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.