Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making the park fun again for Toby

toby on walk dec30-08, originally uploaded by phaird.

For the past few months, my dog Toby has been not enjoying the Sunday visits to the park. He relates it to thunder storms and gun shots so when we drive into the parking lot, he is shaking and doesn't want out of the car. What's worse is that he gets very defensive and aggressive. I have to keep him close and keep him from biting other big dogs.

He use to really love going to the park. He would get excited and run and play with lots of the regular dogs in the park. It's been really hard because I too love going to the park, talking with people and taking photos. I can't keep bringing Toby though if he hates coming. So this week, since I have off until Jan 5, I've been bringing Toby to the park on off days. We have been going for walks up through the trails behind the soccer field (where we normally hang out) and he has been really liking it. The first day was hard but yesterday was much better. He ran with a wippit and was happy to be there. My next goal is when I bring him on Sunday, to go extra early. I want him to be the first one there so he can feel relaxed and let the park fill up with dogs instead of everyone running around already.

The winters are a little slower so that should help but I'm sure before long, Toby will be running and playing with other dogs soon.

Have a happy new year with you and your four legged family.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Supporting local shelters

Photographer's Friend, originally uploaded by sthawk_ontheroad.

My Friend Jeremy, has had dogs in his life for as long as I've known him. He has always put his dogs happiness as a top priority. As a dog lover, he decided to start a group in Flickr called photographers friends. This group is to promote anyone to join and upload photos showing the person donating to a animal organization. For those how do, you can get a 1/2 dozen dog biscuits for your dog. Check it out and tell all your dog loving friends.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friends at park

alex and puppy2, originally uploaded by phaird.

Last Sunday, I brought my friend Jeff and his son Alex. Even though it was a cold day, Alex had a great time. When we entered the field, there was so many dogs and everyone was taking over the center of the field. Alex loved seeing all the dogs and any open space is great for him to run and play. He is a 2 year old with boundless energy.

Alex did get to meet this puppy who, like so many puppies, just wanted to share the love. Alex loved getting kisses and petting the puppy.

The cold finally got to him and he just headed back to the car so we had to follow.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Visting writer

I've gotten a response from a reader interested in telling a story about their dog. Teddi sent me a great little story of how they ended up adopted their first dog.

I hope you enjoy it.

My daughter Ashley and I used to frequent the local animal shelter to bring a little sunshine into the dreary days of the once loved pets. We did not want to adopt a pet, but we just thought it was a charitable way to spend a few hours, playing with the lonely animals.

One day, as we did our usual walk through the dog kennels, we saw the saddest, most pitiful dog I have ever seen. There was a German Shepherd mix named "Lola" who was laying in the corner of her pen with her paws covering her eyes. She just laid there shaking in fear as the other dogs barked anxiously around her. Immediately we asked the volunteers if we could get Lola out of her kennel for a while so that we could play with her and try to give her a reprieve.

As a safety precaution I took Ashley into the get acquainted room and placed her high on a ledge, out of reach of Lola. I didn't know how Lola would react to a toddler. After getting Ashley seated, it was time to bring in Lola for the introduction. In all the commotion of barking dogs, meowing cats and pet owners looking for lost pets, Lola lunged towards Ashley and the leash slipped out of my hands. As my heart started to sink and before I could gasp, Lola had jumped onto the wall and started licking Ashley's face as if they were old friends. Lola immediately laid down and placed her furry head in Ashley's tiny lap for a snuggle.

Needless to say, we rescued Lola. It was the last weekend before Lola was to be put down. I guess no one was interested in adopting a timid German Shepherd. The funny thing is that once we got Lola home, she found herself. She is not timid, she is not shy, she is just our protector and best friend. Things haven't changed much since the day we first met...Lola still LOVES licking Ashley's face.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

First early snow

bella watching ball, originally uploaded by phaird.

Well, it's cold and Sunday gave a small glance at some snow. It's going to be a long cold winter. For some dogs like Bella, that's good news. Many dogs love the winter play. Romping through the snow and running with other dogs. Paths are wide open or new ones can be made. I'm not so wild about the cold but it's not really about me is it. I'm all about what my dog wants and what happens at the dog park. My dog, Toby, isn't wild about the cold. He is happiest curled up in bed between my wife and me.

Toby hasn't been having much fun the last few visits. With all the trees bare, sound from the local gun club really carries so when he hears them, he gets super scared. I know he'll never get over that so all I can do is make him happy by doing leashed walks around the neighbor hood or out in the woods. I need to get him out around other dogs more but my time is limited. If I could just find that winning lottery ticket, that would free up my time to dedicate to my dog and photography. Until then, I won't quit my day job.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Writers who write

Hey Writers,

I'd like to see other writers who have a dog story to share. If you want to post a story to my blog, I would love to share it. I've had others in the past and it adds a nice change of pace. Please make sure it's dog friendly and not a rant or mean. It can be happy, sad, or just really out their. I'd just prefer it be a true story.

If you're interested, just email me at phaird @ or leave a comment. I know my followers would love to see what you can do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

dog bell, originally uploaded by phaird.

For all you spending quality time with your family this week, I hope you remember your dog. We're heading north and will be bringing Toby to Grandma's house. He is guaranteed to be spoiled with leftover turkey and the fixin's.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Updated my photo site

Keeping toby busy, originally uploaded by phaird.

For the past 6 months, I've been hemming and hawing about updating my website. Well, I finally did it. It use to be a catch all for my art and photography but now it's focused on being a great pet photographer. Weather it works or not, it yet to be seen but check it out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dog Park on trial

A park friend gave me a press clip from a newspaper about the Delaney Park. The Mass Division of Fisheries and Wildlife are considering banning dogs completely and will be holding an informational meeting about these changes, Tuesday Nov 18th at 6:30pm at the Hale School. I would encourage every dog owner in the area to come and here what they have to say. They seem to have taken a sweeping response complex issue.

I wasn't able to go but anyone who did, could you please comment here about what happened so everyone can know the outcome. Thanks

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Brown eyes

Brown eyes, originally uploaded by phaird.

This dog is one that is always at the park, running around, with the long yellow leash still connected. She's so great. I don't know her name or her owner but she is a regular that I look forward to seeing. Always excited and happy to be there.

I just love this photo. Her ears are perked up because of something exciting going on. Her light brown eyes always makes her stand out. I've got some other shots of her that I really liked because those bright brown eyes really pop out.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A commitment

We love our pets. We enjoy every moment that we spend with them and think about them when we're away. What is less tangible is that commitment that we've made. For most animals in good homes, it's a great life. One with happiness and love. But our lives change all the time. We move, we have kids, we get new jobs. For our pet though, we are still the center of their world. We matter more then anything because without a family, they are lost. I think that's why making a commitment is so important. We have to know that we've taken on the responsibility of our pet and that is for their entire life. Most of us will out live our pets. If you get your dog as a puppy, you will see a complete life form around you. That is an amazing thing and something that everyone should take seriously. Everyone should enjoy the life they've taken responsibility for. If you change jobs, meet your future spouse, have kids, that shouldn't take away from a pet owners responsibility.

My readers love their pets. They are their family. My dog just turned 7 and is living a great life but I know he is middle aged. I take my responsibility very seriously. That is why I try to give my pets as good a life I can. And they, in return give back to my family so much more.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blue, post chemo

Blue, post chemo, originally uploaded by phaird.

This is Blue, one of the long time regulars at the Acton park and part of the family of Aussie's that all come to the park every. He just turned 10 years old and has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer that you can get from a tick. He's been fighting since March and it's been a long road for Blue's family.

They are real pet lovers, with 2 dogs, 2 cats and a horse and have now had to go down this road of caring for an aging pet. Fortunately, having a friend who is a vet at Tufts University, they have been able to get informed help and been able to ask lots of the right questions. Things like knowing what to look for in tests the hospital wants to give.

Blue has been on chemo for the past month and has responded well to it. He has come back from loosing weight and being listless to now where he's gaining weight and showing signs of his old self. He has been getting the treatment every week but since he's doing so well, he will move to an every other week treatment. This is good news.

Blue's mom has been sending out detailed weekly emails and has added me to the list so I will be following Blues progress. There is no cure but to be able to have a life of comfort is all that blue and his family can really ask for. She is also keeping records of the process so those who have dogs that have to go through this will have a guide to work from.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It never gets old

toby as mountain, originally uploaded by phaird.

We got our dog, Toby, nearly 4 years ago and every day I see our dog, I'm a little happier. To combine my passion for photography with my love for dogs is really the best of both worlds. It never gets old and each time I bring out my camera I get exciting photos. It really helps that the Acton park is so active on Sunday but even those other days with only a few dogs, is great.

The whole process of photographing dogs is great. Shooting, editing, correcting, sharing and printing. I could spend everyday of my life doing that and be happy.

Hopefully, once this book gets published and I get my business off the ground, I'll do just that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Park basics

Hunter-pose1, originally uploaded by phaird.

Normally, I talk about photos, or fun park stuff. Today I've got a little rant and everyone reading this blog will say "I never do that".

Not picking up after your dog. Yea I said it. Heck, I've even been bad myself now and again (though I feel guilty so that's my punishment). To me it's really simple. You keep an eye on your dog until they do their business. If you know you're dog goes a lot, then keep watch until you know their finished. You know you're dog well enough to know their habits.

My dog, Toby will normally go once on a walk but at the park, he has been known to go twice and on a rare day, he'll go 3 times. There are so many good smells, he just goes wild. I know this and make sure I've got an extra bag with me and keep a really close eye on him until he does his first.

Like I said, I'm not perfect and know I've missed one now and again but I do my best to pick up after my dog. I hope you can spread the love and kindly tell everyone you see that first rule of any public outing with your dog. Always pick up after your dog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beautiful Fall Day

curious puppy, originally uploaded by phaird.

Sunday was a beautiful fall day. Most everyone was really just enjoying the park, the crisp air and the warm sun. Well, except for Toby. He was still nervous from last week and got really aggressive with some dogs when he shouldn't have. I had to put him on a lead to keep him close and stop him from causing havoc.

The beauty of dogs attitude though is that they forgive. Toby was a jerk to a few dogs and they just kept coming back to get a sniff and see if he was ready to play. Toby is picky about his friends and can easily feel cornered so he never let up but the other dogs around just let him be or kept hoping that this time, he'll be nicer. That is a trait that you have to admire about dogs. There ability to love and care for others (humans or dogs) no matter how bad they are treated.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some things are just out of my control

toby_scared, originally uploaded by phaird.

I love going to the park. Toby normally loves going to the park. The one thing that will send him running though is loud noises. One thing I'm finding out about Massachusetts towns is that many of them have gun clubs. There is one about a mile from my house and another in ear shot of the Acton park. Toby HATES it. He gets so scared and will run for cover anywhere he can. That is how he got lost over the summer. I've tried all kinds of things to get him to relax but he's almost 7 and he'll never stop fearing loud noises. I just need to understand it and let him find a safe place to hide. I just hope that this won't put him off going to the park. It does take a while for him to remember that this is his favorite place to go after an event like this. It will take a few weeks of going back before he'll feel comfortable again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why dog parks

There is many people who may think that dog parks aren't really needed. They think that walks around the neighborhood is fine or that they have a big yard for their dog and that's all that they need. For all the same reasons that children need play grounds, dogs need dog parks.

A happy dog is a well socialized dog. Even if you have more then one dog, that doesn't mean it can get along well with other dogs or people. By bring your dog to a park where they can interact with other dogs and people help the dog understand that their are lots of others out their and they can learn who they get along with and who to avoid. Yes, dogs make friends.

Being free to be a dog is another big plus. My dog knows that when on leash, he needs to be on good behavior (well, some of the time). When loose, he knows he can run and play at %100. He needs that time to get his energy out, play with others or just chase the ball. There is nothing better for a dog owner then seeing their dog happy.

Many dogs come from shelters or unknown breeding centers and we don't always know what kind of personality issues our dog may have. There are some really good owners who adopt dogs from very bad conditions and put lots of time, energy, and money into making their dog as social as possible. For some, they may not be able to socialize in a busy park situation with other dogs and kids running around.

It is the important progress of socialization of our dogs that makes them good citizens and having places to run and play allows that to happen. See you at the park.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Reminder to Maynard MA dog lovers

MayDog is having it's first general meeting at the Maynard Public Library tomorrow, Sept 30 at 7pm. If you want to see and ask questions about the proposed plans for a off lease park; maybe want to get involved, or just see what other Maynard folks look like, you should show up.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Still moving forward

Most everyone who hasn't done it already, is looking for their dream job. To be able to work in your field, feel like you make a difference and be rewarded for it. This book project is the start of that for me. Even though I haven't gotten the book off the ground yet, I am getting a lot of attention locally. I'm "that guy" every Sunday that people know as the photographer and have made some good friends and connections. I'm getting involved in my town (Maynard MA) with dog lovers who want more for our town we care about. Most importantly, I'm working with my photography with a subject that I'm passionate about.
This blog is what keeps me going when I have low times; kinda like this week. Last week I was all excited about getting a package together to send out to a publisher and have most of the pieces put together but then the day to day of life got in the way and a week later, I'm no farther ahead. I haven't taken any photos and I feel a like I let myself down. Their are gaps in my project that I need to fill and am not sure how to proceed.
It was also a rainy weekend here and that can get me down when I don't make it to the park. The good thing is that I am still pressing forward and hope to get a package together to start sending out to publishers around the country. It's kind of daunting but I know this is a good idea and have lots of encouragement from other dog lovers out there. This is only the beginning.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


bella, originally uploaded by phaird.

Bella has the life. With an owner who is a part time dog walker, she gets what every dog wants. Plenty of playtime and love. She is a regular at the dog park every Sunday and is just as friendly and calm as a collie can be.

Today was kinda a aggressive day at the park. Some of the bigger dogs were getting a bit territorial and one woman was being a too over protective of her new puppy (I'll save that story for another day). None of that even fazed Bella a bit. She just went about her business and looked for the next person to get some attention from.

Every time I arrive at the park on Sunday, Bella walks right up to me, puts her head between my knees and asks for a good scratch of her back. And to be fair, I look for Bella as well. Her and her owner are very friendly and I enjoy seeing each week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to get a good pic of your dog-part 3

collie1, originally uploaded by phaird.

Trying to get a portrait of your dog can be a real challenge. Getting them to stay in that perfect pose while you get your camera ready can be frustrating but there are a few things you can do. First, is to get your dog tired. Go throw a ball around or make them run. Let your dog get that energy out. Once they cool down from running around, they will be more likely to listen to you and focus on the strange task you are asking them to do (really, what do dogs care about photos).
Next you want to make sure you're dog is clean. Run a towel and a brush over them to get the dirt and grass off. You may not notice when your taking your picture but you will notice when you look at it.
Then consider your surroundings. Avoid distractions, get some toys and treats to keep your dog focused on you. Then you can consider your light. A bright sunny day will give harsh shadows and if you've got a dark haired dog, the shadows will go black really quick. A slightly overcast day would be ideal. You'll get all the details without the harsh contrast. If you do shoot on a sunny day, consider using a flash. Most on camera flashes will do a okay job of filling in the light in the shadows.
Last thing is to avoid distractions in the background. Trees popping out of your dogs head or a random person in the background will be distracting.
Most of all, you and your dog should enjoy the time. Your dog only wants love and attention from you and what better way to get it then taking photos.
Take a look at the photographers on the right of the blog to see some good examples. You may be inspired to try it something similar yourself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008



I’m The Writer, from “The Wandering Writer…and her dog,” a new blog, here on Blogger that I started writing 17 days ago. At that time, I didn’t have a dog. I had my husband’s dog, Willie, and my daughter’s dog, Black Jack, that she wanted to be with her in North Carolina very desperately. (We’re in the Catskill Mountains in New York.) I also had goldfish and, for the first time in 27 years, a very empty nest and a husband who is rapidly approaching retirement. In considering what we want to do when that long awaited day of retirement comes, I came up with the fact that we had always wanted to just go out and “wanderung,” a German word indicative of journeying with one’s family, friends and dog, kind of. Thus, without a dog of my own to “wanderung” with, I began a blog about the process of doing just that.

During the second week of blogging, we found the "dog of my dreams" at the local pound. He was the only dog there, had been there for two months and was due to be “put down” the week after Labor Day. We found him on Labor Day and, after transporting my daughter’s dog and furniture down to her in North Carolina, he came to live with us this past Saturday. I named him Bear, and today is his fifth day with us and the process of formal “socialization with people” training started for him today.

This morning, phaird from “Dog Parks” returned my visit and asked if I would be interested in writing up a post for his blog. It is my honor to do so, and as such, here is my humble entry on our first lesson in socialization with Bear:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

...and "socialization" with Bear has begun. I must confess, after thinking about the socialization issue last night, I called Frank-down-the-hill and set up a hot date for this morning. If we are going to be able to "wander all over the planet" with Bear and Willie, then they really need to be very well mannered dogs. The natural disposition with Bear, with some training, should be very amenable to that, however, Willie still seems to believe that the sole function of anyone who passes this house is to play ball with him. My thought is to get Bear trained to visit with manners first and then add William to the equation.

Today was our first day with it, so, at 7:30 this morning, Bear and I were out the door for our first "meeting." Frank-down-the-hill lives in the next house "down-the-hill" from us. He's maybe a quarter of a mile down from here and confessed to "spotting" me walking with a "new family member" when I spoke with him last night. I didn't tell him that I've seen him watching us with his face plastered against the window as we pass by, or that driving his new Matrix out to the field next to his house to watch us was a bit obvious, even though he did try to hide it by the tree line. He's getting on in years, isn't as steady as he used to be and the Matrix is quieter than the four-wheeler so is better for "covert operations" like spying on your neighbors.

People do still do this kind of thing here because, living in the Catskill State Park, there isn't a whole lot else to do but watch what everyone else is doing. Frank has been retired for years, is a widower and a wonderful friend so when any changes happen at our house, he's the first to know. Bear's first "official" visit couldn't be with anyone else.

When we got to the door, Bear was frightened about going into the basement that Frank converted to a living area when his wife died, so Frank came out to meet us at the door. It was cool this morning and damp enough that "older bones take on a chill," or so Frank insisted. After standing outside and having an initial meeting, Frank invited us in again and, with some coaxing, Bear came in. There was an ulterior motive for this entrance on Frank's part. He likes it when our dogs "come visiting" on their own because he likes to have dinner with them. Pizza night is a particular favorite and there have been many a night over the past two decades that dogs who have lived with us came back with anchovy and cheap beer breath. He teaches them about the "neighbor path" we have between the houses and after that, there's no stopping it.

He and my former dog Buddy, aka "Budman," were great friends in younger years.

I let Frank know that this one will not be "visiting" without me because he is going to have a job and that Willie was in training now too. Judging from the look he gave me, I think I am going to have to be extra vigilant about this as Frank is not above "sneaking" when there is a challenge involved. Between him and farmer Phil, who is still oogling my dog, I've got my hands full in preventing these guys from turning Bear into a delinquent or worse...

Thankfully, I do have the complete cooperation of the neighborhood ladies, two of whom we met and Bear slobbered all over, while they were out having a healthy morning walk on "the hill." They saw that we had been visiting Frank and will be keeping an eye on things as well!

Happy wanderings and best wishes to all at Dog Parks this week!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

look dad, I'm famous

toby-laughing, originally uploaded by phaird.

Wow, getting noticed by the right person can make all the difference. I was mentioned on bloggers "Blogs of Note" 2 days ago and I've been getting such nice responses ever since. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write.

I'm going to put one more plug for the Blurb book publishing challenge so if you want to vote for my book, please see the previous post.

I'm going to put a few more plugs for other dog sites next with out overwhelming everyone in the next few days but it is really great to know that my blogger peers appreciate what I'm trying to do.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maynard is looking for a park

As dogs become part of peoples families and families want to be involved in their communities, more people are trying to get their towns in creating dog parks. That's no small task here in Massachusetts. A group though in my home town of Maynard has started a petition to create a dog park. You can read more about there goals on their blog (

We are advocating for part of the old capped landfill on Waltham Street to be converted to a fenced, off-leash recreation area (OLRA) for dogs and their owners. We need to demonstrate community support by gathering petition signatures to submit to the Board of Selectmen (see petition here: Assuming the Board approves the idea, we will need to raise funds for fencing, benches, a kiosk, bag dispensers, trash receptacles, a water source, and signs and will need ongoing support in terms of monitoring and regular mowing.

I would encourage everyone in the area to take a look at what they are trying to do and sign the petition. The more signatures they get, the more people will understand it's importance to our town.

Monday, September 1, 2008


dogs-and-kids, originally uploaded by phaird.

I've been really lucky with week after week of great weather on my Sunday visits to the park. So many people are taking advantage of it and I've seen many new faces because of that. I've noticed that this summer, their have been more younger kids and babies coming to the park along with their family and dogs. This is really great because kids only fear what they don't know. When introduced to other dogs and a community of dog lovers, it makes a huge difference in a childs acceptance of other animals. I'm looking forward to bringing my boy next summer. He's a little small right now but I know he's going to love it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Make me your Peoples Choice

I've entered this book publishing competition through The link below will take you right to the site. They have just added a Peoples Choice section where anyone can put in one vote for their favorite books. There are maybe 1500 entries and many are very arty and cool. That is why I need the help of the masses to collect as many votes as I can get.

You do have to register as a blurb user but all they ask you for is an email address and a password. You don't have to buy anything or create your own book (but you could). If you could spend 2 minutes and vote for my book then forward the request to 3 friends that would make a big difference for me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to the park

scout-tired-out, originally uploaded by phaird.

It's been a few weeks since I've been able to make it to the park. I've been busy with family visiting and visiting family. It was a beautiful day to be back too. The park was busy and everyone was relaxed. Well, maybe not the dogs though. There was lots of really excited dogs running and playing. My dog Toby was getting into the mix a bit but was taking it too seriously. He is at least getting more comfortable with the park again. I need to remember to bring treats for training to praise him for being good.
I do love my Sundays but it's not for every dog. Fenway and Scout, the bassets are great dogs but Fenway can't come because he gets way to excited and aggressive. He doesn't like dogs running up on him. Scout is always good now. He goes and explores and then comes back to check in (and get a treat). He has a love for German shepherds. His owners were guessing that he was friends with other German shepherds before being adopted.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How to get a good pic of your dog-part 2

on the line, originally uploaded by phaird.

When you're out and want to take some good photos of your dog at play there is one thing that will help you. Shoot a LOT! You're dog moves and plays and you're not going to catch the best moment with only one shot. With the process of digital cameras it can be hard to get a point and shoot camera to get you what you want so try to start shooting early and through the event. Then you can go back and pick your best picture that you want to show others. When I shoot, I end up shooting up to 100 photos, I edit it down to about a dozen photos that end up on Flickr and then, if I can, I put one good photo on my blog. I hope you like them.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Supporting Mass Pets

My friend at work has a Pet Friendly license plate on her car. I looked it up and the money raised helps pay for spayed and neutering. The good thing about it is you can write it off on your taxes. I'm not sure if other states do this but every little bit helps.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Annabelle wants her frisbee

annabell-wants-her-frisbee-, originally uploaded by phaird.

I was away last week because my father-in-law was in town being a happy grandpa. This Sunday though was a good day to get to the park. Lots of happy faces for both people and dogs. Rudy was there with his owners and the corgie that he lives with. It was really good to see him. Lots of people asking about Bruce.

One new comer to the park was Annabelle. She is a beautiful young Australian cattle dog. She was rescued from a kill shelter down south. Tennessee I think.

Her story just blows my mind. She was turned into the shelter by her owners because she kept chasing the cows. Yes the original owners got her, a cattle dog, and were upset that she chased the cattle. WHA!!!? Lucky for her, she was rescued and now has a very happy home.

I hope to see more of her at the park. She is a lot of fun to watch.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chew toys

As I get more involved with the dogs and my book I find more and more interesting sites and people. Check out the chew toy blog. There is a art exhibit up in Maine that has be asking for toys and will be putting a show together soon. The blog is really cute because we all know how much our dogs love their toys.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Saying goodbye to Bruce

Amber with rudi and dad, originally uploaded by phaird.

This weekend was so muggy that everyone just standing around was sweating and uncomfortable. Not the best day to send off our good friend Bruce. Bruce, Dusty and Amber are moving back to California for a calmer life and better weather. Bruce is one of the first persons that I got to know at the park and many people knew him and his dogs. He was a person who I could always count on to be at the park every Sunday no matter what the weather was like because even if the weather was lousy, he couldn't deny his dogs their day.

Bruce is one of the first that I interviewed for the book. He was someone I could always count on a friendly hello and a good chat. I'm trying to get to know everyone at the park but I'm not a very forward person. I found that I would go and talk to Bruce first and that would get me started talking to others at the park. Bruce has a way of making everyone feel comfortable.

Amber, Dusty and Bruce will be missed but they will be very happy out in Cali. Best of luck to you and we hope you keep in touch.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

wrapped in leash

wrapped in lease, originally uploaded by phaird.

Another great day to be out. The sun was out. There was a nice breeze and it wasn't humid. A perfect day for both dogs and people.

Things are slowly moving forward on the book front. I just entered a contest on for creative books. I'm not really expecting to win (though it would be nice) but I hope that my book will end up in front of people who might find it interesting. The other good thing is that now I've got a sample book that I can print and show to people. I just keep moving ahead and keep shooting.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Animal Print Mag

As the guy everyone knows as the dog photographer, a friend dropped this local Magazine called the Animal Print on my desk. It's a great little magazine that has some interesting articles and lots of details of events going on.

In there they mention about two different parks that have opened lately. One in Lowell and another in Foxboro. Check out there site and you can read the whole mag, ad's and all.

If you know of any local animal (especially dogs) mags or websites, please let me know. I'm always interested in delving even deeper into the world of animals.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


scout-and-boy, originally uploaded by phaird.

Another hazy day at the dog park on Sunday. I was extra careful with Toby because I didn't want him to run off again. He was super scared when we go there and I had to drag him out to the park. After a while, he finally relaxed and I let him off lease for a short time. I didn't take too many photos because I was the nervous one once Toby was off leash.

I did get to see scout who I didn't get to see for a few weeks. He's always good to see. His buddy, Fenway still isn't ready for the crowds yet but he's going to be taking classes to help with that soon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Toby found

toby-found, originally uploaded by phaird.

Today had a hard day. It was a cloudy day with storm clouds and way off in the distance, you could hear thunder. From the Acton Park, you can also here the local shooting range. Both send Toby running for cover. Normally I can here these things and keep an eye on Toby and gage his mood.

Today, I didn't. I took my eye off of him for maybe 5 minutes and he was gone. He's wondered off before but today was bad. I was out for almost 5 hours looking everywhere for him. There was a sighting down a busy road just outside the park but really far away.

After searching through the woods behind the park (miles of trails) I got a lucky break. A woman came up to me as I came out of the woods and asked me If I was looking for a dog. Toby had ran across the street from the fire station and hid under her porch in the back of their house.

He wouldn't come out for her but with some firm encouragement, I got Toby to come out to me. He was shaking like a leaf and so scared. I got him home and gave him a good bath because he was covered with dirt.

Thanks to everyone who helped me search the park. Once people knew Toby was missing, A search party was formed and we everyone did a lot to help find Toby. It made a huge difference for me having the help getting Toby back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dog Mountain

I always love running across people who love dogs and design their lives around them. I was told about Dog Mountain the other day and it's pretty cool. A man who faced death created a hole life in Saint Johnsbury, VT. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A good day by the water

wet-on-hot-day, originally uploaded by phaird.

We've had some really hot weather the past few days had it can be really hard on our furry friends. The good thing at the Acton Park is the pond. All the dogs were jumping in and cooling off. I think the heat kept some people away though. Some dogs don't do well with all the heat. The weird part is that 2 days before, it was 40 degrees. Now it's in the 90s.

Make sure both you and your dog get plenty of water.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Puppy day

boy-sitting-w-puppy, originally uploaded by phaird.

Sunday was puppy day. One of the regular Jack Russel's gave birth to 5 puppies about 9 weeks ago and they had their first big outing to the park. Everyone wanted to see and play with the pups. Specially the kids. Parents often bring there kids to the park with the dogs but many of the dogs are running so much that the kids don't get much play time with them. Puppies though love the attention and are great for children to play with. Being such a nice day, there was a great turn out and the puppies got lots of attention. I hope we have a lot more nice days like this.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bella being good

bella-being-good, originally uploaded by phaird.

Bella and her owner are regulars at the Acton Park. Being it's a holiday weekend, even though the weather was BEAUTIFUL, the park wasn't super busy.

Bella was very distracted because she kept looking for her two friend Blue and Jake. It was very cute. Bella would wonder toward the entrance of the park and sit to see who was coming and going. She didn't want to miss them if they happened to enter the park.

Bella was being a good listener in this photo. Every time I tried to photograph her, she'd come up to me to get pet. Her owner asked her to sit so I could take this photo.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A real scare

toby-in-grass, originally uploaded by phaird.

We've had a real scare the past few days. On Wednesday, Toby threw up 5 times and then wouldn't eat. We let him rest through the night but when he got up the next morning he still didn't want to eat. I tried every treat we had and even some rice and chicken and he still wouldn't eat.

We got really scared and brought him to our vet. They was put on IV to keep him hydrated and they ran a bunch of test but they couldn't figure out what was wrong with him and he wasn't getting any better.

They couldn't keep a watch of him over night so we brought him to Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital. They were able to keep an eye on him overnight. When we dropped him off, he could barely walk and looked completely out of it.

After a night of sleep and keeping hydrated, he slowly started to feel better. They fed him small amounts of food through out the day and slowly perked up. By 8pm Friday I was able to take him home but with no real understanding of what happened.

Toby isn't a dog that will just eat anything. His one weakness is that he likes to eat grass. Normally I don't mind but I think because so many people have been putting all those chemicals on their lawns that Toby got really sick.

It was a real scare for our family but Toby is finally starting to perk back up. The idea that to get a great looking lawn requires to create a toxic environment really seems like a contradiction to me. Be very aware of those yellow signs on peoples lawns. They are really mean it when they so politely say keep off.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How to get a good pic of your dog-part 1

terrier, originally uploaded by phaird.

I haven't had a chance to get out to the park in the past few weeks and both Toby and I have been really missing it.

I wanted to keep it up though and while talking to others at the park, people often ask how to get good pictures of their dog. I thought I'd try to give a few pointers.

One thing that I always suggest is to get the camera on the dogs level. If the camera is at your dogs face or body level and keep the camera level, you will be able to show your dog in a very positive position and a more unique photo. The hard part with that is your dog will think you want to play and want to come see you. You can either just stay there and let them play or just hold the camera at your knees and try to get your dog to look at the camera instead of your face. Either way, take a few shots all at once. The more you shoot, the better your chances to get just the right expression. Asking your dog to say "Cheese" means something very different to a dog.

Looking at this photo of the terrier, I shot it with a wide angle lens with the camera around my ankle level. That way I don't have to look through the lens and I'm flexible with the space around the pooch.

Happy shooting.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

side tracked

blix1, originally uploaded by phaird.

I didn't make it to the park today but I did get to photograph my friends dog, Blix, a beautiful German Shepard. He has no clue how big he is though. He will run and play and jump on you any chance he gets. He's so funny because every time he sees me he goes crazy. Our friends were having a moving party and when I got there, Blix insisted that I take him outside to toss the ball around for him. He jumped and barked and was going crazy before I even got to set down the stuff I was caring, he made me take him out.

Don't get the wrong idea about blix. At this party there were 5 kids from 8 months to 3 years and blix was perfect with everyone of them. Blix knows the difference between a child and an adult and knows his boundaries. We love Blix and will miss having him near by.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Poor weather doesn't matter

Another weekend at the park but after a long week of great weather, the rain kept a few people away. I almost didn't go myself because it wasn't good for my camera.

Toby doesn't care about that though so we went and saw the regulars as well as a few new faces. Most dogs are happy to get outside no matter what the weather. Rain, snow or sun, they want to get out and run. With the lake freshly melted they were even in the pond. The ground has gotten hard so the mud isn't so bad anymore and everyone really enjoys the time out but it's the dogs who really get the best of it all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Golden day

golden3, originally uploaded by phaird.

Another great spring day. Lots of people were out and about and the dogs were all having a great day. There was a large number of Golden Retrievers out and having fun. Golden's love the attention and with everyone out, they went up to everyone to get some attention.

Golden's can be hard to photograph. Being such people friendly dogs, every time I went down on a knee to take a picture, they would run up to me to get some attention. I got a few pictures of noses because of that but didn't post it on my flickr page. Don't need to bore you. I hope to get some more photos of them next week.

Monday, April 14, 2008

First interview for book

Amber with rudi and dad, originally uploaded by phaird.

last Friday I did my first interview for the book. To be fair, this is my second attempt but the first didn't work out so I have to redo that one.

I've been spending lots of time with Rudy, Amber and Dusty, and getting to know their owner so we decided to sit down and talk about the dog park and his dogs.

I found out that we have a lot in common. We both have that west coast personality and both lived in San Francisco before moving east.

I think it went okay. It was great to sit and get to know Amber and Dusty's dad and finding out about all of them. The hard part is putting it into an interesting story.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


layers-of-dogs_blurry, originally uploaded by phaird.

Spring is here but only in name. The past few weekends have been cold but that hasn't stopped everyone from coming out. I'm looking forward to leaves on the trees and color on the ground. Spring can be so short here in New England and after a long winter, to be able to bask in the warmth of spring again will be a great feeling.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

white dog

white-dog, originally uploaded by phaird.

One of the things that people may not appreciate about dog parks is the socialization. Dogs need to be around other dogs just like people need to be around other people. Left alone too long, they won't understand what it means to be around others.

This dogs owner was talking about how he was walking his dogs on a trail that went by someones property. Like most places that are by open lands, the only divide was a low stone wall. There were two dogs who lived on the other side and for some reason, they attacked his dog. They got her ear pretty bad but over all she is just fine. It's a scary feeling though watching your dog getting attacked.

There could be lots of reason that this happened but one reason may be because of the lack of community the dogs that attacked had. Some people think that if you've got two dogs or an open yard that it's all you need. If dogs only spend time with people, they won't know what to do around other dogs. The socialization that dogs get when they come to the park allows them to play and run around with other dogs to lets them learn what it means to be a dog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dog as a spiritual leader

Seems like Buddhism allows all creatures to enter a higher plain. Check out this article.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Life without parks?

I was just talking with a friend in Portland, OR. I plan on going out and visiting over the summer and thought we could spend time visiting some dog friendly parks out his way. I was shocked that he hasn't found any good places to go and that their leash laws are very strict. Many of his neighbors have dogs but keep them within their fenced yards.

Socialisation is so important for dog (as well as dog owners). When only around people or on leash, dogs never get a chance to be a dog. Running, chasing, wrestling, barking is all part of being a dog. They need that release to have that kind of dogs life experience.

For non-dog owners it's a cycle that they may not understand. When a dog is on a leash and see other dogs, the pulling, jumping and barking is only because they are being held back. The more restraint, the more they pull. It looks like they are being bad but really, they are just being dogs. By letting go, dogs will be able to meet and greet in dog terms and the level of tension goes away. You all know that though, because you love your dogs. :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Vist to Malcolm Preserve, Carlisle MA

I took Toby to the Malcolm Preserve and it's a nice walking park. It's great for accessibility but Toby and I were a little disappointed. It's nothing against the park. It was an overcast day with snow melting so walkways gave way to muddy rivers. I'm sure, in the summer it could be a great little walkway. The trail that I found was short so after a few weeks of walking through Acton's trails, I was still eager to walk but couldn't find a fun way to keep going. It's not fair for me to pick on the park on this one experience. It was clean, well maintained and an easy walk. I'll have to make some more trips on weekend and evenings to get a better sense of the park community and how dog friendly it is.

The thing is, I'm just eager to find other fun dog friendly parks. I love Acton and I'm going to keep coming every Sunday but I'd like to find other fun places. I almost went out to Crane Beach but I couldn't drag myself that far away from home when the day isn't so nice.

Where are your favorite parks (even outside MA)?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Equal treatment for dogs

A woman from Haverhill is trying to get a law passed where the value of a family dog is more then the retail value. The story in the Eagle-Tribune goes into details.

I'm not sure being able to sue someone for any amount of money is the right answer but discussing the idea that our pets our part of our family is important. Suing is only going to help the insurance agency and could force good Vets out of business because of those increased costs of covering their butts. Look at the cost of family doctors have to do to keep in business. If vets have to absorb those costs, it's going to be us, the pet owner who ends up paying a lot more for pet care.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dog rescue

Check out this story. It's about a dog that's given CPR. The best part of the story to me is the end where they leave a oxygen tank for the dog.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Toby in the middle

toby-in-the-middle, originally uploaded by phaird.

For the past few weeks, every time I've brought my dog, Toby, to the park, he shakes. It all started one Sunday when he could hear gun shots from a firing range off in the distance. It sounds like a hammer on wood and it's so faint, everyone I told about it didn't even notice till I said something. Today was the first day he would come to the park without fear. He always puts on a macho front but he can be a real coward sometimes.

As an adopted dog, there is always things in a dogs past that we can't plan for. This fear of the gun shots, fireworks, thunder or any other loud noise is really hard on our little guy but we do what we can to keep him comfortable until his fear passes. Then he's our happy little pooch again.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another fun day

looking for treats, originally uploaded by phaird.

There is always a funny energy between the calm of the people and the excitement of the dogs. Being Sunday, I think most people are trying to enjoy their day off before going back to work or maybe enjoy having a late start to the day. The dogs know though that this is their big day. They day they see their best friends. They get to run without restrictions and get love from anyone they decide to stop and see. They may even get a treat or two by finding all those extra nice folks.

Some of us two legged folks huddle together. Talking about local events or commenting on the dog action. Some will break off and take a walk through the trails while others stand a bit to the side to keep an eye on their dog.

Everyone is welcoming though. It could just be the humbling fact that no matter who you are in your daily life, when you're at a dog park, everyone has to pick up their poop.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Dream Job

Amanda Jones has my dream job. There is a cute little artical on NPR about her by Amy Costello. It's only 3 minutes so you should check it out.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

for the love of dogs

What one person will go though for their dog for most of my readers ins't that surprising. We love our dogs and will do just about anything for them. They are our family. But I have to say that this one marine really went that extra mile for one dog. Check out the story and hope that more events like this happen.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Heart Day

This isn't my photo but in light of the day, I thought it would be nice to include it. This puppy Chihuahua is from Japan and was born with this unique pattern on her side. Super cute but not for sale.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Walking Toby through Acton Park

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. My whole family and I have been sick for the past 2 weeks and It's really kicked my butt. I'm still getting over it but I had some extra energy and Toby has been so good being cooped up in our house the whole time I thought I should treat him to a long walk.

There are many paths in the Acton Park, labeled by RED, YELLOW or BLUE markings on the tree's. I've only been a few times but the RED path is really nice and Toby just loves it. There are so many scents from the other dogs and running around like a crazy dog, up and down the path give him such joy.

I tried to shoot some video (included and edited) but my camera died within 10 minutes of our walk. OOPS. It was fun shooting video of Toby though. I often find myself walking these paths and staring at my feet, missing all that beauty of the snow covered trees. I had to really make myself look up while walking. It's not as easy as it sounds. I was slipping all over and had to slow down but I got to see so much beauty. I'm going to try to do that more often.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oscar feeling better

Oscar-feeling-better, originally uploaded by phaird.

I love coming to the Acton park every weekend but I have to say that seeing Oscar really made my day. He has cancer of the bone and was really sick when I first met him in September. He is looking better then ever and has been gaining weight. He still has to be careful not to over due it but Oscar's owner are working hard to keep him healthy. Everyday is a gift for Oscar, his family and all his friends that are always happy to see him. I hope to see Oscar again soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

coming and going

coming-and-going, originally uploaded by phaird.

Winter has been pretty gray but this last Sunday was a really nice day. There was a lot of people who took advantage of the nice day. I got to see people dogs and owners I haven't seen in a while. Fenway was out but no Scout. He has a hard time with all the big crowds.

I also got to meet some other photographers. Ron Labbe who is a is a 3D photographer is a regular to the park. From what I can see on his site, you really is doing some amazing things with 3D photography.

Susan Huszar is another photographer who is building her niche as a child and pet photographer. Check out her site, she has some really great photos.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dog Boston

On a more positive note, I just ran across this great site focusing on dogs in boston. is a great resource for locals to get info about things going on about town as it relates to dogs. There is a wealth of information that you can use to find parks as well health and care for your 4 legged children. I have a link to them on the right so check them out when you can.

It is also part of a larger website,

Boston as hypocrite

It wasn't that long ago I was excited that Mayor Manino showed up for the opening of a new (or at least newly redone) dog park in the city of boston. Now with the Big Dig finally getting around to finishing the Greenway park area, they want to keep dogs out. See this article in the Providence Journal. Note that this isn't in any Boston Papers that I can find. I only heard about it from a blip on Channel 5 news.

I've been corrected. Thanks DogBoston.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I thought I'd put up a new drawing by Tony who will be doing the illustrations for the book. This one is called Bath. I'm really excited about the drawings he's done so far and as we get closer to our first run of the book. I'll put up more images that Tony has made. I thought you'd like to see some of his great ideas.