Deputy Mattis and Radar

As I wrote about previously, Deputy Mattis from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office has an older brother, Radar. They have matching collars that say their respective names on them and Deputy Metz wanted a portrait showcasing both of their collars. They were good boys and stayed put while Deputy Metz bribed them with stinky delicious treats then stepped aside for a second while I snapped this photo.

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This backlit shot really shows how bright and happy this evening was. They did such a good job - we were asking a lot of them!

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Radar and Mattis deserved a good break after sitting so long. Radar was super thirsty for his water but Mattis was having none of it - too busy sniffing!

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This portrait of the two boys captures their natural expressions. Mattis usually does have his mouth closed and Radar seemed to keep a smile on his face. Good boys!

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Another mouth closed from Mattis and happy smile from Radar. I didn't realize Radar is three years old. Deputy Metz had mentioned she had an older dog and I assumed Radar was a senior citizen. Nope, he's barely an adult dog. They're both wonderful!

Deputy Mattis, Franklin County therapy dog

Last summer I photographed the new Franklin County Sheriff's Office therapy dog, Mattis K. Nine. He's now Deputy Mattis, having had his swearing in ceremony a couple month ago (it was adorable - he can put up one paw to swear he'll tell the truth and nothing but the truth). He also earned his official badge! It's fantastic that our community has this dog to help victims and witnesses to terrible tragedies. Deputy Mattis has made over 250 appearances in multiple states over his first year in office, giving comfort to innocent people on the very darkest day of their lives. Deputy Mattis truly is the best of the best dogs.

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Deputy Mattis and his handler, Deputy Metz, met me in Westerville. This was their first time at this park and Mattis clearly enjoyed himself. Look at the sun - it was 72 degrees and bright and beautiful. A perfect day for portraits!

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Mattis needed a headshot because he's a local celebrity. So many people mention Mattis to me, even a year after I first photographed him as a puppy!

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Mattis was having such a nice time and was so curious about where we were that he didn't want the delicious, refreshing bowl of water I set out. Too busy sniffing bushes and keeping us protected from squirrels.

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He still has those puppy dog eyes! I knew I wanted an overhead shot of him to capture those soulful eyes and get a good look of his therapy dog vest.

Stay tuned for more Deputy Mattis K. Nine photos! Did you know that Mattis has a brother? He sure does, and Radar accompanied him on his photo shoot this time. I got some great shots of Mattis with Radar - check back tomorrow for more Mattis portraits!

Black poodle puppy

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Whiskey was a two-year-old black poodle who was tragically taken before his time. I met him last year and photographed him and his four dog brothers. Whiskey was the baby of the family, which made the shock of losing him so much harder on his people. I dug through my archives and for the longest time could not place my hands on any other pictures of him that his family didn't have. After a year, when I was cleaning out an old hard drive backup, I clicked on the date that I knew I had photographed his family and all the raw files suddenly appeared. I can't guarantee I keep every image for all time, because digital files just are not archival like prints, but on this occasion I had an extra shot of Whiskey I could surprise his family with. The original print his family has is a profile shot of Whiskey looking at his owner off camera. I found this image of Whiskey looking right at me and oh my goodness, doesn't he look like a puppy?

Whiskey's people now have this updated portrait, custom framed by Browning Photo. It's so wonderful to know they cherish their dog's final portrait, and I hope they find some comfort in seeing their beautiful baby boy's face one last time, until they meet again someday.

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They loved it! The frame complements Whiskey's portrait perfectly and they have picked out the perfect spot to hang their artwork.

Thinking of portraits of your own dog? Contact me now! I'm happy to discuss your own dog's special photo session.

Losing a dog

A very special dog in our lives had to be put to sleep last month. Kestel belonged to my husband's grandmother. He was a 14 year old black dachshund and absolutely loved children, and our three-year-old son loved him back. In fact, one time before our son was born, there was a garage sale at the house and there was a toddler with her mother. Kestel loved that little girl so much that he started following her back to the car. They thought Kestel would have gone home with her!

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For all of my son's life he's known Kestel and loved him. Last spring, I bought him a special pastel yellow sweater vest to wear over a light blue dress shirt for Easter. It had a dark colored wiener dog on the sweater vest, and it cracked me up because the dachshund was so long that front half the dog's body was on the front of the vest and the other half with his tail was on the back! It was seriously adorable. My son loved that vest and wore it to visit Kestel and to buy dog food at PetPeople with me. It was a big hit.

Last year we told our son that he had to be extra gentle when visiting Kestel because he'd had eight teeth removed. Our son was still so small but seemed to understand, and he was very careful to only pet Kestel on the top of his head, very softly. He wanted to make him feel better so in his toddler mind toys would help! See how patient and good Kestel was with toys being stacked all over and around him.

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Kestel stayed patiently and just wondered why this kid was dragging every toy from around the house to a pile around him.  Kestel's teeth didn't seem to be bothering him too much after the surgery, thank goodness. He was back to his old self pretty quickly.

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For Christmas, my son got a very special surprise - his own stuffed Kestel! He's never been one for stuffed animals, so it was a SHOCK to us that he started sleeping with his Kestel and carrying it from room to room. He talks to him, has Kestel answer questions by barking - which only he can translate for us, and has Kestel lick his face and our faces. So much for all those stuffed animals who sit in the nursery completely ignored, never played with for a minute. He only has eyes for Kestel. No one ever expected he'd be one for playing with a stuffed animal, so that makes the relationship with the real Kestel so much sweeter, because they clearly love each other so much.

It came as a sad surprise when we heard that Kestel had been put down, about six months after the above photo was taken. He had not eaten for a week and his bloodwork came back with terrible results. The vet agreed the best option was to put him down, and they did it the same afternoon as the results came back. I feel terrible for my husband's family because this dog was so special to them. They really loved their sweet boy.

Speaking of boys, I still had to tell our three year old human child that Kestel had died. I waited until just before our next visit to his grandmother's house. The internet has a lot of great resources on how to speak to a child about death, but all the reading I did didn't make it any easier. Luckily, my son is sensitive and listens and somehow made it easier on me. What I explained to him was based on what I'd read online of how to break the news. I told him that I had some sad news, that Kestel had passed away, and that means when someone or something is very old their body eventually stops working. Although we won't be able to see him any more, he will live on in our hearts and in the stuffed Kestel dog he got for Christmas. He paused for a second, then said quietly, "Now Kestel's teeth won't hurt him."

Oh my goodness, that response got me choked up. I'm still emotional thinking about how that was my three-year-old's first instinct, to point out that Kestel's not in pain from his mouth surgery last year. That was not a response I ever dreamed of, and it made me give extra hugs and kisses. So tonight, as he was going to sleep with his stuffed Kestel, I let him translate some extra Kestel barks and give me a few more Kestel licks on the cheek. The time with our dear family members - with fur and without fur - is so fleeting. I had to commit this to a blog post so I can revisit the relationship between my son and his friend Kestel.

You were a good dog, Kestel, and we know your mouth isn't in pain now. We'll see you again someday, boy.

More dog at the lake

I wrote before about Tank here. Tank is an eight-year-old German Shepherd dog who LOVES tennis balls. It was a priority to get tennis balls in his portraits. Tank was a rescue dog whose original owner didn't want to administer the twice-daily eyedrops he needs for his eye condition, so he went into a rescue organization and wound up with his family. His parents say Tank is their heart, and I believe it. This dog is so smiley and goofy and sweet. And his eyes are just fine now, except for needing eyedrops. Luckily he has devoted people to share his good heart with.

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Here Tank decided to take a little break and lie down. He peeked over at me to inspect what I was doing and I caught this expression.

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A fully body shot with the beautiful lake shimmering behind him.

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Tank never let his tennis ball get too far away. It's almost like a "Hidden pictures" puzzle to see where his tennis ball is in each shot!

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Did someone say BALL? What a playful boy. Visit his family's very favorite picture of him HERE. I added that to my portfolio and I doubt it will ever come out, I love Tank and that portrait so much!

Thinking about your dog's portraits by the lake? Contact me now! I'm happy to speak to you about your ideas.

Pomeranian in Sunbury

Ricky Racoon is a senior Pomeranian who rules the roost! He is small but mighty. A tiny dog, he's actually large for a Pomeranian. He is a purebred and would have been eligible to do conformation (AKA Best-in-Show type competing) but he got too big! Conformation means judges look at breed standards to see if the dog exhibits what the breed is known for, and Pomeranians are teeny tiny. Ricky, I think you're perfect just the way you are!

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We started with Ricky on the ground, but even with me flat on the ground taking his picture he was blending in with the trees a little. His owner mentioned he'd sit on the picnic table so we tried that next. WOW! I love how Ricky looks so big here as I photographed him from below so his head would reach up into the beautiful sunset.

Want a sweeping outdoor portrait of your best friend? Contact me - I'd love to photograph your dog!

Dog at the lake

For this week on the 52 week pet photography challenge, we're all doing backlit images, which means the main source of light is on the other side of the subject from the camera. What's the most powerful source of light possible? Yep, the sun!

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Tank is a handsome German Shepherd dog. His family booked me in November, patiently waiting for spring to get this type of portrait. The wait was worth it! We went out a few weeks ago to my super-secret lake location. They actually live only a couple miles from here and had no idea it exists. I've sworn them to secrecy so it stays a local hidden gem.

Tank had never been around water, so it was such a treat to see him react to the lake. He was pretty hesitant at first, then after a few minutes he started tentatively flicking at the water with his nose, and then he started bouncing and splashing! It was ADORABLE. What a special memory.

Tank's parents now have this image on a large piece of metal wall art to adore of Tank's perfect spring day forever. I love how he was so happy and how he looked right at me for that split second. My husband was my helper on this afternoon and had rolled the ball back into the shot, where it's lined up perfectly between Tank's legs. This has to be one of my favorite images I've ever taken. Thank you for being so handsome, Tanky!

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Check out The Hoof & Hound Photographer covering the Lancaster UK area to see the next photo in the blog circle. Keep clicking through and you'll wind up back here.

Stay tuned for more photographs from Tank's lakeside session. I have a lot to say about this amazing dog and the fun afternoon we shared. UPDATE: Click here to see more Tanky photos!

Thinking about having your dog's backlit portrait created? I'd love to chat! Contact me now to talk about our summer availability.