Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Seeing dogs everywhere

First, I'd like to apologize to my followers who read my blog. I've been too quiet for too long. Weather and family life over the holiday season has been keeping me away from the park. I have big plans that I haven't had any chance to do but am trying to do some tests to make them happen. I really want to start adding video to my blog and my process. I'm new to the process so I've been practicing at home on my other favorite subject; my son.

I've also noticed that the more involved I get with dogs, the more I see them around. Weather it's about specials about how bad puppy mills are or the state of Chihuahuas in California. Maybe it's because my ears perk up every time I see something about dogs on the news. I find most stories to be so short and without any real depth to it. I usually do my own research and find out where to story comes from. If it makes it to the local or national news, there is a much deeper story involved.

I'd like to also wish all my readers a happy and exciting new year. I've got lots of lofty goals that I hope to get started this next year and I hope everyone and their pets get everything they need.

Friday, December 18, 2009

In the name of dog

Pawsh_Santa09-01, originally uploaded by phaird.

Last Sunday I wasn't able to go to the park but it was for a very good cause. Through a friend of a friend, I ended up meeting up with a fancy dog store off Newbury St. in Boston called Pawsh Dog Boutique. They have been around for about a year and are BIG dog lovers. They wanted to do a fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League of Boston. So I worked with them in putting together a Santa photo shoot. They did a great job setting up a fun space with a decorated tree and presents. We had a great turn out of over 30 dogs and made over $300. Everyone had a great time. The Santa, (one of the owners Brother) was a real trooper sitting in the hot santa suit, holding on to all the dogs in our little shooting studio.

It was a lot of fun for everyone involved too. The dogs were great, the owners were very supportive and everyone ended up with some really nice photos (if I do say so myself).

I'm bringing a video camera to the park this Sunday if we don't get totally snowed out. I want to do more multimedia and get some stories from people.

Monday, December 7, 2009

First real snow of the winter

boxer-puppy-play, originally uploaded by phaird.

It's December and we finally have a real snow fall for the winter. Oh did the huskies and other snow dogs LOVE the park today. These two just loved to play and were all over the place. It has been such a mild fall with it still getting into the 60's just a few days before. Now the snow is here and hanging around.

Toby and I weren't really ready for it but that is okay. We decided to take a walk up in the hills and I ended up taking lots of classic winter photos of trees covered in snow.

After our walk, we ended up back at the park and it was really busy. Everyone was bundled up in the snow gear that has been packed away for so long. Cups of warm coffee in hand, the dogs were given a wide space to run and frolic in the snow. I could tell that the dogs were extra excited about the snow. To wake up and see your whole world new and covered in this white powder is an amazing feeling for many dogs.

I hope we get some more snow soon. The clean new snow is always fun for dogs and owners alike.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

snoop in the pack

snoop-in-pack, originally uploaded by phaird.

Sunday was a much better week then last week. Both Toby and I were in a much better frame of mind. It was a fun busy day. After a few days of gloomy weather, it was nice to get to the park and see my park friends and let Toby run.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Never stand still for too long

Bull dog puppy, originally uploaded by phaird.

On Sunday, I brought Toby to the park and he wasn't that happy about going. It was busy and I got him a new "gentle leader" leash which he wasn't wild about. All that lead Toby to try to wonder back to the car to make me leave. I didn't want to leave because I wanted to photograph the dogs and talk with people.

Well I should back up to say that I went to bed to late the night before and hadn't eaten breakfast before going so I was also a little out of it.

So anyway, I had to keep Toby on his leash and as I was talking, a boxer thought I was a tree or fire hydrant and peed on my leg. I totally deserved it. I was just standing in the same spot too long and I was in a bla, grumpy mood. He knew I was in a funk and couldn't shake it. I had to just laugh at myself at that point. It all became clear that I was in a grumpy mood and even though I didn't say anything, that boxer knew the best way to get me out of my rut was to point it out to me.

So I was marked as his for the rest of the day. That and a bull dog puppy can bring me out of any funk because, really, going to the park with Toby and seeing all the dogs and owners out is the highlight of my week.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dogs have long memories

I found this link on Mental Floss from a friend. It shows videos of soldiers coming back from deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq. People who don't have dogs may not get this but we know our dogs love us and have a long memory for us. They know who loves them. Check out these videos.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back in Acton

Zoe, originally uploaded by phaird.

Toby and I were back in Acton this weekend. It was a beautiful day and because of the time change, there were people coming and going all morning.

This is a picture of Zoe who is one of the regulars at the park. She is an active fun dog who LOVES the tennis ball. She'll play chase with some of the other dogs as well but will go after any tennis ball thrown her way. She has the nicest personalities and gets along with all the dogs at the park.

It was nice being back in Acton this weekend. There was a lot of the regulars that I got to see. Even Toby was good this weekend. He got to chase the ball and didn't get into any fights. I think having a few weekends exploring new places helped.

We may head over to Waverly Oaks in Waltham this weekend if I get the time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First visit to Stodderd's Neck

Rory, originally uploaded by phaird.

I have to admit, I'm really jealous of all those people living on the south shore. For those who don't know, this is south of Boston right on the water. Stodderd's Neck is a public park that has been taken over by the dog lovers in the area. It's not an official dog park but sure looks like one and it's a perfect location for it too. It's surrounded on 3 sides by water and there is a gate at the entrance that makes it hard for more then one person at a time to get in.

Sunday was a PERFECT fall day all across New England and people were out enjoying it with their dogs. The parking lot was packed and the park was hopping with all kinds of dogs. The photo here is of Rory, a regular at the park. There was lots of new faces like my dog, Toby but for as many dogs as there were, there was still plenty of room.

This area, even though on the water, is surrounded by bushes and there is a small hill at the center. The is a small path that follows the inside area of the park or if you want you can walk out on the beach and let your dogs romp around in the water. After talking to another regular at the park, I'd advise against it right after it rains. The rain washes all the bacteria up and on more then one account, dogs have gotten sick. If it hasn't rained in a few days though, it should be fine.

I wish I wasn't an hour away but I sure enjoyed my visit and I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keller reporting on pet economy

John Keller of WBZ here in Boston did his fluff piece on pets and the economy. To all of my readers, you know well that we will do anything for our pets. I would have been happier if he mentioned the swelling of shelters because of people abandoning pets or how the economy has hurt so many pets but this is a one sided point of view to take a jab at Martha Stuart who has started a pet line of clothes. The jab doesn't seem very fair.

Martha has devoted a big part of her website and time into her dogs and pet life. Why wouldn't she start a pet clothing line? Anyone who can put together a tea party for 150+ can spoil her pets and share it with the world. She has even a pet adoption area within her site. Some might say she should work with but as long as pets that need homes are finding them, then I'm all for it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rain rain, go a way

It was such a cold wet rainy day that I didn't take Toby to the park. Toby is a fair weather dog so every time I took him out, he had to be coaxed out. He would go out, do his business and run right back inside. It's funny how similar he and I are.

To keep you entertained, check out this Huffington Post of some great pet costumes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Toby is up to his old tricks

Sharon_Dogpark_101109_09, originally uploaded by phaird.

Toby and I went out to the dog park in Sharon MA. It is one of the few official dog parks in the state. It was established in 2004 and from the looks of it gets a lot of support and use. I went with a friend and his two new dogs. What is really nice is that it's a fenced in location that has multiple entrances. There is a space for smaller dogs who want to be separate from the bigger dogs.

It was a beautiful day with a good number of dogs. I'd say that there was about 25 or 30 dogs there. The sun was warm and the cool Sunday afternoon. Toby was up to his normal antics. A few dogs wanted to play with him and he didn't want anything to do with them. He kept picking fights with anyone who came close. Part of that is him just being nervous about being someplace new.

By the end of the day though, Toby was super tired and had a great day. I think that the next trip will be exciting for him.

I'm looking forward to coming back to the park. There are a lot of regulars who show up and I'll focus my attention on their dogs and the great stories they have about them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Toby puts his foot (paw) down

Toby wanting the ball thrown, originally uploaded by phaird.

I love going to the Acton park every Sunday with Toby. It is my one moment to myself with Toby where nothing else matters. I get to see my dog park friends and relax for an hour without the pressures of work and home life.

Toby on the other hand is starting to rebel against the park. For the past three weeks, he’s either not gone into the park or left within 5 minutes of getting there. This last Sunday he wouldn’t go into the park at all, even for the tennis ball. There is another open area hidden behind the park that I took him and he was okay with that. We threw the ball around for about a half hour but he never really relaxed. You can tell from the photo that he’s still nervous.

I think my next goal is to go and explore some of the other dog parks around the area. I have some friends in Sharron MA where this is another official dog park area. I’ll try to go visit them this weekend. I want to go back to the Waverly Oaks park in Waltham where I first started taking Toby on a regular basis when I lived in Watertown. The last time Toby and I went there, he LOVED it. I know that the Fells park is also a very dog friendly place to go. It’s going to be a lot more driving and as the weather gets colder, there may be a few less people with their dogs but I think it will be a good adventure for both Toby and me.

For all my faithful readers, if you know any parks around eastern MA that I should check out, let me know and I’ll even meet you at the park some weekend.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No park for me

Did you see me at the park today? No? Well, thank Toby for that. We got there and with in 5 minutes Toby heard shots from the gun club near by (over a mile away) and ran back to the car. We didn't even get half way into the park before he turned around. I even brought the chuck-it and extra tennis balls but had no luck at all. On such a nice day too.

The only good thing about it is that I got to go home and watch the Sunday Morning Early show which I normally miss. Bill Geist had a unique segment on the process of adopting a dog for the first time. This wasn't the normal Geist segment where he goes out into the unknown parts of the US to find fun things on the fringe. This was much more personal and is able to point out some of the powerful, yet simple things about becoming a dog owner that we as dog owners know but those that aren't don't understand. It is one of the rare stories that Bill is just as much of the story as his dog and was nice to see. Check it out if you get a chance.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The star of the park

Irish Wolfhound, originally uploaded by phaird.

This Irish Wolfhound was the star of the park today. This big happy boy towered over all the other dogs and even some of the people. Everyone with a camera, even a cell phone camera had to take pictures of him. He is just a big softy who wanted all the other dogs to play chase him. That is him with his owners.

Even with this Wolfhound towering over everyone, today seemed to be about little dogs. There was between 10, 15 or even more smaller dogs. Terriers and pugs were everywhere. The energy was very different because of them. They were running and barking and stirring up all the other dogs at the park. That was easy to do because it go so busy today.

I kind of expect it to be a slower day because the weather was overcast in the morning. By 10 though, the sun was out and it was warming up. Toby and I were at the park for over an hour and even when we left, the parking lot was complete full.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beautiful day

Ball stealer, originally uploaded by phaird.

Wow, I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. The sun was warm but the wind was cool. No bugs around and everyone was just happy and enjoying themselves. It was an average busy day but so nice.

Toby was being good too. I brought 2 balls today just in case. This dog ended up with one which I expected to happen. It's a rare day when I show up so prepared.

I was also being shadowed by a student from SESOP. She needed to photograph and interview a professional photographer. My ego got a big boost from that. When she first started taking photos it was while she was a dog walker. Now as a student she would like to find others making a go at it. It's not easy but, to me, there is no better subject matter (well, except my on family).

I'm heading back outside now. This day can't be spent in front of my computer, even if I do enjoy entertaining my blog followers.

PS. for those locals who want to see photos of Acton, MA, check out this Flickr group.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dog park drama

Toby hiding under the car, originally uploaded by phaird.

There was much drama at the park this weekend. Well, as much as Toby can create. The week before, Toby got into a dominance match with a much larger dog. For some reason these two really want to put each other in their places. The problem for Toby is that the other dog is MUCH bigger. Poor Toby got nipped on the side of his face because, like a good terrier, he didn’t ever back down.

After that Toby just said “lets go!” and ran out to the parking lot till I followed. I found him just hiding under a car panting. I didn’t really know the extent of how shook up he was till after I got him home and found the bite. Toby stayed by my side the whole rest of the day. He normally wants to be around but Sunday, he never left my side, even when I was down in my basement office.

There is a unique energy when 2 dogs go at it. When that happens the whole park, people and dogs descend on the action. It takes some shouting and pushing to get the action to stop and just like that; it’s over.

I’m not going to the park this next weekend. It’s my son’s second birthday weekend so we’re going out to celebrate. I’ll find something new to write about though. There is always something going on in the world of dog parks.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rest in peace Fenway

Fenway, originally uploaded by phaird.

I'm sadden to find out that Fenway, a beagle mix, who I've known since I first started coming to the Acton park has died. His owner sent out a email saying that there was some accident while they were at their vacation home. Fenway was a active fun loving dog who's family loved him very much. It must be extremely difficult to deal with such a sudden loss.

Scout, their other beagle mix, must be feeling pretty lost without his best friend right now. They were perfect for each other because for as high strung as Fenway could be, Scout is equally relaxed. I rarely saw one without the other.

I will miss seeing Fenway dragging his owner down the road on his roller blades who is barely holding on. My heart and sympathy goes out to Fenway's entire family at this difficult time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A hot August day

close to home, originally uploaded by phaird.

Another week at the park with lots of the regulars. My official summer is coming to an end quickly but at least I always have the park to come to. It was another busy Sunday and everyone stayed close to the water.

In the photo, the dog by his owners legs just got a grooming which normally means, jump into the nearest mud hole and rub down on something gross. His dogs were being good and staying close to home. He also had a bag of treats for training.

Some people have said that bringing food to the dog park is a really bad idea but I'm not really against it. If socializing is part of the training, then treats are a good reward. I agree that it can get overwhelming quickly but, at least at this park, I've never really seen any problems. What is important is to be aware that you have treats and be sparing on giving them out. If you forget about them, a sneaky dog could put a hole in your pocket without you ever noticing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back at the park

Sunday dog day in Acton, originally uploaded by phaird.

Sunday was another nice weekend day. It was good to be back at the park, taking pictures and tossing the ball for Toby. Toby was even excited about being back in the park after 3 weeks. He got into a little scuffle but it was good for him to be put in his place. He really needed to be shown how big he is (or isn't).

Because Toby has been having issues with other dogs, We've been coming early, around 9:30 instead of 10. Some days, we are the first ones their and other days, like this week, it was already already busy. By the time we left around 10:30 there was another large group of people coming.

I talked with a guy who had his 2 goldens with him. He says he's been coming to this park for over 10 years. It's a trek for him to get to Acton but this park is the best thing for his dogs. I wonder how far people go to bring their dog(s) to a dog friendly park?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back home in MA

I'm back from my vacation and almost caught up with everything that was put on hold while I was away. For my trip around the south and back up north, I found dog friendly stores and places everywhere I went. It is a good feeling to know that even places that don't have too many places to eat while on the road, there is still places for dogs.

Every rest stop on the road had a place just for pets. They were all well maintained too. Some even had fenced in areas so you could let your dog off leash and stretch their legs. There were lots of small town pet stores and friendly pet owners. I did see one stray dog in SC but over all, every dog I saw was well taken care of. I know there are different ideas of what it means to keep a dog, especially down south. I did see a few dogs chained to a dog house on a small cement patch around a lot of grass but I was just driving by so I don't know for sure if that is a bad thing or not. For some it is but I hope not all.

I'll be back at the park tomorrow and am really looking forward to it. Toby is liking having us back and with my wife (a teacher) still off for the summer, he's getting lots of attention at home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dogwood Park, Knoxville TN

German shepherd, originally uploaded by phaird.

Well, I'm on my road trip and as promised, I'm stopping at every dog park I can find. A reader mentioned some dog parks in Knoxville and I was able to find Dogwood Park. It's a nice fenced in park that has the double gate to get in and out without loosing your dogs. Lots of people were there the day we went by. I got to talk to a nice lady who had 2 beautiful german shepherds. One she was training to be a service dog. The other she said was to scattered. He just couldn't focus.

There were quite a few dogs there but most were lounging in the shade with their owners. I think there were a lot of regulars. Many showed up with their folding chairs and just sat in the shade and let their dogs play. Some of the dogs were just hanging out. Others were looking for other dogs to chase.

I have to remember to bring my note pad with me when I go. I didn't write the names down of the dogs I met or the other park she mentioned. There is another park that isn't officially a dog park but a lot of people bring their dogs there. It is open and dogs are often running around she said. I can't remember where though.

This park is nice because it is right next to a long walking path, open fields, children playgrounds (where my son and wife went) and even frisbee golf. What is better then that.

I'm going to be heading to SC next and near Pickens County so if you know any place around there, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to stop by.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Anna - the sled dog reject

anna, originally uploaded by phaird.

Anna has become one of the regulars at the park over the past few months. She is only about a year and loves her time at the park. This weekend, her owner was talking about how she came about getting her. She was bread to be a sled dog but ended up not making the cut because she likes people more then dogs so she got to be adopted instead. She is also a little on the small size but she still has lots of energy. I often see her running with other dogs or just on her own. She'll jump in the water then through the bushes, picking up all kinds of stuff in her coat. Anna Really does love people though. She has gotten to know many of the regulars and will come up to get some attention when she can. Her owner takes good care of her to make sure she does become better socialized with other dogs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Oscar's growth is back

Oscar all wet, originally uploaded by phaird.

Oscar is a wonder dog. About 2 years ago, Oscar was diagnosed with cancer in his leg and they were going to amputate. Oscar had lost lots of weight and the lump in his leg was getting big. He was given maybe 6 months if they took the leg. His owner decided to wait, and just give it a few days. Oscar was put on some meds and each day he did a little better. With in a few months, Oscar was running and going like his old self. He was only 3 at the time.

Now the growth is back. You can see in the photo the lump on his leg but that still isn't slowing him down. His owner is worried and is doing everything they can. Much of that is to see what happens. Oscar beat back the growth before, he isn't letting it slow him down this time. He is still running and swimming and playing with the other dogs in the park. His owner says he's sleeping more at night but he doesn't need much of a break during the day. Oscar has just decided that nothing will slow him down. He's 5 years old and wants to be as active as a 5 year old should be.

I'll be looking for you, Oscar, every weekend. We're pulling for you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Keeping up with what's next

Part of why I started this blog was to keep me focused on publishing a book on dog parks. I've lost site of that a little bit lately but it is still in the back of my mind. I've been also trying to start a pet photography business while holding down my day job and taking care of my family.

So in the spirit of the book and keeping my readers up to date I thought I'd share what I need to do next. As you can see by just scrolling though my blog, I've got lots of photos. That is my strength and what I love to do the most.

What I need to do next is;
Collect stories by interviewing some more people at the park.
Find a publisher or agent who will take on the project. (SO Difficult)
Find a writer who loves dogs like I do and would want to help create this book.

Once these things fall into place, I can move to editing, designing and printing the book.

I've been sending out requests to different publishers but they don't make it easy. If you aren't already part of their world, it is hard to get anyone to listen. I'm not giving up though. I know this is a good project and you and others have agreed with me. Just getting my foot in the door is becoming the hardest part.

If all else fails, I will take it the into the fine arts process. I create a limited addition publication with limited addition prints to sell to a small audience and show it though a gallery.

The more I do this work though the more I want to do. My next project will be called something like "Working Dogs". I want to travel around and photograph dogs that work. Police dogs, circus dogs, dogs that sniff out cancer cells (yea wild huh), service dogs, etc. There are so many. It could be great.

Keep reading and I'll let you know what happens or if you've got suggestions, please let me know. I've gotten some really good responses from my readers that have helped.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What would Cesar say

Toby in front yard, originally uploaded by phaird.

I have just started getting the National Geographic channel and have really enjoyed watching Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. What a great show and I have been learning a lot on how to deal with Toby. I worry though that Cesar would judge me harshly for my actions. He has spent his life considering dogs feelings and lifestyle and I'm really new to having dogs around. Even just one.

For as much as Cesar can get done in one hour, it really does take a long time to communicate to a dog, even your own. The bond that Toby and I have grew very quickly but that's different. Toby knows that I love and care for him and he even knows I'm the "pack leader". It has taken a lot of time and practice to know how to communicate to each other. It even changes from time to time. Things that I would say or do, he would listen to before doesn't work as well now. But better ways come along as I learn how to better communicate with him.

I'd be really nervous to meet Cesar if I had to bring him to take care of Toby. I just know that he would point out all my flaws and show me all the simple things I should have been doing to be a better "dad" to Toby.

If Cesar ever did come to visit, he should come see Bruin. Now HE could really use Cesar's help.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dodging rain drops

Dewey_w_mom, originally uploaded by phaird.

Today was a very late day at the park. By the time we got there, the park was mostly empty. It was raining today and I have been under the weather all last week so I wanted to wait till the rain stopped before taking Toby out. He is always very patient about it.

Going late was nice though. It was quiet with only a few dogs. I got to meet Dewey and his mom. A friendly little dog that really wanted Toby to play. Toby only wanted his tennis ball so Dewey had to find other ways to entertain himself. He's a cute little guy.

As I go back though my photos I have begun to notice my style. Some of the things I like are, being at the dogs level, narrow depth of field (meaning only a small area in focus), and giving space to the dog in the photo. I don't always get that and some times I try to break out of the process and do something new. I see lots of really great photos on flickr of other dog photographers that inspire me so often that helps. I don't go back and look at what I've done very much. I keep pushing forward and think about how the stories of the book will work out.

I'm still not sure how the book will come about but I keep plugging away on this blog in hope of finding a way of making it happen. Even once done, I'll keep posting because if this is called work, this is the best job ever.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

for the love of dogs

hugs, originally uploaded by phaird.

Many dogs will come to the park. Some are dog ignore the people to play with the other dogs while others dogs love people more. Well this woman comes with her Aussie and husband almost every week and she shows the same amount of love for the dogs as they can show to her. Most of us stand around, relax and watch our dogs run. She comes with a big bag of treats, gets all of the dogs around her and gives them BIG HUGS.

She has a real passion for dogs. She has often said she gets just as much joy out of the park as her dog does. I love seeing the her energy and love each week. She is always excited and brings a dog like joy to the park.

Oh and don't forget those treats of hers.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Photographers Block

Toby in my shadow, originally uploaded by phaird.

For the past few weeks, I haven't been feeling very creative. I've been coming to the park for over 2 years now and have LOTS of good photos. I've been looking at other photographers on Flickr and have been inspired by much of what I see but I just can't seem to keep my energy up.

This book project has hit a real wall and I'm not sure how to climb over it. I've been talking to people but I just can't seem to find my path back to getting it published through a publisher. I'm hoping to get a real kick in the pants over the summer and start sending out proposals again.

This blog is my lifeline to keep the idea alive. Without you, my readers and kind comments, this wouldn't have gotten this far. Thank you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

early or late

golden_up-close4, originally uploaded by phaird.

There seems to be two groups of people who come to the park every Sunday. There is the early group and the late comers. Now keep in mind, this gathering every Sunday is a word of mouth event. There is no structure or guideline. "Sunday at 10am" is a very loose event. The only thing holding it together are the people who decide to show up.

When I first started coming to the park, I was often coming late. I wanted to be around the busy group of dogs and meet all the different breeds and people. Since Toby has been skittish, I've decided that earlier is better. Get Toby running around and tired so he can be more relaxed when the park starts to get busy.

As I've been coming to the park, it is always a treat to see the regulars, and the new comers. Some are mostly around in the summers, others I normally see in the winter. I have noticed a shift though in the past few months. Some people I normally see, I have been missing. Others have changed their pattern so come later, while I've changed and have started to come earlier.

I feel it's much like dogs. We can be excited to see our park friends and when they don't show up, we have to accept that and they aren't their and hope to see them next time.

To my friends at the park, both 2 and 4 legged, I always look forward to seeing you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A quiet day

petting, originally uploaded by phaird.

If you listen to the weather on TV on Sunday, you would have never left the house. They were saying it was going to rain and be cold all day but it the day couldn't have been nicer to me. It was cool and there was very light rain but that didn't last. That could be the reason the park was really quiet at 10am when most people arrive. It's easy to want a lazy day on Sunday of all days. For Toby and me, it is the one day we get all for Toby.

I know I don't normally talk about the book project that started this blog but I am still trying to get that going. Things have been really slow the past month or so. My day job was very busy and I'm also trying to start up a pet photography business as well.

I know I'm at a point where I need to push myself. I need to start to collect stories. I've got over 2 years of photos and could put together a great series just from that. The stories about the dogs, the people and the park are what will make the book have a broader appeal. A part that is holding me back is what questions to ask. What do I really want to know? How do I get to the heart of the story? These are some of the things I've been asking myself lately. I have talked with a few writers and some have had some great insight into what kind of directions the book could take. Really seeing the emotions in the stories. I'm a very practical person who often looks for facts in my daily life. What I want is less tangible. I know the feeling, I can even capture it in my photos. My next goal is to get it in story form.

I'm going to try to collect some stories in the next few weeks and start submitting it to magazines like the Bark or the Pet Gazette. I think this will help my chances of publishers seeing how serious I am about this subject.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tyson's visit for the weekend

tyson_back-lit, originally uploaded by phaird.

We had my mother-in-law's Rat Terrier, Tyson for the weekend. They were away for the weekend so we dog sat for them. He has been going to obedience training so he was much better this time then in the past. Before, he would get us up in the middle of the night, pull on his leash and eat anything he could. We had little of that this time. He was much better.

As a "fresh" little dog in the park, all the dogs really wanted to play with him. He looks like a puppy but he's full grown. Tyson is pretty good at being the rabbit and letting the big dogs chase him but when it got too rough, he stood his ground and let them know not to go to far.

Toby was pretty good today too. We went on a good walk though the woods and got his energy out that way.

It was a quiet day at the park for the most part. Being mothers day, I think a lot of people had other plans. It was such a nice day though. One of the nicest in a long time, a slight breeze, sunny and cool. Just perfect to me. I got to talk about other rat terriers, the cool work people do, and just average things of the day. We were there for over an hour and it was really great. Toby though started a fight for no reason so figured that was my sign to go.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

World oldest dog - a Dachshund?

When I think of dogs with long lives, I don't think of Dachshunds. This one is 21 and fairing pretty well. Good for her. Check it out.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A short day at the park

waiting for the chase x2, originally uploaded by phaird.

Today was a perfect day if you're a bug. Humid, no wind and very moist ground. All kinds of bugs were out flying around and getting into my eyes. There is a pond at the park so I think that may help the bugs. Just check out this picture in Flickr at the original size. All those white dots are bugs flying around.

Toby and I tried to go to our weekly park trip but it was only a short visit. He heard the gun club off in the distance so by the time we go half way through our walk, he went running back to the car. At least I didn't have to chase him down. He did what he could to not just run off so I think that is a little better. Small steps. He'll never be happy about those noises but I will always do what I can to keep him comfortable.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Road trip part 2 - the map

I did a basic map of where are trip will take us. Our goal is to leave around July 14 or 15 and returning by July 30. We're starting up in Eastern MA, heading down to DC, then over to Knoxville TN. We'll be there for about a week and then head up to Greensburg PA for a day or so before we find our way home. If you're anywhere on the way, please let me know and I'll remap to see if we could make a detour.

I really hope this gets some momentum. I'd love to see other dog friendly parks across the east. It would be a great option for the book. What I hope to do is meet people and their dogs, take LOTS of photos and collect stories about the dogs and the parks they play in.

This will be my first road trip with the whole Family. We've got to find dog friendly lodging on the way but I'm really hoping that Toby will be able to come. We do have a backup plan by sending him to the grandparents house where he will be spoiled with table scraps and long walks every day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rest in Peace Blue

blue getting a treat, originally uploaded by phaird.

Blue lost his battle on Saturday with cancer. His owners went above and beyond for over a year to keep his cancer at bay and even though he had more good days then bad, he couldn't out run his cancer. For the past few weeks, he had been living the good life, getting treats any time he wanted and getting any extra attention but Blue was a working dog. He knew what his roll was and got the best life a dog could ask for.

On Saturday, he walked out side, went over to his favorite tree, relieved himself one last time and fell over. Blue's owners didn't have to ask that question of how much pain is my pet in. Blue took care of that for them.

Blue will be missed greatly, even beyond the park.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blue not so well

blue looking at the camera, originally uploaded by phaird.

Blue and Jake were at the park this Sunday but Blue isn't doing so well. He has good days and bad now. Some days he doesn't want treats. His folks then have go upgrade his treats to hot dogs or hamburger to get him to eat. At the park, he was doing okay. He took his treats and played around a bit. I wouldn't of even noticed because he seemed okay to me but his dad told me about his decline. They know he's going to go soon but as long as he's comfortable they will do what ever they can for him. This isn't their first loss but everyone is really hard.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A really busy week

Captain, originally uploaded by phaird.

last week after going to the park, I've been running non-stop trying to get stuff done for an art show I put together. This doesn't have anything to do with dog parks and even kept me away from my dog (and family) for 2 days. What it does mean though is I was to busy with that that I couldn't find the time to post this picture of Captain running around after the ball. I've been thinking about it all week. I only took about 12 pictures last week but this one was really great. So I'm finally getting around to posting it. I hope you get to enjoy your park today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Road trip part one - The planning

watching, originally uploaded by phaird.

My folks moved to TN this year. Normally we fly to visit them but after the last trip, fighting with the airlines, paranoid security, transferring planes and dealing with delays, I decided to look into driving. From Maynard MA, it takes 15 hours of driving and about $100 of gas. It might be a long drive but it could be a great adventure.

When talking with my wife, I thought, well, why not make it a dog park adventure too. So readers, I've got a basic Mapquest layout of just the most direct route. What I'm hoping is that if you are anywhere near this route and want me to stop by our dog park we could stop for an hour.

Our more expanded route will drive down to DC, to visit by brother and his wife. Then head to Knoxville to visit my folks. After visiting for about a week, head north to Greensburg PA to visit more family and then head back to MA.

We don't have firm dates yet but the trip will be during the beginning of July. We plan on being gone for about 2 weeks. I'm hoping that when on the road, we could make 2 stops each day at a dog friendly park in your area, take some photos and hear about your dogs.

What do you think?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dog survivor

I was just sent this link about a dog that survived 4 months on a island alone. Pretty amazing. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Out and about

orangeBall, originally uploaded by phaird.

I skipped out on my normal visit to the park this Sunday. It was rainy and cold so I decided to enjoy a lazy day at home. It's not so bad though because we went out yesterday and spent a lot of the day outside. I also wasn't sure if Toby would like the park today because when we went to the Acton park, we didn't get 50 yards in before Toby heard the gun shots from the local gun club. As soon as he heard it, he went right back to the car and waited under it until I caught up.

With my lazy Sunday, I ended up reading the newspaper and there was a article by Michael Schaffer called, "The Family Dog, Why we treat our pets like royalty". It is out of his book, "One Nation Under Dog". It talks about how people can "humanize" their experience with their animals. I guess that is true from if we as humans are the center of the universe. It seems to me that there is more of a equality of needs on both sides. We as humans want the companion for any number of reasons and dogs need us for their own reasons. His issue that as society becomes more lonely so we apply human traits, such as a child, to our pets. His view, may not be wrong, but it is only one of many ways of looking at it. With all the time I spend at the park with Toby, it has offered me the opportunity to be more social then anything else I do. The idea that animals have rights and should be treated with compassion applies to the pets we keep as well as the meals we eat. It makes sense to me that as a society, we can consider the other creatures around to better understanding of who we are.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MayDOG meets Maynard town

As a quick background, I'm on the board of a non-profit called MayDOG in the town I live in Maynard and we are in the process of trying to create a dog park in our little town. Lisa, who spear heads the efforts has done a great job collecting data and finding good examples from other towns that have successfully created dog parks.

So yesterday, after many months of Lisa doing the research and talking with all the people she could, we had our day with the Board of Selectman and it was a unique experience. The board was made of 5 people with different backgrounds. Lisa was given the floor and was able to explain her research and show how it would impact the community of Maynard and the surrounding towns.

Now I'll take into account that this is only the second time I've been at a meeting like this and the general running of towns and cities is a real unknown to me. What was so funny was that after her presentation, they had a conversation with each other about the proposal almost like we (which was only 3 of us) wasn't even there. I would say that on one level there was some positive response to the prospect of a dog park. What was so funny was that they then when back and forth looking for ways to keep it from happening. Now I get that they have to way all the options and considering every angle but it didn't seem like that to me.

Each pulled there different way of shooting down the idea. One selectman was all about money and city time. His view was that the city would not allow any town resources into any further research. Another selectman, who is the insurance industry, said that the town would have to know that the liability to the town would be none before he would approve of it.

And everyone was afraid of the DEP (dept of environmental Protection). As soon as that was brought up, you could see that they all had experience with the DEP and it wasn’t a smooth one.

Then the issue was that it wasn’t their top priority. There have been other recreation or park requests over the years that they haven’t been able to do. They said they had to consider those people before dogs. What was interesting was that a solar farm has been suggested for the same area that MayDOG is looking at and that seems to trump any public recreation area for anyone.

I get that they are suppose to think of the best interest of the town but, even though no one was flat out against the park, no one wanted to take a stand for the park either. Many of there arguments were week. Requiring no liability for the town is completely unreasonable. Anyone could hurt themselves anywhere in the town and some over zealous lawyer could try to sue the town for it. That the city wouldn’t offer to help in any way. Not a phone call, not a helpful suggestion, nothing. Lisa already met with one board member so even the busiest town employee could make some time for guidance if nothing else. Then there is the dreaded DEP. If they only try to find things not to do, then that would be a problem.

Seems to my narrow point of view that this group is trying to represent the town like it’s an individual. If someone represents me, the individual, my own interests come ahead of everyone else. But the town isn’t a person. It’s a place that a group of people reside. The town should support the group as a whole. For those who speak up, make requests of the town, it makes sense that the town would want to help out that group or groups within the group so long as it doesn’t take away from anyone else. Looking into the possibility of making something happen maybe more work but it is the more socially oriented way of approaching an issue. If you start from all the reasons it won’t work, it’s much less work but offers so much less for the community.

The park idea has issues that still need to be resolved and we need to continue searching out those issues and looking at all possible options at our disposal. At this point, the town agrees that MayDOG can continue pursuing this option as long as the town doesn’t have to support it in any way. They did make some good points and brought up some things to consider but I would hope that any town that has residents bring ideas that could strengthen the community would consider all that it takes to make something happen instead of finding all the ways to keep something from happening.

You can read MayDOG's response on their website blog.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Start of spring

first spring 09 in the park, originally uploaded by phaird.

Today started out a bit overcast. Toby and I got to the park early to help him get over his nervousness at the park by walking through the woods. We ended up taking the long trail and 40 minutes later we popped out to see a large group of people and dogs all standing in the sun. It was a great sight to see so many people out. The past few weeks with the weather improving, more and more families are out with their dogs.

There was a air of calm at the park, even with so many dogs running around, everyone just seemed to be at ease. It could be that I just walked 40 minutes and was tired but I'd like to think it the park that was calm. It is too early in the season for the dogs to play in the water and the muddy ground slowed some of the fast dogs down. Many people were just standing around, talking and enjoying the day.

I have to say the funniest moment happened when I watched a regular at the park pet a dog while the dog peed on his leg. he was too far away for me to do anything about it and he didn't know it was happening either. I felt bad for him but couldn't help but chuckle just a bit at it. We've all been peed on one time at the park at least once. Everyone knows not to wear nice clothes to the park. You're guaranteed to get dirty somehow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fresh air interview - Speaking for Spot

I must be drawn toward everything dog related. I just happen to turn on the radio tonight and on Fresh Air was a interesting interview with vet, Dr. Nancy Kay who just published a book called Speaking for Spot. When I came into the story she was talking about putting down her dog. You could hear in her voice that it was very emotional for her. It is always good though to hear the humane side of caring for pets.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blue wanting more treats

Blue-031509-wanting more treats, originally uploaded by phaird.

The upside of cancer for Blue is that he gets as many treats as he wants. His owners are just doing what they can to make him comfortable. He is on a pain medication that makes him thirsty and his appetite is as good as ever. He does look thin but he was in good spirits, enjoying himself at the park.

It was a really busy day at the park again. The warmer weather is bringing out lots of dogs and kids. In my quick scan of the park, I would say there were close to 50 dogs within the hour that I was there. It's great to see so many dogs and families out. One woman brought her son (maybe 2 years old) for the first time at the park. He wasn't that interested in the dogs but loved splashing around in the lake and mud. It's a lot of work watching both dog and child but she did it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dog saves dog

A amazing video of compassion from one dog to another. I first saw this and couldn't even watch till I figured out what was really happening. What is even more amazing to me is that these are street dogs that have to struggle every day to survive. It shows me how compassion is not only a human emotion.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blues cancer is back

licking_for_treat, originally uploaded by phaird.

After a long and expensive fight, Blues cancer is back. For many weeks everything seemed to be going really well. He responded well to the months of constant chemo treatment and it seemed like the cancer was in remission. Well, after all that, his cancer is back and he is at a point that nothing else can be done. Blues owners are feeding him well and taking the best care they can of him but he is at the end of days.

When they told me I was speechless. What can you say that doesn't sound simple or small. I've seen Blue and his family for over a year now and look forward to every week they are there. As regulars at the park, they are the type of family that focuses around their pets and they show there love by doing things they know their dogs love.

For all my friends whose dog has passed away recently, the only consolation that I can give is the knowledge that they have given their dog the best life they could give. A dogs life should be filled with love and if they end their lives with love and compassion, then that is the most any dog (or person) could ask for.

Please feel free to leave a comment to Blue and his owners. I'm sure they would appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Toby on bench

Toby on bench, originally uploaded by phaird.

Seems like Sundays here in MA has had bad weather for the past few weeks. We didn't make it to the park again but we did show up a few days earlier. Toby was still super nervous about the park but once we got going he was really happy. We did the easy walk for both our sakes and avoided the main hill.

I always love our walks. Specially in the winter. I know it seems odd to like being outside in the winter but It does give me an excuse to go outside. Most of my days are spent in a dark windowless office and those times of days when I can be outside, I really appreciate it. In the summer, I spend more time outdoors and take it for granted. I even complain a bit about being too hot. Not Toby though. He's from Tennessee and ended up in MA. He still wants us to move but as long as we give him the love he asks for, he'll allow us to stay where we're at.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Missing dog

Last week our family flew down to Tennessee to visit my folks. They needed some time with their one and only grandchild so we packed what we could and flew down. The bad part was that we couldn't bring Toby. Now don't feel bad for him. He stayed at Chez Tighe, my wife's parents place just north of us. Toby got attention all day long. He was showered with treats and love for the whole week we were gone. He doesn't have a crate and gets to sleep in bed with them like he gets at home.

After getting home from a long and grueling trip on United (I've got to write a scathing letter to them still but I'm still too upset to not curse in it), it was very strange to wake up the next day with no dog in my bed. The house was warmed up and we got everything squared away but there was that one thing missing. Toby.

We were going over to pick him up in the afternoon and all day, I felt this little hole in the house. Like a draft through the house that I couldn't find, I knew something was wrong. When we finally went to get Toby, I felt complete. Toby was so happy to see us. After dinner as we're getting ready to leave, He was the first out the door and into the car. Our family was now complete again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dogs in the news

lone terrier, originally uploaded by phaird.

With the big dog show having a older dog win the top prize, I've noticed that dogs have been in the news more. I'm sure it will just be a fad but it's always good for dogs to get some attention in the mainstream. The more dogs are mentioned the better care they will get.

I was looking through with a friend who wants to get a dog. It is overwhelming the number dogs that still need a good home. When you look up a dog like a black lab and you see that more then 6000 who need a good home.

We are thinking of getting a second dog but Toby might not like that so much. He likes being spoiled. He's good when other dogs come over to visit. He plays and enjoys the company as long as he is still the big dog. We'll have to see.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I had to add this video to my blog. It is the best line I've heard in a movie in a long time. It's in a movie called "The Wackness" about a young drug dealer and his shrink (played by Ben Kingsley). He has taken a bunch of drugs are sitting on the beach kinda freaking out. Oh so funny, yet true! The movie is just okay but Ben Kingsley is great.

Getting to know you

swarming for treats, originally uploaded by phaird.

Every community has at least one. That eccentric person who is more involved and passionate about what is going on then everyone else. Someone who stands out and you know everyone knows. The Acton park has a few of those people. There is a woman who brings her Aussie and a jacket packed full of treats. She is always excited about being at the park and seeing all the dogs. I've photographed her surrounded by dogs while she gives out the treats. She isn't just giving basic treats but the really good stuff. Stuff that even the pickiest dogs love. She is quick to laugh and always wants to see all the dogs at the park and knows all their names. Most people come to the park on Sunday to relax, let their dogs run and play with other dogs. Some though, like myself too, find a passion for being at the park. It's really the highlight of the week.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Another dog park debate

Looks like there is another dog park debate brewing in MA. Wellesley has some dog friendly parks but there have been lots of complaints about dog usage that non-dog owners have been complaining. Dog owners in the area now have to catch-up and have formed their own group to deal with this issue. I feel that because dogs are becoming more and more apart of peoples families that they are wanted where ever the family would bring there children or spend time outdoors. People who still feel dogs are only property don't understand that family connection that we connect with our dogs. There is a lot that towns and the general public needs to understand about pets today as our population grows.

You can read more about the story at the boston globe.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bella got her groove back

frisbee1, originally uploaded by phaird.

The hard part about a busy park is that there is always a ball or frisbee thief running around. Well with the colder weather keeping a few people away the park hasn't been to busy. So Bella got a section to to the park all to her self. She got to chase the frisbee as much as she wanted without too many distraction. She had a little competition but over all, she was up and jumping till she finally got tired.

The thing that we thin skinned dog owners have to remember is that most dogs love to be outside where they can run and play. Rain, snow or freezing cold won't slow down most dogs. Once they get out and get moving, most really love it. Even my dog Toby who has a thin coat won't wear any clothes to keep him warm because he would rather be free. I know it's not true for all but I'm always amazed how happy dogs are when they are bounding through the snow. I have to remind myself on those cold, snowy windy Sundays that Toby wants to go out and run free even if I've got to wear a few extra layers.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Back at Waverly

vizsla, originally uploaded by phaird.

Friday, I had to drive into work in Boston. On the way home, since I had Toby with me, we stopped at Waverly Oaks park in Waltham. This was the first park I would take Toby to when we lived in Watertown. Toby LOVED it. He ran and played with all the evening dogs who were showing up.

We met this Vizsla puppy and her owner. They get to come to this park every night. He use to have dog walkers but, like everyone else, he had to cut back so he started bringing the dog to Waverly. They both love it and his 11 month old really needs it. It's the best way to get her energy out.

Like Acton, there are lots of regulars and lots of beautiful dogs. Next time I get a chance, I'm going to go back and spend some more time. Toby really loved it. Even after not going there for over a year, and being covered in snow, he still remembered the park as his favorite place.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

waiting in snow

waiting in snow, originally uploaded by phaird.

Today was another week of fresh snow on Sunday. This week though, it was coming down hard all day. No one was on the road except plows and the hard core dog lovers. Even all the local churches were closed due to snow but that didn't stop a few dog lovers from showing up today.

Toby wasn't having any of it though. Unlike this dog and the few other dogs who were there, Toby was eager to get home. The snow was up to his chest so he had to bound over it to move. That on top of his fear of the park has made it much harder. I'm hoping that a few nice winter days will make up for this and he'll get back in a groove again. I won't give up on him.

To be fair, I was being a baby about being their too. I didn't want my camera getting wet so I didn't mind Toby wanting to leave early.

I did get to meet a couple who are going to be putting a website together to promote Delaney Park for dogs. I think it will be good to get the word out. Delaney has gotten a bad rap for dogs and their owners or walkers because of a few bad owners who don't pick up after their dogs. I'm hoping that with good information, the city and park users will come to a good conclusion.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Winter wonderland

givin the look, originally uploaded by phaird.

With a fresh powder of snow, the park was beautiful. The snow only ended a few hours before so it hadn't been disturbed at all. Toby and got there early again to head up into the hills for a walk. It made for easier time for him. He wasn't too bad after that.

I missed seeing all the Aussie's. Blue and Jake weren't there by the time I left. Blue is still having some issues and has started yet another round of treatment. There is a lot of people sending positive thoughts to Blue and his family.

Bella wasn't there either. Just timing. The look of bad weather can keep some people away but really, most dogs love running in the snow. I'm not always wild about it but even Toby, who can be a baby about getting his feet wet, really loves running in fresh fluffy snow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

First visit of the new year

Oli and Aaron at park, originally uploaded by phaird.

Happy 2009. Sunday was a perfect winter day. It was cold but the sun was shinning and it wasn't windy. It was one of the nicest days at the park in the past few weeks.

Toby was much better today. I showed up about 20 minutes early when only a few dogs were at the park. He was a little nervous but he walked in, did his business, and we did a quick walk through the woods. When we came back out, he was happy and ran and played with other dogs. I was really nervous. I didn't want him to start attacking everyone again. He was good though. Running and wagging his tail.

By 10:30 or so he was heading toward the parking lot and letting me know he was ready to go.

On the way out, I got to meet Aaron and his new dog Oli. He's a neighbor who just adopted his dog a few months back. He runs a fun little blog called Tea and food. Check it out.