Puppy Love

I’m not sure where August went but the shutter on the camera seemed like it was under going stress testing.  I’ve had so many fun senior/kids/dog sessions that I thought now is the time to go back and catch up with some of my activities and share them.

What a better topic to start with than puppies!  More specifically, 3 week old Australian Shepherd puppies from Integrity Aussies.  Can’t you just smell that puppy breath and fur??

One, Two, Three, . . .

I had photographed Jennifer Stagg and her dog Folly (not pictured above) about a year earlier when I recently saw a Facebook post that Folly had a big, beautiful litter of puppies.  Off to Jennifer’s house I went when they were just 3 weeks old and had just opened their eyes.  We took them outside for their first time in the grass and watched them sniff around and then cuddle into one big, sleeping puppy ball.

Sweet Faces

 

What's that?

 

My Sleep Comfort number is . . .

 

I'll Take Two!

 

Needless to say, these little fur balls were all spoken for already so even if I wanted to take one home, I couldn’t.  Oh well, photographing them was the next best thing!

Equipment used:  Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens & Nikkor 50mm 1.4mm lens

 

 

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!”

Puppy Time!

For me, puppies are something special!  From puppy breath to big paws, soft bellies and long ears, young puppies make me feel their youth.  Having raised only one puppy (English Pointer), I welcome the opportunity to work with them EVERY chance I get.  This is a quick look at Dunham, a Viszula puppy.  They are wonderful field dogs for hunting upland game birds and like the other bird dogs breeds, they are wonderful, energetic dogs to welcome into active families!

Cute profile, right?

Cute profile, right?

 

Dunham made himself comfortable right away and took to playing ‘ham’ right away.  His beautiful, oaky-colored coat was perfect with the surroundings I picked out for him.  Can’t you just feel that soft, supple body?  And how about that pointing tail?

 

Should I jump?

Should I jump?

 

One of the things I noticed about him right away was that he was fascinated with my Five Fingers shoes I was wearing.  In spite of any noise I could produce, he kept looking at my feet.  Here’s one of those moments.   Don’t you just love that furrowed forehead he has to grow into?

Are we going on vacation?

Are we going on vacation?

I was hoping that Dunham would curl up into the suitcase and take a little puppy nap, but instead, he decided that playing with the little, fluffy blanket was a lot more fun!  So heck, capture that fun!  Take a look at those elephant ears as he reacts to his mom’s distress that he’s ruining my prop.

Is this OK to do?

Is this OK to do?

Finally the activity started to take it’s toll and Dunham nestled into the nest we made for him.  See that ‘getting sleepy’ look in his eyes?  He’s just so cute!

My own nest.

My own nest.

At last, Dunham succumbed to his fatigue and I got a nice sleepy image.  The images from awake to asleep are hilarious but I’ve cut to the chase here.  If you know of anyone that has a puppy under 10 weeks and they’d like to be a MODEL for me.  Let them know and we’ll set up a Complimentary session with a print to take home.  I’m also looking for kittens to photography!

Shhh!  Puppy sleeping.

Shhh! Puppy sleeping.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Snow Dog

Luck was with us this past weekend when the owners of Kaya and I scheduled our outdoor session for the morning after one of the most beautiful snow falls that I’ve seen in a long time!  With 7 inches of snow that fell heavily and set itself up the exoskeletons of the trees, the scene was “Christmas card” perfect for Kaya to show off her propensity for fun in the snow.  As a Long-Haired German Shepard, she had plenty of fur-power to keep her warm in the cold snow.

Image

After a few shots of Kaya with her owners, Marielle & Ryan, we decided to bring out the toys and Kaya gravitated to the bright, orange ball.

Image

We started by working on her more “classic” leaps that mimicked an Olympic diver, with her paws held together.  You’re a perfect “10” on that Kaya!

Image

Next was the “freestyle” portion of our shoot with that “I enjoy life to it’s fullest” pose.  I think she was just showing off her good ‘core’ muscles.

Image

After playing in the deep snow it was time for a real “cool down.”  Nothing like a long snoot into the snow to start that process!

So now it’s your turn!  Just contact me to sign up for my SNOW DOGS sessions coming up on Feb. 23rd from 9:30 – 3:00.   I’ll be photographing your dog(s) outside in a local park and enjoying the fun in the snow.  Bring your favorite toy, fashionable coat or snow booties and away we’ll go!  For $65 you’ll receive your 30 minute session, an 8×10 and 8 wallets.   This could be your answer to 2014’s Holiday Card!

The Best from BARKS

If you’re a dog, hot, humid, sunny weather is perfect for laying around under a big, ‘ole shade tree.  Last Sunday was one of those days and in spite of the hot, humid weather, dogs and their owners came to the the outdoor church service for pets and their owners at St. Mark’s Episcopal church.  Praying was in order instead of laying under the shade tree.  While the dogs were blessed outside by Fr. John Allen, I was also blessed with the well-behaved dogs that came to be photographed as a benefit for the church.  So much fun with all the different breeds!

I’m always trying something new and thinking “what if.”   This year I decided that some dogs needed to wear tutus.  I have them in the studio for toddlers and I thought the dogs would tolerate them for a short time.  Here are a few images from some accommodating dogs:

Modeling the purple tutu at Barks event,

Brown tutu for the Golden Retriver.

There was a Chocolate Lab that literally ‘sat’ for me.  When she plopped herself down against my backdrop, I got the feeling that this girl was saying, “It’s been a long, hot morning.  Let’s get this shoot over with.  I’ve got a date with the couch!”  I love the body language she shows here.  If you’ve got another caption running around in your head, please share it!

“Let’s get this shoot over with!”

Lastly, there was a 12 week old Vizsula puppy that bounded in to be photographed.  Loved his furrowed brow and puppy breath!  I could have photographed him all day but here’s a fun shot.

At this age, everything is interesting – including a photo session!

If you missed the Barks at St. Mark’s event, keep this in mind.  During the months of July and August, I’m running a “$75 Thursdays.”  Any Thursday session (up to 1 hour) is $75 at the studio or within 25 miles (round trip) of the studio.  Now THAT’s something to bark about!  You can contact me about this special here.

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!

The Book Is Done!!

Over two years ago I had an idea.  While looking at some old slides that my 92 year old friend had, I discovered an image of her with one of her many Schnauzers that she cared for during her long life.  The image was tightly focused and of the Kodachrome 25 variety.  A stunning, vibrant film that no longer is made.  Anne, my friend, sits with her Schnauzer on her lap.  No smile, just the serious look that Anne often displayed.  But her eyes told a different story.  They were soft, as if to say, “I have everything I need in this world as long as my dog is with me.”  The dog’s eyes had that same quality of contentment.  I couldn’t look away from this image on my light box because I felt the emotions I saw in the image.  This thought came to me – “I need to dig into the relationships that women have with their dogs.”  On that day the concept for the book, Dogs and Their Women was born and the purpose was to help homeless dogs find “forever homes”.

Dogs and Their Women is 75 pages filled with the wonderful stories and moving photographs of 29 women who share the stories of their lives with dogs.  From the moment they met at a dog rescue/Humane Society to their walks on the beach, and playful, mischievous moments, you’ll laugh and cry as they bring you into their intimate lives with their dogs.  From 5 years to 85 years old, these girls/women open up and share what it is about dogs that makes their lives together so interwoven and precious.  In everyone of their stories, I see the familiar bonds with my dogs.  You will too!

Georgeanne, at 85 is still learning from her dog Nile:  “I thinks he’s still trying to teach me patience and that life is lived one moment at a time.  The other day I got up and went into the kitchen to get more coffee and when I came back my muffin was gone.”

Nile, the muffin thief

You’ll surely howl when you read about Rebecca and Hudson.  If there ever was a “Marley and Me” dog, Hudson is it!   Here’s an excerpt of his great adventure when he got loose and followed a man through the door into Home Depot. “Let’s face it, Home Depot is NO place for a dog.  Well, unless you’re Hudson.  The concrete floors make it super fun to skid across, and the acoustics make the shrieking of innocent bystanders like rocket fuel to REALLY REV YOU UP.  If I was in a better mood, I’d have been clapping and screaming and singing my own rendition of “GO GREASE LIGHTN’IN. . . GO GO GO” but instead, I was standing there, mouth open, tears streaming down my face, just watching, as my dog was flying over displays of light bulbs stacked like a pyramid, jumping over riding lawn mowers, zipping past paint displays, knocking over small children, racing past plates of glass, shower stalls, laundry detergent, plumbing hoses, hardware, light fixtures, toilets, fencing, lumber, out into the garden area, through the sprinklers, back into lawn furniture.  “Excuse me miss.”  It was the Store Manager– he’s holding my missing dog’s leash and attached collar.  “Miss. . .Miss. . . there are city ordinances against this.”   To read the rest of this story and more, go to www.blurb.com and order the book.  You won’t want to miss the last Hudson story with the lilac tree!!

He Looks So Innocent in That Tie!

When I met Sharon and Laila Ali (Bug), I knew a special bond existed between them and Bug was only 6 months old.  She was the first dog adopted out from the new Ozaukee Humane Society. As a Besenji mix, Sharon explained that African bush hunters would carry their dogs across the back of their necks, to and from the hunting grounds.  She told me that the first time she tried this with Laila Ali, she immediately relaxed.  But don’t let that calm demeanor fool you!  “When my son’s Pit Bull, Beverly, visits, Laila believe she should have all of the food and toys.  She very sweetly, coyly, slyly approaches Beverly with smiles and puppy bows, gently licks the toy/bone in Beverly’s possession, and then slowly pulls it away.  Luckily, Beverly is very good-natured and allows this repeatedly.”  Or imagine this:  “I am always catching her in some odd act and then she freezes in place staring at me; for instance, one she had her back feet on the seat of the exercise bike and her front paws on the handles bars.  For me and my personality, an obedient dog is great, but one that is also mischievous–so that I have to be clever, observant and patient enough to understand and relate to–is fascinating and fun!”

The View Is Better From Here Mom!

If you’re enjoying these little snippets from the book, you’re sure to love the book in it’s entirety!  ALL PROCEEDS from the sale of this book will benefit dog rescue organizations.  So whether it’s a softcover, hardcover or ebook, you’ll be helping the mission of dog rescue organizations – from small breed specific rescues to rural Humane Societies.  Over 5 million dogs are euthanized each year.  Let’s put a big dent in that number!  Please pass this blog URL onto all the dog lovers you know, or those who would love to buy a dog gift for their loved one.  You can also follow the progress of this book and the subsequent distributions of money, on my Facebook page:  Peggy Morsch – Dogs and Their Women

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peggy-Morsch-DOGS-THEIR-WOMEN-project/101651757807

Save the date: February 4. 2012 for The Great Lakes Pet Expo at State Fair Park, where I’ll be selling signed books at my booth, near the entrance.

In 2012, I’ll begin working on Men and Their Dogs, Volume One and Dogs and Their Women, Volume Two.  If you or someone you know would like to be included in these volumes, please contact me on Facebook (Peggy Morsch) or through my website, http://www.peggymorsch.com/contact