Dog, The Friendly Stranger

My son Calvin and I take a walk every morning before breakfast. Our usual route includes a few stops, usually Shipe Park and the fire station (to say hello to the big red fire truck). After an uncharacteristic summer rain, we decided to take a new route through a different Hyde Park neighborhood. As we were heading back up 45th St, we saw a woman standing outside her car with a dog. Because she was right in our path (and I can never resist saying hello to a new dog), Calvin and I stopped to say hello. It turns out the woman, Julia, was not the owner of the dog. A homeless man had just left him with her and walked away from the situation. Dog (I can't remember the boys name, so we'll call him Dog) was micro-chipped, tagged and collared, and just about the sweetest creature you'll ever meet. His German shepherd lineage must have crossed paths with a grey wolf at one point or another, because Dog was massive. 

We tried the website and phone number of the micro-chip company. We called 311 and 911. Since Dog wasn't aggressive, no one would help us. Dog looked at us eagerly from Julia's drivers seat; he probably thought that since he was the man in the situation, he should be the one to drive. Typical. Seeing as we were going to get no help from the city, I called my mother. Once she arrived, I took Dog, my mother took Calvin, and we bid Julia adieu.

 
Hey thereeeee, greasy hair. 

Hey thereeeee, greasy hair. 

 

I wasn't quite sure what to do with Dog; the shelters didn't open until 11am, and it was only 9 o'clock. After getting Dog some water and listening to my dog Sable violently protest the invasion of her yard from the other side of the front door, my mom suggested that I take him to the animal hospital. It took a bit of coaxing to get Dog into the back of the car (even 4-legged men hate being demoted to 'passenger'), but he eventually hopped in and curled up in the back seat. 

 
Please, greasy-haired stranger. May I drive? 

Please, greasy-haired stranger. May I drive? 

Sorry, Dog. No thumbs, no drive. 

Sorry, Dog. No thumbs, no drive. 

 

We got to the animal hospital and I was thrilled to hear that, yes, they do take stray dogs. After a tearful goodbye (Dog got a little misty), we parted ways. I called the animal hospital after a few days, and Dog's human had come to retrieve him. All's well that ends well, I say. And to Dog's human- if you're reading this, feel free to bring Dog 'round any time.

The Dog Alliance

Photographing black dogs is hard, ya'll. They're like boomerangs wrapped in inky velvet put on this earth to test the very reaches of your photographic skills. But it's definitely worth it when one of your job requirements is to get bombarded by eight little black puppies first thing in the morning. 

 
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That was the first shoot I did with The Dog Alliance, a non-profit organization in Cedar Park, TX that provides service dogs to hospitals, nursing homes, and family courtrooms. Most notably, they provide service dogs to veterans who suffer from PTSD or mobility issues. Through their Hounds for Heroes program, these dogs are given at no charge to service men and women.  

During the two shoots I did with The Dog Alliance, I got to work with Debi Krakar directly. She is the founder and executive director of the organization and an absolute joy to be around. As I photographed the puppies playing, she would point out to me their different activities- carrying a toy, posing for the camera- and what that meant with regard to their future service abilities. I'm always looking to add to my arsenal of animal-related trivia, so I was scribbling down mental notes. 

 
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Our second shoot was at my studio- an above-garage apartment that photographers would say (kindly) is on the smaller side. Because of the volume of shots we needed, I had to work quickly. That turned out to be pretty easy since the puppies felt that the studio floor was the perfect place to take a nap. And Roxy, the puppies mama, radiated calm in such an unfamiliar environment. It was wonderful to watch her with her brood. 

 
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I was so impressed with the whole experience of working with Debi and her dogs. The wealth of knowledge she has on canine training and behavior is extensive, but it doesn't compare to the amount of love and compassion she has for the animals in her care. You will certainly see more photographs with The Dog Alliance in the future.


Check out TDA's Website and Facebook!

Anubis & Heilo

At least once a week, I find myself perusing sphynx cats on google. This is no joke; I'm obsessed with the hairless wonders. I also love the magnificent Xoloitzcuintli, but there's something about sphynx cats that makes them adorably alien. I've been pestering my husband, Michael, to get one for a while now. He's just not a huge fan of being responsible for a pet that might require both a sweater and moisturizer. 

Janelle and John live just outside Austin with their two girls and two pets. The first shoot I did for them, photographs of Anubis the sphynx, was done mere days after Janelle gave birth to their second daughter. I assumed she would want to reschedule to another day (I remember the demands of newborns vividly), but Janelle was perfectly fine to go ahead with the shoot. She is, in short, one bad-ass mama. 

 
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The second shoot we did was with Heilo, their vizsla. We shot in the backyard, and Michael was instrumental in the success of the shoot. He spend about 30 minutes throwing the frisbee and wrestling with Heilo so I could get some action shots. We then set up the blue canvas drop and proceeded to get not only fine art shots of Heilo, but some gorgeous shots of Janelle and the kids. 

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What a tremendous success these two shoots were! Janelle and her family are all extremely kind and welcoming, and shooting for them was a true pleasure.