This past Saturday morning, I completed my last photo session for my feature in "Tails of the World".
Over the past two months, I was able to meet and photograph eight amazing dogs, each with their own stories, to be featured in this year's edition. These dogs all represent the best of the Pacific Northwest and I want to share their stories with you. The images I am sharing on this blog post are NOT the images that are going to be in the book.
Leonard is an amazing dog. I met him and his mom several years ago, when I was creating my first book, and we've been friends ever since. He's even been a model for me during my Unleashed Photography Challenges.
I was really excited when he and his mom signed up.
Before I continue, you need to know that I have a list of Instagram dogs that I want to meet. Most of them are in Seattle, but some are not. Since 2023 is my Year of DogJoy, I decided that I wanted to meet ALL of the dogs in Seattle. Since I believe in the magic of manifestation, I create a "Wish List" of about 35 dogs and posted it in my Instagram stories earlier in the year. If you don't believe in the magic of manifestation, than you are in for a surprise!
Ok, where was I? .... Oh, yes. I hadn't seen Leonard and his mom for a while so I was really looking forward to our session. Not only would I get to see Leonard (who actually loves Tony more than he loves me), I would get to catch up with his mom.
During the course of our conversations back and forth about the session, Leonard's mom saw my wish list. While she chastised me for Leonard not being on the list (I have since rectified that situation) she told me that she would be pet sitting 2 of the dogs on my wish list! I asked her to bring them to Leonard's session and promised that they would not over shadow Leonard.
She agreed and brought a friend along as an extra set of hands. Three rowdy dogs with two handlers, Tony, serving as Sherpa and me, just recovering from neck surgery. Ha! I say again, Ha!
Leonard brought along Wrigley and Riley, with their parent's permission of course. It was such a joyful evening with an amazing sunset that I missed because we were just having way too much fun.
You can follow Leonard & Wrigley and Riley on Instagram.
Here it is! The Dogs of Instagram Wish List. It really is hanging on my cork board in my office.
Salryc, or Sal, is a Pharaoh Hound/Jindu mix. She is the first Jindu I've met. (Yes, it counts even if she is mixed with other breeds)
I met Sal and her mom last Christmas for holiday photos up at Stephen's Pass. She said it was a fluke, but I know better...it was meant to be. The session was the first time Sal had ever seen snow and we had a blast! I've worked with Sal several other times since then and she photographs beautifully.
When Sal and her mom signed up for Tails of the World, I was so excited. Sal is just a joy to work with. She tries to accomplish everything I ask of her and if she doesn't know how to do it, she and her mom figure it out. I love that kind of relationship, they are so in tune with each other. DogMagic!
The day of our session was dreary and wet. It wasn't really raining, but it was misting heavily. I love shooting in that kind of weather, but I wasn't sure if Sal would approve. I should have know that she wouldn't care.
We started off in this amazing field. The colors were glorious, but muted. The sky was soft and gray. Perfect lighting conditions for what I wanted to create.
As the mist fell on the field, it gathered on the grasses and created a magical effect. Like little, tiny fairy crystals, sparkling all over, but you had to be paying attention to actually see them. It was perfect.
I created an amazing image of Sal for the book, but this is my favorite image of the day.
Sal either heard or just sensed that there was something in the grass. She stood still for a few seconds and then she pounced! I wasn't expecting it and I am still shocked I created this image. But, there she is, in mid pounce, showing total focus on whatever she found. She is surrounded by sparking blades of grass and framed by a beautiful, soft wisp of grass whose arch matches the arch in Sal's back almost perfectly.
She is an amazing dog, and, I've known how special she is from the first day that I met her.
Sal doesn't have a designated Instagram account...yet. I'll let you know as soon as she does. (Peer pressure!)
I met Lucy's mom when I was creating my first book "Send Me; Working Dogs of the Pacific Northwest". She is a mortgage broker at a local firm in Bellevue. Her company, along with all of the employees in the office support a program that matches service dogs with veterans who need them. It's an wonderful program and, of course, I loved it from the start. At the time, they were supporting a pup named Liberty who was in training to be a service dog. Lucy's mom and I were in contact a lot at first, but then, a pandemic happened and everyone stayed home. You know, I believe we were all in shock for a very long time about everything being shut down, but that's another story for another time.
Anyway, you can imagine how happy I was when I found out that Lucy's mom had registered her for "Tails of the World". A chance to chat with an old friend, meet her dog and have a wonderful time together.
We met at Discovery Park on a chilly, but sunny morning. I had requested a cloudy day, but, at that moment. Mother Nature wasn't cooperating.
I was excited to meet Lucy, but it was on her terms and she wasn't quite ready, so we started out walk into the park. It didn't take long for Lucy to realize I had treats and we soon became friends.
She is a beautiful Golden Retriever who is the apple of her mom's eye. Her dad's too. She is goofy and sweet and seems to like to make people laugh. Her tail never stops wagging and her eyes sparkle.
I was trying to create a majestic image of her, with 2 paws up on the log, just gazing out over the fields, but she had her own version of "Up Up" and I almost cried, I was laughing so hard. To be honest, her version actually suits her personality and it's my favorite image from the session. Look at her tail!
She actually did do the "Up Up" the way I asked her to and it is majestic and beautiful, but it doesn't show her personality quite like this image does.
As we were walking around in the fields, I discovered that Lucy's dad is the man behind one of my favorite Instagram accounts: Seattlelockdogs He takes pictures of dogs who visit Ballard Locks and then posts them on Instagram with a little snippet about the dog. When I first discovered this account, I was delighted! Someone who loves dogs was taking the time to take their picture and get to know them so he could share! I mean, c'mon. That's amazing, right?
When Lucy had had enough of my shenanigans, she let us know and it was time to go. We made our way back to the parking lot and said our good-byes, but I know in my heart that this was not the last time I would see Lucy. I am positive I will see her again.
Phoenix is a brand new friend to me. You'd think, by looking at her, that she is a Puggle. She is not.
I met Phoenix at Discovery Park with her mom, who has just moved here after spending a year in Michigan. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. It was just the thing for Phoenix's mom and I to start talking about, which really helped break the ice.
Phoenix wasn't exactly sure what was happening, even though her mom had visited the park the week before. I think Phoenix knew where she was, she just wasn't sure why I was tagging along. Until she discovered the Wild Weinies I had in my bag. I swear I haven't met a dog who can resist those things! Bacon flavored, in case you are wondering.
We took a short walk to my favorite stone wall, near the church and got to work. It didn't take long for Phoenix to figure it out and before long, she was happily posing for me.
I think her favorite part was running down the path between tall weeds and large ferns. She just really seemed to enjoy that part. Her ears would bobble up and down and she would have a silly grin on her face and she raced down the path to her mom.
Phoenix is also very athletic and enjoys jumping up on things. She also enjoys destroying sticks.
Phoenix is an even mixture of adventure dog and homebody. She loves to hike and be outside, but then she also loves to be home, cuddled on the couch. It's a lovely balance and we could all learn a thing or two from Phoenix about balance.
Sequoia is an intriguing dog to me. She is a mix of Husky, Malamute and Samoyed but she doesn't talk very much. She is as stoic as they come.
I met her and her mom earlier in the year for a Pop Up Session in Discovery Park. When I found out she was a mix of northern breeds, I had expectations in my mind of how she would behave. You know, Huskies run and are unruly (mostly), Samoyed squeak bark a lot, and Malamutes are stubborn. How do I know this? I've lived with all of those breeds.
When I met Sequoia the first time, I was struck by how majestic and quiet she was. Not a peep out of her. She did everything I asked her to without any trouble. Her images turned out beautifully and I almost couldn't believe this dog was only two years old.
When I realized that Sequoia's mom had signed her up to be featured in Tails of the World, I was so happy! She was such a joy to work with the first time!
The second time wasn't much different, other than the fact is was raining and a bit chilly. I don't think she cared. Frankly, neither did I. It was another misty day, which turns the summer grasses into sparkly blades of magic. The skies were heavy and gray with impending rain, but it held off for us. The sweet peas were just starting to bloom in the sweet pea patch and Sequoia was wearing one of her beautiful, handmade bandanas.
Lots of drama in the skies and on the ground, which suited her perfectly. Her white fur sparkled from the mist and her one blue eye and one brown eye were filled with joy. She gave me a tiny smile and that's all I needed.
She really is an incredible dog. She is a working dog breed and she assigned herself the job of Yard Guard. No interloping squirrels or bunnies take up residence on her watch. When she is out on adventures, she has exquisite manners.
She also loves Wild Weinies.
Sequoia isn't on Instagram but she is on TikTok at SequoiatheHusky
Beau is an 11 month old German Shepherd and he has the most perfect head tilt I have ever seen. You know those reels you see of malamute puppies tilting their heads back and forth? (The two puppies on the right cause me so much cuteness aggression!)
Beau does that too, but is way cuter in person!
Beau is a beautiful dog with great manners. He didn't mind that it was wet and rainy at the park during his session.
Beau is confident, intelligent, curious and has a thing for rocks. He loves working for treats and it's very apparent he also loves to please his humans.
He loves visiting local Sniff Spots and playing with his friends. He's an all around solid puppy.
But the thing I noticed about him? His demeanor. He is calm and confident. He didn't balk at any of the requests I asked of him and performed them like a champ. He was very tuned in to his people and checked in with them often during the session.
Like all young dogs, Beau had a threshold that he could tolerate and I was very careful not to cross it. When he was done, we were done.
This handsome boy is going to be an amazing grown up dog one day and I feel honored that I was able to photograph him in the sweet pea patch at Discovery Park. (Even though we all got wet!)
Beau is on Instagram.
The very first thing I noticed about Frankie were his eyes. Almost pumpkin orange, they are mesmerizing. I wanted to be sure I did them justice during his photo session. They are a photographer's dream come true.
Frankie is a rescued American Bulldog. He even has the DNA analysis to prove it. Frankie is living his best life in Seattle with an amazing couple who adore him and understand the breed. I don't know how Frankie ended up in rescue, but I'm grateful his parents adopted him. They clearly adore him.
Frankie really seemed to enjoy his photo session with me, mainly because I threw his ball over and over and over again. He also really liked my treats. He tried to accomplish everything I asked of him, but I knew when it was time to stop shooting and start playing. (I always try to end photo sessions on a good note.)
Frankie is definitely loving life with his humans. They are completely in tune together and it is such a joy to watch humans who respect and love their dog as much as their dog respects and loves them.
In order to play with Frankie, we needed to have two balls. As he brought the one he just fetched back, I had to throw the second one so he would drop the first. It's not cheating...it's smart!
Frankie is on Instagram.
Ollie is a certified water rescue dog as well as a medical service dog for his mom. Instead of detailing our photo session, I have a story to share that I will remember for the rest of my days.
When I was 7, my dad was remodeling a house on the river for this wonderful lady. I don't remember her name, and it doesn't really matter. I really remember her Newfie named Molly. Molly was a very large dog, but, remember I was only 7 she could have been average size. To me, she was ginormous. Anyway, my dad had an appointment on that particular Saturday that I got to go to work with him. He told me in his stern dad voice "She has a dog. I expect you to behave." Really, dad? Do you not know me at all? We rang the door bell, and as we waiting for the door to be answered my dad gave me "the look". You know what I'm talking about, right? The look that says you better behave or you'll pay for it later? Yea, that one. The door was answered by this beautiful, soft spoken woman who looked, to me, that she should have been in movies, not living in a small town in Michigan. Not far behind her I heard this ruckus and as we walked in the house, I was tackled by this massive black dog! Her name was Molly, and she proceeded to lick my face, steal my left shoe and take off to hide it. Her mom was mortified and I was delighted to be welcomed into her home by this amazing dog! We found my shoe and I spent the rest of the appointment with Molly. I do not recall if my dad thought I behaved or not. I only remember Molly.
She was the first Newfie I had ever met and the only one to steal my shoe!
Ollie was on my Instagram Wish List because he reminded me of Molly. No two dogs look alike, even if there breed standard has little room for variety. But, Ollie reminded me of Molly, so he went on my list. I can't remember the exact circumstances that led to Ollie's mom reaching out to me, but I'm so glad she did.
Instead of conducting Ollie's session at Discovery Park, we went to Deception Pass to get in and under the water. The circumstances were very special and I strongly felt this was the way to conduct his session. It was a lot, for Ollie and his mom, but so worth it. He is a water rescue dog and he deserved images in the water.
About half way through our session, Ollie was on the beach by his mom, who was sitting in a chair. She had explained to me that sometimes she doesn't feel well and Ollie is there to make sure she is okay. I was waist deep in the water, trying to figure out a specific shot I wanted to get when Ollie started to get restless. I immediately thought his mom needed help. Ollie looked from her to me and back to her again. I was genuinely concerned, but his mom started to laugh as Ollie headed for the water. It took me a few seconds to realize what was happening. Ollie was coming to get me. I did not perceive any danger and I felt just fine, but Ollie wanted me out of the water. His mom had told me earlier to grab on to his fur on his hip because that's how he rescues people. I was not convinced this was a good idea, but as Ollie swam with all of his might towards me, his eyes met mine and I knew he meant business. He swam around behind me, came up on my left side and presented his hip. I was hesitant to grab his fur but he gave me a side eye that I could actually HEAR, so I grabbed his fur. He swam powerfully towards shore dragging me behind him. Once we hit the beach, he gave me the once over, covering me in slobber and dog hair. Then, convinced that I was okay, he returned to his mom's side for some treats and lots of love.
I'll never know why Ollie thought I needed to get out of the water, but I had to let him do his job. In all of my years of working with dogs, this is the first time a dog has actually rescued me. I will never forget it either.
I am not finished editing Ollie's images yet, but this is as close as I can get to showing you what I saw coming for me when Ollie decided I needed to be rescued. And he didn't steal my shoe, just my heart.
Ollie is also on Instagram.
On August 1st, 2023 registration will be open for my next book "Working Tails of the Pacific Northwest". This is a book for and about working dogs. Why only working dogs? Because of dogs like Ollie, whose stories need to be told.
Follow me on social media to keep up with my projects about working dogs.
Hugs to your Dog!