Tuesday, May 29, 2012

100 things: #22: Shake off!

I love photos of dogs shaking off and last year I got a few decent ones of Dahlia. This time I kept looking for an opportunity and finally, at the very end of our visit to the local off leash area, she gave me that opportunity. I took several photos, but this one was my favourite of the group.

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Tamron 75-300mm | f/4.5 | 1/500 | ISO 100 | 180mm

100 things #21: Take off!

I like to get photos of Dahlia running. This past weekend I decided to try to get photos of her taking off from runs. I took several and this one was my favourite. I'm not sure if other dogs take off this way but it seems that Dahlia powers off from her back legs when she takes off. It looks really strange and awkward, both in person and in photos. She does this weird excited "OMG!!" thing with her paws in the air as she takes off.

Does anyone else have a dog who takes off from a sit like this? How do your dogs take off from a sit?  And yes that IS drool coming out of her mouth.

EXIF Data: Sony A580 | Tamron 75-300mm | f/5.6 | 1/800 | ISO 400 | 300mm

100 things #20: From the ground

This one was one of a series of photos I took for a prompt in another community. The prompt was "from the ground." Now, I take a lot of photos of Dahlia from the ground in general. I'm usually kneeling, squatting or laying flat on the ground to get photos of her. So I decided that I was going to be truly literal about this and set the camera on the ground.

I like the hazy look to this photo though I'll confess here: the hazy blurry feel in the front of the camera is nothing more than blurred grass. It gives it an interesting affect doesn't it? The concept doesn't look nearly as nice in color.

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Tamron 75-300mm | f/4.0 | 1/100 | ISO 100 | 85mm

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day Dahlia!

My gosh, where has the time gone? 4 years ago this evening, David and I drove out to exit 28 on the Thruway and met up with Trish, the woman who had Dahlia. She came to us a pretty shut down, pretty chill dog and has gained so much in confidence in joy in the past 4 years. I've REALLY begun to see a change in just the past year and it's wonderful to be with her. We'll be celebrating by going to an agility trial and having a ton of fun this weekend.

And now for what Dahlia learned this year...

What I learned this year
by Dahlia F. Beast

1. That I can reach for the sky...or hot dogs...if I just try hard enough.

2. That a good roll in the grass after visiting the groomers helps to get rid of that nasty "perfume smell."

3. That kitty friends are awesome friends.

4. That tug is more fun with friends!
Tugging with friends!

5. That Mommy totally puts up with my chair stealing ways, even if I spit my tongue out at her.

6. That I can do awesome dead kangaroo impressions.

7. That it's ok if Mommy dresses me in ridiculous things, as long as there are hot dogs involved.
Dare to be stupid!

8. That EVERYTHING is a pause table.
All benches are pause tables

9. That I'm a superstar agility champion. Ok...maybe not...but it's nice having one ribbon!

10. That agility is really really fun.

11. That I am just too cute for words.

12. That they don't call me "Ferocious D" for nothin'!

13. That while I cannot catch treats, it sure is fun to try.

14. That my future is so bright, I have to wear shades.

15. That hamburgers off the grill are (almost) worth waiting for.

16. That being kicked off Mommy's chair is like the WORST THING EVAR.

17. That running makes me CRAZY.
160. 4/8 "Easter"

18. That I really CAN fly...as long as I have my jetpack on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

100 things #19: SU tug toy

I got Dahlia a new Syracuse University colored tug toy. I loved this photo for the way she was slightly downhill and the way her mouth is wide open so you can see all her teeth.

EXIF Data: Sony A580 | Minolta 70-210mm | f/5.6 | 1/800 | ISO 500 | 210mm

Monday, May 14, 2012

100 things #18: Manual focus

This photo doesn't really look like much. I've taken a lot of "Dahlia on the porch" photos over the past nearly 4 years. But here I was experimenting with manual focus, something I almost never use. I figured it was high time I try to get to know that side of my camera better!

One of these days I'll take a fully manual shot. This one was taken using Auto ISO and Aperture priority mode.

EXIT data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28mm f/2.8 | 1/50 | f/5.6 | ISO 100 | 28mm

100 things #17: Foxy toy

I looked down from my chair today and saw this. It was too cute to not take a picture of. That's Dahlia's favourite foxy toy, the only toy she knows by name.

196. 5/14 "Favorite Toy"
EXIF data: SONY A580 | 28mm f/2.8 | 1/25 | f/2.8 | ISO 1600 | 28mm

Sunday, May 13, 2012

100 things #16: What the dog wants

EXIF data: SONY A580 | 50mm f/1.7 | 1/1250 | f/4.0 | ISO 100 | 50mm

Tug: Yer doin' it wrong?

It wasn't all that long ago that most dog trainers advised people to not play tug (commonly called "tug of war" back then) with their dogs as it could lead to problems.  The dog would become dominant.  The dog could even become aggressive.  This was especially true, according to these trainers, if the dog won the game.  If you were going to play such an aggressive game with your dog, then you better make sure you could win it each and every time in order to show the dog who was the alpha.  There are, in fact, some trainers who still believe this.  Cesar Millan (a TV personality who claims to be a "dog psychologist) says on his page about puppy development, "If you don't step in and discourage this kind of dominance-seeking behavior early on - or, worse yet, if you allow your puppy to "win" at dominance games such as wrestling or Tug-of-War - it could set the stage for more serious challenges to your leadership down the road."  He's not the only one, however.  Google "Tug of war and dominance" and you will find many such results stating the same thing.

More recently, trainers have been debunking this myth.  More often called "tug" than "tug of war" these days, it is touted as a great game to play with your dog.  But (and there always has to be a "but" right?)...you should only play it with very specific rules attached to the game.  The basic rules most sites seem to give:

1. You initiate the game of tug.
2. The dog must drop the toy immediately when asked.
3. Ask for behaviors in between sessions of tug.
4. If the dog's teeth connect with you, even accidentally, the game is over (one site even suggests leaving the dog alone in the room!).

The trainers who suggest these rules are the cream of the crop: Grisha Stewart, Emily Larlham, Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Pat Miller.  It's hard to argue with these folks and I suppose for most people following these sorts of rules will work well enough.  They aren't bad rules by any means and it certainly could mean a good rousing game of tug for many dogs!

However, maybe because I come at it from a different standpoint than most, I play tug very differently than is recommended by the great trainers.  I'm looking at tug as a way to get my dog "up" to play agility and as a way to increase my dog's confidence.  Dahlia has a lot of tug drive.  It's even a self-rewarding behavior for when she's done something good (like greet the children down the road nicely and calmly).  But lately I've been working on getting her higher and higher and more and more ready to work by using tug.

Here are my rules:


That's right.  None.  If she grabs the toy (or leash) first, that's awesome.  I'm happy to see her do it.  I don't give her a "drop" command as that ends the game and immediately calms her down.   Instead, I "fight" to get the toy back (oh boy those dominance trainers would have a fit over that one!).  I shove her around. I boot her in the sides with my legs. I yank the toy hard to try to slide it out of her mouth.  Once she really has her mouth clamped down hard on it, I actually put my hand around her muzzle and pry that sucker right out of her mouth.  This often causes some crazy growling and even barking.  Oh boy does she get mad at me for that one!  She'll leap for the toy, sometimes hitting me with her front feet, sometimes her teeth even connecting with my arm (she never bites down and I haven't gotten so much as a scrape or a bruise from this).  If I put the toy behind my back she'll try to leap around me to grab it out of my hands.

The game is fun.  The game can be really tiring (for me!).  And the game leaves her really up and ready to work.  The difference between a Dahlia who is not up on the agility course and one who is up is dramatic.

So no offense to those awesome trainers who I truly do respect, but tug doesn't always need those sorts of rules attached to it.  I may be "doin' it wrong," but surely I can't be the only person out there to play tug with no rules!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

100 things #15: Praying to the God of Hamburgers

This was taken tonight when Dahlia was doing tricks for leftover hamburger.

My thought? I need to get out and take pictures in better weather as my camera seems to be permanently set at ISO 1600 these days.

EXIF Data: Sony A580 | Sony 18-55mm lens | f/5.6 | 1/250 | ISO 1600 | 45mm

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: MrChewy.com

Dahlia says "Mmmm delicious!"
A short while ago, a representative of MrChewy.com contacted me and asked if I would be willing to check out their site and possibly offer a review of it if I were so inclined.  To that end, they offered me a gift certificate to try out some of their products and see what the site experience was like.  I was informed that I was under no obligation to either review the site or to offer a positive review if I had a negative experience.

I was happy to oblige and so visited the site to see what they had to offer.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered the amazing variety of food, treats, and pet health products for both dogs and cats that the site offers.  There was such a huge variety that it took me a few days of looking through the site, bookmarking things that interested me and that I thought Dahlia would enjoy, before I could actually place my order.

The dog treats range from your basic garden-variety Milk-Bones and Iams treats to various types of bully sticks to grain-free and freeze-dried raw treats. Each item contains a list of ingredients.  For those of us who have dogs with allergies or issues with certain things (Dahlia cannot have chicken), ingredient lists are a life-saver. I was very thankful to see this aspect of their site.  When looking for treats to buy, I was able to quickly and easily rule out ones that I would not be able to feed Dahlia.  That still left me with an incredibly long list of treats that I had to narrow down to something more manageable.

I ultimately ended up choosing 6 treats I thought Dahlia would enjoy and that I am not able to find in stores around here.

1. Stella & Chewy's Carnivore Kisses Wild Alaskan Salmon Dog Treats
2. EVO Wild Cravings Herring Formula Dog Treats
3. PureBites Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese Dog Treats (5.2 oz. bag)
4. Darford Zero/G Trout & Shrimp Dog Treats
5. ZiwiPeak Good-Dog Lamb Liver Real Meat Jerky Dog Treats
6. Grizzly Fillet Treats Salmon Fillet Treats for Dogs and Cats

I placed my order with MrChewy.com on April 17.  As I ordered over $49 worth of items from the site, I received free 1-2 day shipping.  The treats arrived April 19 and were at my door waiting for me when I got home from work.  Naturally, Dahlia was super interested in the package and was even more interested in the bags of treats.

Yes there is one last big treat in there!
She hasn't had a chance to try them all (I haven't opened a couple of the bags yet!), but what she has tried she has certainly enjoyed.  I've used the Carnivore Kisses as rewards for many of my recent photos, including the ones of her wearing sunglasses and other silly items.  In fact, she loved those so much that when I left out the jar (which had a bit of treat dust and a few small treats left in it), she decided to see about getting those treat herself.  You can see the results.

So my overall reaction to the site?  Great variety, good prices, great information shared about each product, great communication, and fast shipping (that's free over $49!) with tracking so you can keep track of where your items are.  The site gets two thumbs up from me and two paws up from Dahlia.  I know we'll be returning to the site for future purchases!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

100 things #14: Smile!

My dog smiles.

EXIF Data: Sony A580 | Sony 18-55mm lens | f/3.5 | 1/13 | ISO 1600 | 18mm

100 things #13: Recliner tug!

Tonight Dahlia DID NOT want to get off the recliner when I got home. She even wanted to play tug while on the chair. I couldn't resist taking some photos.

EXIF Data: Sony A580 | Sony 18-55mm lens | f/3.5 | 1/30 | ISO 1600 | 18mm

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

100 things #12: Head Tilt

This morning Dahlia got up into my recliner as she always does as I get ready to leave. This was the face I was confronted with as I packed up to go. How can one leave that face anyway?

Unfortunately for her, I really did have to go to work.

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Sony 18-55mm | f/4.5 | 1/10 | ISO 1600 | 35mm

100 things #11: What the dog sees

Yesterday I received a macro filter in the mail. It cost me all of $9 so I thought it might be fun to play around with since I can't currently afford a nice macro lens (though I'm eying Sony's 30mm f/2.8 macro, which is only around $175). I took a lot of photos with it, mostly of flowers and dandelions and other such things. But this was one I got of Dahlia.

I've entitled it "What the dog sees"...I think you'll see why!

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Sony 18-55mm with Macro filter | f/5.6 | 1/100 | ISO 1600 | 55mm

Thursday, May 3, 2012

100 things #10: Gettin' dizzy

I've been teaching Dahlia how to spin as part of her agility training (more tricks that involve motion = more getting hyped up). David decided to try to get her to spin and so I took some photos of it last night.

park22 EXIF data: Sony A580 | Tamron 75-300mm | f/4 | 1/500 | ISO 800 | 75mm

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

100 things #9: Her future's so bright she has to wear shades

I bought sunglasses for Dahlia. Yes they're REAL dog sunglasses (made by the Doggles folks). They're adorable and even fold up like regular ones. The side parts are bones. Dahlia was completely comfortable in them. She was able to walk around, roll over, come down the stairs, and all with confidence. I'm really happy with them!

I'm most amused at how HUGE her feet look in this photo. Ah, the power of a wide angle! Her feet aren't nearly that large. I very rarely go for portrait-oriented photos and I've never really taken a portrait-oriented wide angle photo. I like the effect.

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Sony 18-55mm | f/3.5 | 1/30 | ISO 800 | 18mm