When Warmer Returns

While the cold winter weather has abandoned Alaska and decided to drop in for a visit to the Upper Midwest, I’ve found that it’s been good for some much-neglected indoor activities that collected dust during the busy Holiday season.  Those projects have visited me in the middle of night with a little “pop up” visual window in my mind or when I’m out walking the dog.  Clean office, remove the rest of wallpaper in the bedroom, finish painting the shelves in the bathroom that’s 95% done, etc.  You understand, I’m sure.

It’s not a nasty voice that visits me during these moments, but more of a time keeper with a stop watch, yelling out splits as I traverse my day.  “One corner of the office cleaned – nice job!”  Or “new light fixture finally up in the living room – check.”  “Put yard sale items into boxes for tagging – (on-going) check.”  Add these to the other everyday activities like shopping,  shoveling, running out in the cold for pick-ups from pharmacy or shopping for human/dog food, and it’s a full, winter day.

As it’s gotten colder, I’ve noticed how it seems like my body needs the 5W20 oil, or maybe the synthetic variety, to keep moving.  I’m slower moving and need to stretch or run the body through some yoga/pilates everyday.  In keeping with Daft Punk Grammy winning album,  my random access memory is filled with a long to-do list in the summer.  On these -40 degree wind chill days, I’d much rather stretch out on the couch with Hellie and an engaging book and see how a real couch potato lives!

However, both winter and life march, or blow, on.  As warmer weather approaches for the weekend, I invite you to come and get warm with 10,000 other pet lovers who will be honoring Veterans and the role that pets have played in their lives!  You’ll get to meet Sharon, Dan and Pete and hear a short personal story at 12:10 on the Main Stage.  Lots of activities in the demo area and a Speed Dating event for anyone looking for a new family member or wanting to learn more about a specific breed.  I’ll be in booth #402 with some upcoming specials and a nice display of 2013 images.  If you like chocolate, be sure to stop by!

Anytime is a good time for Dan to massage his kitty.

Anytime is a good time for Dan to massage his kitty.

Wiggily Butt Rosie keeps Sharon on her toes.

Wiggily Butt Rosie keeps Sharon on her toes.

Pete and Carly have each other's back, and hearts!

Pete and Carly have each other’s back, and hearts!

 

Halloween Fun

In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to share a photo recently made in the studio with 6 month old fraternal twins and their pugs.  Needless to say, Mom/Dad worked hard to get the right costumes, ply those little cherub bodies into the costumes and after getting everyone comfortable, we have some fun shots.  They’re all little wigglers so working fast was of the essence.  We all sang “The Wheels on the Bus” and thank goodness the pugs sit for treats!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

It’s got that “who decided that this is what we’re going to do for Halloween” look to it.  It makes me smile that the twins will have these images, to not only see themselves when they were little, but also see their first dogs!

The People Behind Rescue Dogs

While peeling through Facebook the other day, I noticed an article posted by a friend about the old vs. new ways that dog rescues/shelters can best market their dogs and services to those that are searching for a future family member(s).   It started with getting rid of the “poor dog”stories and not dwelling on the past life of the dog.  You’ve probably seen those heart wrenching photos like these below, of our new dog, Helen Jane, when she initially came into a shelter in Indiana.  (These were from a 2 year series of photos from her initial rescue to adoption.  I’m just using these for illustrative purposes.)

Be Delicate with Me!

Be Delicate with Me!

Too Thin

Too Thin

Now fast-forward 2 years!  She’s made a spectacular recovery and was nursed back to good health with the help of Illinois Bird Dog Rescue and their system of dedicated foster homes and volunteers.  (Kudos to all of you because you saw her through the tough days and we benefited from that!)  The gist of the article was rather than dwell on the rescued dog‘s past and pull at the heartstrings with sob stories, it’s better to highlight the dog’s best behaviors, personality traits, and why the dog would be a good companion and family member.  In other words, show them in their best light!  Well here you go . . .

Catchiing Air!

Catchiing Air!

On the Scent

On the Scent

Cool Down Time!

Cool Down Time!

While we know nothing about her life before rescue (nor do we need to know), we celebrate the joy, companionship, humor and energy she brings to our everyday lives!  She’s also become my “never too cold, hot or rainy” exercise partner and has me running again, after a multi-year ‘resting period.’  Now, if I could only keep up with her!

Shortly after adopting her, I signed up for a dog obedience training class (1 & 2) with Holly Lewis (Cold Nose Canine) at the east side Zoom Room and in spite of her being an adult, 4-6 yrs old, our “bonding through obedience training” has blossomed.  Yes, you can teach older dogs (and humans) new tricks!   This skilled network of positive reinforcement dog trainers is vital in completing the circle of successful adoptions.

As I read the brief FB post from Beyond Breed, I thought of all the people that work tirelessly to rescue, shelter,transport, foster, treat and ready dogs for adoptions.  From executive directors to volunteers, there’s an army of people to celebrate and acknowledge.  Like Lisa, below, with her own dog, Buckwheat, who’s been rescuing English Pointers and English Setters for 12 years.

He's the best and he's all mine!

He’s the best and he’s all mine!

With that understanding, it’s time to start another personal photography project!  Spread the word because I need to photograph and blog about the people that are behind the scenes of every big and little dog adoption.   From home based rescues to large shelters, help me share the stories of their everyday successes and joys of working in the emotionally charged area of dog rescue/adoption.   It’s the successes that keep this “army” going and that’s what I intend to highlight.  To start things off, I’d like to travel to northwest Indiana, with Hellie, and photograph the people there that helped get her to me.  I think they’d love to see what’s become of her and I expect the joyful memory of our meeting would fuel them forward during some tougher times.

This project would also include the adopters and their new canine family members.  Then I can help supply the rescues with images such as the one below that illustrate that rescued/adopted dogs can be wonderful companions to children and families!  If you’d like to be part of this yet to be named project or know of someone, or a shelter/rescue that might be interested in participating, please contact me at peggy@peggymorsch.com or 414.550.5340.  Sites in the Midwest are encouraged but I’ll also consider other states if they line up with travel plans such as Alaska, western New York, or the driving route to Florida.  Thanks for helping this project move forward!

"I've got your eeaarr!"

“I’ve got your eeaarr!”

Bird Dogs on Scent

The calendar says Spring is here but the clothing I needed to wear while photographing Pointers and English Setters in the field deceived me!  A steady 30 mph wind blew relentlessly from the west as John and Austin carefully set up the homing pigeons in a grassy area of his property.  Secured from the dogs, the pigeons settled while the dogs, hitched to a strip of chain, barked, whined and waited for their turn to scent and point the birds.

The first two dogs, seen below, came down the mowed path, picked up the scent, and like a trained Marine in a drill team, pivoted sharply to their left at the first sniff of the pigeon scent, and assumed the statuesque point of a bird dog.  Beautiful – simply beautiful!

English Setter on point

English Setter on point

This scent test was sponsored by Illinois Bird Dog rescue (IBR) and they hold these tests to see how their rescue dogs are doing.  All of the dogs that enter their rescue are tested for tick-borne diseases.  Since May is Lyme disease month, it’s important to know that Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Erlichiosis, Babesia and other tick-borne diseases are increasing in both humans and dogs.  Once a disease like Lyme is discovered through veterinary care, the long process of treatment is begone.

One of the clinical manifestations that IBR sees in infected dogs is that their nose doesn’t work as well until the treatment process progresses.  A few dogs came down the path and barely scented the bird but none were scared.  Time and medication are on their side.  One of John’s dogs below displays a calm, steady point as I am at the level of the pigeon.  Take a look at that ‘flag!’

Whoa!

Whoa!

The were even a few ‘fresh’ rescues that participated and while they were working on their point, this one took the time to show off the typical Pointer personality and temperament.  What’s not to love about a Pointer?  John should know, he owns a few of them, and this one is up for adoption.

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

As the day wore on, the sun started popping out and the landscape of east-central IL took on a painterly quality to it.  The dogs were done with their scent test but that didn’t stop them from picking up the scent of free-range pheasants that wafted through the strong winds.  Genevieve (English Setter) and Athena (English Pointer) had just come into the rescue the night before and in spite of little rest, they showed off their best looks for me.  Chloe has already been adopted and Genevieve will not be far behind!  Sweet dogs!

Genevieve

Genevieve

Chloe

Athena

A big Thank You goes to John and Rita for opening their home and property to us.  They also have hunt horses that they care for.  The dogs can also be in the field and hunt out ahead of the owner/hunter on horseback.  It’s a team approach!  Here’s John and Rita with one of their great Pointers.

The TEAM

The TEAM

I hope someday to photograph a hunt that occurs on horseback.  Maybe in the Fall when the light, and wind will make for gorgeous photos!  If you’d like more info about adopting/fostering an English Pointer or English Setter, click here.

White on White

At my recent SNOW DOGs event, we were blessed with a fresh layer of new snow to make the landscape complete for new paw prints.  Oliver, a year-old Standard Poodle arrived with his owner, Cheri, and he was sporting a recent grooming, complete with a beard.  Just what every male Poodle needs!  He looked charming and masculine.  Cheri arrived in a red coat and as a landscape architect, she was aware that the dogwood would be starting to get red again as the daylight was getting longer.  Everything came together for a good session – white dog on white snow with a splash of red!

 

Oliver and Cheri embraced the deeper snow and immediately set about demonstrating the depth of their relationship – running, balls, jumping, and showing off his groom.  The two of them together are a perfect match and I love it when the dog’s and owner’s energy levels are the same.  I wondered who would tire first.

Oliver and owner, Cheri, enjoy their play time in fresh snow during the SNOW DOGs event.

Oliver and owner, Cheri, enjoy their play time in fresh snow during the SNOW DOGs event.

Recently Cheri came for the View and Order session to pick out her images from our session together.  Trio Panels are a popular way for dog owners to take home a nicely designed piece of wall art for their home.  As I worked with Cheri’s Trio Panel, I wanted to tie in her relationship to the landscape since she noted the color of the dogwood in the photos.  Here’s a contemporary look that I created for her that ties in snowflakes and the yummy, red color.  Tell me if you think it works, or not!

Trio Panel AA

 

 

4th Annual WINE & PAWs event

Winter’s losing it’s tenacious grip on the Upper Midwest and as I walk/run with our dog, Helen Jane in the early mornings, I can feel the soothing warmth of the sun again against my face and clothing and see the melting of the ice and snow.  Ooh, it feels so good!  Besides the coming of Spring, the weather changes signal the preparations for the upcoming WINE and PAWs 2013 event at my studio.  It’s an event that I always look forward to as many different dogs and their owners come to be photographed for a good cause – a dog rescue or humane society.   It’s fun to meet and photograph all the various breeds that attend!

4th Annual WINE & PAWs !

4th Annual WINE & PAWs !

This fun event is an opportunity to have memorable, artistic images made of your dog, with maybe a few images of the two, or three of you together.   (c’mon, you can do it for your dog!)  After losing our two dogs in three months last year, we’re grateful for the photographs we have to remember them by.  They were such great dogs and members of our family!  Your dogs are no different.

Besides some distinguishing photos, another reason the participants like about WINE and PAWs is the chance to make a donation to a 501(c)3 dog rescue.  It’s their way of giving back to the rescuers/volunteers that work tirelessly everyday to make the lives of stray and abandoned dogs better.  Many participants own dogs that have come from rescues or humane societies and love to show their ‘thanks.’   The tax deduction is just a bonus.

We adopted our new rescue dog, Helen Jane (aka Hellie) from such a place – the Illinois Bird Dog Rescue (IBR).  We wanted another English Pointer and we’ve been rewarded with a wonderful, youthful specimen who had phenomenal veterinary care and loving foster homes.  Initially rescued as an emaciated, tick-infested dog in Indiana in June of 2011, she has recovered from Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever and Erlichia – 2 tick-borne diseases – and continues to thrive while keeping her chronic Lyme’s disease at bay.  Her care was costly and WINE and PAWs is my way of giving back to IBR, who brought her back to good health and behavior.

Helen Jane showing off her point 'stuff'.

Helen Jane showing off her point ‘stuff’.

Now it’s your turn to step up and call me (414-550-5340) or email me (peggy@peggymorsch.com) to arrange a session time for you and your dog.  I’ll give you some hints about how we can make the session go smoothly and what you can expect to happen.  Tell me your if you prefer ‘red vs. white vs. rose’ and we’ll be all set.  While we don’t  consume the wine during the event, the wine exchange has become a fun way to try other wines when you get home.  Let’s reach my goal to raise $1000 for IBR!

Helen Jane catches some air as she romps at Runway Dog Park - Milwaukee.

Helen Jane catches some air as she romps at Runway Dog Park – Milwaukee.

Style Counts

What fun it is to photograph dogs in fresh snow!  Throw in a newly groomed white, standard poodle that loves to be outdoors as much as it loves its owner, and you’ve got a chance to make some enthusiastic images.

Meet Oliver and Cheri!  A woman that adores her standard poodles and shares a zest for life outdoors with them.  When she showed up in a red coat, I knew we were off on the right foot, or paw.

Let's Race

 

One of Oliver’s specialties is ball playing.  His ball is as accustomed to his mouth as his tongue.  With a light snow falling, Cheri started tossing the ball and Oliver not only caught the ball consistently but did it by earning hundreds of ‘style points.’

Catching with Style

 

I think my favorite of the jump shots, however, was this image:

It's All in the Ears!

 

After a little rest, Oliver was treated to some yummy treats.  As he waited patiently, he threw his head back and jutted his chest out as if to say, “hey – look at me sitting so pretty!”

Sitting Proud

 

As one of my Snow Dogs, it was a pleasure to meet him for the first time and make some memorable images of he and Cheri together.  Thanks for the laughs, Oliver!

 

 

Ahh, the Fall!

When you’re photographing people outside in the Fall, you’re always at the mercy of the weather.  Will it be cold, windy, hot, or rainy?  Fall is a time of vast change and if I’m working with little ones, weather can make all the difference in the mood of the images.  So last week, when the weather didn’t cooperate for an active 18 month old, named William, I told Amy, the mother, “the weather’s surely going to get warm again.”

So with the temps in the mid 60’s this morning, I headed out to Cedarburg and had lots of fun with William and his apples!

I’m sooo big and strong!

He was so enthusiastic and enjoyed playing with his parents as we maneuvered quickly through 3 clothing changes and some time with his beloved Sammy.  The warm, morning light was pouring through the white birch leaves, while a steady breeze kept him cool in his warm outfits.  Even Sammy, the family pooch, gave me a spontaneous moment that they will cherish long after William’s buddy is gone.

It was a exhilarating morning with William and his family and we all were blessed with the wonderful, soft kisses of warmth that Fall can bring.  A great joy accompanied me all day as I thought of the fun I had in the company of William and his apples.  I hope you can find time to go outside and breath it in over the next few days in the Midwest.  Be sure to eat an apple while you’re out there!

I’m ready for frost now.

 

You are my very best friend in the whole, wide world!

On top of the world on dad’s shoulders.

 

Got my weight-lifting over for the day!

 

 

 

Sniffing Down The Scent

You know how it is when you catch the slightest scent of something new?  Something you’ve never smelled before?  A slight waft of new possibilities brushes by your whiskers and moves towards your nose.  Millions of olfactory neurons fire in machine-gun like fashion and soon you’re nose is inches from the ground. Your legs start pumping with new intensity while your long, floppy ears move more scent up towards your nose.  Coonhounds get it!  It’s only a microseconds later that a good bawl comes pouring out from the lungs. The hunt is on!

This hunt started years ago.  I was at the Rocky Mountain School of Photograhy in Missoula, MT for their Summer Intensive class.  A a dog owner, my coonhound mix, Ellie, was with me for the three months that I was in MT.  We loved hiking trails, splashing through mountain creeks and smelling the sage brush.  The bond we created in those 3 months is forever strong!

For a long time, I’ve understood the relationship that happens between dogs and their people and have wanted to make that happen for others through the medium of photography.  You know – “a picture is worth a thousand words” kind of thing.  See those big ole’ dog eyes or a relaxed hand draped across a dog and your heart melts.

What the eyes can tell us

If you’ve seen an old black and white image of a dog and their family, spread out on the front porch steps of a worn, clapboard, ranch house, you know what I mean.  That dog was every bit of “family.”

It’s taken me a decade to sniff the scent down, even though I’ve been photographing dogs – pets and their people, all along the way.   But something’s been eating away at me – calling me (actually BARKING at me is more like it!). In 2011, my book Dogs and Their Women was completed and the scent has grown even stronger.  I can no longer ignore it or get called away by another master.  I think that the drive to the prize is so strong, that like a German Shorthair Pointer wearing a training collar, a good shock might not even be enough to call me back now!

A Woo, Woo, Woo, to all of you!  This year The Alpha Dog (me) is creating a new brand, a new website, a new blog, soley dedicated to all things canine.  It’s a work in progress right now but every single cell in my body is shaking with excitment as I get closer and the scent gets stronger.  I’m looking for your help, however.  A good coonhound needs a pack, you know.  As a fellow dog owner, you have insight into the dog world and the relationships with your own 4-pawed companion.

Tell me what you’d like to see, hear, sniff. Have some ideas for me?  Send them my way, as I’m in the process of designing from the bones – up.  I really want to hear from you as I feel like a new-born puppy right now – a little blind and a little deaf – just beginning to paw my way through.

I’m so excited about this and am looking forward to talking more about this with lots of folks that come by my booth at the Great Lakes PET EXPOon Saturday, Feb 4th at State Fair Park!  See you there!

The Drive to the Prize!

Healthy Children and Families = Healthy Communities

Yesterday I volunteered to photograph at the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee celebration of 25 years of investing in their community.  It was held at the Italian Community Center and 350+ people were in attendance to hear the main speaker, Tonya Lewis Lee, speak about her work to improve the lives of children and campaign for healthy babies.  Forgive me, as I was photographing and not taking notes, but her list of accomplishments around issues of raising healthy children in healthy families is impressive.  If her last name sounds familiar, it probably is.  While she’s the wife of famed director, Spike Lee, she stands tall and on her own two feet with a list of children’s book and movies to her credit.

Tonya Lewis Lee speaks at The Women's Fund of Greater Milwaukee conference

Tonya Lee Lewis makes a point about the health of children and families

She spoke about her work and the need to improve the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual lives of children and families.  One comment I remember was the need to change how women tend to “shoo” men away when a newborn enters the family and all the women huddle around, insisting that “it’s women’s work.”  While a mother herself, she reminded women that she’s learned that even though she has a professional degree and experience as an attorney, she now knows that her most important job in her life is that of a mother.  Amen.

Tonya with Margaret Hennigsen - Chairwomen of The Women's Fund of Greater Milwaukee

Prior to the main speaker at this event, an earlier panel of 4 women shared their professional and personal experiences with child sex trafficking in Milwaukee.  As I popped in and out of the Social Change Exchange panel’s room to photograph the speakers/attendees, I heard these women describe the hard to hear experiences of young girls who are groomed into becoming sex traffickers as early as  7 and 8 years of age.  The “emotional grooming” that occurs at this age, along the beatings and psychological deprivation that occurs, made it hard to listen to.  Most of us have no idea that this is even possible, but my stomach turned when I heard that Milwaukee is a “hub” for training young girls and boys.  This poster speak volumes about those who can’t speak for themselves because they’ve been told that no one will believe them if they tell another person what’s happening to them.

Observe for signs, speak up, and speak out for girls, women and boys.

The Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee exists to make social change through the lives of women and girls.  They believe in using philanthropic power to make a world that is just and fair.  Their mission is good and their numbers are strong so change is already in motion in Milwaukee.

(Tech notes:  Nikon D3s, 24-70mm f2.8 lens and 70-200mm f2.8 lens, ISO 6400 for speaker photos with monopod)