Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pet Loss, Dog Shows, Blog Carnival, Show Advertisements

  • Pet Loss - a journey of grief

  • This has been a hard week for some of my pet-loving friends (both in real life and e-friends). Cindy at I Love Cuttables! lost her cat Missy after 17 years together, my friend Tina in Memphis helped her darling Cocker Shiloh (age 16) to The Bridge and a dear massage client of mine is mourning the passing of her 12 year old Standard Poodle, Kelev. My heart goes out to each and every one of them!

    We know the odds are there that we will outlive the pets we bring into our lives, and the grief is overwhelming. But we do it anyway. The joys, the love, the comfort, the companionship - they all add up to knowledge that the pain their end-of-life brings us is definitely outweighed by the good times and treasured memories. However this doesn't make the passage easy on us!

    How do you work through your grief? This answer is different for everyone and is a very personal process. What works for one may not bring any comfort to another. For some, bringing a new fur-kid into their lives is just what the doctor ordered. This doesn't replace the former pet, but it does help fill that hole left behind. Others prefer to heal in their own time before beginning the search for the new four-legged best friend. I fell between those two examples when I lost my first heart-dog, Kodak, in 2002. She was 14 and we had been together since I rescued her at 8 weeks old. Joined at the hip, bonded at the heart - she meant so very much to me! My emotions at losing her were too raw and jagged - I knew I couldn't committ to another companion until I moved through the stages of grief. But OH! How the house was empty! Fate stepped in and introduced me to the world of dog rescue one week after Kodak left this world and provided me with MY perfect answer - I began fostering dogs (and life as I knew it would change forever - for the better). I had the pitter-patter of little feet to fill my days, the satisfaction of helping a dog in need, the fulfillment of matching orphans to new families - and when I was ready (2 years later) I was in a position to look into a set of Cocker Spaniel eyes and know that I had found my new furry friend.

    I was fortunate to have been ready to accept my path when it was presented to me. Not everyone has that experience however. The grief can be truely overwhelming, engulfing, especially if you don't have anyone close in your life who understands what your loss really means to you. A support group might be the answer. Many local shelters or humane societies have pet loss support groups to help you at this time of your life. If you are in a smaller or more remote community, an online group might be the answer. Just google "Pet Loss Support" and you will find many options available to you - one should be just the right fit for what you are looking for. One article that I find to speak to me is about The Emotions of Pet Loss and can be found by clicking here. To quote from that site: "Perhaps the most vital step in coping with the emotions you will feel upon the loss of your pet is acknowledging them. 'Let yourself feel--write down your feelings, cry, be angry, call someone. Know that it is all right to be so upset over losing your pet and that it takes time to heal,' wrote Susan K. of New York". Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this blog post - tell your story, share your memories. If you have lost a pet - at any time in your life - my heart goes out to you and your family!

  • Dog Shows: Lake Mathews, Rio Hondo, Mt. Palomar

  • Lake Mathews photos are finished! It was a blustery, windy day and the dog hair was blowing all around. This made for some striking portrait shots - but also cut down on the amount of elegant stacked poses that I could capture. You can find all the photos in my online galleries. This is CH Kingsleah Shamal (call name Ben). He is a handsome Afghan Hound owned by Kathy Rich and bred by Gunilla Holgren of Kennel Kingsleah.

    Rio Hondo photos are being worked now. Each breed will be uploaded as they are finished into my online galleries. To tide you over until I am finished, I'd like to introduce you to CH Twisted Creeks Xlnt Adventure (call name Rufus): shaking it off and getting ready to be serious in the ring. Owned by/Bred by Michael and Christine Smith. Rufus is the #8 Redbone Coonhound in the country (Canine Chronicle breed standings thru April 30, 2011).

    Mount Palomar Kennel Club 2011 photos will be next in the queue. It was a beautiful day at Bates Nut Farm and I ran into a lot of show friends - canine and human. I also had the chance to meet two other freelance photographers who came out to capture images. What a wonderful way to spend the day! This striking boy is CH Kamikazi's Tokyo Rock Star, intent upon his handler (Tammy Miyagawa) as he took best in Toy Group during the Saturday show. Owned by/Bred by Jo-Ann & Roy Kusumoto and Moe & Tammy Miyagawa.

  • Blog Carnival Winner!

  • The community of artists at my greeting card community are wonderful at inspiring and teaching their fellow artists. Earlier this month the GCU blog owner Corrie hosted a Blog Carnival, with the theme "Summertime and the Living is Easy!". She challeged us to create a summer-themed post that was relevant to our blog subject. This was the inspirtation for my last blog post. The Carnival Winner was chosen at random - and I won! It was a fun challenge and there was a wonderful group participating - you might enjoy visiting their blogs as well:

  • Mariana Musa - Summertime at Greeting Card Universe

  • The days are full of sunshine and the temperatures are slowly rising...
  • Catherine Sherman - Summertime Flowers and Fruit

  • The fragrance of roses all summer long, the juice of ripe fruit on our lips...
  • Sun at Night - Summer Celestial Events and Art

  • The summer month of June is just around the corner...
  • Maryann Nolan - Discontent for Summers Past

  • Ah summertime, full of sunny days, steamy temperatures, blue skies ... I long for thee!
  • Cindy Johns - More Father's Day Cards

  • While I'm on the topic of Father's Day (see the 'funner' stuff below)...
  • Naquaiya - Summertime, and the Living Is Easy

  • Summer is a time for a little fun, a little soaking up some nice warm rays...
  • Shelley McLeod - Is Summer Almost Here?
    Well, after two 80 degree days, we are back to 50s and raining...
  • Judith Cheng - Summertime

  • Nothing beats sketching by the water after our long winter...
  • Betsy Bush - It's Summertime and the Living is Easy!

  • It’s hard to believe it is approaching summer what with all the rain ...
  • Doreen Erhardt - Ah, Sweet Blessed Summertime

  • I was born in 1961 in a suburban area and the memories of those summers ...
  • Denise Beverly - Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Sum, Summertime

  • That song always makes me sing it whether I want to or not...
  • Cherie - Summertime, and the Living Is Easy

  • One of the things that I love most about summer is being able to lay outside...
  • Janet Palaggi - Summertime Food 'n Fun

  • That`s right folks, Summer Is Finally Here...
  • Sheryl Kasper - Summertime Grilling

  • Have you been thinking about the warm days of summer during the cold days of winter...
  • Sue Baumgardner - Summertime and the Kids' Education Goes Out the Door?

  • Learn how to teach your own children and as many others as you decide to include...
  • Aura2000 - I Love Summer!

  • Maybe it's because I'm born in Summer, but I just love this time of the year...

  • Dog Show Advertisements

  • The day has come! I've been spending six months immersed in the dog show trade magazines, going over the ads with a close eye. What do I like? What makes me linger over an ad? Does it speak to the intended audience (is it for the judge? is it offering a dog for stud? is it announcing a Kennel's acheivements?)? I have finally reached a place where I am comfortable offering my services in this niche and here is a look at my first advertisement (created for Sue Annette Maniscalco of Su-Et's Scottish Terriers). Gracie is growing up and ready to hit the show circuit - she'll be making a splash at the Scottish Terrier National Specialty in June.

  • Coming up:

  • May 26 - Ringside Candids at West Coast Cocker Spaniel Specialty Show in Pomona, CA; May 27 & 28 - Ringside Candids at the Mission Circuit in Pomona, CA; May 29 - Private Shoot in San Diego, CA; Contact me if you would like me to capture your dog showing in the ring, for a private photo shoot or to participate in a mini-session in Santee. The full shooting schedule can be seen on my main website. See you at the shows!

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    May 13 - Tips for Photographing Your Pets, Dog Shows, Poochie Bells, All-American Dog Design and more!

  • Tips for Photographing Your Pets

  • The company I use for my pet photo greeting cards is called Greeting Card Universe. Besides their top quality cards, exceptional customer service and friendly artists' community, I appreciate them for their review process of submitted cards. Most "print on demand" companies don't have one, and there is nothing more frustrating as a consumer than ordering something online and having the final product in your hand looking crummy. It's quite embarrassing, as an artist, to have this happen too (I know firsthand ... I had a calendar cover in 2009 that said "January through Decmeber")! As a result of the review process, you, the shopper, aren't likely to be disappointed in any card you order thru this company - and you can have full confidence when you use their direct-mailing option as well (sending your purchased card with your custom "hi there!" greeting inside, directly to the recipient ... no more hunting for stamps!).

    But with the reviews come frustrations on the part of the artists - sometimes images and designs are sent back for re-working or even denied for publication all together. The GCU Community Blog invited me to be a guest blogger last week and I shared some tips for getting better shots of your lovely furries at home. This proves just as relevent for the pet owner as for the greeting card designer. Check it out by clicking here -> Guest Blog by DogBreedz.net. Of course, I still recommend you visit a professional photographer at least once a year for some heirloom images, too. If you are in SoCal, the Santee studio is open on a regular basis during the week - let me know when you are in the area!

  • Springer Specialty, Walnut, CA

  • Photos are almost complete from the Gateway Cities English Springer Spaniel Association Specialty on April 30. In the morning I caught some ringside candids of beautiful Springers in motion and stacked for the judge. After the Rescue Parade I stayed close to the portrait booth for some studio shots. This is Peaches - she is available for adoption through English Springer Rescue America and I am IN LOVE with this girl! High energy (of course - she's a Fieldie!) and smart as a whip. I don't think she'd be a good choice for a first time dog owner, and definitely not a dog to hang alone while her human is at work for 8 hours a day. Bored dogs get into mischief when left alone. Peaches has tons of love to give, and that's pretty much a match to her energy level and her smart-savvy. Is YOUR home and life-style ready for a Springer like this one?

  • Poochie Bells

  • Back in 2002 I concieved, founded and ran San Diego Spaniel Rescue - the abandoned and stray Cocker Spaniels in San Diego County finally had an advocate! In January of 2003 I brought the first blind dog into Rescue and my life has never been the same. Lacey was a beautiful 1940's style red/white parti girl and her human owner had passed away. Lacey's blindness was recent - and sudden - swelling in the optic nerve cause irrepairable damage to the nerve and nothing could be done to reverse the sight loss. Lacey took it all in stride - she had only been blind a week when I first met her, yet she still acted like the queen-of-the-world that she was!

    Yes, to Lacey it was just another day in her life. But before I brought her home to foster with me, I was anything but calm! A blind dog! What do I do? How do I do it? What about my flight of 12 stairs down to the yard? Help! I turned to the internet and asked questions of people with blind dog experience.

    The suggestions that came in were wonderful, and even better - they stimulated my brain to think outside the box and to create some solutions that were specific to my situation. For example - while I didn't have a way to put a gate at the top of the stairs right away, with Lacey's input I went another route. I led her up and down the steps quite a few times on leash, and she quickly proved to me that navigating the stairs was a no-brainer to her (Silly Foster Mom! I know THAT phrase went thru her cute little head many times!). But what I needed was a way to let her know that the steps were coming up - what if she was running and playing with another dog, and didn't know how close the steps were? I had two 12 square-inch decorative blocks, about two inches in width available. I laid them down flat about a foot in front of the steps - she had plenty of room so if she stumbled into them, she'd realize the steps were nearby, yet enough room that when she was ready to go down and play in the yard, she could step over them, then on down the stairs.

    I was still nervous about her being outside and navigating the area without supervision (Lacey eventually taught me to be much less up-tight). The next step for me was to block off the doggie door and only allow her on the deck when I was available to be out there with her. With my computer and my office in the back of the house, I wasn't observant enough to pick up on Lacey's silent clues that she had to go potty - after all, SHE didn't know I wasn't right there to see her waiting patiently at the door! If I didn't make it out to check on her soon enough - well, let's just say that it's because of my time with Lacey that I decided to replace the carpeting with tile ... But what to do? How do I help a blind dog tell me it's time to go outside if she's one of the quiet, non-whiney furkids?

    Poochie Bells to the Rescue! This was a tip that was given to me and I love it - sighted or blind, deaf or hearing - the Poochie Bells were my best (non-fur) friend for the 8 years I fostered dogs at my old house. I'd be using them in my new home, but it's small enough that I have a clear sight line to the door and can see when Bennett is wishing it would open - even while on the computer. Now, I did start with just a string of Christmas Sleigh Bells hanging on the door from my holiday collection. And you can home-make a string of bells (just be sure your Fido can't chew any off your strand and swallow any - another reason I prefer the commerically made bells from Poochie Bells). When I saw the different designs in the Poochie Bell line of housebreaking tools, I was hooked - a classy look and a wonderful houestraining aid! Still not convinced? Take a look at them here: PoochieBells.com. The company even has cute dog-themed hooks, if you don't want to hang yours on the doorknob. Training a dog to use the bells is relatively easy to do, too. Get your Poochie Bells and let me know your training story!

  • Lake Matthews Kennel Club

  • Next up in the editing queue - ringside candids from the Lake Matthews Kennel Club 2011 dog show in Chino Hills, CA. At this show I spent time following nine breeds (English Setters, Clumber Spaniels, Finnish Lapphunds, Sloughi, Bouvier Des Flandres, Afghan Hounds, Scottish Terriers, Lhasa Apsos and Samoyeds). It was a blustery day which gave some cool looking images for me to photograph, especially with the long-hair breeds - although I can imagine that as an exhibitor or a judge it must have proved a bit frustrating. This is GCH Set'r Ridge's in the Sensation JH (call name Chloe). Owned by Toni and Roger Barbosa of Milestone Setters and bred by Melissa Newman of Setter Ridge Kennels. I love this shot! And I hope to see much more of Chloe - her face is adorable.

  • Patriotic Design

  • I'm still getting a hang of looking ahead to upcoming holidays. While the average consumer may think this means Memorial Day, Shavuot and Father's Day, to the card designer this really means Labor Day, Grandparents Day and Rosh Hashanah. For the REALLY on-the-ball designer, it even means Halloween! Like I said, I'm still wrapping my head around it and am not reaching quite as far out as I should be, yet. With Memorial Day, Flag Day and July Fourth coming up, and Labor Day in the "design NOW!" category, I decided to come up with a patriotic design that can be customized for all the holidays and occasions that celebrate the USA (including cards to thank a serviceman/woman for their duty, welcoming a dear one home from service, and more). This is the design I came up with - in about 3 weeks it should be active and available for sale in all my available breeds. I hope my Patriotic Line suits a need for YOU! The image is already available for customization with your image and your requested text - just contact me for details (no design charges apply for this one).

  • Rio Hondo Kennel Club

  • My Rio Hondo photos will be next after I finish Lake Matthews pix. It was a good weekend for a dog show - beautiful and not too hot. I only made it out to the grounds on Sunday, but stayed to the very end. This weekend I spent time with some of my favorite breeds: Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Clumber Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers and Border Terriers. I also had a chance to see a couple of Toy Poodle and Black and Tan Coonhound friends strutting their stuff in their rings. During the Group Judging, I made sure to have my camera ready during the Sporting, Hound and Terrier Groups. Here's a tease to keep you hanging on until I get to those shots. This is Sylar (CH Lndi's Ott To Be Villain Or Hero) chillin' before he entered the ring to take Best of Breed. Owned/Handled by Star Ott, bred by Linda Cribbs and Star Ott.

  • Rottweilers, everywhere!

  • I wanted to meet the breed, and boy did I! I had a full day spent with Paula Cignota of Summerfield. I was surrounded by these gentle giants - and the seven week-olds were there to greet me too - how cute can it get! Paula's Rotties are show quality (many are retired champions in multiple countries) and are obedience and agility trained. Did I mention many are herding champions? Talk about your well-rounded canines - these dogs are superstars!

  • Love and Marriage ... and Briards

  • Back in the 80's that song was the theme for the sit-com "Married ... With Children". I just learned this week that the family dog, Tiger, was a natural-earred Briard. Actually, to be honest I also just learned that the breed standard allows for natural ears as well as the more familiar cropped, upright ear. While they can typically be a little stand-offish with strangers (this seems to be a trait shared among the upright herding breeds), it wasn't longer than a "hello" and a sniff that I was the new best friend of these two cuties: Nikki (CH Briaramour's de Moulin Rouge CD, RE) and Lily (Brairamour's Fleur de Lis), owned by Benita Keiss, DVM. This mother-daughter team were charming hosts and I have to admit, I am entirely enchanted with them. Nikki and Lily - I'll be keeping my eyes open for you at future shows and agility trials!

  • Bests Of The Week

  • In the May 6 issue of Dog News, I once again recognized a winning dog of the week from when he was in front of my camera. Big Congrats and Four Paws Up for Havanese GCH Bellatak McDreamy (call name Dreamer), owned by John Oakes, Carole Shea, Kathy & Tom Patrick and Jane Samson. Congrats for his Best In Show win at Lake Matthews Kennel Club. My photo of Dreamer was taken during the Best In Group judging at Rio Hondo Kennel Club's 2011 show.

    Coming up: May 13 - Studio Mini-Sessions at Su-Et's Kennel in Santee, CA; May 21 & 22 - Ringside Candids at Mt. Palomar Kennel Club in Valley Center CA; May 26 - Ringside Candids at West Coast Cocker Spaniel Specialty Show in Pomona, CA; May 27 & 28 - Ringside Candids at the Mission Circuit in Pomona, CA; May 29 - Private Shoot in San Diego, CA; Contact me if you would like me to capture your dog showing in the ring or for a private photo shoot. The full shooting schedule can be seen on my main website. See you at the shows!

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    May 2011 - English Springer Spaniels and so much more

    May is off to a rollicking start - a weekend full of dogs is my idea of a perfect one! The last day of April found me in Walnut CA at the Brookside Equestrian Center: the site of the Gateway Cities English Springer Spaniel Association Specialty. English Springer Rescue America had a large fundraising booth, and I was invited back to hold a portrait shoot fundraiser. During the morning I sat ring-side for some candids of beautiful Springers. This is Westshore's Iron Man, owned by Laurie Pedreira. Photos will be up in my Dog Show album when finished early next week.

    On Sunday I headed out to Chino for the Lake Matthews Kennel Club all-breed show. I spent time this day with the English Setters, Clumber Spaniels, Finnish Lapphunds, Sloughi, Bouvier Des Flandres, Afghan Hounds, Scottish Terriers, Lhasa Apsos and Samoyeds. A very special time was spent with one Samoyed in particular - I'll keep that as a teaser until I have her photos finished (now you have to check back next week)! The ringside candids from this show will also be in the Dog Show album on my photo viewing site. Here's a look at Bouvier Des Flandres GCH Bon Idee's Great Expectations (call name Garrison) after he was done in the ring. Garrison loved the wind in his face, taking in all the smells around him! His mom Pilar Kuhn took time out of her day to introduce me to the breed. I'm looking forward to spending more time with both of them in the future.

    My final Easter shoot is finished processing and viewable in its public gallery at my photo site. Again, I have to give a shout out to Su-Et's Kennel for providing the location for this free photo day. Even Ivan the Kennel Kitty was ready to give me some more poses featuring his handsome mug!

    Photos from The Hound Classic in Silverado have been pushed to the back of the queue for processing ... the paid shoots and breeds requesting my presence ring-side at shows are taking precedence over this one. I'll be sure to post when those are finished. Until then, enjoy Afghan Hound Kamy Rohd of Mountain Top One, owned by Kiyoshi Yamagami, seen here showing in the Group Sweepstakes.

    On April 28th I was honored to receive a GCU All-Star Award. The nice folks at Greeting Card Universe are bestowing the fun stars on artists that actively promote themselves and work to contribute to the GCU Community. Thank you for including me in the inaugral offering, GCU - and a huge congrats to fellow card artists Bright, Doreen, Cindy, Elizabeth, Judy, Tora, Robin, Janet Lee, Maryann, Moonie, Roseanne, and Sun at Night who also received their Star that day! I enjoy creating greeting cards for my GCU storefront and have fun seeing what states and countries my creations get sent to.

    One of the behind-the-scenes bonuses at GCU is the artist community. The helpfulness shared and e-friends made thru the Forum goes a long way to fostering that community. One of the most fun "challenges" was put out on the Forum by Tom Rent whose shop Comical Captions is chock full of hilarious cards. An artist donates an image to the community pool, and anyone who wants can use that image to create a card for sale in their own shop. I had a fun-loving Doberman visit me on set in Ohio last summer and I wanted to see what the other artists would come up with. They had a blast with this dog and their resulting cards are definitely a hoot! Take a look and see what YOU think:

    My fellow artists had so much fun with the Doberman Pinscher, I just had to toss another image into the mix. This raccoon was visiting at the bird feeder one morning in Tacoma ...

    While I was at the Lake Matthews show on Sunday I picked up the April 29 issue of Dog News. As I flipped to page 34 to check out the Bests of the Week, I saw some familiar names - wonderful show dogs that I have had the opportunity to photograph. Congratulations to English Setter GCH Oakley's B'Dazzled (seen here handled by Bruce Schultz at Lake Matthews Kennel Club Show and owned by Donald & Georgean Jensen and Erik & Jennifer Strickland. #1 English Setter*) and to Harrier CH Downhome Hitech Innovator (at the Del Sur Kennel Club Show, owned by Joe Sanchez #3 Harrier*) - way to go!

    *as of March 31/Show Systems & Canine Chronicle

    Thank you to Mary Ann Nolan, for enjoying my greeting card site enough to mention it on her artist blog. Mary Ann is another GCU All-Star and is does a great job of promoting her fellow artists. I hope you'll take time to check out her shops, as well! I just love this Welcome Home card of hers!

    Two fellow artist friends have given me the best gifts of all - original artwork featuring my own Indie and Bennett! Polly Bennett of Polly's Portraits was moved by photos of both my fur-kids and sent me her wonderful watercolors. I haven't been able to take a good photo of Bennett's artwork, but here is fabulous image of her rendition of Indie.

    And Ann Kallal of Maggie Ross Dogs endured my pestering for a few years to add an American Cocker to her "kennel" of artwork breeds. My 2009 valentine portrait of Indie caught her eye and my nagging came to an end. I'm pleased to say that Indie's image graces many gift items and clothing choices at Ann's shop - am I'm thrilled to have her work on canvas in my collection.

    Thank you, Polly and Ann - I treasure these works of art and appreciate your gifts so VERY much. You are two talented ladies!

    Coming up: May 7 & 8 - Ringside Candids at Rio Hondo Kennel Club in Pomona, CA; May 21 & 22 - Ringside Candids at Mt. Palomar Kennel Club in Valley Center CA; May 26 - Ringside Candids at West Coast Cocker Spaniel Specialty Show in Pomona, CA; May 27 & 28 - Ringside Candids at the Mission Circuit in Pomona, CA. Contact me if you would like me to capture your dog showing in the ring or for a private photo shoot. The full shooting schedule can be seen on my main website. See you at the shows!