2.jpg




Chasing Pigeons, Kissing Ducks and Crashing Hard with Pogi at Boston Public Gardens

Every animal I photograph is special in their own unique way.  Pogi is a big dog in a little dog body.  My favorite kind of little dog; sturdy, steadfast, strong, funny and active in a lovable package that would certainly fit in my knapsack.  If you can resist this rough and tumble face then I’m sorry, you are just not human.

I met up with Pogi, a three year old Bichon, Maltese, Pomeranian mix in Brookline this past Saturday.  He greeted me like he does everything…in a big way.  There was a lot of chit chat in the form of barking with a few jumps and twirls.  He leaped, ricocheted off my thigh came down, turned around and only then did he smell the homemade bits of chicken in my pocket.  It’s always a game changer.  He went from feeling like he had to protect his home and family to putty in my hands in all of ten seconds.  It wasn’t long before he deemed me acceptable and we became friends.

Our first stop was the local dog park so that Pogi could burn off some of his energy (ha! yeah, right!).  He ran, chased sticks, ran again and while I began huffing and puffing, Pogi was only getting started.  From there, we headed to the Boston Public Gardens (one of my favorite places to shoot in Spring and Fall).  I was afraid there might not be enough color but was pleasantly surprised to see the Weeping Willows draping their brilliantly yellow branches over serene waterways filled with ducks and geese.  Our day had a chill in the air and was a little on the cloudy side but the imagery remained gorgeous just the same.

At the end of our shoot, we returned home where my little friend, such a character, crashed hard on the couch.  Pogi’s Dad made us, what I think were the perfect grilled cheese sandwiches and we ate and talked about animal welfare while Pogi, slept like a baby.

Lenny and Stephanie, thank you so much for letting me into your home and for your hospitality.  I absolutely ADORE Pogi and wish all three of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Here’s a little taste of our day and a teaser of your gallery.

Pogi at Boston Public GardensPogi at Boston Public GardensPogi at Boston Public GardensPogi at Boston Public Gardens

 

 

 





A Mid-Summer Morning With George

I have quite a bit of catching up to do with posts and I wanted to begin with George.  George, a big gray and white tabby with a giant sized personality makes his home in Brookline with his mom and dad.  At the time, he was an only child and blessed with a family who considered him not just a cat, but a very important part of their family.

Most recently, George’s mom gave birth to a gorgeous little girl and I have to say, I was so happy to see logic and sanity prevail.  And the reason I say this is because I’ve seen too many times moms-to-be told by their doctors that cats, litter boxes and pregnancy do not mix and sadly, the outcome, results in cats being surrendered to animal shelters out of irrational fears.  George, you really are loved and lucky you, now you have a little sister!

At first, George wasn’t too sure of me and the camera and I found myself seeing his backside more than his front.  But a little coaxing with chicken jerky treats, and he warmed up very nicely.  Soon, I had a model worthy of the cover of Cat Fancy and he even allowed me to pick him up (much to the surprise of his parents).  Funny thing is, we started our session with him in his favorite sleeping place (the box) and when he decided the shoot was complete and he had given me all he had, he went right back to the box.

Jason and Jill all the best for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a very wonderful new year with Genevieve and George.

Check this beautiful boy out…

George Gray White Tabby Brookline Pet PhotographyGeorge Gray White Tabby Brookline Pet PhotographyGeorge Gray White Tabby Brookline Pet PhotographyGeorge Gray White Tabby Brookline Pet PhotographyGeorge Gray White Tabby Brookline Pet Photography

 





First Look In Over Two Months

On March 3, my mother suffered a severe stroke that affected a large portion of the left side of her brain.  At the time of her stroke, we weren’t sure she would survive it.  Neurologists told us that she would never speak or walk again and that she most likely wouldn’t recognize us or remember who we were.  They gave us no hope.  Our family, devastated and broken by her tragic predicament pulled together and rallied around her.

Today, while her right arm and leg are still paralyzed, there is movement in her right foot on occasion that is not a reflex action but is instead distinct and intentional.  She still can not speak but she can sing and has been known to say certain phrases.  She understands most everything that we are saying to her and while communication is difficult and seemingly one sided at times, we are learning new forms of communication and continue to work on old forms and movement.

My father, has spent every day and night by her bedside holding her hand and giving his support.  Married for 50 years, whenever one was ill, the other sat vigilant by their side caring for them, loving them and providing the inspiration to get better and come home.  This time, while the illness was overwhelming horrific, his dedication and love never once wavered….not even a little.   When she became angry because he couldn’t understand her he rarely, if ever, lost patience.  When she cried gut wrenching tears at being trapped in a body that would no longer do what she wanted it to, he gently touched her face and wiped away her tears telling her everything was going to be alright.  As a child, I never understood the depth of their kind of love.  As an adult, I realize just how lucky my brother and I were to have been born into a family with parents who not only have this much love for each other but for their children too.

On October 7th, this all changed as our family took another hit.  Dad went in for surgery on his spinal cord.  He spinal cord had gradually become so pinched that spinal fluid was not allowed to flow normally from his brain to the rest of his body.  Surgery was not elective.  If he didn’t have the problem corrected, he faced eventually being wheelchair bound without the use of his legs and arms.  Surgery went well but he ended up with pneumonia which led to breathing problems and worsening pneumonia.  He is still in the hospital and is in seemingly stable condition.

Throughout his stay, he had several close calls that my brother and I feared he wouldn’t come back from.  All of them involved having to be intubated with a breathing tube and as a result, had to have a tracheotomy to insure proper breathing.  But he proves to be as strong as my mother in his resolve to get better.  The only thing he wants and the only thing he cares about is seeing my mom again and being by her side.  My mother, who wishes she could do the same for him, has not been the same since he has been gone.  She no longer takes part in physical or speech therapy and has been having a difficult time living life without him.

I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and loss they both must be enduring.  This weekend, with the help of The Ride, my brother and I were able to finally get them together for their first look in a little over two months.  The visit was a surprise to both of them.   We kept it under wraps because the last two times they were about to see each other, emergencies occurred and the trips had to be cancelled.

As I watched my father mouthed the words “everything is going to be ok” to my mom who stared intently at his lips deciphering his words, I began to believe it myself.

Mom and Dad's First Look

Mom and Dad's First Look
Mom and Dad's First Look
Mom and Dad's First Look
Mom and Dad's First Look

 

 

 

 





Lullaby, Say Goodnight

I love how cats can sleep anytime, anywhere and in any position.

cat sleeping





Puppy Mill Awareness Day with NVHS

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend Puppy Mill Awareness Day in Medfield, MA at Rocky Woods and work with Judy Ambrose of Neponset Valley Humane Society.   Judy and I worked together back in May at the Walk for Animals Fundraiser in Borderland State Park so I was looking forward to seeing her again.

The day brought together rescues and shelters from surrounding areas in a collaborative effort to educate the public to the appalling conditions and lives of dogs sustained only to give birth to puppies to be sold in pet stores.  Most are raised by backyard breeders with no concern for the dog’s health, care or welfare.

With so many responsible breeders and  the most amazing animals, both mixed breed and purebreds, waiting to be loved and adopted in shelters around the world, buying from pet stores should be obsolete.   But it isn’t.  And animals suffer because of it.  The motto at Puppy Mill Awareness Day was “adopt don’t shop”.

Below are just some of the animals waiting for homes as well as those that have found one.  Please contact your local shelters for more information on adopting.  You can also check out one of my favorite sources for adoption…. Pet Finders.

Judy, thanks for continually fighting the good fight.  We do it one animal at a time.

To see the entire gallery of images, please click HERE.

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

 

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness

Puppy Mill Awareness





From the Streets of Puerto Rico to the Marinas of Redding

Akin to Pip of Dicken’s Great Expectations, Coffee and Cocoa found themselves taken from a life of poverty and brought into a world where they would want for nothing.  Coffee and Cocoa were found roaming the streets of Puerto Rico by SATO and brought to the states where they no longer had to live in fear or fight for their next meal.  Soon after, they were both adopted by the Taylors who, with great patience, taught them how to let go of most of their fears in an environment filled with nothing but love.

Coffee and Cocoa

These sweetie pies took very little time to warm up to me and my camera.  We spent much time in and around their home where the light allowed for lots of creativity.

sato dogs

Coffee Sato dog

Cocoa Sato Dog

dog paw

 

Sato Dogs

Coffee Sato dog

Cocoa Sato Dog

Coffee Sato Dog

Sato Dogs

sleepy dog

Sato Dog

 

After we spent sometime out in the sun it was off to Coffee and Coca’s second home…..the boat.  I have to say, I’m kind of jealous.  Lucky pups.

Coffee Sato Dog

Cocoa Sato Dog

Sato Dog

Sato Dog

Tara, it’s stories like yours that give me hope for the future of other dogs just like Coffee and Cocoa.  Thank you for opening your heart and home to two of the most wonderful dogs.  Photographing them was not only a pleasure but an honor.

Sato Dog

 





Todo Visits Marina Bay

During a photo shoot, I always find myself drawn to my subjects by something that is uniquely them.  Each one is special in their own way but every now and then, I meet an animal that touches me on a retrospective level; one that makes me examine my own life.  Todo is one of those animals.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

Todo is a Yorkshire Terrier, adopted through Buddy Dog Humane Society 15 years ago.  At the time, he was only a year old.  That makes this little one 16 years old.

When his mom first got in touch with me, she mentioned that Todo no longer looks quite like his former, young self and that he has some cognitive dysfunction, is slow moving and has cataracts.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and honestly, I was a little bit nervous for the first time in the history of my shooting career.  After hearing their story, I sincerely wanted to do right by both of them and hoped I was talented enough to pull it off because I assured her I would be able to capture what she was looking for.

When I arrived I saw them making their way towards me from across the street.  Carmel patiently waiting while Todo sniffed here, then there, then stood, paused to take a breather for a moment before moving a step or two further where he paused again before taking a few more steps.  I hadn’t even officially met him, yet he had endeared himself to me immediately.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

I crossed the street and approached them.  Because of Todo’s cataracts, I knew he may not see me so I crouched a few feet in front of him and extended my hand slowly to his nose.  He sniffed, approved, and allowed me to scratch under his chin.  It’s hard to say why, but I found myself holding back tears throughout our entire session.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

Maybe it is because he is so matter of fact about his inability to run like he did when he was a mere pup.  Maybe it is because he is the picture of perseverance, unwavering in his attempts to get to where he wants to go with a slow and steady pace.  Maybe it is because Todo is so stoic as an elder, something I truly admire about him.  Maybe it’s because I know that Carmel is struggling with the decision none of us wants to make.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

As we ambled our way along the boardwalk of Marina Bay, Todo’s mom and I got to talking and I learned that he has his bad days and his good days.  I learned that he has a bit of arthritis and tends to jump at certain noises (which he did a few times at the sound of my shutter clicking).  I learned that at night, he gets restless right around 8pm and it causes him to cry and whimper before he falls asleep only to wake a few hours later.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

I learned that aside from a bit of sagging of his ears and tail (don’t worry Todo, everything sags with age for all of us) and the few other things I mentioned, that Todo is as strong as the summer day is long and has no debilitating illnesses.   Weird for me to be so relieved by this as I’d only known him for a mere two hours but I was….immensely.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

 

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

The more Todo’s mom and I chatted, the more I found we had in common and the more I admired them both for their strength, their courage and perhaps most of all, their devotion to each other.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

Carmel, you have one special little dog there.  Thank you for choosing me to photograph him.  He touched my heart.  Todo, you forced me to slow down and I can’t thank you enough for that.  You showed me that when we rush along, our eyes on the ground or in our smart phones oblivious of our surroundings that  we miss out on so much.  Thank you little one for showing me what it’s like to age with grace and dignity no matter the aches or pains.  You are truly an inspiration.

Todo Marina Bay Pet Photography

 

 





Neponset Valley Humane Society Fundraiser

Last weekend I had the opportunity to dust off my camera equipment after a two month personal hiatus.   Neponset Valley Humane Society had their 17th annual Walk For Animals in Borderland State Park and I couldn’t have been happier to attend.  Borderland State Park has been around since the late 1800′s early 1900′s and the venue, which includes an ancient estate, is just amazing.

Borderland State Park

Borderland State Park

Borderland State Park

Borderland State Park

 

Though the morning started out with overcast skies, fog, heavy rains and chilly temperatures (seems to be the norm around here these days), it didn’t keep people from coming out with their dogs to help raise money for the shelter and the animals lucky enough to find themselves in the shelter’s care.

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

 

I love shooting events like this; like minded people, dogs everywhere, what more could a girl ask for?

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

How adorable is this little Pug mug shake?  I really wanted to steal this little guy.

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

We were visited by a Red Tailed Hawk.  He landed in a tree so close to us I thought he might have been stalking the little dogs.

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

But once he saw the big dog body guards, he didn’t stick around for long.

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

There were raffles, snacks and balloon animals.  I haven’t seen balloon animals since, well, since I was a kid.  Brought back a lot of memories.

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Judy, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your fundraiser.  I had such a great time and I plan on heading back to Borderland to investigate the acres and acres of forests, waterways and particularly to tour the estate library.  The history is intriguing.

To see the full gallery click here:  GALLERY

Neponset Valley Humane Society 17th Annual Walk for Animals

Neponset Valley Humane Society

Neponset Valley Humane Society

Neponset Valley Humane Society

Neponset Valley Humane Society

Neponset Valley Humane Society





Life is My School

I’m a big believer in knowledge.  Education, be it in a class environment, online, through books, seminars or conferences is important in every aspect of life.  However, I also believe that there is no education quite like the education you’ll get with hands on training.  The “just do it” process of learning much like the lessons I learn by experiencing life,  is the method I use most in almost everything I do.  If I’m interested in learning something, the first thing I’ll do is buy a gazillion books and DVDs on the subject and then immediately begin putting what I read into real life applications. It’s this method that allows me the practice I need to truly understand what works, what doesn’t and where I need to improve.

I used this method when I first began to learn about photography.  My formal experience began in college when I took a few semesters to satisfy certain requirements.  From that experience, I moved forward and just started shooting.  The more I shot, the more I experimented and the more experience I gained.

Twenty years ago, when I got my first puppy, a Giant Schnauzer we named Sax, I did the same thing.  I remember my first beginner class with Sax.  We were in class for all of ten minutes when the trainer fitted him with a choke chain and began to show me how to utilize it.  He was five months old.  A week later, she replaced the choke with a pinch collar because she wasn’t getting the “proper” responses from him.  She asked Sax to sit.  He didn’t.  He hadn’t yet been taught.  I thought teaching was what class was supposed to be for.  She gave a jerk upwards with the leash which elicited a shocked yelp (not only from Sax but the majority of the people in class).  At the same time, she pressed downward on his rump to make him sit.  It made me extremely uncomfortable.  My gut instinct told me this wasn’t right.  But I suppressed that instinct because I thought they knew more than I did.  After all, they were dog trainers….I was not.

Next was teaching him how to walk on leash and this is where I began to realize that this type of training didn’t teach, it forced.  Not only did it force, but with a dog like Sax, it actually encouraged aggressive behavior.  The more she jerked, the more it frustrated and antagonized him and the more he became reactive.  It didn’t take long before he jumped at her and bit her hand.  Her response was severe, and punishment included several consecutive yanks in which he screeched and tried to get away.  I walked up to her, took the leash from her, left and never went back. Even with my lack of experience I knew this couldn’t be the only form of training.  I knew there had to be a better way.

Thankfully, dog training is no longer so medieval.  While there are those trainers that, for whatever reason, can’t let go of the old ways of training, there are many more, like Victoria Stilwell of It’s Me or the Dog, who believe in a training method that encourages your dog to think for him or herself.

Victoria Stilwell It's Me Or the Dog

When I train, I give the animal the respect he/she deserves and teach based on encouragement, motivation and positive reinforcement with the end goal being an enhanced relationship…a trusting friendship.  I’ve learned much in the way of animal behavior and training in the last twenty years with the majority of my education coming from a life lived with animals and my work at Quincy Animal Shelter.  A one size fits all program just doesn’t work when it comes to training.  In every instance, it’s the animal who shows me how it will best learn.

This weekend, I attended the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants conference.  I had the opportunity to hear presentations from Dr. Nicholas Dodman on compulsive behavior, Dr. Frank McMillan on the psychological aspects of abuse, neglect and trauma on animals, Lisa Clifton-Bumpass on cross species training, Kathryn Lord on sensory development in wolves and dogs, Dr. Sheila D’Arpino on food aggression, Steve Dale on enriching environments for dogs and cats and Bob Bailey on behavioral economics.

I can’t even explain how amazing it was to be in a room filled with such great minds.  Minds who encourage building bonds with your dog or cat in a way that resists force, dominance and fear.  Thank you IAABC for putting this together and thank you to everyone willing to share their knowledge so that I can better myself.

 





Birds in Flight

Birds in flight are so graceful.  I love that about them.

Seagull in flight