Friday, May 31, 2013

Copyright and Photo Use

I normally would be posting a FitDog Friday post today. Rest assured, my dogs are still doing their fit things. I just have another issue I want to talk about.

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Recently, two blogs that I read regularly have posted stolen pictures. One of the blogs, in fact, regularly posts photos stolen from event photographers, often with the caption "stolen photo" and always with a large copyright watermark across the photo, and/or "PROOF" printed across the photo. For the other blog, this is the first time I have seen a stolen photo shared.

I did, and will always, contact the photographer, letting them know that I think their work has been shared without permission and giving them a link to the specific blog post. At that point, it is up to the photographer to decide if they want to just request the photos are removed, ask for them to be paid for, or sue the blogger for sharing that content. A few people have told me that contacting the photographer is over reacting. I really don't think it is.

I am not a professional photographer. When I take photos at events such as lure coursing, I share those photos for free with the owners of the dogs for any personal use. I ask them to contact me to discuss details if they want to use a photo for any commercial (money making) use. For me, this is a reasonable thing to do. I don't lose any money if someone wants to download a copy of one of my photos of their dog and print it, or share it on Facebook, or on their blog.

Doing this to a professional photographer is actually stealing their work and reducing their income. Event photographers generally are not paid for taking photos at events. Their sole income comes from selling digital or print copies of the photos they take during the event. If you steal the proof the photographer places online for people to preview, you are stealing- it is just as much stealing as it would be to walk into a store, stick some makeup in your purse, and walk out without paying.

I really don't think either of the bloggers who posted the stolen photos recently would do that. I do think that they either don't realize or don't believe that just using these low quality watermarked proofs on their personal blogs is illegal. They don't count it as bad as stealing something physical from a store, or don't think of it at all.

So, here is a basic rule of thumb to go by if you want to use a photograph on your blog or other social media site.

  • Did you take the photograph yourself? If so, use it as much as you want, wherever you want- it is your property, and you own all rights to it.
  • Did a friend, family member, or non-professional-photographer acquaintance take the photo? If so, make sure to contact them before using the photo on your blog. Most people will say yes. If they say no, respect their decision. The photos they take belong to them, and they get to decide how they can be used. Sharing photos on Facebook is generally okay without express permission, as long as you are using the "share" link, not downloading, uploading, and then sharing as your own.
  • Did a professional photographer take the photo? If so, contact the photographer before using the photo for anything- blog, Facebook, printing, anything. Some photographers will be willing to let you share a lightly watermarked photo on Facebook or on your blog. Some will require you purchase the rights to the photo. Others will not want to give you any access to digital files at all. Respect their decision. Stealing the photo to use on your social media or for personal use cuts into the income the photographer is relying on, and may result in legal action.
  • Unless you took the photo yourself, never download, alter, and upload a photo. Editing photos can destroy the quality, remove important watermarks, and otherwise change the original art. If you want to alter a photo for any reason, get express permission to do so from the person who took the picture.

Sorry for the long, serious post. This is simply an issue near and dear to me. If the weather here ever stops raining, I will share some pictures of my own. For now, I will have to visit everyone else's blogs to enjoy pictures of your dogs.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mischief Monday: Dirt Colored Dogs (and a Poodle)

I go to a lot of dog events, if you haven't noticed. Most of the time, I bring my camera along. I really enjoy taking pictures during events. I also enjoy going through the photos afterwards, editing them, and sharing them with people. It is one of the best things about going to dog events for me.

But seriously people, stop getting dirt colored dogs!

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Do you have any idea how hard it is to even see a small dirt colored fluffy dog running on dirt, let alone through a zoom lens? And then, once you find the small dirt colored blog that is the dog, how hard it is to get the camera's auto focus to actually focus on that dog?

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Now, I promise I am not trying to insult any of these dogs' looks. They are all wonderful dogs, and pretty gorgeous. But.. they are all brown, or gold, or some similar kind of color. And that color? Yeah, it blends into the dirt.

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And look how many breeds there are that are brown!

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My only issue at all with all these dogs who are brown, red, brindle, etc, is that they are really hard to take photos of. At least on dirt they are. And so many different sports are run on dirt (or golden brown summer grass, which is just as bad!). It makes for hard picture taking.

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Of course, dogs who are black aren't really any better. Auto focus has tons of problems with black dogs no matter what surface they are running on. And then there are exposure problems, you can't see the dog's eyes, or the dog is exposed right and the background is totally blown out, and on and on.

So maybe you are thinking about getting your next dog. And, if your only criteria for that dog is that you want photographers at every event you go to to be able to get wonderful pictures of your dog, here is my advice. Get a poodle. A white, standard poodle. Because seriously, there is no way to screw up those photos!

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Saturday, May 25, 2013


A few weeks ago, I took the dogs to a CAT hosted by the Chintimini Kennel Club alongside an Earthdog trial. That means a Coursing Ability Test to those unfamilar with the term. CATs are open to all breeds and mixed breeds registered with the AKC or through Canine Partners. Each dog runs alone over a 300 or 600 yard course. The dog just has to show a basic instinct to follow the lure, follow it for most of the course, and do so within the time limit.

I love watching CATs because there is such a huge variety in the dogs who come. Some of them are totally into lure coursing, while others couldn't care less. And sometimes it is really hard to guess which ones will do what when you first see them arrive.

This Irish Water Spaniel? Totally into lure coursing. I think this dog would follow that lure anywhere, for any distance.

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This Dalmation had only seen a lure once before. She didn't even notice it at first when she was brought up to the line, and kept trying to slip loose to go find her people. Then, all of a sudden, the lure operator managed to catch her eye by moving the lure a little and BOOM, she was totally on it.

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Or how about a rather absurd dog to see lure coursing, when compared with the long legged, sleek sight hounds the sport was designed for? But just because the legs are short doesn't mean the drive is any less, as this dachshund showed us.

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Or how about this dachshund?

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A really big fan of lure coursing is Elli, who we think is a dalmatian/whippet mix. Her mom has a blog about Elli over here, if you want to check them out more.

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I honestly got so many pictures of so many dogs that there is no good way to share them all on the blog. And, I try really hard to only post the pictures where the dog looks like they are coursing. So all the shots of the dogs who refused to run, didn't want to get that far from mom, or simply had no idea what was supposed to be going on, all of those get deleted out of courtesy.

And one more shot. This is Sam, a lab/shepherd mix owned by a friend of mine, and who absolutely loves lure coursing.
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Friday, May 24, 2013

FitDog Friday: How to Make a Spring Pole

So, the spring pole is probably my new favorite way to exercise Koira. She absolutely loves this thing, and I don't have to do anything. Koira just grabs onto the spring pole and starts tugging away. From watching her, I think it is probably an amazing workout for her core more than anything else.

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Do you think your dog might love a spring pole of their own? If so, the first thing you should do is make sure they are legal to own in your area. Spring poles are often classified as dog fighting paraphernalia, along with dog specific treadmills, collars wider than 2 inches, and other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with dog fighting. However, because of this, it is a good idea to check with your local animal control to make sure owning a spring pole won't get you arrested. I called my local animal control officer before building one just to make sure.

Now, don't let all that scare you off. I really do think that a spring pole is an excellent tool for conditioning your dog.

Alright, lets get into the fun part. I built a spring pole for eight dollars. These are the supplies:

1 spring
1 rope
1 place to hang

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The spring I chose- it is firm but with a little give when I pull hard on it- just perfect

What I used was an eight dollar spring from the local hardware store. Many other tutorials recommend garage door springs. I found, when I looked at them, that the garage door springs were too long for the location I have for my spring pole, as well as being quite a bit more expensive. So far, this lighter weight spring is working great.

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The lead rope, knotted along its length, attached to the spring with a carabiner 

The rope part of the spring pole is for the dog to grab onto. For mine, I used an old lead rope, like for a horse, that I happened to have on hand. I got the lead rope for free from the local new and used tack store since it was really well worn. If you don't have one of these just laying around, you can use any number of other things. Any type of relatively thick rope, a fleece tug toy, etc. Just keep an eye on what you do choose to use to make sure it is easy for your dog to grab onto and doesn't wear out super fast. I tied knots in the lead rope to help give the dogs a place to grip and not just slide down the rope. The latch on my lead rope was broken (running it over with a lawnmower does that apparently), so I also ended up using a carabiner to attach the rope to the spring. You can do this with your rope as well, or find some other way to attach it. Just make sure it is secure.

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The spring hooked onto the swing set using the hooks previously used to hold the swings

The best place to hang the spring pole will be very dependent on what you have around and how your dog likes to use it. I chose to use an old swing set frame that I use in the summer for hanging hammocks in the yard. It is pretty low, but Koira prefers having her feet on the ground while playing with the spring pole, so it works for us. Plus, it has the handy hooks from where the swings used to attach that I could just slip the spring's hook onto and be in business. Other good places to hang a spring pole would be an overhead beam (if inside, on a patio, etc) or from a tree. Whatever you choose, give it a few good strong tugs before letting your dog at it to make sure it is nice and secure.

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The whole set up- spring attached to the swing set frame, rope attached to the spring, ready for action

Then, have at it.

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Koira getting started with the spring pole
If your dog is an avid tugger, it should be really simple to get them interested in the spring pole. Just initiate a game of tug using the spring pole rope, then let go so they are tugging against the spring. Most dogs who love tugging will love spring poles. The spring makes it much more fun than a totally stationary toy because it tugs back and gives when they tug.

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Tugga tugga
As you can see, Koira totally loves her spring pole. I loop the rope up over the swing set frame when we are not using it to keep her from going crazy on it all the time. Using the spring pole is a seriously intense workout for a dog who is really into it.

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Dogs should be limited in how long they can use the spring pole, especially at first. Start with no more than five minutes of tugging and gradually build up to longer periods of time. I would recommend no more than 15 minutes in a single session even once the dogs is used to using the spring pole. Instead, make your dog take a break and do something else for a while.

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I also want to add, it is very important to supervise interactions with the spring pole. You want to check the spring, rope, and support mechanisms before every use to make sure none of them will break while the dog is playing. You also want to watch during play to make sure there aren't any problems such as broken equipment, the dog getting tangled or stuck in the rope, or other issues. Basically, better to be safe than sorry, so make the spring pole a toy with supervision only.

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Also, while Koira likes having her back feet on the ground to play with the spring pole, and Pallo likes having at least his back feet and sometimes his front feet on the ground as well, some dogs will prefer leaping up and grabbing the spring pole much higher, so their entire body is dangling. This is perfectly fine, but you want to make sure you mount the spring pole high enough that the dog won't accidentally grab the spring when they jump. If either of my dogs turns into a jump grab and hang spring pole style, I will need to find a new place to put it, because it would be too low where it is.

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And of course, don't forget to take funny pictures of your dog hanging on the rope! You might have to wait a while to get them totally obsessed with the spring pole first, before you go sticking a camera in their face, but once they are totally into it, you can get some pretty awesome pictures. I am trying to come up with a way to mount the GoPro on the spring pole looking down, and see what it can get.

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Lastly, here is a video of Koira using the spring pole. You can see how much of a core workout she is getting when she tugs at the spring pole. Don't be fooled by the lack of major motion- this is a major workout and your dog will get tired. Always supervise, and have them drop the rope and end the game before they get too tired or get bored of playing with it. Keep it interesting and fun!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From When There Was Sun

Well, the Pacific Northwest is now experiencing typical spring weather. That is to say, it is overcast, raining heavily, and no end in sight. I'll admit, I actually kind of like the rain. I grew up here in Oregon, so the rain kind of just feels like home. Plus, we really need the rainfall. Oregon is world famous for being green (we are technically a rain forest, after all), but to be that green, we need a lot of rain.

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In any case, my point is, rain doesn't make for good picture taking weather. And I would have to clean the house to take pictures inside.

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So, here are some pictures from the garden expo I went to a few weeks ago. It was unseasonably sunny and warm for a few weeks, and it just happened to coincide with a lot of fun events, this garden and plant expo being one of them. It was hot and sunny enough that I actually got a bit of a sunburn.

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So while it was technically a plant and garden sale, and there were a ton of plants for sale, I ended up taking more pictures of the other types of booths. Hand-thrown pottery and custom bird houses were among my favorite photos once I got home and looked at them all.

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But my real favorite was the oca. Oca is a small tuber grown in South America. It is sometimes referred to as a sweet potato or yam, even though it really isn't one. It can be eaten raw or cooked and comes in a ton of different varieties. The different colors taste slightly different, and some are better prepared certain ways. I've only really tried these once, but it was enough to motivate me to buy a bag of the tubers to plant in my garden. So far, I have a few of them planted with my current tomato in a pot, a few in my raised garden bed with the rest of the vegetables, and some in my straw potato tower. I might have put some in the pots with the herbs too, but I actually don't remember. I guess I'll find out if they start sprouting up...

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Just look at the amazingly rich colors! Man, I really super love the oca. I really hope mine all grows well so I have plenty to eat and plenty for planting next year. The tubers are supposed to be even more brilliant than these when you harvest them. But, the tubers are all these great colors, the leaves are just amazingly fun to look at, and they taste awesome. What more could you want in a plant?

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And so ends my post about pots and plants.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Flirt Pole

First I want to mention- despite the pictures yesterday, Koira actually has a full mouth of teeth. None of them are missing. There is a good open mouth shot in today's post that shows her teeth. She just has no teeth when she barks, and looks like an old lady who took her dentures out.

A flirt pole is basically just a very large cat toy. It is a great way to exercise dogs in a relatively small area. Flirt poles can also be great stepping stones in getting a dog into lure coursing or interested in tugging.

I use a lunge whip with something tied on the end. You can buy a lunge whip at basically any tack shop or feed store; one whip should run you 10 to 15 dollars. No need to get anything fancy.

Koira is fine with just a lightweight plastic bag on the end, which makes it really easy for the whip to snap back and forth quickly. It makes the game more fun. I really end up using it just like I would a cat teaser toy too. Snap it back and forth, move it so they think they are about to get it, but get it out of their way too fast for them to grab. Of course, sometimes the dog moves too fast and catches it anyway!



Pallo required me to tie a toy on the end of the whip first, because the bag just wasn't interesting enough. We hadn't worked with a flirt pole in a long time though, so I think if we play regularly with it, I can get him on just a bag. I actually managed to remove the toy part way through our play session and he liked the bag okay. It is amazing how much difference even a lightweight toy makes. The entire contraption is way heavier and less agile when there is a toy on the end instead of the bag.



And I need to thank my friend Kay both for taking this awesome pictures and for letting us play with her flirt pole for a while. I know my dogs had a blast!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mischief Monday: Koira Needs Dentures

I mentioned in the post on Saturday that I took both the dogs with me to the park when I went to take pictures of my 6 month old nephew. Well, Koira was a bit of a loud mouth at the time, because she is used to being the center of attention.

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Who else thinks Koira needs some dentures? Somehow, she manages to be completely toothless in all of these pictures. I think it is particularly impressive in the second picture, since you can see the entire inside of her mouth- and yet, no teeth!