January 07, 2013

The saga continues

I have been looking for a new way to continue Dazzle's blog since I ran out of space on blogger and I guess it will be Wordpress. While not as fancy and without as many "bells and whistles" it will get the job done. Also, I finally found out how much space I have on there for free (3 MB) and what happens if I run out.

On blogger, to get more space it was $2.50 per month for the rest of your life. If you want to stop paying, your blog had to be deleted and I know I wouldn't want to lose all that content. Something they count on, I'm sure.

On Wordpress, It's $20 a year for 10 additional MB and if I need to stop paying, the content already loaded stays, I just can't add anything additional till I pay again. A much more realistic sounding option (and cheaper than blogger).

So here I go, starting the next chapter of blogging. I hope you'll join me for this continued ride.
View the new blog at: http://doggonehappy2.wordpress.com/ and be sure to bookmark it!

December 06, 2012

Week 49

Dazzle's tail continues to improve- to the point that I felt ok posting a progress photo without worrying too much about someone losing their lunch.  Though it is still pretty ugly.  You can see it here:

For the 52 weeks for dogs group, I took Dazzle to Bass Pro Shops where they always have an excellent Santa and photo scene.  Other than wishing I had used a flash for a bit more fill light, I'm very happy with how this came out.
Closer, horizontal  crop here:

For the group that's for photos of NOT dogs, and my "inspired" collection, I chose a fancy glass and food coloring effect.  I actually like my shot better than the original for a change :-)

November 30, 2012

Week 48

I have taken several Christmas photos this week.  Since I can't post them here, I'll post the links to Flickr.

The first shot is Dazzle being VERY patient, tangled in Christmas lights.

For the "not for dogs" group and my "inspired" collection, I chose something different from the photos I usually take.  Be sure to check out the inspiration shots too (in the description under the photo).  This was a challenging set-up and I wasn't able to figure out how to get the focal depth to be more than about 1/4" in manual mode, so I gave up and used auto.  I was able to get the area between the dragon's eyes and nostrils in sharp focus, but the rest was out of focus (in manual).  And the manual for the camera is not very helpful, so I'm doing a lot of trial and error learning. Good thing it's digital and not film!

 I also got some other shots I like:

Unusual sign/barrier around a handicapped parking spot:

Nice sunset through the trees:

And several shots of our Christmas tree and ornaments:
(Use the "older" button near the top left of the photo to see close ups of the ornaments)

November 22, 2012

Week 47- no more photos :-(

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Ok, maybe not so happy.  I just found out my grandmother fell and broke her hip today!  She has made it through surgery ok and is now recovering.  Wishing you well grandma!!

I also found out I have reached my storage quota for this blog.  So unless I pay a monthly fee, I can't upload any more photos.  Which means that, at least for awhile, last week will be the last post with photos.  :-(

You can still see the photos I'm taking each week on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutdogs/

Dazzle's tail is continuing to improve, so I'm hopeful that we might be on the road to 100% recovery now.  Still no idea what caused it.

November 20, 2012

Dazzle's Tail update

Thankfully getting him back on the prednesone spray has done the trick.  His tail is looking much better!  The change was evident even after just 24 hours.  It's still a mess or scabs and raw flesh and scar tissue, but at least it no longer looks like it's being attacked by a flesh eating disease.  I'm so relieved this has helped!  While it still seems to only be keeping it at bay and not curing it, at least I have hope he will still have flesh on it by the time we get to see the dermatologist (in a week).  I started on Saturday eve taking daily photos of it for her. They are pretty gruesome, so I won't be posting them here. You're welcome! 

November 17, 2012

Dazzle's Tail

Warning- this post gets graphic in it's description, so if you are squeamish, skip it.

His poor tail continues to get worse and I'm not sure what to do.  This has been going on since September and has been very slowly spreading, affecting more and more of his tail.  

He just saw the vet on Thursday and got more Prednesone and some oral antibiotics. She recommended I stop the topical prednisone in case that was delaying healing so I haven't put that on him.  On Thursday evening, he was doing really well and was able to spend some time (supervised) out of the muzzle so he could squish a ball and play a bit.  Friday morning he has a chiropractic exam that he definitely needed and his runs that night at agility practice were really great! 

Today (Saturday) has been another story.  He's back to obsessing over it, which I figured meant either a small infected spot or a swollen pocket full of blood (both of which I had found on his tail in the past 2 weeks).  In his efforts to lick his tail, he smashed the muzzle into it and partially ripped off one of the scabs.  Since it was loose, I pulled it the rest of the way off.  It was infected alright and a big chunk of nasty looking skin came off with it.  Now he has a deep spot of what looks like gooey flesh.  I flushed it and wrapped it just long enough to stop the seeping blood/pus.

I just unwrapped it again to let it air and to apply the prednisone spray, since that seemed to be working to at least slow the progression of whatever this mess is.  And because 2 days without it clearly made it worse.

He has an appointment a week from Tuesday to see a canine dermatologist but I'm honestly not sure if he will have any flesh left on his tail by then.  I called the specialists office, since it's also an emergency clinic, but...
  • they don't have a dermotologist on staff during emergency hours
  • it's $80 just to walk in the door and
  • the entire bill is due before you walk out 
They would be able to culture it, but I have a feeling that will be expensive enough when done by the specialist without it being a test/proceedure done by an emergency vet. My vet said their lab wouldn't be as good as the one the specialist uses, so that's why we planned to let the specialist do it.

If I thought there might be a chance the emergency vet could do something different or know more than the two excellent vets that have already seen it, I would go.  But I have a strong suspicion it will only be a very expensive 3rd opinion and a 3rd doc that has no idea what the hell it is! 

Clearly the antibiotics (1000mg of cephalexin twice a day since Thursday am) hasn't kept it from getting infected or kept it from getting worse.  And the Genesis (prednesone) spray may have been helping.  But short of that, I have no idea what it might be.  And not knowing what to do is really bothering me. If you are reading this and have any ideas, contact me at DogScouts at hotmail dot com.

He was so obsessed about his tail that I gave him 2 benedryl to knock him out.  So now at least he's sleeping.  I feel so bad that I can't do anything to make it better for him! 


November 14, 2012

Week 46

Since I last posted, I have not checked Facebook.  After nearly a week without it, I can say I'm much happier and less stressed.  I miss being able to share certain things, like the results of the Agility show this past weekend, and get instant feedback.  But I'll live :-)  I find I'm getting more done off the computer now, so that's good too!

And for the record, the weekend results weren't much to post about unfortunately.  His Open standard runs were actually quite nice and on Saturday he had a clean run all the way to the last bar of the double- the final jump of the course. :-(  It was taking him right into a corner and the spectators started cheering as he left the ground and he tried to turn too tightly and took out the bar.  I think he hit it with his back foot, because he cleared it with plenty of height.  The standard run on Sunday was also nice, but again, a bar on a tight turn got us.  Guess I know what we need to work on :-)

The novice JWW course on Saturday was a disaster.  For some unknown reason he couldn't complete 6 weave poles!  This is a dog that I have sent to 12 poles from half way across the ring with the dog walk between me and the weaves and he did those beautifully!  He normally loves the weaves and I have to be careful he doesn't go off course to do them!  But not Saturday. He has a chiropractic appointment on Friday, so we'll see if that helps.

The JWW course itself was very do-able for the handling I need to do.  Something I wasn't sure was possible.  So I had only entered him for Satuday because I figured either he would get the last Q needed for his title, or I wouldn't be able to handle him through a course without contacts.  Little did I know he would blow it on the weaves!  The weaves!?

So no Q's at all this past weekend.  But it was encouraging to know he has progressed to the point that I can be the handler for an open level course!  He just has to keep the darn bars up!

Yesterday I went for a photography drive.  I had some specific shots in mind, but got a few others I really like as well.

For the 52 weeks for dogs group, I got this one:

I had planned a different shot with a fence, which is why we stopped at this one along our drive, but it didn't work out.  The fence slats were at the wrong height and the lighting wasn't right for what I wanted to do. While contimplating options, Dazzle heard something small rustle the leaves in the drainage ditch and I snapped this photo before he shot after whatever it was.  Despite burying his head and snuffling around for quite awhile, he thankfully didn't come up with whatever had caused the sound. :-)

He kind of blended into the leaves in the background of this photo, so I used layers and desaturated the background a bit to help him "pop".

I'm having to be creative with his shots because his tail still looks like hell and is actually getting worse.  We have an appointment tomorrow to see what is going on.  I know it started as allergies (shortly before I took the combine chasing shot), causing him to lick his tail till he got a hot spot.  But I think it's probably a bacterial infection now because it covers almost his entire tail.  Which had to be shaved, so like I said, it looks like hell.

For the 52 weeks for NOT dogs, I got this one:
This photo was inspired by this shot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/publik-oberberg/4039478468/">www.flickr.com/photos/publik-oberberg/4039478468/
It was much harder than I thought to find a road with leaves on it!  So I had to settle for a trail off the road I was on. I gave it a valiant effort though and ended up on gravel backroads I had never been on before!  Thank God for GPS :-)
The original shot is a much nicer location, but I think I nailed the technique I was inspired to use.  I also have a version of this photo that I like even better that kept the color in the sky: 

To get these, I made a copy of the original, de-saturated the original, then pasted the copy as a new layer.  I increased the color saturation on that layer (probably too much) to bring out the color in the leaves, and then used the eraser tool anywhere I wanted the de-saturated version to show through, which was anywhere with green.
While driving around, I saw several things I was inspired to capture.
Like this bull who might need some anger management.  I didn't get more than a few steps from my vehicle since I wasn't sure if he would try to do to me what he did to the gate!  He was still within a fenced area, but it was only thin wire.    

I saw the sun shining through these grass seed heads and found a place to pull over to try to get the shot. I had to crop tightly to avoid getting power lines and poles in the back, but I really like how this turned out.

Faces in places... Saw this tortured soul on a gravel back road.  Didn't even have to get out of the vehicle!

I tried to do the same thing with this Teasel as I did with the grass plume, but I'm not as happy with the reult.  It looked better in person :-)

I did find this in the lower right hand corner of the shot above and I like this better than the original group shot :-)

While doing yet another U-turn on deserted back roads, I spotted this old culvert.  I wonder when it was created and how much the road above has been built up since then.  The road is still only slightly wider than a one-lane road and required pulling off to let construction trucks pass.

This photo cannot do justice to how pretty this white tree looked against the blue sky.  I saw it in passing and had to back up and pull over to get the shot.

An interesting sign I saw in my travels.  "Triple H"  Hunting - Horses - Harley's

Kissing trees- This was another scene I drove by and then went back to get.  It looked even more comical in person.

November 07, 2012

Week 45

I didn't know when this photo was taken that I would have captured the day America died.  I'm beyond depressed and upset right now. And I truely fear for the future of this country. I'm going to just avoid politics like the rest of the country and try to live in my own little world, oblivious to the state of the union. Seems to work for everyone else, so I'm going to give it a shot. Just means more time for photography and dog training.

On a much brighter note, I was accepted into the 52 weeks for NOT dogs group.  It's a bit more relaxed that the dogs group, so I was able to start this week!

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I intend this project to be just that.  I'm calling the set "Inspired" and I plan to use photos created by others as my inspiration to try new techniques, creative compositions and interesting photos each week.
The original photo may have been the spark for a new idea, or I may try to recreate the original in a slightly different way.  I'll put a link to the original photo in each photo's description.
And I'll do my best to share what I did to get the photo.

So my first photo was inspired by this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/najy/3359786790/

Who knew this would be such a difficult shot!  :-)  Shot with a Nikon1 J1 with a 10-30 lens, on manual, straight out of the camera- no editing. (1/50, f 5.6, ISO 100, no flash)

I first had to find paper with a non-porus surface.  I didn't have any, so I cut a piece off a thin plastic folder. 

Next issue was how to get the liquid onto the surface.  I used a syringe without a needle which worked beautifully!  However, I think the plastic surface was too slick, so the liquid didn't want to do anything except form circular blobs. I think a different surface would allow some "movement" and positioning of the liquid. 

Then I had to figure out the lighting.  I played around with a "portable studio" I bought several years ago that helps diffuse light, but I couldn't get enough light on the surface through the walls/top of that.  I put a photo of that set-up here:
So I ended up just using the sunlight coming though the window as the main light source and added a few other lights on the opposite side to even it out a bit.  Not ideal, but I'm ok with the results.

Then the liquid... First I tried water, but the camera was having a really hard time focusing on it.  I haven't figured out how to manually focus this lens.  Not sure if it even has that capability since turning it only adjusts the zoom.  Many shots and settings later, I switched to canola oil from the pantry.  THAT did the trick!
I was having to constantly play with the settings on the camera because the light kept changing (& moving!) as the sun was going down.  But I'm pretty happy with the results.  It was hard to resist doing any editing,  but I wanted to get something straight out of the camera.

November 04, 2012

Week 44

Look out!  He has his learner's permit!

I have had the idea to do a shot of Dazzle "driving" a police car since I started the 52 weeks project, but I haven't been able to find a willing officer :-) So I decided to do the shoot with my van instead. 

I attempted this shot in front of our house, but the lighting/time of day was wrong and the shadows were too deep.  So I tried again the next day and found a parked bus with a good background and much better lighting.  I used post processing techniques to blur the background to give it a sense of movement.  So neither vehicle was moving, but Dazzle really was sitting in the driver's seat, wearing sunglasses :-) 

Once I had the angle/set up I wanted, I tossed a toy in front of the van to get his ears up and attention forward. I'm very happy with how this turned out! 

The photo groups are planning their participants for next year now.  I have decided that I'm not going to do the 52 weeks for dogs group again next year, but I'm hoping to get into a 12 months for dogs group (at least 1 photo per month).  The group has much harder challenges and I'm looking forward to them!

I also applied for a 52 weeks group that allows photos of anything EXCEPT dogs (or other pets). I have usually been taking some non-dog photos during our weekly photo shoots and I'm enjoying that as much as I have enjoyed creating the photos of Dazzle.  So this will encourage me to still take photos every week, but I can work more on the technical aspects (maybe more in manual mode?) since I won't also have to be working on keeping Dazzle in the right pose :-)
Maybe Santa will bring me a new lens too :-)  

So we'll see what the new year brings.

October 30, 2012

Week 41-43

Wow!  It's amazing how fast I can get behind in posting!  I have been VERY busy.  A weekend seminar, then 4 days manning a booth at a large conference, then zombie detection training (read below for more on that) :-)

Week 41-
I knew the farmers would soon be moving and covering the hay and soybean rolls, so I took advantage of a beautiful day and got this photo of Dazzle on a soybean stalk roll.  I saw the farmer moving the bales in this field (to a spot that would not be good for a photo) so I'm glad I didn't put off this photo! 

I asked him if it would be ok to take a few photos and he was confused and asked "why?" I think he thought I wanted photos of him.  But I explained I wanted a photo of my dog on the roll and he said "ok", like he still thought I was crazy. :-)  Who cares, I love this shot!

Because I had set out this week to get the shot above, it was the one I used for the submission to the Flickr group. But I also went to the lake and while getting photos of the color on the trees, Dazzle dropped his ball which rolled over the edge and part way down the lake side of the dam.  I sent him to get it and when he got to the top he jumped the railing.  I knew I had to get that shot, so he did a few more jumps till I got this...
Week 42:
I was short on time this week because I was preparing for a big conference, but I did take a few hour break for photos. I started at the dam because I wanted to get a repeat of last week's jump for this week's submission. The colors in the trees were even better this week!

This shot is kind of washed out, but it shows how close the ground is to the guard rail
I took several other photos in the area too.
On the way to the dam near "fossil hill"
I have passed these houses many times and have wanted to stop and get photos.  This day I finally stopped.


This massive tree near the dam had not yet turned Fall colors

While walking around another big tree, I saw this "face"

Looking out over the lake

The front side of the dam.  It's much steeper than this photo makes it look. I sure wouldn't want to be the person that has to mow it!
Dazzle watching something in the distance
I was done for the day, but on my way home, I looked out at a river while crossing a bridge and saw this guy fishing.  His line was catching the light and I had to turn around, find a place to park and walk to the bridge to get this shot.  I tried a few times to catch the line in the air, glimmering in the back light, but wasn't able to get it before my battery in the camera died. I had a spare in the van, but didn't want to walk back.

A photo of the Dog Scout booth, ready for the crowds at the APDT conference. We had a great turn out and response from all the trainers and dog owners in attendance.

Week 43:

After shooting in the last IDPA match near us on Sunday, I got several last minute things done and then packed up for a retreat at Dog Scout camp in MI.  The theme of the retreat was "Zombie Detection Training" and the organizers went all out on the details. 

It was SO nice to be able to enjoy camp as a "camper" and not staff. :-)  There were over 30 people there, so nearly as large as a regular summer camp and everyone had a great time!

Despite the temps in the upper 40's, Dazzle still wanted to swim, so I finally gave in. I chose this photo as the submission because I love the reflection and I rarely do backlit shots. 

But it was hard not to pick this shot.  I love the colors in this one.  I used a fill flash to compensate for the strong sunlight.
Bear got to attend camp too!  But he didn't care much for the cold weather.  I brought along his "jammies" but he still was shivering if we had to wait around for an activity.

After every throw, Dazzle had to pick up a mouthful of leaves in the frisbee, then try to shake them all out before he got back to me.

Dazzle started this hole at the last camp (July) and it was filled with leaves when we arrived, but not for long! 
Happy dog!

 His mission is to remove all roots from the ground

"Hole?  What hole?"

When he wanted to play, he didn't appreciate my taking photos.  Here, he is "yelling" at me to put down the darn camera and throw the ball!

Fall camo.  "Here zombie zombie zombie."  For this shot I had him lie down and then kicked leaves over him, which he didn't seem to mind a bit! I was surprised he didn't try to attack the flying leaves.

The handler's view of dock diving 

Thanks for leaving me a whole 12 inches of bed to lay on guys.  Yes, most of the night they both slept on the single bed with me.

This is the Zombie Dazzle and I and our team mates had to build from the parts we had to locate in the woods (from provided clues).  We could have won the entire competition, but the winner has to organize and plan next year's event, so there MIGHT have been some strategic choices being made. Like using my older dog and her deaf/blind dog for the recall game and building this zombie really slow! WE know we could have won it if we had wanted to :-) Dazzle was doing hand targeting with it. LOL
Troop 217 did a fantastic job of putting the weekend together.  Each activity started with a briefing
We had more food than we knew what to do with! Some of the desserts were as amazing as they were delicious!

Shortbread cookies with almonds for fingernails- yum!
 Other snacks? (Under the bloody "meat shop" sign)

We all made survival bracelets.  Some were more confused by the braid than others :-)

Despite the frosty temps, Gloria actually stayed in her tent! 
Night views (by Fay)

Cabins under the stars

The lodge at night (where I stayed)

Zombie Detection K9

A room full of zombies!

Sheryll thought she was posing with the stick zombie, but a live one got in somehow and almost got her!

There were many games (tests of skill) during the weekend.  Bear is waiting for his turn at tracking.  A little known fact: zombie flesh smells like hot dogs!

 Dazzle is ready too! Thank you to Melissa who took photos of our team.

The heeling game involved stay on a mat while a second mat was placed by the handler, then heeling with a tissue paper leash to that second spot

We also had to do apocalypse agility. Notice my brain hat made by my mom and grandma!  It was a big hit!

No pictures of Dazzle doing the zombie parts retrieve, but he got 4 parts in the allotted 30 seconds

Recall/message delivery game
The costume contest was a huge hit!  I'm so glad I wasn't one of the judges!
Bear was dressed as a "Right wing attack dog" 

I was a zombie sheriff with my K-9

Of course I had to arrest the zombie hippie

Thanks to Fay for the photos of the spooky trail, my camera didn't like the low light. This is just some of the highlights.

Overall a GREAT GREAT time and I'm so happy we went!