Monday, April 30, 2012

Work, work, work

Pallo says he is bored with this working and napping human in charge. He would like to get in the car and go to the park. And hurry up about it.

174. "Ready To Go" - Our dogs all show their excitement differently, and get excited about different things. Show us how your dog reacts to whatever excites them, whether it's a walk, a favorite toy, a ride in the car or something else. - last day Apr 28

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Busy Busy Weekend

With a ridiculously busy weekend of work already started last night (with a shift until 1:15 am) and to be followed by crazy work hours for the next four days, I have been slacking on taking pictures of the pups. I will hopefully have some time this afternoon, if I am still awake after a five hour night of sleep (I am one of those people who doesn't function well on less than 8 hours).

Plus, I spent what little free time I had yesterday afternoon first getting my car worked on, fixing the door handles and the window (with summer coming up, the window working is essential). Then, I headed over to the hospital to visit my best friend since fourth grade, who just had a beautiful baby boy at 4:14 am yesterday morning.

So, I hope everyone has a great weekend with more relaxing time than I am going to have, and Congrats to new mama and papa of baby Riley!

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And, to keep this dog related in some way, here is a picture of Koira bleeding from the lip at the beach. This is why dogs shouldn't play with rocks.

170. "Sharp" - Make a sharp picture of your dog today, using any interpretation of the word that you like!  - last day Apr 24

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tell Me Thursday

1. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you pop up out of bed full of song and happiness? Do you just hit your stride after dark?
I am probably more of a morning person than a night person. Once I'm up and awake, I am ready to enjoy the day. I do normally spend about an hour still in bed in the morning checking up on my email, facebook, and blogs before I actually get up and start the day.

2. What is your favorite candy?
I have plenty of candies I like, and am not sure I could choose a favorite. Maybe a chocolate bar with almonds in it. Or possibly Kit Kats.

3. What is your biggest driving pet peeve?
People driving around with their fog lights on when it isn't foggy. Which is not only really annoying and dangerous to other drivers, but illegal as well. And yet, so many people do it. Since I drive a pretty low car, headlights are already super bright. When people have on the additional fog lights as well, that just doubles how bright their car is, which blinds other drivers whether you are driving behind them or passing them while driving the other direction.

4. How do you prepare yourself and your dogs for summer?
I don't really do much. I always, winter or summer, carry a gallon of water in the car along with a dog bowl. This year, I am getting the window crank (which a friend broke over the winter) fixed so my passenger window works again, so that the car can be kept much cooler.

I also make cooling collars for the dogs that can be soaked in water and will help keep the dogs cooler. And, I am thinking about making Koira a white lyrca-type vest that would help reflect the sun off of her black fur and could be soaked with water to help cool her.

5. Lets talk about grass in your dog yard. Do you have any? How much maintenance do you do?
My dog yard is just my normal yard. For the most part, it is made up of crab grass and weeds, and is super uneven, so doesn't get mowed all that short. But, I rent, so ripping up the whole yard, leveling it, and reseeding with nice grass just never makes it onto my To Do list. However, the crab grass means there aren't really any dead spots in the yard, other than a small area that is nearest to the door, which gets walked across the most.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beach Day!

I took the dogs to the beach yesterday. I actually had a day off, so went out to my mom's house and spent the night so we could head to the beach with the sunrise Saturday morning.

I have to say, I love the morning sun for beach pictures. We didn't make it before sunrise, but did get there by 7:30, so had almost two hours of beach time before the serious haze started coming in. I think it would be safe to say the dogs like the beach. They took off running and wrestling the second we got out on the sand.

171. "What Time Is It?" - Isn't it funny how our dogs all know when it's time for something important to them. What time of day does your dog love? - last day Apr 25

Pallo even decided to take a bit of a "Super Dog" romp in the waves.

173. "What a Character" - If your dog were any kind of character, what or who would he or she be. You can show us with some sort of natural shot or feel free to use costumes and props. Just please have fun with it! Show us what endears your dog to you in

Finding an empty plastic water bottle was, perhaps, Pallo's highlight of the day. He happy "tried" to pick up the bottle, causing it to go rocketing off across the sand, which meant, of course, that Pallo had a chance to give chase after it.

168. "Studious" - Our dogs all get fascinated by things from time to time. Take a picture of your dog being studious! - last day Apr 22

I even tried my hand at getting a paw-print-in-the-sand picture.

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Koira, on the other hand, decided to try her paws at digging a hole to China.

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She dug a hole half the size of her body in no time flat, so I think she would have had a good chance of getting to China if she hadn't given up and decided to bug the camera lady instead.

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And a bit of a less-tilted photo of her digging to China, with the pretty ocean in the background.

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We even saw a baby seal on the beach. I leashed up the dogs when someone told us about the baby seal ahead, and my mom very nicely held onto them while I got closer to take a picture (with my zoom lens). I don't think the dogs even noticed the baby seal at all.

Baby seal

Pallo hopes you all had a great, relaxing, and slightly less sand-in-you-eyes weekend!

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Friday, April 13, 2012


As I read the comments on Wednesday's post, I had a bit of an incredulous feeling going on. Not because people liked the pictures, because frankly, they are some of my favorite in a long time. Mostly, it was the people commenting on how awesome Pallo posed, and how he must be such a "natural poser" for all those pictures.


Little do you guys know, I guess. Pallo was a terror to try to photograph at first. The only picture I had of him for a while was the (very unflattering) picture from the Linn County Dog Control's website where I first found him. After Pallo was part of my family for a few weeks, I managed to snap this picture of him on my phone. This was after being at the park for (quite literally) three hours of play time. I used a ball to get his attention.

Pallo's first trip to the beach is documented only in this photo:

A few other early-days pictures of Pallo are the following. Keep in mind that these photos were selected as the best photos of the day. These aren't the outtakes.

Now, part of this was my own photography skills. But, I have to say, that was only part of it. I have certainly improved with the camera in the past two years. However, I was taking perfectly decent pictures of Koira already. The biggest difference between the above photos and my new personal favorite of Pallo is in the training we have done.

Pallo brick drool

Yes, there is a big difference as well in the quality of the camera (especially given that in the early days, the only camera I had was my phone). But, even with the camera I have now, I would not have been able to get this picture of Pallo at the beginning.

So, I thought I would share. Not the camera-specifics of how to take a good dog picture. Lots of people have done posts like that. I enjoy reading them. I may write one someday when I feel qualified to do so. But, I think perhaps more helpful, is the post I want to do.

How to train your dog to pose for the camera.

1: Exercise your dog.
Take your dog out for a run, a game of ball, or any other activity that will tire him out. A high energy dog will not be willing to sit still for happy photos (at least not without more training) until he has had a chance to run off some of the energy. Bonus: A tired dog often is panting in photos, which gives the impression of "smiling" for the camera.

157. "Party Animal" -Show us how your dog likes to have fun today! It can be natural or set up, but lets see what brings out the party animal in your dog. - last day Apr 12

2: Make sure you have plenty of time.
Don't expect to snap off a few pictures in a minute or two and come up with that perfect picture. You will need to spend time working with your dog and taking plenty of bad pictures to get those good ones. When I do a photo session, I will take over a hundred pictures of my dogs, easily (some days I end up with 800+ photos just from that day). Also, make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card and plenty of battery life on your camera, so that those technical aspects won't get in the way.

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3: Get your dog used to the camera
Many dogs are "camera shy", or their people think they are, because the dog takes off whenever the camera comes out. For many dogs, this is a side effect of being told to stay whenever the camera comes out, then having their person upset at them for moving (as often our dogs' stays are not proofed against us moving around, putting a box in front of our faces, and making clicking and vrring noises). Some dogs are really just unsure of the camera being in front of their person's face.

Both of these problems can be worked on by bringing your camera with you. Take your camera out, but don't put it to your face or take pictures at first. Depending on how shy of the camera your dog is, you may want to pair treats with the camera coming out. Others may just want to play fetch with their dogs, first concentrating on the camera being visible, then on actually raising the camera to your face and taking pictures, but with a focus on the dog's continued happy reactions, ignoring the potential quality of the pictures. You just want your dog to get used to seeing the camera in front of your face and getting used to the sounds of the zoom, focus, and shutter. You can even use the shutter sound as a "clicker" and pair it with treats, giving one up every time you take a picture. (I don't treat for every click of the camera, but it may be a method useful for getting started.) Also, shooting "from the hip" can be a good way to acclimate your dog to the sound of the camera without having it cover your face, and can give you some interesting results sometimes.


4. Train a "wait"
A formal stay is less useful in pet photography than you might think. I prefer to train my dogs to "wait" which for them means they are free to shift position but have to stay in the same area. They can also be released from a wait when I am away from them, while their "stay" must be held until I return to them. The word you use doesn't matter as long as you are clear to your dog what the criteria are. Remember to practice your "wait" or "stay" with your camera. Proof it with the camera in front of your face or with you moving around, as you will want to back up, kneel down, or even lay down, to get a good picture sometimes.

It can help to place your dog up on something, such as a log or a chair, to define the space he is to "wait" in. Using a crate mat as a "wait" space also works, but may not be what you want to always have in pictures.

129. "Au Naturel" - Take a minimalist shot of a dog just being a dog today! - last day Mar 14

5. Learn your dog's happy words
Figure out a way to make your dog look at the camera without saying their name. Using the dog's name can confuse them into thinking you want them to come, as that is most often what is wanted. Instead, try using words to perk your dog's ears up. Koira perks her ears and looks around when I ask her "do you see it?" which gives a great gazing-into-the-distance look. When I want a straight into the camera look, with or without a head tilt, I want the ears up and a happy look. I will ask a few questions such as "do you want some breakfast?" or "do you want to go to the park?" which both include words my dogs know and are phrases associated with actually doing those things.

It may take some experimenting to figure out which words will make a pretty picture, which will gain no response, and which will amp your dog up so much that he takes of running and looking wildly around.

121. "Leap Day" - It only happens every four years! Let's see your dog leaping or otherwise celebrating Leap Day in some way. Feel free to interpret it as you like! - last day Mar 6

6. Stay happy, and leave the frustrations at home
You need to have fun while taking pictures so that your dog believes this is a fun thing to do. If you get frustrated with him getting up and moving, or not looking, etc, take a break and play for a while. Remember to release your dog from his position if you need to do something like change your camera lens or move around a lot so that he doesn't get too stressed having to wait. Remember to praise your dog. Use your voice, treats, or toys in between taking pictures so that your dog is sure this is a fun thing to do. In general, don't try to train and photograph at the same time, and if you do, place the emphasis on the training. It is better to have consistent training than good pictures, because you can always try for that picture again next time.

Happy Shooting!
I hope these tips help out some of you who have trouble getting a good picture of your pups. I really think the number one thing to remember is to have fun, because as long as you are having fun, your pup will have fun as well. And once picture taking is a pleasure for both of you, you will both be wanting to do it more.

For some more animal photo tips, check out Honey The Great Dane's latest post on this same topic!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Me and the pups

Something that has always bugged me about blogging, especially around the holidays, is that you are supposed to post all this stuff leading up to and on the holiday, and then *poof* the day after, you forget about it.

Koira the Easter Bunny

But, I celebrate holidays on the holiday. Other than Christmas photos, I rarely take pictures of a holiday theme before hand, or celebrate in any way. I try to do some of it early enough to post on the blog, but sometimes, I just want to chill out and enjoy life as it happens.

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So for Easter, I slept in. I got home late because of the half time show on Saturday night, so I didn't get out of bed until 8 Sunday morning. Then, I packed up the dogs, a couple pairs of bunny ears, a tutu, and a bowl full of dog-friendly Easter eggs.

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The community I grew up in does a parade, Easter egg hunt, and potluck every year. The dogs attended the parade wearing bunny ears, and Koira wore a tutu as well (don't worry, I had an Easter bonnet on as well).

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I invited some of the other dog-owners of the community to bring their dogs by after the potluck for a canine Easter egg hunt in my mom's back yard. Only one extra dog came other than my two, but she was plenty adorable and had a lot of fun.

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Each of the Easter eggs had a single treat in it, be it a wheat-free cookie, piece of jerky, or some dried chicken. The dogs learned really fast how to gently pop open the eggs to get at the treat inside. They were so gentle that of the 30+ eggs, only one was broken at the end (and I may have stepped on it...).

160. "Easter" - Easter means different things to different people and dogs. Take a picture that celebrates Easter in some way if you do, and if you don't, show us how you and your dog spent the day. You can go for something cute, funny, religious, or symb

After I collected all the eggs back up when the dogs had finished them off, I put them back in the bucket. Koira was sure there was another treat in there, so she was removing the eggs one by one and gently popping them open. When that didn't get her any cookies, she stuck her whole snout into the bin and started rooting around until she found the one egg that still had the treat in it.

159. "Back to Nature" - Take a photograph of your dog in a natural setting today! - last day - Apr 14

After our Easter egg hunt, me and my mom took a hike with the dogs. I mostly took pictures of flowers and slugs while on the walk, but snapped a few of the dogs to fill the Daily Dog Challenge 159: Back to Nature. Lets just say my dogs love going on hikes.

I hope everyone else had an awesome Easter. And that I am not ostracized from the blogging community for mentioning a holiday a FULL DAY after it is over!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I was staying pretty quiet about our amazing weekend plans before hand. But, now that they have happened, and happened well, I will share.

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I painted Pallo's nails teal to match the colors of the team we were running with

Me and Pallo were invited to join the Tail Blazers for a half time show at the Portland Rose Garden during the Nike Hoop Summit game on Saturday night. The Portland Trail Blazers have had the Tail Blazers flyball team perform at their half time shows previously, so it is a rather routine thing for the rest of them. For me, it seemed like a pretty awesome chance to play flyball in possibly the most distracting environment ever, expose some more people to the awesomeness that is our sport, and have the crowd ooh and ahh over my adorable dog.

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I spent the day in Portland hitting the sights (which for me means Fabric Depot and picking up a new pair of jeans at the mall when I realized I accidentally wore a pair that was way too big). Then we met up with the team and followed them over to the Rose Garden.

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We had our own room to wait in until half time. They even gave the Tail Blazers one room and Muddy Paws (the other team running in the half time show) two different rooms. It seemed like a wait of forever and a day, so I spent the time taking pictures of the various team dogs.

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We basically were trying to keep the dogs calm and quiet without making them too tired. Pallo was super jealous of Tater (below) for getting a ton of treats from his human pez dispenser.

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We practiced various tricks, tugging, playing games, and even ran through some heeling and other obedience. And still we were waiting.

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We finally got the call that we were near half time (luckily right after coming back in from pottying the dogs for the last time) and all headed out for the tunnel, where we then stood around and waited while there were multiple fouls that delayed the end of the half.

We finally paraded our dogs in through the tunnel, past all the food sitting on the floor under seats right next to us, and onto the floor of the arena. The cheerleaders were in charge of rolling out carpet runners across the court and setting out our jumps (premarked with white tape for distance on the carpet). The whole set up went super fast. Then, we were ready to race.

Pallo on the box- screen shot

Awesomely, Tail Blazers' box loader had a camera to attach to the top of the box which allowed us to get the entire half time show on video. We were trying to make sure the two teams stayed competitive-looking with each other, so varied our passes to make it happen. Pallo runs third in the lineup each time. The start dog was varied between Tater (first two and last heats) and Nano, the black and white border jack.

Afterwards, we paraded back out (where Pallo decided the only thing scary in the entire building of loud, cheering people and people with huge cameras and all sorts of other stuff, was the group of middle school cheerleaders with their pom poms). We packed up our equipment and headed back to the room to water the dogs and collect our gear left there.

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Pallo was super tired by the time we were done (we normally run no more than five heats at a time before we take a break), but he had a ton of fun. He is such a solid, amazing dog. In fact, you can see how awesome all of these dogs are with all these weird distractions. Tater, the little dach-poodle mix who starts the first two and last heats, is actually a "green" dog who has only been in competition once, and he ran rock solid even in front of this huge crowd.

Pallo on the approach- screen shot

Pallo did get shown up a bit by super-cute Tater and by the full corgi in the other lane, Elli (who runs last in the video, on the other side). I don't think he noticed though, he was just there to play FLYBALL!

After heading out for dinner afterwards, I took a nice two hour drive home and went to bed the second I got home. It was a total blast of Saturday.

We also spent today doing fun Easter stuff, but that is for another post, I think.