designing an album. Life now has other priorities.
We periodically get calls from people in this situation, wondering if we would design an album for them; Or retouch images that were never retouched. Or if we can “fix” the poor quality images that were taken by someone who didn’t know how, or feel the need to provide a quality finished product.
I bring this up only to point out the importance of what we, as a professional studio, do Our job is not just to create the images, to create wonderful story telling photographs about the people in front of our camera; it’s to create a final product, whether it be a professionally retouched and printed single image, a family heirloom wall portrait, or an incredibly storybook album using a collection of the images that were created.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a wedding, a newborn baby, a senior or a family. Having the final product created for you is important. To do less is to leave the job half done, and to short-change the customer.
Then, if you want a disk with all the images “so I can print them later” that’s fine. At least you’ll have something wonderful to show, something your family will love for generations, and something your grandchildren can truly get excited about when they discover that box in the attic.
And that conversation, then, will never need to take place.
I've always loved taking pictures. I bought my first camera with babysitting money that I saved up when I was about 12 years old. It was a black Vivitar 110. I loved that camera and I took pictures of my siblings and friends, taking it on fun outings as well as to my grandparents house where we visited every summer.
When I look back at those square photos I notice that a lot of them have people in them, but those people are not usually the focus of the image. . . the animals are.
Fast forward a few years (ok, more like a decade or so) . . . I married a newly commissioned air force pilot, moved a couple of times, had 2 kids, moved overseas, moved back to the states, had another kid, then moved a few more times. During all of this I needed to make sure that the grandparents would recognize their grandkids the next time they saw them, so I took and sent pictures of our adventures through the mail. I did this for nearly 20 years. Then a newly found friend (she took my boys' senior pictures) sold me my first digital camera. I wasn't sure about this digital thing at first, but after only a couple of days I was hooked. I carried it with me everywhere I went.
I didn't realize it then, (just like I didn't really notice that I was taking pictures of chickens instead of my grandpa and his beloved mule, ol' Maude) but looking back I had found my love of candids. I was taking candid photographs without even knowing there was a name for them. While taking pictures at marching band competitions, rugby matches, rock climbing, and blading at the neighborhood skate park, I would seek out images where my kids (and other people's kids, like this one) weren't aware that my camera was even there. These images always turned out to be my personal favorites. They were real. No one was posing, and there were no half-fake smiles; these images captured their personalities and told a story that a posed image couldn't.
Ok, fast forward a few more years (no, it really is only a few this time) . . . my house would soon become one of those empty nests that people always talk about and I knew I was going to have to find something to fill the void that would replace all the commotion that three boys and their friends generated.
I loved animals so I started volunteering at a local shelter. Within a few months I was their photographer and made it my mission to get the best photos of each animal so that I could upload them to the shelter site in hopes of finding them a home. This was it. I had come full circle - taking pictures of animals, but this time it didn't matter if there were people in the shot or not.
Those shelter days were the happiest days of the week for me. I loved being around the animals, especially the dogs, but I loved that I could see their personalities in my photos. When I looked at the images and saw the "real," I actually found myself smiling and saying, "thank you" to that animal (yes, I'll admit it, sometimes I said it out loud). Here's the thing, though. . . those animals weren't posed, they weren't told to say cheese (well, I might have said it once or twice), and they certainly weren't told to perform. They were just being themselves. These were candid images. Images of animals who don't know what a photograph is much less try and figure out how they should look in one. These are the kinds of images that make people stop and take notice when they are looking for a pet to adopt. I don't know how many times I heard someone say, "I just felt a connection when I saw their picture on the site."
Fast forward one last time . . . In June of 2014 I made a split decision that I was going to start my own pet photography business. Yes, it was a split decision, but it wasn't that I hadn't thought of doing it before - I had even put it on my "bucket list of things that may or may not happen" a year and a half earlier. The thought of starting a business would enter my mind and then immediately it would be gone. Sometimes it was because it was just a fleeting thought and sometimes it was because I talked myself out of it that fast. This time it came into my head not as a question as to whether to do it or not, but as a statement. "I am starting a pet photography business." And, there it was. . . big and bold; there was no going back.
The decision was made so now I needed to decide what kind of photographer I was going to be. This was the easiest part for me. . .
I am a candid photographer. This is what I love, this is what I'm good at, and this is what I want to offer my clients. I want to give them images of their pets that show the love that their pets have for them, the fun that they have with their pet, and images that show that animal's true beauty inside and out.
Now that you've taken care of the human aspect, make sure you socialize your puppy with other animals. Dogs are a must and at some point in their life they are bound to encounter a cat. Puppy training schools and doggie day cares are a good place to socialize as well as just getting together with friends for a puppy play date. The more they are around other dogs the better chance of them behaving nicely when you encounter other dogs when you're out in public.
The best thing you can do from the very start is to socialize your puppy. Make sure he meets as many people as possible. Kids are the most unpredictable so the more they are around kids the less chance there is of the puppy being surprised or caught off guard. Make sure you supervise these play dates though. Puppies are just puppies after all and they do have sharp teeth. Make sure they meet adult members of the opposite sex and elderly people, too. Some dogs don't take so well to men for one reason or another and elderly people have a slightly different way of interacting with animals. If your pet is exposed to a wide range of personalities his own personality will benefit.
How many of you added a new puppy to your family this Christmas? Well, there are some things that you can do right away to help insure that this new member grows to be a happy and mentally healthy member of your family.
Another thing you can do for your pet is to handle them. Hold them and pet them. Unless they are working dogs they will need nail trims, so handle their feet often, pressing gently on their paw pads. If you have a breed who will need grooming, your puppy will benefit greatly by brushing them on a daily basis and getting them use to things like the sound of a blow dryer.
When you are helping your pet to get use to these things that will be a regular part of his life, keep the sessions short. Socialization and handling for short periods of time and more often will do wonders for your puppy.
This is Zoe. She was my best girl (in our house of all men) for 16 years. Next month will be a year since Zoe passed away.
Zoe was 16 and I knew her time was growing shorter. Although she never let on, I knew she couldn't see as well as she once could and couldn't hear as well either. She was so smart that neither of these things really mattered though. Zoe had us spoiled as pet owners, (Hermes didn't stand a chance). From the day we brought her home, she was eager to learn and eager to please. She learned things on the second try (if she didn't learn it on the first) and she knew on the second "no" that it was something that she shouldn't do or somewhere that she shouldn't go.
Zoe kept the boys wrangled when they needed to be and she taught them how to care for an animal. When Hermes came along, Zoe had been the family pet for 9 years and she wasn't so sure about this new addition to the family. After a few days of tolerating him, she decided that he could stay, but that he was going to have to learn the ropes. The first thing she taught him was how to know when it was time for the kids to come home. The two of them would wait at the front door every school day just a couple of minutes before the boys showed up.
Zoe was a big help in training Hermes. She taught him to sing (who knew he'd be a soprano) and she taught him to walk on his side of the path when we went for walks. (Apparently, dogs talk to each other with their eyes, too. I never heard a thing, but boy, when she said "get on your side," Hermes listened!) Zoe could see that Hermes was a little on the hyper side when it came to tricks for treats, so she offered a "paw" with this, too. Literally. When I said, "sit," Zoe would sit. After the 3rd time of hearing the word with no treat delivered, Zoe would look over at Hermes (obviously the reason they weren't getting the treat) and smack his back end down to the floor with her paw. She would then look at me silently saying, "How's that?"
I worried for months that I wouldn't know when it was time to say goodbye to Zoe. I use to come downstairs in the morning and just watch to see if she was still breathing. I told my vet that I was concerned about Zoe's old age and worried that she would be in pain at some point and never let me know it. He simply told me that when the time came, I would know. Last December, a week before Christmas, Zoe told me that it was time. She made it very clear to me so that I would have no doubt. It was the best gift she could have given me.
In honor of Zoe, I am now offering a session for pets who are terminally ill or have only a little time left with their owner. I'm calling it, the Zoe Session. If you would like to know more about this session please don't hesitate to contact me.
We've all seen photos that speak for themselves. They tell a story or emit a feeling that resonates with the viewer. Well, some photos might say one thing, but then when combined with other photos might tell a different story.
I posted this photo of Lola, Hanna and Hallie on the Facebook fan page last week. Like many dogs, they love to play ball and they will play until our throwing arm gives out if we let them. To me this photo says, "fun!"
The thing is, since I spent time with these three girls, I know the rest of the story. . .
Lola, Hanna and Hallie share a home with two people . . . and a whole lot of cattle. When I see the photo of the dogs playing ball in with other photos from their day, I get a different perspective. When I look at these three photos as a whole, the dogs playing ball has a different feel to it. It still says "fun," but it's obvious that this is more than just playing ball for them. For one thing, it's connecting with their busy owners during a little down time. Looking at all three photos as a grouping, you get a sense of the hard work that occurs and with that in mind, the photo of the dogs says even more. It still says, "fun," but it also says, "family, belonging, and truly loved." The same goes for the other two photos . . . on their own, you have a good sense of the long, hard work hours of their day, but when you add the photo of the dogs with the ball, you can once again, "feel the love."