Sailor graduated from his Beginner Course at Sniffer Dog School last week and we are already enrolling him in the intermediate course in a few months time.
 
     
He completed a 5 week course and it’s exactly what you’re imagining – he’s learning to be a sniffer Dog! While he does not have dreams of being a working Sniffer Dog – we are acutely aware of how important it is for Pups to use and fine tune their incredible sense of smell and have loved seeing him get better every week.
 
   
We go to the gym to exercise our bodies, and read books to work our minds. Whilst Sailor does enjoy chewing a good book, I do think reading one might just be out of his reach. .
 
   
Would I recommend it? HELL YESSSSS. For Sailor (and us) the benefits have been huge.
                             
1. CONFIDENCE.  Sailor can be a very anxious Pup when he’s not at home.  Think a real life Scooby Doo and you will get the idea.  Going to Sniffer School each week and having a completely positive, fun experience each time helped him feel more confident in all situations.  Fiona made sure Sailor had his own stall to relax in between Sniffing trials (so there were no other people or Dogs in with us to spook him).  Fiona made sure everyone else in the class watching on knew to look away if he noticed them looking at him during his trial and she took so much time and patience in ensuring Sailor was comfortable in her presence that I’m so happy to say not once in the total of almost 8 hours we spent at Sniffer School did Sailor have a single situation that made him feel unsafe.  In fact, by week 3 he was SO confident that he decided to completely relax and enjoy himself a little too much – playing with all of the scent boxes (to the point of destruction) rather than finding his target!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
2.  TRAINING & RESPONSIVENESS.  We’ve learnt a LOT about the way we interact with Sailor.  We’ve discovered he responds a LOT faster to commands if we ask him gently and calmly to do something.  We’ve learnt that something as simple as our own body movement and direction can have a powerful effect on Sailor’s decisions and actions.  We also saw how much he relies on us to help him in situations hes unsure of.  When we do our sniffer runs at home he can’t wait to go and ‘find’ and leaves us behind once we tell him to find his target.  At Sniffer School he won’t wander far from our side no matter how interesting the smells might be.
   
3.  JOY.  He LOVES going to school.  He LOOOVVVEEESSSS doing his practice runs at home.  We can see how much he loves using his nose for a purpose.  Dogs are born with this smelling “Super Power” and I really feel we owe it to them to both appreciate how amazing they are and let them discover how to use it properly.  Seeing Sailor so happy makes us so proud.
   
4.  STIMULATION.  Sailor falls asleep in the car on the way home every week.  There is no faster way to tire out your Pup than letting them use their sniffer.  If your Pup is ever unable to be walked for any amount of time, or you run out of time for their Sunday walk – letting them use their nose for 10 minutes is the most effective way to ensure they’re still being stimulated and are worn out by the end of it.  
5.  EXPERIENCE.  For them and for us.  When I first told Aidan I had enrolled Sails in Sniffer School he was very unsure.  By week 2 we were arguing over whose turn it was in the ring with him!  I can safely say that if you love your Dog, you’ll love this experience and be better Dog parents for it too.
Get in touch with Fiona at THE DOGGY LADY to ask any questions and enroll your own Sniffer Dog Superstar Pups ASAP!

 

You know you’re ‘in’ with Sails when you get a neck sniff – it’s the ultimate “I kinda like you but you still can’t pat me yet” move 🙂  Fiona should get to”you may pat my back” status by the end of the intermediate course 🙂

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Sailor Bear is not a cuddly Dog.  He never has been.  It was a bit of an adjustment for Aidan and I, as Alfie (who we lost 6 months before Sailor joined our family) had been the cuddliest Dog on the PLANET.  Alf was always leaning against you, pulling himself up onto the dining chair to sit with you and whenever physically possible, that kid was a 25kg lap Dog.

Sails does not initiate cuddles.  He’ll come and sit next to you if he has a big slobbery toy in his mouth that he wants you to play tug of war with.  He’ll sit RIGHT in front of you drooling alllll over the floor (and your feet) while you try and eat your dinner.  He’ll even hop on the bed and lay next to us for 10 minutes each night, but should you try to offer him any more than a quick belly rub, he’ll jump off the bed and find his own space immediately.  If you walk by him while he’s napping, he’ll jump up in a fright – he’s convinced we’re going to step on him and it breaks my heart.

On Feb 1 I posted a photo of me and Alfie with some words my heart needed to get out as it was 2 years since we lost him.  I was pretty down that morning.  After I had written the post I started crying and the tears just kept coming.  I was really, really sad – I don’t think I can remember the last time I cried like that.

Jersey girl came over to me on the couch, jumped up next to me and lay on her back for me to rub her belly.  Sailor walked over to the couch and rested his chin next to my legs. I patted the couch and managed a high pitched ‘up’ between deep breaths and even more tears.  I’ve tried to get Sails to come and sit next to me on the couch for a cuddle many a time, but he’s never accepted (unless it’s a spot in his Jersey’s Parkour routine that laps the entire living area during crazy hour!).  To my surprise he put his left leg up, then his right and pulled his body up next to me.  Before I knew it, he collapsed down next to me and rested that giant goofy head on my knee.  My eyes widened as I realised he had just come up for a CUDDLE.  At this point i knew any sudden movements and he’d be off in a flash so i gently started patting his side and there he lay for 10 amazing minutes.  I ugly cried at this point, but at least it was happy tears mixed in with the sad!

It might not sound like much, but at 18 months old our amazing boy forgot how scary being cuddled can be, because something was wrong – and he knew just how to fix it.  It melted my heart.  That was not only special for me, but that’s a huge leap for Sailor Bear.  Sails has been the most challenging Pup I’ve ever owned, but my goodness he’s worth it.

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You don’t get the Dog you want, you get the Dog you need.  And I’ll be grateful for him every damn day.

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Commercial Photography does not come cheap, but it remains one of the MOST POWERFUL ways to ensure your online presence is seen as professional.  Petography has been photographing the Pets Of Perth for 10 years now, we’ve worked with Businesses large and small including ENJO Australia & Royal Canin Australia.  We have won 13 Professional Photography Awards (at International and State Level) in the last 2 years – we are good at what we do!

We are giving away a Commercial Pet Photography Prize pack valued at over $8,500!  

The winner will receive:

-A consult to discuss your vision for your customized shoot.  We will discuss everything about your business, and what you want these images to represent

-You can choose to create images that promote your personal brand (think you doing life with your Dog/Horse/Alpaca by your side) or you can choose to have a commercial shoot that showcases your products or services being used in real life situations

-A completely customised on-location lifestyle photo shoot with Perth’s multi award winning Pet Photographer,  assistant and specialised lighting

-Your prize includes TEN fully edited professional digital images with a commercial use licence that you can use to promote your business services

-A Blog on our website all about you and your business (and of course your amazing new images)

What are you waiting for?  Tell us all about you, your business, and of course your Pets to go in the running!  

We will be selecting the winner based on the person/company we feel the most connection to – a brand that we can believe in.

*YOU MUST LOVE DOGS <or horses, or pigs etc>  (and want them in your images)!

*MUST BE BASED IN PERTH, Western Australia.

*Photo shoot is to take place in September or October 2018.

*APPLICATIONS CLOSE AUGUST 31, 2018 at midnight WST.

*Winner will be notified in the first week of Septemeber 2018.

 

Head over to the application form to apply now!

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We entered our first Professional competition in December of 2016 (they were judged in Feb 2017).  We had been in business since 2009 and looking back now I have images that were good enough to be contenders for awards back in 2012 but it didn’t cross my mind to enter back then.  Why didn’t we enter before 2016?  A mix of the following;

-We were NEVER ready when we realised it was time to enter

-Fear of failure (and being totally embarrassed in the process)

-Money! (Entering these competitions is NOT a cheap exercise)

-Ignorance . . didn’t know about/understand how much i would enjoy the process of being judged (sounds weird doesn’t it), or how much it would positively affect my personal photography journey

So, back to December 2016.  I had read an inspirational business blog that listed how many times Walt Disney’s Disneyland proposal was knocked back before it was finally funded (something crazy like 300 times) and that Oprah was fired from her news anchor job for getting too emotionally involved to her stories before she became a household name.  The same article talked about the philosophy of getting as many of the mistakes/setbacks/failures out of the way as quickly as possible so you get to the good stuff sooner  – so i thought F*^k it – Lets fall down more!

The timing was right to enter the awards run by Wedding and Portrait Photographers International.  Known as one of the most prestigious Print Competitions in the world I figured we may as well go big or go home!  I had just finished shooting for Tails Of Perth so had a huge catalogue of images to choose from but after some advice from those more experienced in the competition world, we settled on 6 images that were: A) a little bit different, B) Clean (no messy or distracting backgrounds) and C) my favourites.  No matter how the award process were to go, I only ever wanted to enter images that I LOVE creating – no matter how high or low they scored.

For any other pet photographers out there (or baby and children photographers for that matter) i think it’s really important to note that no ‘difficulty’ allowance is given to us for having subjects that don’t understand fluent English . . . I wish I could say that for Warren’s tree portrait below, I simply said to him “Ok Buddy – I need you to sit just past the edge of the furthest branch  and look as serious as you can until i nail the shot ok – then I’ll give you the cheese, cool?” “Woof” – sweet!  <man, how fast my shoots would go haha>.  You’ll all know the actual story went more like this:  “Caitlyn, please pop him in this spot, stand to his left and ask him to stay while I make some funny noises so he looks at me” . . click click click, *Warren runs towards a good smell and we have to reset*.  This continues for 10 minutes – standard Pet Photography model behavior!  It’s more like: you choose to work with the furry cute models that don’t know how to pout on cue, so you keep up with what all the others are doing if you want to contend!” (and I love that!).  For me, the extra challenge that comes with photographing Dogs (cats, horses, birds) is so worth the puppy cuddles, poop and sand in the eye fun that comes with every shoot we do!

We were so excited to find out we had won silver awards for 4 of the images we entered!  These were our very first four awarded images:

So exciting – we were thrilled!  We entered the same 4 images into our State Professional Awards later that year and earned another silver award for each of the above photos too!  We’ve now won 13 awards and are off to the National Awards in a few weeks time (wish us luck!).

I absolutely love hearing the judges comments every time (and I love that I’m learning to predict what the comments will be).  I love that it makes me think more about the images I’m creating and I love how much time I get to spend working with Jersey and Sailor to test out new ideas every time the awards come around.  It has made me think more creatively which is invaluable as an artist!

Here’s the 2 images that missed out (you need a score of at least 80 points to gain a Silver Award, the two below missed out by 2 and 3 tiny points!).  It’s important to note that to gain 80 or above, the judges must feel that the image is “above standard professional practice”.  They are instructed to only score an image 80 or higher if the image shows “above average skill and technique in most areas”.  They are also (more than anything) looking for a narrative.  They want to be emotionally drawn in to the image and the story behind it.

Here’s why I say I don’t want you to hire me for my awards.

The two images below are by far the most emotional and meaningful images in the set.  I can already hear the judges saying “SHOW us the story then” but here’s the thing.  I’m a Pet Photographer whose main aim with every shoot I do is to give my clients images that mean something to THEM.  Images that take them back to a moment when things were truly wonderful.  Yes, I could add elements to these images so that every single person who sees it knows the whole story behind it, but sometimes, when the end is near for our amazing furry companions, we don’t want to be reminded of the sad part of why they mean so much.

This image of Alfie was taken in York, a few months after he was diagnosed with Terminal Cancer.  It’s one of the last images we took of him that he doesn’t look sick.  He lost so much weight in the last year of his life that it was really obvious he was ill.  This photo doesn’t remind me of the Cancer that took him from us to soon, it reminds me of a perfect day that we took the Dogs on a road trip to York – and that means more than any award ever would.

 

 

Jako.  Looking at this image and taking away what i know, I already love it.  The sky was incredible that morning.  The beach was quiet and Jako’s colouring was MADE for these tones!  Jako had multiple cancerous growths and his 19 years of living meant his arthritis restricted his movement, but he had always loved the beach and his parents really wanted to do his shoot there, even if he only managed to lay in one spot.  We have multiple images of Jako’s Mum & Dad cuddling him, kissing him and strolling down the beach slowly with him, but this image will forever take them back to the day that their 19 Year old, frail pup Jako trotted up and down that beach for 2 whole hours with such enthusiasm that I wondered f they’d actually brought the right Dog with them!

 

 

Art is so subjective.  There are phenomenal photographer’s out there who have never won an award for the images they’re creating – but the art they bring into the world is JUST as valuable as one who has won THOUSANDS of awards.  There are also photographer’s who have won hundreds of awards, yet when I look at their images, I don’t feel anything (but where’s the Dog, I think to myself :p).  The best image on the planet, much like the best Dog in the world, belongs to the soul who falls in love with it x

 

 

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If I were to list the top 5 things I’m passionate about it would look a lot like this:  1) Animals 2) Photography 3) Travel 4) Fitness & Health 5) Trying new things!

With that said, my blog will be mostly covering those 5 topics.

This one covers 3 of them in fact.  Animals, Photography AND Travel.

We headed over the US of A in February on our Honeymoon.  We visited Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Canada (Banff & Jasper), NYC, The Bahamas & then San Diego on the way home.

We only had 2 full days in San Diego (we stayed 2 nights but arrived late on the first night).  I didn’t have high expectations, from what I’d heard it wasn’t particularly memorable but we wanted to see it for ourselves and we really didn’t want to spend more time in LA as we’d seen it 3 times already over the last few years.  I knew there were some seals to see, and Aidan knew there were MANY, MANY micro Breweries – so we were in!

We landed when it was dark and holy moly, what a pretty night time cityscape to land in!  On the first day we explored the Seaport Village (so cute –  loved it there), rode bikes all along San Diego Bay (I think it’s growing up in WA, we seem to always head towards the water!), and visited a fair few of the cool bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter.  We hopped on the Ferry and visited Coronado which was quiet but oh so pretty.

The next day we got up early and headed out to La Jolla, which FYI is pronounced “La Hoya” (as our uber driver told us in fits of giggles after I asked him to take us to La Jolla)!  The locals told us we might not see many Seals or Sea Lions as it was really overcast and a bit drizzly but we had NOTHING to worry about!  Next time, we’re taking our bathers and snorkels – I couldn’t believe how relaxed they were around us.  There was a man snorkeling through the bay and the most gorgeous flubby Seal followed him inquisitively the whole time!  I was very jealous and had we not been flying out later that day I would’ve jumped in in my jeans and ugg boots!

Here’s some of my favourite shots from our couple of hours watching them do their thing.  My mouth hurt from smiling by the time Aidan dragged me away.

So, there are both Seals and Sea Lions at La Jolla.  Seal Lions have external ears while the Seals don’t! (Please correct me if I’m wrong on that!)

 

 

Based on the extrenal ear theory, I’m going to say these guys are all Sea Lions 🙂

 

Whereas this gorgeous little one must be a Seal.  He/She was SO close to us and lay there for about 10 minutes just watching us calmly.  I could’ve easily brought him home with us!

Personally I would visit San Diego again before I’d go back to San Francisco or Los Angeles 🙂  It’s also only a short drive to the border in Tijuana which we will definitely be crossing next time we visit 🙂

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