Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cartoonized Dogs

A friend of mine shared a cartoonized version of her dog on Facebook, and I just had to try it out myself. There are a lot of options to help you customize your dog, but certain unique things like Koira's martini glass face markings and Pallo's corgi body with drop ears aren't available. I still think it is super fun to cartoonize my dogs, and I love the end results!

Here's the cartoon American Staffordshire Terrier I made at Cartoonize My Pet!
Cartoonize My Pet

It is absolutely free to go to the website and customize your own cartoon version of your dog. I am getting nothing for sharing this (other than amusement at my funny looking dogs), and they are totally unaware that I even exist, let alone that I am writing anything about them.

Here's the cartoon Cardigan Welsh Corgi I made at Cartoonize My Pet!
Cartoonize My Pet

It is after Thanksgiving now, so I am totally allowed to start sharing Christmas stuff!

If you decide to cartoonize your dog, please share it with me in the comments, I would love to see everyone's pets!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Merrick Purrfect Bistro

chewy sent my cats some Merrick Purrfect Bistro canned food to try out this past month. I really like using canned food as treats and rewards for my cats, and I love finding food that makes them go crazy for it. Both of them went totally bonkers for the Purrfect Bistro. My cats tried both the Chicken Pate flavor and the Beef Wellington. They seemed to like the beef a little more than the chicken, but the chicken had a better texture for using in training.

Purrfect Bistro
Photo provided for me by

The ingredients in these foods are things that I am comfortable with my cats eating, with deboned chicken as the first listed ingredient in the chicken flavor. I do think these would be a bit expensive to feed exclusively, but are reasonably priced enough to be good for occasional treats or to use in training or, if you feed dry kibble, for mixing in with the kibbles.


Theodore Trex really liked this food. I use that little scoop (it is a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon) to give rewards while training. Theo just licks off the liquid from the bottom of it for small rewards, or gets to get right into the food in the scoop for a jackpot. Overall, I would highly recommend trying out Merrick's Purrfect Bistro foods if you are looking for something new for your cat. I know I would like to try some of the other flavors for my two in the future.

Theo maybe wasn't quite this happy, though...

Speaking of Theo, I thought I'd share an updated photo of him. He is over a year old now and is presumably at his full growth. A lot of photos make it really hard to tell that he is dwarfed, but I thought this one showed his stubby legs pretty good. He is not crouching at all in this photo, he is standing at full height. I love having matching pairs: one normal female dog, one normal female cat, one dwarfed male dog, one dwarfed male cat.

Cute Theodore. Forgive me for the horrible wrinkled shower curtain and awful lighting!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tournament Wrap Up

On Friday after work, the dogs and I drove up to Canada for a flyball tournament. I didn't get off work until 8:30 pm, so I had the car packed and the dogs loaded up so we could all just get in the car and go (and hopefully miss the college football game traffic that would be hitting at about 9-9:30). It was a genius and stupid idea all at once. My initial plan was to drive at least to Seattle, then possibly stop to sleep for a few hours before continuing on to Surrey. When we were in Seattle, though, I decided to just continue on and get across the border in the middle of the night. I figured the border crossing would be easier and quicker at night than in the morning with lines.

Jumping with enthusiasm 

Well, it might have been if we hadn't been detained for an hour. I hit the border crossing at 2:30 and was looking forward to being only about 15 minutes away from our final destination and sleep. But apparently, the border guards had never heard of flyball and thought it was suspicious that I didn't know the address of where I was going. The fairgrounds was just up the road, on the road the crossing was on, so I had no need for the address- I just drive up the road until I see the fairgrounds! After almost an hour of sitting around at the border, they finally let me go once they confirmed that there was, indeed, a flyball tournament happening that weekend at the fairgrounds. I have no idea why it took them that long to decide that.

In any case, we did finally make it to the fairgrounds and get some sleep.

One of her warm up turns. The purple/pink wraps on her feet are skid boots, to keep her carpal pads from being damaged

Koira was running on an Open team both Saturday and Sunday. Since no one else from our club was able to go to this tournament, we crated with the team we were running with. It was new and different to be at a tournament without my team, and while I missed my team mates, it was a lot of fun to run open. Our Open team ran into some difficulties on Saturday with running clean, but did much better on Sunday.

Another turn during warm ups.

As predicted, Koira's turn reverted to her bad turn at the tournament. Our great success last Thursday at practice was exhilarating, but I did know at the time that running a tournament so soon in that success would destroy what progress we had made. That said, I do think the majority of her turns this past weekend were better than the majority of her turns at the previous tournament. Her turns during warm ups were actually decent, and I have high hopes that we will get some good solid turns that will stick, now that the tournament season for us has ended for at least a few months.

A two-footed turn during actual racing. Unfortunate, but not unexpected. This was taken on Sunday, and is as bad as her turns got for the weekend.

The drive home after the tournament was unremarkable. We were across the border with less than a 5 minute delay. I had debated staying Sunday night in Canada and seeing some of southern BC for the first time (I've only ever gone to the tournament and home), but my camera battery was dead, which made the idea of sightseeing less appealing. I ended up just heading home immediately. And, thanks to the time change, we made it home just after 11 pm.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Tug Crazy

Savage grabbing his tug in the run back

Savage tugging

Danger hitting his tug. You can see the shredded balls on the tug from previous runs.

This is how a ball can end up inside another ball

Flying high

With a goal in mind.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fun with Photos

I shared this photo of Pallo last week on Wordless Wednesday.


This also happens to be my current background photo on my computer. And my current favorite photo of Pallo. To me, the colors just blend so nicely. The depth of field means that Pallo's eyes are totally sharp and in focus while the leaves are a pleasant blurred background. It somehow makes him stand out while blending in, all at the same time.

And, I can't stop messing with the photo.

This is what it looked like straight out of camera (ooc).


It was a good photo. The focus and depth of field are obvious and really play their part. But, it is in no way as striking as the version posted above. The colors are dull and it just seems like its missing something. It is a good picture, but not a great one.

My latest version of this picture is this:


This version might not be some people's favorite. It is a more creative interpretation than the original edit posted above, for sure. Most of the time, my goal is to take the best possible photo in camera, and then enhance it in post processing to make it look just as amazing on the screen (or in print) as it did in person. This version is something a bit different. The colors are vibrant still, but the blacks are muted, giving the whole photo a matte look. I think this look works great on this photo. Pallo's eyes and nose seem to stand out even more. His body seems to pop from the leaves a bit more as well. 

I'm sure I will come up with some other edits. I never can leave my favorite photos alone. At least, not until I get new favorites!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Family Portraits

Over time, I have come to really value photographs. I think it is pretty obvious on the blog. Blogging has been a huge part of my motivation to document the ups and downs and the various parts of the lives of my dogs. Looking back over photos from previous years, I also go back over the memories from that time. Photos are memories, preserved for all time.

What I don't have, though, are photos of me with my dogs. Or at least, I don't have many of them. This is something I would like to remedy. I have been working on slowly getting into the pictures more often, through the use of creative angles and self timers.

I can get my feet into the photo pretty easily by using a wider lens (Canon 28mm 2.8 lens) and shooting straight down.
Harris Covered Bridge-4516
Looking up

The self timer lets me get more creative with it. I still like the shots that just include my feet:

Always At My Feet
At my feet

Avery Park-7494
Our feet together

But with the self timer, I can even get some shots of me and my dogs actually interacting, even if the results aren't always exactly what I was going for when I set out.

Getting kisses

All of those are photos I have shared before, and all of them are ones I cherish. But I simply couldn't figure out how to get a posed family portrait by myself. Luckily, I have some great friends. With an offer on Facebook of doing a photoshoot for a friend willing to help me out, one of my friends volunteered. She mostly takes pictures with her cell phone and has no experience with DSLR cameras. It really didn't end up mattering. We met out at the park. I set up the camera in Manual, choosing the right ISO, shutter speed, and aperture for the location, and I explained to her how to make sure the focus point was over my face. She was quick to get the hand of it and even had a natural eye for avoiding things like cars in the background. I am absolutely thrilled with the results.

Fall family portrait

All of this is to say, you don't need to hire an expensive professional to get pictures of your family. Sometimes, hiring a professional is absolutely the best option. You are pretty much guaranteed to end up with a product that you love. But we can't all haul professional photographers around with us all the time. You can capture so many moments so many ways. I get a lot of photos of my dogs alone, or just the two of them together, and there are many great memories with those photos. As I have been exploring ways to add myself into the photos I take, I manage to build more memories, and show the love and bond I have with my dogs.

While I value in the extreme the quality of the photos I take and have, I also value the moments. Sometimes, a quick cell phone picture is all you can manage to take- but for the right moment, it is way better to grab what you can than to have nothing at all.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fit Friday: High and Tight

I am so proud of my Koira girl!

Her turns last night at practice were amazing. Her first five were all high, snappy, tight turns, with a fast go out and fast return. All four feet were not only on the box, but well placed. And only one of the first five had any double hitting at all, the rest were all solid. 

Our second set of five, she had two really nice turns and three low-but-four-footed ones. but still a fast go out and fast return on all of them. I think she was just getting lower as she got tired, but since even her absolute worst turn of the night was better than her best turn at our last tournament, I am over the moon. Oh, and yes, all of these turns with with absolutely NO props of any kind in front of the box, just like we will see at a tournament.

I will say that my teammates were all very impressed. There was a bit of ribbing about the fact that Koira's turn improved so much right before I head off to run in Open, at a tournament that no one else from my team is going to. I did put some extra time and effort into training her turn, I'll admit. But, its not like I haven't been putting time and effort into it before now! I think something just finally clicked for her. Of course I have no pictures or video or anything to prove this, but that doesn't make me any less thrilled!

Lets hope she stays solid this weekend in Canada!

After practice, we set up a power jumping grid, which is six flyball jumps all set up ten feet apart. I brought Pallo in for this, and he had a blast. I had him run it four times (Koira came in and ran twice, but she is always a rock star with jumping grids). He has been off flyball completely for a full two months now. He was jumping smoothly, single striding every one, and going for his tug with wild abandon. He'll be doing some full runs at practice next week, so we'll see if some time off is the solution to our previous issues or not. Fingers crossed!