Special Photo Sessions for Patient Pooches

Walter

Occasionally we like to get some of the shelter dogs out on a field trip for a special photo shoot.  The goal is to show off more of their personalities and to take photos in which the viewer can imagine the dog living a fun life outside of the shelter, hopefully with them. The dogs we choose to take are dogs that have been at the shelter for a long time, usually 3-12 months.  Most of our long timers, or patient pooches as we like to call them, have been at the shelter a long time because they may be reactive to other dogs and need to be the only dog in the home.  Sometimes they get over looked for no reason at all.  So, we (myself, another photographer, and four dog handlers) took 12 dogs from Longmont Humane Society to Golden Ponds for some fun.  The dogs had an amazing time eating grass, playing in the water, interacting with people and just relaxing in the sun.  Of course the humans had an amazing time too watching the dogs have so much fun.  The extra exposure can really help dogs find new homes and it gives them a break from the shelter.  I will post more photos of the other dogs soon!

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Photographing High Energy Dogs in the Shelter

walker-treat-catcher

Walker

Photographing high energy dogs in a shelter environment can be challenging.  It can be hard to get them to sit and focus long enough for you to take a good photograph since they have just come out of their kennel and need to run off some steam.  We however have limited time in which to get our photographs. When we get a dog like this, we use his personality and energy to our advantage and capture fun and whimsical images along the way. This handsome guy Walker, is always loaded with energy, but he responds well to being asked to engage in an activity.  My handler worked with Walker by running him around the room on his leash asking him to focus on her while giving him treats.  We then made a game out of treat catching. We had him sit and catch treats which he thoroughly enjoyed! Finally after 20 minutes or so, he was happy to give a nice pose for the camera.

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Big Dog, Little Dog!

Dozer&Tiny-final fb-logo2These boys were so fun to photograph!  Dozer, the Great Dane needed some extra care while being cared for by Lonmgont Humane Society.  He was underweight and very anxious in the shelter environment.  They paired him up with Tiny who kept him company while they also fed him extra nutritious food, high in calories.  I photographed these two boys with the help of three assistants who kept them in place, repeatedly!  It took about 20 shots to capture this pose.  At one point Dozer turned away from me and sat directly in my lap!  He stayed for several minutes and then went back to posing for his photo. Both boys have been adopted into new homes and love their new families.

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Coaching Shy Dogs

Jeff 032915Quite often dogs in shelters are feeling shy or frightened which makes getting a good photograph difficult.  They don’t know why they are in the shelter, why their owner has not come for them or what will happen to them next.  Jeff was pretty nervous but responded well to human interaction. Sharron, one of my handlers (and my mother) is really good at calming nervous dogs by massaging their sides or chest in a circular motion and speaking to them softly.  She will then slowly move away from them so they can pose for their photograph. This can take several attempts and Jeff’s photos took about 10 minutes to get. He did smile for the camera and found out it can be really fun getting special attention, hugs and treats.  We did this series of photos with commentary to portray what Sharron was saying and what Jeff might be thinking. Click on the image to enlarge it to read the captions.

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Bam-Bam for Mayor

Bam-BamEvery 2-3 years we travel to Southwest Colorado or New Mexico.  We always make it a point to stop for coffee and take a look around in San Luis, CO.  It is a tiny little town with a population of 629 (in 2010).  On our visit in 2012, I got out of my car and noticed that a large dog with a very large head was jogging toward me on the sidewalk.  He was making a bee line right toward me.  At first it startled me.  When I see a dog without a human I immediately think he is a stray and must be lost.  I also was not sure of his intention but when I looked closer, he was smiling and wobbling in a silly dog sorta way.  He walked right up to me and leaned against my leg and invited me to scratch his ears.  I did and all four of us hugged him and gave him some affection.  We bought him some milk which he slurped up and then wobbled down the road on to the next thing.  I went into a cafe and asked the owner if she knew the dog.  She said he lives a few blocks away and just wanders around the town saying hello to people.

Fast forward to 2014.  On our trip back from New Mexico we stopped in San Luis as usual.  I was telling my mother, who was with us on this trip, about the dog that wanders the streets and how beautiful and friendly he is.  We wondered if he was still around.  We went into the cafe and told the owner about the dog I met two years earlier and asked if he was still around.

She knew exactly who we were talking about and told me we had just missed him and that he had just shared some lunch with a couple of her patrons ten minutes ago. I asked her what his name was and she happily shared this information.

“His name is Bam-Bam, although some of the kids call him Speed Bump because he likes to lay in the road.  He’s a great dog and represents our town because he walks the main streets daily and greets people and then goes home.  His owners love him, but just let him roam as he always goes home.  In fact, he is so loved by the townspeople that he was recently added to the ballot for Town Mayor.  And, HE WON the vote this past year!  Our human mayor quit, so now Bam-Bam is our official mayor.”

We were excited to learn about who this dog is, and hoped to see Bam-Bam again so we drove around town for 15 minutes trying to get a glimpse of him.  We didn’t see him so we started to leave, right when he came  around the corner!  We pulled over and got out of the car and he walked right up to us, (after looking both ways before crossing the street),  again ready to receive some ear scratches and petting.  He greeted each of us, posed for a few photos and he decided when it was time to say good-bye and he walked on down the street.

It still seems odd to me that someone would let their dog just roam the streets, especially with a highway running through the middle of town.  But this is a small town and people do things differently in small towns.  One thing I noticed that set my mind at ease was that Bam-Bam wore a dog tag with an engraving of St. Francis of Assisi (Patron of Animals) on one side.  On the other side it said, “We Love Our Dog”.

 

 

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Jesse – The Super Hero Underdog

Jessie is dressed up in his super hero underdog costume for Halloween.  Like his brother Jackie, (see Little Red Riding Hood Post) dressing up is challenging in that it makes him think and try to figure out what we are doing.  He gets lots of treats and brain stimulation when dressing up. (don’t be fooled by his frown, he rarely smiles for the camera!).


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Little Red Riding Hood – October 2014

My dog Jackie views dressing up in costumes akin to agility training.  He was born a feral dog in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina hit and has overcome many obstacles of being a fearful dog.  So, when we go out on photo excursions and dress up, he is challenged with figuring out what we are doing and what I want from him, as well as “what I am wearing?”.  It does not stress him out and in fact he loves the many treat rewards he gets during our sessions.  He often tries on costumes for me that I create for the shelter dogs to wear during various photo shoots throughout the year.  Here is Jackie’s most recent session, which we shot over 3 different days.  Little Red Riding Hood.  I’ll post a few photos soon of his brother Jesse in his super hero Halloween costume.

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Dogs Overcoming Obstacles

trio dogsI had a great variety of pups to photograph yesterday at Longmont Humane Society.  Lily, on the left, was super shy because of deep seeded fears, but tried really hard to explore anyway.  She is a Giant Schnauzer and just gorgeous!  Hank, in the middle, was missing his leg after having it amputated due to an injury.  He could jump as high as my head to catch a ball and walked as if he didn’t know he was missing a leg.  Twilight, on the right, was a beautiful, gracious dog of almost 10 years yet full of energy and smiles.  It always amazes me to see dogs overcome what we would consider their issues or disabilities.

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You Can’t Get An Old Girl Down

This is Bugsy, an amazing 11 year old gal that I just photographed at Longmont Humane Society.  She was surrendered due to an infection in her leg that was caused by a bandage that was too tight on her foot.  LHS took care of her but unfortunately had to amputate her leg.  Bugsy is running around like nothing happened!  Her foster mom, also an employee of the shelter, brought her in to have her “ready to adopt” photo taken and asked to be in a few photos.  I happily included her and you can see the love!!  Her foster mom wanted a few photos to remember Bugsy as she cannot adopt her – too many dogs in the house already!  But she really loves her and wanted a few photos.  She found Bugsy to be great with her 1 and 3 year old kids as well as other dogs.  Bugsy has an all around big smile to share with everyone!

Bugsy

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No One Told Carmen She is Nine Years Old

carmen collage

No one told Carmen she is 9 years old.  She was so fun to photograph as she was full of energy yet gentle when she wasn’t chasing the ball.  She was just as happy to snuggle with me and hang out.  Carmen is at http://www.longmonthumane.org.

 

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