December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the family
Dazzle, Bear, King, Coyote
(Malinois, Beagle, Beagle, Cattle Dog)

December 27, 2011

Visiting family for holidays

 I made the mistake of bringing in Dazzle's new JAWS disk.  I put it up on the cabinet, but had to leave it hanging over the edge just a bit so I could get it.  He sat and stared at it, occasionally offering a trick, for over 30 minutes.  I finally had to give in and take him to a local field to play catch.
Unfortunately, with all the rain that has been falling, the fields were all a big mess.  So I went to a local rubberized running track at the school thinking that would help keep him mud free.  And it would have if he wasn't such a mud puppy!  This shot shows the big mud puddle he chose to go out of his way to run through after each throw. 
 This was the result.  A (sort of) tired, happy and VERY muddy dog.  Click on this to enlarge it to see the full effects
 He even had mud in his mouth/teeth, but didn't seem to care

So I ended up having to give him a bath because I couldn't get nearly enough mud off with just a towel.  He wasn't too pleased, but didn't jump out.

 We are currently visiting family and this is their tree.  Definitely want to click on this to see the great detail.
 One of my Christmas presents was a new camera and I think it did a GREAT job with the photo above. Especially since the room was only lit by the window light and I was shooting right into that. I'm looking forward to trying it out on action shots.

 My brother and his family came over to celebrate and my brother enjoyed teasing Dazzle by juggling with Dazzle's toys
 My niece loves Dazzle and Dazzle loves her.  He didn't pass up this opportunity to do the "Malinois peek" through her legs while she was playing on her dad's lap
 And he didn't even mind when she sat on his head!

Coyote decided he had enough of the festivities and found a comfy place to sleep
 Then Bear took over the covers (once they got moved) and made himself at home
Today, it is snowing great big flakes. Supposed to get a few inches of accumulation by tomorrow.
Dazzle will be SO happy!!  He has been begging to go outside since it started sticking and has been jumping up to catch the falling snow.  I didn't get him doing it with the super big flakes, but here is a short video of him catching the falling snow flakes:



December 22, 2011

This week's photos

Took Dazzle for his annual photo with Santa.  Santa didn't seem to be in a good mood.  Can't imagine why.  Doesn't everyone love kids that kick and scream at the top of their lungs? 
Actually, the (3 yr old?) kid that followed us was so focused on Dazzle that he didn't even see Santa till he was plunked on his lap.  Then he took one look at Santa, let out a blood curdling scream and kicked and flailed for all he was worth.  Poor Santa.  NOT a job I would want!

I didn't have much time this week to get a photo for the photography group.  I wanted to play with the focus settings of my little point and shoot and I did manage to accomplish that.  But it's not a photo I love.  I'd like to revisit this idea when I'm able to do it outside with better light.  I used a photo editor to black out the background and take some of the over exposure off the ball. Ball is in focus with Dazzle' legs blurry.  And no, I didn't crop out his back legs, they are perfectly aligned with his front legs. I also like the way it looks like he's standing on the ball.

December 19, 2011

weekly photo- silhouette

I decided at the start of the week that I wanted to do a silhouette photo this week, but I should have looked at the forecast first!  It was cloudy and overcast all week, but today (technically yesterday) it finally broke! 

On Wednesday, I tried to create a set-up in the basement that would give me a silhouette type shot, but it didn't work.  I tried hanging a white curtain panel in front of some bright lights, but it was too thin and the lights were all visible.  Then I tried a white plastic shower curtain and it wasn't opaque enough.  So I gave up and hoped for a clear day :-) 

Since it was clear, I headed up to the dam and found the light to be in just the right position.  I took several photos as the sun went down, playing around with the various "scene" settings on my camera.  But ended up happiest with the auto setting and the shot I got right before two deer popped out of the woods.  I was SO happy Dazzle has a solid stay!  But I quickly clipped on the leash and called it quits because he was VERY interested in the deer who were not the least bit afraid of us.  Too dark by that time to get a shot of the deer.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! I think this was my first intentional silhouette shot

I'll definitely be trying this again, maybe when it gets warmer? :-)  I'd like to get a more colorful sunset.  It's so hard to find good open spots to get a photo like this in our river valley.  So I'll also be on the look out during the year for good spots when we're travelling too.

December 16, 2011

Obedience photos

The photo disk arrived in the mail today! 
Here are the photos taken by Paw Prints Life

 Heel on leash

Such a typical sideways look :-)
 Heel off leash
 Waiting for recall cue
 On his way to me on the recall
 Heel on leash
 Stand for exam
I have another shot like this that this photographer did and I love it too.
 Heel off leash- not sure what I'm doing with my right shoulder

Had to get this one because it makes me laugh everytime I see it. I'm sure there's a good caption just waiting to be expressed. I think this was from the show where he laid down on the sit stay and took a nap.  Not sure why he was so tired! I don't think it was stress. 

And this one looks like he's laughing!  I think he's actually about to sneeze :-)

December 13, 2011

Museum visit and new project

Sunday was a cold and dreary day and I was looking for something to do that didn't involve sitting at the computer.  The Taft art museum has free admission on Sundays and I had never visited before, so I thought it would be a nice outing.  They have an historical Christmas exhibit that I thought would be interesting.  So off we went. 

It is a nice little museum, but I was actually more intrigued by the historic house than the art :-)  I didn't take any photos because several of the exhibits say "no photos".  It's an amazing house with stunning archtectural details.  I talked with one of the staff and learned about it's history through 3 families and what each added to the mansion.  Thankfully they all stayed true to it's historical roots and it showed. 

I couldn't resist a peek out the front windows to get a view of the main entrance (no longer used as an entrance), which had to be a grand affair for visitors who then entered the very large foyer which led to the T-intersection main hallway and the "music room".  I couldn't help but wonder how many "talk of the town" events were held in that room, including a wedding of one of the owner's daughters.  Leaving the house, it was kind of a shock to the system since the house is located so close to downtown.  Also had to navigate the traffic and tailgaters for the Bengal's game.

Since the Taft museum visit didn't take long and the Cincinnati Art Museum is close, I decided to drive up there (also free admission thanks to a grant).  This museum is quite large by comparison and the layout is more like a contemporary art piece than something designed by an engineer.  I felt lost in a maze and like I was missing things for almost the entire visit.  But I still managed to see quite a bit of amazing art in all forms.  And I took several photos, where I was allowed.

I thought this would make an interesting photo.

Actually, everyone was really great about not touching him or bothering him for the most part.  Maybe it was from the hands-off and hushed feel of the museum? 

Here is the contemporary art piece that they had to label as art so people would know.  Big brass colored box, who knew this is art? Or that what looked to me like a paint covered drop cloth on the wall (not shown) is also art.  I think I own one of those pieces and MINE was painted by my dogs!  But then contemporary isn't really a style that "speaks" to me. Thankfully there was plenty of other interesting art in many forms to see.

 I tried to use the flash to get this photo, but it was reflecting off the bench.  So I took one without the flash, not sure how it would turn out.  I had to lighten it in a photo editing program, but I like the effect. Click on the photo to enlarge it to read the bench. 

This hand carved bed was amazing! Along with each of the other matching bedroom pieces.

This is some of the detail of the headboard.  The photo just doesn't do it justice.  Some of the birds were only barely touching the headboard.

Another bed in the asian wing.  I think this is Cherry wood, very intricately carved. As you can probably tell, I like and am impressed by intricate carving.

This was the only piece Dazzle showed any interest in, so I had to get his photo with it.  When we walked in, we were looking at the side on the right in this photo and I think he was trying to figure out if it was alive or moving/falling.  After a quick sniff, he had no more interest in it.  I got the impression Dazzle was not impressed with the art visit :-)

One section had several small "rooms" that were showcasing a single piece of art.  Each room was divided by a wall of strings.  I loved running my hand through them and it didn't take much to get Dazzle to go through a "wall".

While I was taking his photo, a patron came up and was talking to Dazzle (& getting his own photo of him).  He knelt down just out of the frame here and had Dazzle's attention.

This was one of the main exhibits.  Again, the photo doesn't do it justice.  The bright overhead lights were not doing good things with my little point and shoot.  And I had to wait quite awhile to get no people in this shot! Ended up having to crop a person out on the right side.

Each glass piece was simply hooked at the top (just barely) and carefully hung from the wire frame.  They had a looping video playing in this room showing how the pieces were made and then hung in place.

This time I used the lighting to create interesting shadows

A simple 3 piece sculpture, in the same room with the hanging globes.

I was attempting here to get a reflection of Dazzle in the mirror without getting myself in the shot.  It wasn't till I got home that I realised it was an "infinite" shot because of the mirror on the other side.

Playing around with the signs again :-)

Here I was playing around with the lines while I was taking a rest break on a comfy couch overlooking the main entrance.  It would have been better if I could have had him sit directly in front of this and have his ears end up in the same place, but it was a railing, so it was too low for that.  Also made it black and white because the box in the bottom right was bright red and distracting. Again, trying not to get people in the shot while also getting his ears lined up was a big challenge! 

Below is my favorite shot of the entire visit.  LOVE the symmetry and even his glowing eyes seem to work because they are the same color and approx. size of the other lights to each side of him.  If I had a better photo editing program, I would have straightened this out the tiny bit it needs, but the program I have can't make adjustments that fine. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Which brings me to my newest project (like I don't have enough already!)  I found a "52 weeks of dogs" photography group on a photo site and put in an application to join it.  There is a long waiting list, so I don't know if I'll get to be an official member or not.  But even if I don't, I plan to participate on my Flickr account page each week. 

Per the group rules, only one dog can be the subject (main focus) for the 52 weeks, only 1 photo gets posted per week and some weeks will have an optional theme.  The date function has to be properly set within my camera so that it's clear the photo was taken during the week being posted and if a week is missed, it can't be "made up" later. Each person is on their honor regarding the date setting on their camera and not cheating.  

My rules for my Flickr account: I'll be posting my single favorite photo from each week in the "52 weeks favs" set.  But I'll also post all the ones I like from my weekly attempts in the "52 weeks potential" set.  And if I miss a week, I'll still post it to my own set, just not the group's page: 

As if that's not enough, I'm also going to be participating in a "52 weeks of working dogs" photography group on Facebook.  As you'll see on the above group page, many of the photos are staged, still shots of beloved pets.  The focus of this facebook group will be on dogs that lead a more active lifestyle.  Some weeks I may use the same photo for both, other weeks, I will likely use different photos.  I'm hoping Santa will bring me a new camera with a faster focus/processor so that when I push the shutter button, the photo gets taken right then, instead of up to a full second later.  What a novel concept! :-)  I might even be able to get some action shots! 

This week, I have decided I really want to get a nice silhouette, but the weather is not cooperating.  I found the perfect location for a sunset photo, just need the sunset to be visible!  Someone chase these clouds away please (without dropping the temp). 

I don't know if this is a reasonable expectation from my point and shoot.  I made some indoor attempts that didn't go so well.  So I'll have to wait and see.  If the weather or camera don't cooperate by Friday, I might have to punt and pick a new plan.  Though I do have an idea for something I can try in the basement if I get a white sheet.

Here's an attempt that is interesting, but I'm not crazy about it

So I'll do my best to remember to post my weekly attempts here and will likely give more info about the shots here than on Facebook or Flickr. 

December 04, 2011

2 down, 1 to go!

Dazzle made up for the mistake yesterday by getting a 1st place ribbon today!  I had meant to get a photo of him by the ring, but I wanted to wait till they removed the rally signs that were set up as soon as our class left the ring.  Then I forgot to get the photo after I was done helping with steward duty.  So I got this one in the living room of our two ribbons (from Friday and today)

Today's run didn't FEEL as nice as Fri and Sat, but when I looked at the video it wasn't as bad as it felt.  His nice Fig 8 heeling wasn't as nice and still had issues with the about turn.  But I'm VERY happy with his overall performace and attitude.  Only minor things to work on for the next Q.  And I'm looking forward to the next level because I think Dazzle will really like the dumbbell retrieve and the jumping. 

For the stays, I got him REALLY adrenalized with some vigorous play/tug before we went in.  I could tell when I first started to practice the sit stay a bit that he would have laid down again.  So I had to take the chance and see if getting him amped up would help.  It DEFINITELY did!  His sit was great!  He was a little bit more figity in the down, but I didn't see any moment where I thought he might get up.  This is great progress, because I know doing this (in the not too distant past) would have made him too amped up to work.

Because of how I thought the run felt, I really didn't expect to be in the ribbons.  There were 17 compeditors and a ring full of qualifiers.  So I was truely surprized when our number was called for 1st place!  Score was 193.5 (out of 200).

I got some great pro photos from our runs.  The photographer is great at capturing shots that aren't the usual heel, sit, finish photos.  Two made me laugh out loud each time I saw them, so I had to include those in the purchase. I'll post them as soon as they arrive.
I'm SO happy Dazzle likes to play these games as much as I do! :-) I promise buddy, the next level is more fun. Just need to get through one more Novice class!

VIDEO of today's run:

December 03, 2011

So close, but no Q

We had another nice run, but Dazzle laid down on the sit stay. :-(  He didn't look the least bit stressed, just bored and tired.  My hubby wasn't feeling well and in an effort not to catch what he has, I slept in the spare room last night.  Perhaps that tired Dazzle out?  Maybe it was the later start time?  We'll see if the 8:30 start time has an better effect on his performance. 

It would figure that he's a crack of dawn dog, since I'm NOT a morning person (just like he loves cold weather and I don't) :-)  So we can't get our CD title this weekend, but I'm hoping I'll only need ONE Q after tomorrow and not two :-)

We would have had a 192.5 out of 200 if he had been able to sit for 60 seconds.  Here is the video of the run:

VIDEO: Nov Obed NQ

December 02, 2011

AKC Novice Obedience Q

Today we were up and on the road before dawn (ick!) to go to Queen City and try for a qualifying score in Novice obedience.  There were 17 dogs in the class, but only 12 showed up (oops, just realised I forgot to correct that on the video and I posted the wrong number on Facebook- drat!)  Anyway, I was the 8th dog into the ring and the judge decided to do the sits and downs for the first half right before my run. 

No problem, more time to get ready.  Mostly Dazzle relaxed in his crate till they started the downs, then I did a short warm up and was ready when the dogs left the ring.  But then the judge took a bathroom break!  More warm up, but in hindsight I realise I should have just used "squish" (a stand-by position I learned from Denise Fenzi that lets the dog know they can just chill out). 

Once the judge was back, we went in for our run.  I saw glimmers of the heeling work I have been doing.  My goal is to get him to shift his weight onto his rear legs so his front legs can come up and add a bit of "prance" and flair to the exercise.  It will be fun to look back on this weekend's videos and see the beginning baby steps :-)  We didn't have any crowding and bumping or "contact heeling" and I'm SO happy that practice carried over into the ring!  I've been working on that a bit longer than the weight shift/prance.

Another thing I was very happy with was that I was able to use some excitement building moves (leap to touch my hand) and exciting tones of voice that in the past would have had him jumping around and nipping me and getting too out of control.  Now he's at a level of training and maturity that he can handle that and it will really help us as we progress.  I only used a little because I didn't want to push my luck :-)  But as we get more and more practice, this is coming along nicely.

I was VERY happy with our run, but I think by the end Dazzle was really wondering where the damn toy was!  I think that's why his sit was crooked- he was asking "Toy? Now do I get the toy?" Silly boy.  I had to grab his collar to keep him from running to the steward and grabbing his leash.  I let him tug it on the way out of the ring because he sat still to let me clip it on and he was moving with me out of the ring (not pulling back on it) and not out of control (another great improvement!). 

We had several dogs before our group sit/down stays so I had Dazzle rest in his crate.  The sits and downs were no problem except at one point on the sit Dazzle had to inspect his boy parts and was all contorted and I really thought he was going to lay down, but he managed to get back into a good solid sit and held it.  I think he just wanted to keep me on my toes :-)  I was thinking lots of "up" thoughts as he was close to the ground! LOL  On the down, he looked totally bored.

So we managed to get a score of 194 (out of 200) and walked out with a 4th place ribbon!  No photos, but here is the video:

VIDEO: AKC Nov. Obed 1st leg

November 25, 2011

Photos from Agility Trial

Here are some of the professional photos from the Nov. 11-12-13 Agility trial.  Thank-you to VW Perry Photography for these!

He doesn't leave much room to spare! He did clear this without knocking the bar

A-Frame contact sequence. 
 I wish he wouldn't hit the floor so hard!
So much momentum his back feet come up! But they come back down and he sticks it!

Broad Jump

He gets on the table with spring in his jump so he doesn't go sliding off the other side (usually)

He loves weaves!