Where’s the DOG?! What to do when your pup disappears

Where’s the DOG?! What to do when your pup disappears

Last Week was a crazy roller coaster of emotions.

I kid you not, it was awful. I spent a large portion of the week helping in the hunt for a friend’s 13-year old, Border Terrier, Lucy, in Dunnville. She went missing on Tuesday afternoon – maybe you saw some of the posts on Facebook.

With new windows being installed, Lucy got her nose out of joint and went on an unexpected walkabout. My friend didn’t clock that she’d pulled a Houdini until the early evening.

When we learned in the morning that she was missing, a group of Niagara-based friends (who also happen to be dog lovers) kicked into high gear. We combed the area, cut back undergrowth and pulled away vines from hydro poles and other bushes on the perimeter of her property. In that sweltering heat we were in jeans,  rain boots, and long sleeve shirts and doused in bug spray,  trying to get into the brush and down in the ditches to see if Lucy was hiding there, or worse, hurt. At one point, someone pointed out that I was standing in the midst of poison ivy and stinging nettles, mamma mia! It was brutal.

Despite the above, plus a failed drone attempt, and our inability to find tracker dogs, we didn’t give up. Finally, on Friday, just as we were planning a big search party, Lucy came home on her own!

This ordeal made me realize how unprepared many of us are for such situations. So, here’s a checklist to use as a resource, in the event your dog (god forbid) ever goes missing:

Pre-emptive actions:

Microchip Your Pet: Ensure your dog is microchipped and the information is up-to-date.

Keep a Clear Photo Ready: Have a recent, clear photo of your dog showing its full face and body without any people in it. This will be crucial for posters and social media.

Secure Your Dog During Home Repairs: If there’s work being done at your home, keep your dogs secured to prevent them from bolting.

Use a GPS Tracker: In rural areas, at a cottage or if you like to hike with your dog, a GPS tracker can be a lifesaver. AirTags are also an option in more populated areas. Just remember that AirTags are bluetooth trackers, not live GPS and only only compatible with Apple products. The tag has to connect to a nearby iDevice to show location. Here’s a link to an interesting article that goes through the pros and cons of both.

When you realize your dog is missing:

Organize a Search Party Immediately: Do not wait! The quicker you act, the better your chances of finding your dog. Usually dogs are found in a range of 5 square kms from their home. Start right away before they can get far.

Create and Distribute Flyers: Use your clear photo (see above) for flyers. Here’s a google doc flyer template. Keep to the basics and ask people to check around their property. (to use the template, make a copy of the file and start editing, or download in a different format). Print at least 50 -100 and give your flyer to anyone who’ll take it.

Post Flyers in Plastic Sleeves: To protect them from rain, slide flyers upside down into plastic sleeves before stapling them to poles.

Give your flyer to anyone who’ll take it: postal workers, municipal workers, delivery men, kids in the neighbourhood, grocery stores, pet stores etc. Have tape handy to post in shops and a staple gun to get them up at intersections. Put it in mailboxes around your area.

Inform Local Authorities: Let vets, the Humane Society, and SPCA know immediately, check in daily with Humane Society/SPCA.

Use Social Media: Have a point person to manage posts to Lost and Found groups on Facebook, and to keep checking comments for any info.

Seek Local Resources: Ask about available dog trackers, drone operators, and other resources.

Stay Positive: Dogs are resilient and resourceful, do not give up your you pup.

Take Care of Yourself: Remember to eat and rest, even if you don’t feel like it. You need your strength to stay focused and positive.

To sum it up – be prepared!

Having a pet go missing is a gut-wrenching experience, but being prepared can make a big difference. Keep this checklist handy and remember to act quickly, stay organized, and keep the faith. Your best friend is counting on you.

We got lucky with Lucy, I hope that you never have to go through this experience. And a quick note, she was fine, her ears were a little torn up and her paws were a bit sore, but other than that she was A-OK.

Cheers and wags,

Karen

Thanks to my awesome newsletter VIPs, I have a couple of additional tips for you!

From Krista M: Also post a large version of the flyer with a photo in front of your house. Many people who find a dog will walk or drive around the immediate area looking for someone who is searching for a dog, or someone who knows the dog.

From Rosemary C: I would also suggest to contact places that you visit with your pet. E.g. pet food stores (yes, Bruce walks to Two pet food stores and knows how to drag me there), parks, friends’ homes. Anywhere they get treats.

 

Top 10 Barrel Room Session Posers

Top 10 Barrel Room Session Posers

Dang these dawgs are cute!

I’m still working on my 10th Anniversary top 10 series and it wouldn’t be complete with out my Barrel Room Sessions. The Muddy Paws Wine Festival began back in 2015! I started with the Barrel Room Sessions in 2016 and never looked back. I absolutely love being in the barrel room capturing these distinctive portraits for wine loving dog lovers!

Unfortunately there was no 2020 or 2021 event, but the break gave the organizers time to refresh the event and include more wineries!

8 years later, the pawty is now called the Muddy Paws Wine Trail and consists of great wine and food, doggie games and live music that’ll have your toes tapping and your dog’s tail wagging. We’re now at Featherstone Winery, Sue-Ann Staff Esate Winery and Westcott Vineyards.

I have to say, it was tough to stop at 10! There were so many other amazing pups that I’d have loved to include. But you have to have a cut off, and mine is… eleven. LOL!

Barrel Room sessions are über popular with wine lovers who also happen to have a love affair with their dogs. Decorating your walls with your best friend is next level bragging rights! Don’t miss out, there are limited places for 2024 Barrel Room Sessions.

2016 Dexter

2017 Ariel

2018: Triggs

Collage of 2021 Winery Dogs of Ontario

2018: Logan

Embark challenge submissions

2019: Rye

various dog images in Toronto and NOTL

2019: Toffee

2022: Sherlock

2022: Gunther

2023: Clooney

2023: Cooper the Sheepadoodle

BONUS 2023: Indy and Lucca

There you have it, a selection of 11 of my favourite Barrel Room captures over the years.

I hope you enjoyed the compilation. There’s still more to come including a wacky look at outtakes! Stay tuned, and please sign up for my newsletter if you’d like all the dirt, the minute it’s dug up cool

Interested in a Barrel Room Session of your own, check it out here ›.

Let’s create something that makes your wine loving, dog-lover friends green with envy!

Photographing Pets is a Celebration of Life

Photographing Pets is a Celebration of Life

On April 16th, 2012 my heart shattered. I had to let my Sam, my heart and soul, go. It still hurts like it was yesterday. Samantha got me through the toughest times I’ve ever faced. She had a knack for making every day worth getting up for.

To say I miss her is the greatest understatement of all time. I think of her every day—how she would curl into the crook of my knee on the sofa when we’d watch TV, how she’d navigate on the console beside me in the car (I swear she rode a motorcycle in a previous life) leaning into the curves, and me.

Endearing quirks and tough times

She had the most endearing quirks. The muscles in her front legs never grew properly, so she resembled a ballerina in a perma-plié. She’d rest her front paws on her back legs when sitting, it was distinctive and adorable – and probably evened her out a little. She would tap dance for treats and that never failed to make me laugh.

Sam unfortunately had to wear the mantle of Frankendog more than once. First, after a devastating dog attack at a park in Toronto and then post surgery to remove a tumor on her thyroid. She was a trooper though, she never gave up and inspired me.

I honestly don’t know how I would have handled my own losses without her pressed close and giving me reassuring licks as I cried into her fur.

From loss to inspiration

Sam led me to Indy and to pet photography. I had tons of phone shots of her, and I even printed a bunch of them out at a big box store after she was gone – they’ve yellowed and faded now. It killed me that I rarely had broken out my camera to capture “proper” photos of her, but I never imagined she wouldn’t be there. I have no special portraits of my best girl.

A couple of months after she was gone, the house felt too quiet, and was still filled with sadness. I started looking at rescue web sites for another calm, adult female. Well, the joke was on me. Sam’s comedic timing was always good…she sent me Indy instead.

A new purpose

Indy needed me, and I needed him. He needed to build his confidence and required a whole new level of energy from me. I had to learn much more about dog behaviour to help him with his demons. He was a personality-packed, troubled, one-year-old. I had to focus all my attention on him, and I did. While he wormed his way into my heart, I felt compelled to break out the camera and capture his antics. He became my muse, and I started to up my photography game.

Preserving precious memories

Eventually, I photographed other dogs, and it felt like I was connecting with the essence of each of their souls. It was too late for me to have the portraits of Sam that I wanted, but I wondered if this could be something I could do for others… as a way to preserve that special quality of a beloved best friend.

Celebrating our heart dogs

This is why I’m so passionate about what I do. I wish I had big, beautiful portraits of the dog that stole my heart on my walls, making my heart sing every time I look at them. I’ve long since forgotten the man who broke my heart, but Sam will be with me forever.

I’d like to help you celebrate your heart dog. When you’re ready, let’s celebrate their inimitable spirit together and create memories that make your heart sing. Take a peek through my website and see the many ways we can capture this for you. Then book a discovery call and I can answer any questions you have.

Top 10 Aerodynamically Inclined: 2014-2024

Top 10 Aerodynamically Inclined: 2014-2024

Pet Photography to the The Power of Ten

We’re celebrating big time around here my friends. I can’t believe it but… 2024 is a HUGE milestone for this girl!

I’m celebrating the 10th anniversary of Indigo Pet Photography and my journey to become Niagara’s favourite pet photographer. Photographing dogs, and more recently horses, has been the most incredible experience of my life. It’s opened new doors to understanding who I am, and introduced me to amazing new friends. I adore every pet that has honoured me with their presence over the years and am grateful that their humans chose me to capture their spirit.

I am kicking the pawty off with a series of blogs featuring a Top 10 category, 10 years, top 10, get it? Choosing just 10 images is insanely difficult, as every session is so unique and fun, but here we go. Ten of my favourites action images from 2014 to 2024. Buckle up and prepare to be launched into the world of the Aerodynamically Inclined.

2014: Angus, The Great Dane

Such a gorgeous soul he was. So handsome and sweet. He and his mom and I went to Port Dalhousie and had a blast on the beach and the pier on a gorgeous fall evening.

Sadly Angus crossed the rainbow bridge not long after our second photo session, 7 years later, in 2021. I’m so thankful his mom and dad have their Storyboards and prints to keep their gentle giant’s spirit alive.

2015: Lucca , my Texas Mystery Mix

Okay I just had to include my Lucca in this list, I love this photo. He had just come to me as a foster from Texas through Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario, and I caved in in a matter of days and adopted him.

He came with the name Astro, which was cute, but I wanted the happiest dog I ever met to be named after my happy place. (Lucca is a town in Tuscany that I spent 7 years travelling back and forth to. My passion for photography was ignited there.) Once I saw this bouncy scruffy puppy, I knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

I took this photo probably a week after he arrived, you can see that he was loving his new life. I left Indy in the background because it has meaning to me that he be there. He really was flying around that day and this one really captures his aerodynamic qualities best.

Collage of 2021 Winery Dogs of Ontario

2016: Versace the Viszla

Beautiful Versace has really pale colouring for a Viszla, which makes her extra special. This girl comes from Chicago to Canada with her family each year for their holidays. She had a Barrel Room session one year and we had another Signature Session with her 2 little humans in 2022.

This shot of her running across the little bridge over the pond up by the escarpment reminds me how full of personality she is. It might have been a hot summer day, but we had a lot of fun.

From the oodles of images we captured at Cave Spring Vineyard, Her family now have a beautiful Storybook to remember the day by. I love catching up with her antics (mostly snoozing now) on Instagram! 

Embark challenge submissions

2017: Millie the Basset Hound

We had a fabulous evening for this session with Millie. We were somewhere out near Paris, at the farm where she lived. The skies were dark and menacing to the north but the sun was setting beautifully in the west and the light was truly epic.

The corn had recently been cut down and Millie started to collect stalks and bring them back to us. She was amazing! I loved the images that we got really showing off her sassy personality and sweet demeanour.

various dog images in Toronto and NOTL

2018: Beatrice the Mini Sausage… er Dachshund!

Beatrice and her brother Otis were a last minute booking before Christmas in 2018. This shot of Beatrice hydroplaning through the air makes me smile every single time I look at it. The ears, the flower she wore and those little feets reaching out ahead. She nailed it.

My very first dog (I was 5 when I got her) was a dachshund, so they hold a special place in my heart. I’ll tell you this much though, my little Fritzy never pulled off a move like this one!

2019: Walter the Springer Spaniel

I loved working with Walter in the Blossoms. I got some fabulous photos of him and his humans as well as fun ones, like this where he’s rocketing. He’s got tongue out Tuesday down pat.

Sadly a lot of the peach trees have been cut down now, and it’s challenging to connect with a farmer who’ll agree to let you use their orchard. I’m partial to the pink peach blossom but they are really tough to find! If you know any peach farmers that will let me have sessions in their orchard, I’m all ears!

2020: Sophie and Samson the International Shelties

This one takes me back to Covid. Yikes, what a time that was. Fortunately I was able to have sessions in the great outdoors and use my long lens to keep the required distance that we were told we needed.

This shot is so memorable for me. Tammy and I became friends and would get together for wine and dinner down in Port Dalhousie every so often. But not long after her photo session Tammy up and moved, lock, stock and barrel to Lisbon, Portugal with her two shelties, Samson and Sophie. Talk about ballsie!

I had the opportunity to visit with them in 2022 when I visited Lisbon for a day. More on that later!  Alas, Samson passed away last year at 16 years old. He enjoyed the royal treatment being pushed in his stroller through Lisbon and The Algarve to the delight of all who saw them.

I loved capturing the joy Tammy and her pups felt that day in the vineyard and we created some gorgeous wall art memories for her.

2022: Rosie the Rescue Jack Russell Mix

Rosie was one of the pups featured in my Hardcover book called “Bedheads and other irresistible scruffy faces”. This might give you an idea why. She sports the wildest doo and has sassy down to a fine art.

Amazing to think this little rescue almost never made it. She required open heart surgery when she came in to the shelter and thankfully Jack Russell Network Canada sponsored her and covered her surgery. She’s all that and a bag o’ chips.

She and her brother Billy came all the way from Toronto for their photo session in Beamsville, and I’m so glad they did. 

2023: Evil (aka Paragon’s Queen of Darkness) the name says it all

I simply could not end this list without this image of Evil in the Tulips at TASC Tulip Farm last year. We were there at sunrise, hoping to capture amazing photos of her amongst the beautiful blooms.

Evil is an extremely well trained girl, but every so often you reach “that” point, when all bets are off, she loses all common sense, and epic zoomies prevail. She’d had one of those prior to this shot and managed to face plant and slide through the dust and dirt on her face and shoulder, she’s a nut haha. We cleaned her off best we could and carried on, as one does!

I won a bronze medal with this photo in the 2023 International Pet Photographer of the Year awards, in the Action Category! Thanks Rob and Evil for another wild and crazy session!

P.S. here’s a link to a page with details about the 2024 Flower Power Tulip Sessions

There you have it, a selection of 10 of my favourite action shots from the last decade.

Like I said before, it was really tough to narrow this down, especially to one per year! But it’s a fun assortment and I hope you enjoyed it. There’s lots more to come including a wacky look at outtakes! Stay tuned, and please sign up for my newsletter if you’d like all the good dirt, the minute it’s dug up cool

If you’re interested in a session of your own, please explore my website and book a no-obligation consultation call. Let’s create something memorable for you and your best friend – be they dog or horse!

Niagara Pet Photographer: The Power of Threes

Niagara Pet Photographer: The Power of Threes

They say that bad things come in threes and this week I have to say, was THAT kind of week. Monday, I had to replace my windshield after a meteorite of some sort smashed a gaping hole in it. On Friday I drove to Toronto for a photo session with a gorgeous Golden Retriever puppy and BAM! A rock and a not-so-hard-place – my brand spanking new windshield – (note to self, call Speedy Glass after this post). Then when I got home after a long drive in traffic, I went to pull my camera bag out of the car and my gear crashed down, damaging my favourite and oh so cher 24-70mm lens. UGH.

What’s the point of my sad sack tale? The fact that GOOD things actually come in threes as well! You see, last Sunday I met a transport at the Tim’s in Niagara-on-the-Lake to pick up my new foster for JRTRO. A comical looking little 6-8 month old (?) pup with a gorgeous disposition. Not exactly sure what his genetic pool consists of but he’s a beauty. His reaction to Indiana Jones’ (at times) somewhat volatile outbursts is “Dude? What the heck did ya do that for, chill out!”. He hasn’t chased the cat and he adores every single human he meets. As of this morning, I have officially declared my intention to the JRTRO to adopt him, thereby qualifying me to enter a wonderful club that many fosters enter: that of the Foster Failures. I never wanted a puppy, I thought maybe some day we’d add a senior, however, sometimes the universe conspires… and I couldn’t be happier.

Which brings me to THREE! I now have three fur kids. Maybe one day we’ll manage to add that senior to our pack, but that’s a few years off, I have puppy 101 to review.

So the fuzzy wuzzy dog, formerly known as Astro (he comes to us from Texas) is now known as Lucca (my favourite place in the world where I had so many wonderful experiences). His nickname is Luke (as in Skywalker, to keep within the Harrison Ford flick theme!). Welcome to the family sweet boy!

If you are thinking about getting a new pet, please consider this:

1. research the breed thoroughly and be sure that the dog breed/mix that you choose works with YOUR lifestyle and activity level

2. adopt don’t shop, so many animals are euthanized simply because they had the misfortune to live in an area of the world where people selfishly don’t believe in spay and neutering

3. consider a senior dog if you don’t have the time for a puppy, seniors have so much love to give and the time you have with them will change you forever (plus there is no puppy training required!)

4. don’t ever, EVER buy from a non accredited breeder, a pet store or on Kijiji-like sites. These places are where the backyard breeders/puppy mills market their dogs. Until we stop paying them money for their dogs, they will go on creating living hell for too many dogs who will never know love, cleanliness, warmth and a full tummy.

Now, on to a couple of pics of my new baby :

 

 

Niagara Pet Photography: JRTRO rescue Lilly

Niagara Pet Photography: JRTRO rescue Lilly

Loveable Lilly!

Recently I drove to Toronto to meet Lilly and her Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario (JRTRO) Foster family. You see, Lilly’s journey is nearly complete, she is ready for adoption.

When I finally managed to get Siri to cooperate and give me proper directions to Lilly’s Foster home (technology, ugh), I gathered up my gear and rang the door bell. I was greeted at the foot of the stairs by a wiggly ball of Jack Russell. Lilly was so excited to see me that she could hardly contain herself. I had such a nice time with Lilly, Brooke and Tim, they clearly adore her. I can see why Lilly is loving life now that she is in foster care! She is now a princess who is waited on hand and foot, lucky girl!

We had our session before it was actually nice enough to want to venture outside, so we all stayed indoors where it was warm and toasty, except for when I saw the fabulous brick wall that I simply had to incorporate into a shot. She worked her angles and was compensated in treats for her super modelling capabilities.

This little angel is a breathe of fresh air. She’s so eager to please and absolutely adores people. She was pretty stoked to discover that my camera bag was full of treats too. Now, she may look like she could stand to lose an lb or two, but she had been pregnant not long before coming into rescue, so some of it will fall off with time. Plus, Tim and Brooke have her on a wee diet and take her for plenty of walks, which she can’t get enough of, she’s a curious little monkey. 

Lilly is only 2-years-old and truly has personality plus, those gorgeous big brown eyes can twist you around her little paw. She’s so charming and has a wonderfully sweet disposition. All I can say is, whoever adopts her will have a very happy companion and will be incredibly lucky to have her in their lives. 

Please check out her petfinder listing for more information or to apply to adopt Lilly; share her with your friends too! Do you think Lilly could be your forever girl?   Lilly was adopted on April 21st! Hooray for Lilly!