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!”

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

Life Cycles As Dog Owners Know Them

This past weekend I met and photographed three different women and their dogs.  In all their lives there was a thread of emotion – the loss or eventual loss of their beloved dog.  They’d all raised dogs from puppies and enjoyed the life shared with 4 paws, a wet nose, and dog hair strewn about.

There’s a real kinship I feel when photographing dogs and their people, so when the time of sharing your life with your dog becomes shorter and the reality of their eventual passing becomes more imminent, the daily walks, feedings, and rides in the car become highlighted, more careful, more watchful.  Every moment becomes more special and pronounced because we’re aware of the fragility of time.

After the grieving comes the decision whether or not to extend yourself and open up your heart to another life that needs a loving home.  So do, some don’t or can’t.  I recall the 82 year old woman that I met in a dog training class a number of years ago, with my now 13 year old coonhound/lab mix.  Yes, at 82, after living with schnauzers her whole life, she invited another schnoodle puppy into her life.  She loved that dog and when it came time to move into a nursing home, trying to find a suitable home and then turning the dog over to a schnauzer rescue was the hardest thing I had to do.  I knew the void it would bring to her heart.

Puppies have a way of crawling into our hearts and opening them up again.  We laugh, talk baby-talk and enjoy all the antics that a puppy can deliver.  We also loose some sleep and who doesn’t remember the sharpness of puppy teeth and breath?

So in this spirit of cycles of the lives we share with our dogs, I offer you a glimpse of life as dog owners know it.  A new puppy, a older lab and a 6 month old that knows it’s African heritage.

Maya the Golden Retriever at 12 weeks.

I'll be with you through it all - Booker (Yellow Lab)

Laila Ali - 6 month old Besenji mix - Congo dog

If you lost a dog, how long do you think you’d wait to open your heart up to another?  Or would you not adopt again?  What would it depend upon?  Would you become a ‘foster mom/dad’?  Let’s see what you have to say.

Make Your Dog Calm & Happy!

This Saturday, Feb. 5th, I’ll be exhibiting at the Great Lakes Pet Expo at Wisconsin State Fair Park Exposition Center.  It’s a fun day dedicated to pets and their owners!  Both dog rescue organizations and dog breeders will be on hand, with their dogs, so if you’re interested in checking out the various breeds and seeing which one is best suited for your family’s lifestyle, this is the place to be.  If you spot the one you’d like, it won’t be long before you find yourself on the other end of a leash.

Whooa!

 

As a potential, new owner/caretaker of a dog, there’s one thing I can suggest to you to make your experience with a canine companion one of the most rewarding relationships you’ll ever have.  One of the secrets to a wonderful relationship is an 8 letter word:  EXERCISE!   First – it acts as a cement in the bonding experience.  Your dog will listen to you if you’re the one that exercises it.  They will notice when you put on those winter boots because it means. . . . ‘we’re going outside!!!”  The other reason is obvious – it burns off that ‘jet fuel‘ young dogs seem to carry onboard and makes them calmer.  Endorphins!  Remember that science lecture in college?  Dogs produce those calming endorphins, just like humans, when they exercise for at least 30 minutes.

Zero to 60 in 4 Seconds!

 

Once you make it back from your long exercise session of 30-60 minutes, you will find a dog that needs some R&R time.  Got a big project for school or work to do?  Off to the dog park for a good 45 minutes of running and you just earned yourself at least 3 hours of UNINTERRUPTED time!  And the bonus to that is just put the dog crate in your office/study area and be soothed by the gentle sighs coming from that slumbering fur-ball that’s recharging it’s mitochondria while you work!

I'll Help You Study

You’ll know if you have a very relaxed dog if you’re given the full-monty-belly!  It’s kind of like ‘Doggie Meditation.’  Calmness in a family dog is a very desirable trait and regular activity is the password for getting it.  Hounds, Pointers, Spaniels and other field dogs are know to travel 7-8 miles without stopping when they are hunting in the field.  Exercise = calmness = balanced.  So if you’re looking at a dog breed to fit into your home and you exercise regularly, adopt a hunting breed.  It’ll be a perfect match for both parties!  If your weekend is sleeping in and heading to the movie theatre, a less active breed in the kind for you.

Doggie Meditation

Teri and her dog Bella came together when Teri, a 3rd year Veterinary student at UW-Madison, had to perform her first spaying procedure on a rescue dog.  Bella won her over and after the successful surgery, Teri took her home.  To make sure that Teri does well on all her exams, Bella helps her study.  After all, when your owner is the vet, you want them to ace every test they take!!  Thanks Teri & Bella.  I had an energetic and fun day with you!

She's Going to ACE The Next Test - I know it!