Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tornado Takes Life: Tragedy Befalls Sweet Daisy

This past weekend Max and I jet-set to Missouri to surprise my mom for Mother’s Day. She was fabulously surprised and we had a wonderful time spending time with our family, pet and humans alike. That is, until tragedy struck.

As some of you may know, Spring is also tornado season in the Midwest. On Saturday afternoon, an F4 to F5 tornado blew threw Missouri and Oklahoma killing 23 people and injuring hundreds. In fact, it wiped one entire town off the map!

Our dear friend, Kendra, (who you may remember from our January Pet Puff recipe post) was out of town and had boarded her two dogs, Daisy and Diesel, at a local boarding facility. Kendra and her family rushed back home to check on their dogs, sadly to find that the boarding facility was destroyed by the tornado!

Daisy and Diesel cozied up together

Kendra found Daisy and Diesel and rushed them to the emergency room. Diesel, the miniature poodle, was only a little bumped and bruised. However, sweet Daisy wasn’t that lucky. Daisy had swelling around the heart from the trauma of the twister.

Sweet Daisy

The next morning Kendra woke up to find Daisy in an even worse condition. She phoned her mom and the two headed to the emergency room. But before they could make it, sweet Daisy died in Kendra’s arms.

Daisy was deeply loved and will always be remembered

In an effort to send our caring thoughts to Kendra, I am organizing a card drive. I am hoping all of our fellow bloggers can help by sending a card to Kendra from you and your pet.

If you are interested in helping out, just send an email to apolston [at] hotmail.com with the subject “Card Drive” and I will email you back with her address.

Kendra and Daisy

Monday, May 5, 2008

Paw-tography: How to Snap the Best Pictures of Your Pooch

Go Digital - Digital cameras are the best! You may have to take 30 pictures before you find that one that grabs your eye. Keep snapping! Go for quantity... there is bound to be a good one!

This photo took several shots!

Lighting - Use natural lighting when possible, be it indoor or outdoors. The flash generally causes most animals to have red eye, which is nearly impossible to correct (even in Photoshop). Avoid the entire problem by using natural light. This will also capture the truest color of your pet's fur, while not frightening with the flash.

This karate kid's tone always looks best in natural light

Shutter Speed - Set your shutter speed to a fast enough setting to capture a moving animal, as we all know movement is inevitable when taking pictures. Check your camera manual to determine if you have a setting called "AI Servo AF." This setting will continuously re-focus on the subject as it moves. After setting your camera to AI Servo AF you then focus on your moving dog by pressing the shutter button half way down. Keep the AF point on the dog and the focus will remain continuous. Sometime the candid photos are the best, and you certainly don't want to miss out on that jump, spin, or roll!

Caught in a cute roll!

Location, Location, Location - Choose a location where your pet is comfortable. If your pet is use to spending most of his day inside your home, then try for an indoor photoshoot. If your dog loves the backyard, shoot outside. Sometimes the best photos are when your pet is the most comfortable and relaxed. Don't force it... it just won't work!

Max feels the most comfortable on his pillows

Go to Them - Since you can't expect your pet to know what is going on when you start pointing a shiny metal device at them, you certainly can't expect them to know what to do. Go to your pet. So many times we only think to snap the shots from the easiest position for us, standing up. If he is sitting on a chair, try getting down to eye level with him for a good close up. Even try to shoot from down up. Work with different angles to get the dog's eye view instead of just the bird's eye view.

Getting some face time with Max

Use Basic Commands - If your pet knows basic commands like sit and stay be sure to use these commands. If there is a trigger word that your pet knows, feel free to use it too... just don't over do it or your pet will ignore you in the future. As for Max, when we say "Do you wanna..." or "Outside?" his ears perk up and he tilts his head to the side, which we think is pretty cute. However, this only works for a few shots. Otherwise, he realizes "these people aren't taking me out, they are tricking me!" At which time, he totally tunes us out.

Eye contact and perky ears... Max is definitely ready to go outside!

Treats - When your pet starts to tune you out, you can always use the treat technique. Request a command, with treat in hand. If you are trying to get eye contact, simply hold the treat near the lens and the photo will appear as if he is looking straight into the camera. This is especially helpful when using a prop or posing your pet. Just don't overdo this one either, or your little guy will end up with the tummy ache!

As a puppy, treats were the initial allure for Max's interest in photography

Plan it Out - Try to pick a time when your dog is relaxed. After Max's baths he is wild and crazy. This would be the worst time for us to try to snap a shot because he just doesn't stand still. Rather we pick a time after a walk or play group when Max is relaxed and maybe even a little sleepy.

Maybe a little too sleepy for this photo shoot!

Be Patient
- Not only do you have to be patient, but you have to be prepared. Some days I wish I could just have my camera in hand all day because I want to catch a shot of him jumping or yawning. You can't exactly force your pet into posing, but you can be ready for his next cute move.

Finally, the wind blew in his hair as Max gazed into the distance