Friday, April 27, 2012

Picture Perfect

I got my first camera for Christmas when I was around 13 years old. It was a silver Canon 35mm. I still have that camera, Lisa Frank stickers and all. I even took it with me to work one day and shot some pictures of my coworkers. One day, I’ll get them developed. J The very first picture I took with my camera was of a turtle. Pictures that followed were of sunsets over cotton fields, chickens, birds, and plants. I took a few of people, but nothing made me want to whip out my camera more than a cute little critter. I suppose that’s probably why, when most people’s Facebook page is overrun with pictures of “Girls Night Out!” and hundreds of candid friend shots, my Facebook albums contain hundreds (literally) of photos of my dogs, friends’ dogs, shelter dogs, and so on. There’s also pictures of other animals, but suffice to say dogs are the majority.
I’m on my third camera, one I paid for myself. It’s a Kodak. My first digital camera was a Canon PowerShot with all sorts of cool tools to shoot pictures. I’d still use it, but it’s an outdated 5 MP. My Kodak is a lovely 12 MP. I’d really love to have a big fancy camera with lens attachments, aperture/shutter options, and outstanding clarity…but that will have to wait…as will my want for a cello, a better violin, a new bow, and nicer furniture. Yay for dreams!
Anyway, back to pictures. When I signed up to volunteer for the shelter, I checked that I would like to spend time with the dogs, take pictures, and do other PR assistance work. I was handed a leash, told where I could be, and that was the end of that. Recently, I found out the shelter actually wants some better pictures of their dogs, so I leaped at the opportunity to get down with the dogs for some photos!
Today was my first day taking pictures of these adorable shelter dogs. I went prepared with an extra microchip, a journal to write down the dog’s name and a general description, poop bags to keep the grassy area clean and neat, and a hope for sunshine! Here’s some of the results:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Pibble Weekend

This past weekend was another adoption day at PetSmart. Although the humane society I was there with only adopted out one dog, I consider the day a success. Two other adoption agencies were able to find new homes for 14 other animals. Perhaps if there wasn't a downpour and less adoption agencies, more of our animals would have found new homes

There's another adoption event this week! If you're a Thomasville local, come out to Paradise Park after 9 AM this Saturday for a fun day out with your dog. There will be some dogs there up for adoption, as well. There's also going to be a dog show where you can enter your own dogs! Winners will be chosen in the following categories: Prettiest Eyes, Cutest Costume, Best Trick, Prettiest Coat, and Owner/Dog Look Alike. $5 entry per category OR $15 for 3 or more. Super fun and proceeds go to support the Thomasville Thomas County Humane Society. You can find out more through their website,

Some interesting things happened at PetSmart this time. First of all, I met my first fat pit bull type dog EVER! This strange-looking guy was walking a blue fawn pit bull type dog with a harness. He just stood there, while all of the shelter dogs were barking like crazy. At first, I thought the dog was a female that was pregnant, but on closer inspection, I saw that the dog was just a really, REALLY fat male! They are such naturally fit dogs, it made me really wonder what he's feeding that dog...bacon grease??!!

On a different note, I met some really wonderful people. One lady was looking at the dogs, but she said she wasn't ready to adopt yet. Her rescued Chow mix just recently passed away, and she didn't want to bring the stress of a new, younger dog into the home with her 13 yo Labrador, although he is sad to have lost his best fur friend. The Labrador was her husband's dog when they married, but the Chow mix was her own. She rescued him after he and a Great Dane were abandoned together in an apartment. To quote her, "Rescue dogs...mixed breeds...they really are the best. They love you for loving them, for giving them a second chance. We all deserve a second chance." She took a card and said she would call when she was ready to adopt again. :)

A lot of people mentioned that they would love to adopt, but they already had two, or three, or more. That's one of the few downsides to having an adoption event at a pet store. It's still so great to hear those people's stories - where their animals came from and how they spoil them. (BTW, everyone knows that the only thing better than a dog is TWO dogs!) When it comes to dog stories, they usually start with "I have a _____ and a _____," sometimes including age and gender. I have noticed a lot of people using a disclaimer when they told me that they had pit bull type dogs - "Oh, well I have a 3 yo Lab and um, well, a 5 yo pit bull butthey'renotasbadaspeoplesaythey'reactuallyreallyniceand..." I always tell them to stop using a disclaimer. Why be ashamed of what kind of dog you have? Those sorts of statements don't help. Instead, they help further the stereotypes.

 Be proud of who you are, and be the same for your dogs. We all know that pit bull type dogs are just as wonderful as the next dog. All dogs are individuals - some are sweet and some are sour, but they're all just dogs, after all. I don't think the people using those disclaimers are doing it because they feel any less about their dogs. On the contrary, I believe they do it because they feel that people will say something negative about them and the disclaimer is a way of diffusing the situation.

I try to make it a habit never to make excuses for my dogs. They aren't perfect, but that's not because of what breed they are or are not. Their imperfections are their own, and some from their training...or perhaps lack thereof. At home, Axle is nearly perfect. Somewhere like PetSmart? He wants to smell EVERYTHING! He still obeys, but at a delayed rate. As for Spuds? Well, she knows sit, come, leave it...and that's about it for now.

I met quite a few people with success stories of rescue dogs. It was both heartwarming and inspiring. There's always hope!

One thing that happened that day did cause a bit of concern on my part. A trainer was working with a pit bull type dog and was using a heavy hand. She was using different training collars and being very physical with the dog. Concerned, I contacted PetSmart. Very promptly, I got a response from the operations manager at the store in question. As it turns out, the trainer was using means she felt necessary. The dog is currently experiencing his last chance. He has attacked neighbor's dogs, as well as shown incredible dog aggression. The couple that own the dog are facing the very real possibility of losing their dog, so they are giving PetSmart a chance to train their dog to curb his dog aggression. I'm the kind of person that feels you should still try anything but force, but I do appreciate their quick attention to the situation, as well as the assurance that this is not the trainer's usual training methods.

Well, I think that's all for now. The pibbles of the house are sleeping on the couches, and I'm not far from sleep myself. That and I've realized that I've said PetSmart so many times I should get an advertising royalty! Peace, love, and pibbles!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Words Can Hurt

Toughest. Meanest. Power house. Most intimidating. Got game. Aggressive. Super short and beefy. Heavily muscled. Short, mean stance. Largest melon. Big-headed. Blockhead. Vicious. Guard dog.

Words are a powerful tool. We can use words to create images and ideas in other people's minds. Our words influence others perception of things. Even the truth can be told 100 different ways. How very important it is, then, to create positive images and ideas about dogs. We can wreak havoc with our words, just as quickly as we can forestall disaster. When we encourage the negative (like contests for most intimidating dog, largest head, most muscular), we reap negative.

If it weren't for mankind's own selfish vanity, pride, and desire to be a "winner," the English Bulldog wouldn't be a walking medical bill. The Bassett Hound would still have its legs...and less ears and droopiness. The Bull Terrier wouldn't have a deformed skull. The Pug would have a neck (dedicated to Mary Todd Lincoln).

Loyal. Friendly. Loving. Big smile. Handsome. Cute. Pretty. Beautiful. Cuddly. Companion. Energetic. Playful. Gorgeous eyes. Soft coat. Floppy ears. Family dog. Athletic. Forgiving.

Words are the paintbrush, minds are the canvas. What an opportunity we have to influence others, to let them see how wonderful our dogs are; to inspire them to adopt, foster, or rescue. How great it is to reward positives with praise, photo contests (kids & dogs, dress up, cutest, etc), and other venues.

Sissy dog. Frou frou dog. Lame. Weak. Stupid.

Dogs are living, breathing individuals. I fully believe they have souls, though some may be tortured souls (RIP Otto). They are not accessories. They are not an expression of ones manhood (or womanhood). They are not amusement. Size/stature, color, breed...none of that should matter. No dog is less than another.

Wonderful. Funny. Graceful. Regal. Delightful. Smart.

I know many people treat their dogs as family. (I sure do!) Obviously, everyone's standard of familial love is different or we wouldn't have the national horror known as Toddlers and Tiaras... That aside, take a moment and think about how you describe your dog(s) or other people's dogs. I'm sure you're already doing great.

Keep in mind that every word is a seed. Every seed has the potential to take root and grow into an idea. If we truly want to make a difference for dogs (rescues, fosters, shelters, breeders, etc), then we need to make sure we are planting the right seeds.