Why I love dogs

Why I love dogs… oh let me count the ways! 

Sidenote: The phrase: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” comes from Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) and her poem written in 1843 “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)”

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Indeed the full poem. Bet you didn’t know it held more depth than the opening line… nor did I!

Each of those ways love is expressed pertains not only to a fellow human, perhaps an intimate acquaintance or storied old friend, but also to the dogs we love. 

Why do I love dogs?

  • Companionship
    Starting eons ago with the first domestication, dogs have been kept as watchdogs, hunting dogs and as companions. They listen to our stories, our rants about bad days, the hopes & dreams we have with interest. There is no interruption offered, only head tilts and slight quizzical looks for new sounding vocalizations from us (or perhaps that’s only from puppies like Blue!). The depth of dogs’ companionship lends to the ample happiness for us, no matter if we’ve been gone slightly or greatly in time. 
  • Humor
    “The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.” – Samual Butler. Humor and dogs tends to go hand in hand. Harking back to their ancient ancestors again, one of the characteristics that makes dogs a different lineage from their wolf cousins: neoteny.  Neoteny is the retention of juvenile behaviors & traits in adult dogs – a huge marker for the difference between dogs and wolves. And a key trait in neoteny: playfulness. Dogs LOVE to play. Zoomies, playing with toys, opinions of new veggies and their responses to certain problem solving events lends towards ample moments of humor throughout the day. 
  • They are FREAKING ADORABLE!
    Thanks to selective breeding since domestication, and those Victorian & Edwardian era (1830s-1910s) collectors who defined & refined many of the modern dog breeds we know, modern dogs have VAST diversity. From towering giants in danes & deerhounds, to minuscule midgets in Chihuahuas & toy breeds, there is every size of dog for every person. Add in the diversity of coat color, ear and tail shape and the results are adorable! Purebred, mutt, every dog has a cuteness level that makes me swoon! 
  • They teach us.
    What do they teach us? Patience. How to problem solve and how to return to a place of play. They teach us how to love greater than we are, and how good of leaders & parents we are (strict to lax, consistent to half assed). We learn what makes them tick and what each bark and sound means. They challenge us to grow. 

And mostly I love dogs… for the amount of love they have for us. Their love for us as caretakers, family and friends, is infinite beyond the scope of space. We are the best things in their eyes and have no reserve in showing us how much they love us. 

I love dogs for so many reasons! Why do you love dogs? (Or cats? Or a different style of pet?)


It’s a blog ring featuring dog & pet photographers from around the world! Next up visit Seattle Dog Photographer Holly Cook wants to share her love of dogs and has developed a Dog Personality Quiz to help you figure out which job is best for your dog!

The last fall update of September!

A lovely day today, with full furnishings in the feeling of fall as September nears it’s end (Saturday marks October 1st).

The weathermen have been noting that fall colors may be a bit later this year, but ought to be rather showy. The cool then warm temps from this past week into the weekend will be the main fall color influences.

Here’s the map:

WOWEE! Ladies and gentlemen, we are on the way to peak colors! Up north looks like it’s pushing into peak and with a warm weekend to ring in October, this might be the time to head to the north shore for a fall color day trip. And don’t forget, Duluth has tons of dog friendly things to do!

Can’t get up to the north shore? Then take advantage of one of the other 66 state parks throughout the state!

The daily drive from Paynesville to St. Cloud is starting to get hints of color change, though most of the trees as still sporting solid greens. There’s a tree in a park near our house that always gets the early memo and is nearly 3/4 color!

Only 1 more fall color session left on October 16th! Contact me if you’d like to call dibs!


Blue is getting bigger & braver! Classs #2 & #3 have him engaging with the other puppies along with the other owners. His main motivator is food though and he prefers to clean up the floor before he engages with the puppies. He’s starting to get distracted during class – not really by the other puppies but by the fact that every other person in the room has treats.

Round 3 of puppy shots will be October 1st and upon the clear of the vet, we will be able to head out and about to more parks as well as make intros with more dogs!

Been busy and haven’t gotten Blue out with the fancy camera, but I have been taking phone pictures like crazy! He’s figured out how to climb in the glider rocker and has taken over the cat tree. He thinks cat toys are awesome and managed to chase Lily a bit, she was not thrilled.

Rocker picture is from today, sweater pictures from yesterday! He’s getting big!


Halloween is getting closer! EEEEEEK! I rather love Halloween and it will be Blue’s first! Not sure if we’ll just stay home and hand out candy or if we’ll be adventuring out to observe the various costumed hordes. Being that Blue is shy, it may be best to just stay home and hand out candy.

Being in a Halloween mood, I’m looking into vintage Halloween party ideas, recipes and decoration ideas. Plus I need to figure out a costume…


Catch you next week with the update in the fall colors!

Line

Ever have one of those photography themes where you can’t think of a jazzy blog title?
– Get in Line
– On Line
– On the Line
– Lining Up
– In the Lines

Hmm… each feels a bit vague for the way a line can be a quintessential part of photography.

Commonly found as a rule of composition in leading lines, these types of lines lead the eye of the viewer into & around the scene of the image, frequently landing on the subject. Done correctly they have huge impact, done poorly your viewer will miss the subject in your image or miss where you want them to look. 

This image is by my friend Kristine featuring her German shepherd Reilly. The day was hot, the shot a quick one. Reilly is very regal. The leading lines in this image don’t quite work well. The dashes lead you out of the frame with the road, while Reilly’s eyes lead you out of the frame on the left. 

I did a couple of “dirty” edits to show her (and you) how different placement of Reilly within the frame would have changed the impact of the lines. 

The first “dirty” edit shows a better placement of Reilly farther down the road so that the road and dashes lead to him. BAM! Instant impact with regal Reilly!

The second “dirty” edit merely has Reilly flipped. The impact is a bit more subtle, but his gaze leads you into the road and dashes that move out of the scene. 

The general “rule” I have for dogs is to give more space in the direction they are looking. If they are looking to the left side of the frame, the dog should be positioned from the middle to the right of the frame. If they are looking right, they should be in the middle to the left of the frame. This gives the leading lines of the eyes some room to lead the viewer instead of just dropping them out of the frame. 

Crazy how head placement or placement of a dog can make lines work or not work in an image!

More on lines!

Basically lines move from point A to point B. They can be straight, curved, diagonal, horizontal, vertical, organic, manmade, subtle, bold and implied. 

  •  Horizontal lines. Typically found in the horizon of an image. They are calm, relaxed & static. 
  • Vertical lines. Lines that go from top to bottom instead of side to side. They imply power, strength and are dynamic.
  • Diagonal lines. Lines that move on an angle within the image. They create movement, are dynamic and add tension to an image. Diagonals also create depth when they converge at a point. 
  • Curved lines. Lines that flow throughout an image. The classic example is a winding road in the mountains or a river that flows lazily across the landscape. 
  • Organic lines. Found in & made by nature. Trees, shells, animals, rocks etc. 
  • Manmade lines. Created & crafted by a human hand or machine. Fences, playgrounds, roads, bridges, and beyond. 
  • Implied lines. Lines that don’t physically exist but are implied. Frequently found in spaces between objects and in the direction of eyes. That dog sitting and looking up at something that makes everyone stop and look to see what the dog is looking at – that’s implied lines in motion. 
There are tons of ways to have lines in your image, and you can have more than one line as part of your image too! Try not to go too overboard and have the lines work for & with you instead of becoming a hinderance & messy!
 
How many different lines can you see in the images of Blue?

Vertical lines! Both Blue & the gate to our fence! The edge of the sideway is a diagonal, and Blue’s eyes are implied diagonal lines. I have no idea what he was watching but it caught his attention solidly! 

All the lines! Playgrounds have ample styles of lines! This playground has orange horizontal bars, plus orange curved bars. Dark green supports make chunky vertical lines, while the wood of the steps and platforms is horizontal… except when its viewed at different angles!

In fact, the shadowed lines between each wood plank lend to a ton of diagonals! Another diagonal is found in the steps for the slide in the background plus the shadow from one of the vertical green columns! Plus the angle change of the horizontal orange bar adds even more diagonals to the scene. 

And we can’t forget the vertical lines of Blue when he’s in a sitting position!

Ample horizontal lines in this image of Blue! The sidewalk, the road, our fence and the edge of the garden along the fence! (And those rectangles of color? Spray painted repurposed picture frames!)

Not only are there strong horizontal lines, but a strong vertical line from Blue in a sit. Did you see the diagonal line of his tail? 

Lines are great elements of composition that can lead your viewer’s eye into the image and to your subject. Additionally they can create depth, movement, and add or calm tension in your image. Used well, they will amp up your images. Used haphazardly, they can make your image weak and your viewer’s eye might just bypass what you want them to look at. 

Huzzah for lines!
(Boo for hard to concoct blog titles!)

Fall Colors Update #2

Hot dang, summer is doing its best to hang on knowing that tomorrow is the official start of fall. Pert near 90 yesterday! 

I’m not one to argue with warmer temps, especially since there is a prediction that this coming winter will feature many subzero days and just be a bitter season to live in Minnesota. Sucks for snowboarding, skiing and for Blue’s first winter. Though it is merely a prediction (though if you’ve ever read a Farmer’s Almanac there is some crazy voodoo in those predictions…) so the hope is always loads of snow and temps in the 20 to 30 F degrees range. 

Who wants to talk about winter now? Not this girl & her puppy!
Instead, let’s talk fall, colorful leaves and Halloween! 

I saw a picture on one of the socials and it looks like the colors are arriving up around the North Shore! Classically peak leaf colors start up north, then trickle down to the southern parts of the state. Minneapolis and St. Paul sit in a neat pocket, with fall colors showing up later in the season (mid October). And of course there’s always the eager beaver trees like the one in the park near our house – it is already pushing into its golds & oranges! 

The current map from the DNR:

Here comes the color! 

Remember there are only two fall color sessions left:
– Sunday October 2nd
– Sunday October 16th

If you’d like to snag either of these sessions, email, call or text!

What to do until the spooktacular arrival of Halloween?

September 21st celebrate:

  • National Chai Day
  • National New York Day
  • National Pecan Cookie Day (NO your dog can’t eat pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts!)

September 22nd celebrate:

  • National States & Capitals Day
  • American Business Women’s Day
  • Car Free Day
  • Diary Day
  • Elephant Appreciation Day
  • Hobbit Day (The Hobbit was published September 21st, 1937)
  • National Centenarian’s Day
  • National Girl’s Night
  • National Ice Cream Cone Day
  • National Legwear Day
  • National Online Recovery Day
  • National White Chocolate Day
  • Autumnal Equinox

September 23rd celebrate: 

  • Bisexuality Day
  • National Dogs in Politics Day
  • National Great American Pot Pie Day
  • National Snack Stick Day
  • Innergize Day – Day after the Autumn Equinox
  • National BRAVE Day
  • National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

September 24th celebrate:

  • My sister’s 35th birthday! Happy birthday sister!

Want to celebrate more known & obscure national days? Pop over to National Day Calendar!

(BTW Halloween arrives in 40 days…EEEEEK!) 

Blue is getting bigger! 12 weeks! His legs are longer and his body is getting longer, making him a bit awkward to hold as we navigate Petsmart & Petco (no feet on the floor until after the last round of shots in October). Potty training has been going well with very few accidents. He crates easily, loves food, enjoys training and learns new things quickly, though keeping him from being so bitey has been taking a bit more work. We are working on bite inhibition & mouth manners as well as teaching him to be a cool cucumber and not a crazy ape (a good portion of the biting is arousal biting for over stimulation during play or from motion). 

Last time we did a weight he was 21 lbs!

 

The most common breed he gets confused for is a beagle or beagle mix… I guess I could see it in his ears? Perhaps in the his blaze too… but classically there is more brown/tan/red on the face on a beagle especially adult beagles (he’s the size of an adult beagle lol!)

Blue has also gotten Bernese Mountain dog (they are related – but Blue isn’t fuzzy!) and he’s even been asked if he’s a basset hound… his ears aren’t that big!!!

Do you think Blue looks like a beagle?

Puppy Kindergarten started last week on Wednesday and it was a good learning experience.  Blue was scared/shy of the new people (something I knew would happen). He was very shy & scared of the other puppies – hackles up, tail tucked, ears back and he’d sit when they approached so they couldn’t sniff him. All of the other puppies respected his shyness and by the end of the group play Blue was starting to join in. 

After play, we did training things. I feel like we’re rather ahead of the others in the class as we’ve been working on sit, lay, touch, leave it and other skills since he’s been home. Blue was only a little distracted and once I had his attention he did his touch & lay exercises easily. 

We needed a little work on touch as the only time we had practiced it was from a sit or laying position and Julie our teacher/trainer wanted him to move his booty in a bigger motion. Easy peasy and we’ve got it down solid, though sometimes I have to wiggle my fingers to entice Blue into the first touch if he’s sitting haha!

The fall series of blog posts are going to continue weekly as the fall colors transition into their peak colors. There will be updates about Blue, possibly recipes, national days to celebrate and tips & tricks for photographing your pup with fall leaves. 

Once the leaves drop, we’ll continue weekly with recipes, Halloween fun, Thanksgiving ideas as well as holiday ideas for gifts or photographing your pup with holiday lights. And anything else that comes to mind as the seasons transition from fall into holiday & winter season. 

Let me know if there’s anything you want to learn!

My dog is not well behaved…

My dog is not well behaved, is that ok?

We would LOVE to do a session but my dog is not well behaved. 
And by not being well behaved it means my dog:

  • doesn’t listen to commands like sit or lay
  • is MEGA hyper active
  • goes bat shit crazy in new areas
  • has selective hearing
  • or any other assorted not well behaved behaviors your dog may have

Fret no further! Your dog can be a total doofus, with not sit stay stills and we’ll still be able to capture EPIC images. The images I capture of your dog will make it look like he or she is an obedience school superstar! And we only need a brief, mere second or too worth of attention to create these images. 

How it works:

  • Your dog on a leash – it helps to wrangle him or her in the area we want & keep them safe
  • Add in my camera with a whopping 12 frames a second to capture even a half second of stillness
  • Cue the tasty treats! I’ll bring out the Canine Carryouts in burger or sausage flavors
    (if your dog has allergies or dietary restrictions, we’ll use treats that they can have)
  • Enter in noises – from kitty meows, to raspberries, barks, buzzes to squeakers and favorite catch words (outside, ride, walk, grandma etc)
  • Your dog is intrigued for a moment
  • Shutter click & viola! An epic image of your dog looking like an obedience superstar

How do you know it will work? My dog has some epic bad behaviors…

About A Dog Photography has been capturing personalities of dogs with playful, classic & vibrant images for 10 years! I have met many shy, boisterous, overexcited, bored, busy, bat shit crazy and calm dogs and have been able to coax the inner superstar out of each and every one. We’ll take the session at your dog’s pace and ask for sits, but work with lays and stands, always asking your dog for a behavior but not forcing him or her. 

 What can we do before the session to help our dog be better behaved?

Work on the basics! Think back to the puppy days (or early days of your dog’s adoption), grab a liberal amount of treats and head outside. Start with sit. Remember your dog doesn’t need to have an eon long sit, they just need to sit for a couple of seconds. Do each exercise at least once a day for a week prior to your session, do more if you and your dog find it fun!

  • Sit = dog’s bum on the floor = treat
    – repeat as many times to get your dog to 90% reliability
    – amp up the challenge by changing locations, find somewhere new, noisier, more distracting, repeat above

Once your dog has sit nearly spot on no matter the distractions, add in lay/down. Follow the same steps as sit. You can work on wait/stay as well, though we may not need to utilize it during your session. You’ll have a dog who behaves better for their session, plus a dog who is also more well behaved at home! 

If your dog giving you the “I can’t hear you mom” routine and blowing off your requests for a sit, you may need to up the value of the treats. The every day Milkbone biscuit is just that – everyday, boring, the same. Break out something stinkier or novel – hotdogs, squeeze cheese, cooked chicken breast, dehydrated carrots or pieces of baby carrots, freeze dried salmon or liver (Blue’s favorite).  You’ll know which is the winner when your dog willingly and happily parks their booty on the floor at your feet. 

If your dog is meh about food treats, then break out the toys! If you know your dog’s favorite toy, bring it with and use it as the reward for the sit/lay etc. Same process as the above method, though you’d swap out a ball throw, tugging a rope, tossing a stuffed toy etc as the reward for bum on the ground. They’re not getting excited about the same old ball or toy, then break out a new one! (Yes bring it with to the session!)

After you work on these skill drills your dog should be better behaved for their session. Huzzah! Though remember we most likely will be going to a new location teeming with loads of new, exciting smells and things to oogle at and your dog might forget all of the skills you just worked on. No worries! We’ll let your dog explore & sniff and when the novelty of the area wears off we’ll ask for the skills to be put into action. 


What your dog’s session looks like to you:

What a professional photographer sees (and captures):

Blue is mega cute and at 11 weeks he’s already becoming a photography pro!

And because he’s mega cute, here are a few more of him:

So my dog not being well behaved isn’t a problem during a session with About A Dog Photography (or with any other professional pet photographer)! Huzzah!