Dog Portrait Award for Toronto Posh Pets® Photography

Dog Portrait Award for Toronto Posh Pets® Photography

Toronto commercial photographer vet visit tips

I have a confession to make – I have never entered a print competition. It is one of those things that I never got around to because choosing images to enter into a competition is a job in itself, and requires you to step away from from your images and analyze them for perfection. I love each and everyone of my furry clients and therefore felt that I was far too emotionally attached to their images to make hard decisions.

But, in February I received the opportunity and some encouragement to enter Portrait Masters. Even then, the truth is, I almost did not make the deadline. It was cold and dark outside when I hit the submit button – I think with only 2 hours to go! (shhh…don’t tell anyone…)

Then, you wait

There were over 8600 images entered and each image had to be reviewed by a panel of 5 master judges. So, as you can imagine, that takes some time. And the period between hitting submit and the results being published, is the worst! It gives you all sorts of time to second-guess yourself: did I choose the right image, is it good enough, will they like it…?

All that wondering though, came to an end on Friday when the results were released.

The portrait received a score of 76, and a Bronze Merit.

I have to admit, I was a wee bit chuffed to see the score. While I know that dog mums and dads everywhere love the portraits of their furry family members (as do I), it was admittedly a great feeling to know that completely independent judges feel the same.

Thank you Lilly!

I would be remiss not to thank my little client, Lilly, who is the subject of the portrait. Although she was initially a bit shy when I first met her – it was probably all of the studio equipment I brought and set up in her house – she turned turned into a star once she knew what I wanted. I can truly say:  without Lilly, none of this would have happened! So, thank you, sweetheart.

Are you looking for an award-winning portrait of your own dog or cat? See the details below and let’s make that happen!

POSH PETS STUDIO™ SESSIONS

Classic studio portraiture

  • Studio portraits with a twist…we come to YOU! These sessions mean we are bringing the backdrop, the lights and all of the equipment necessary to set up a  photo studio in your home. Of course, if you prefer, you are welcome to come to our studio.
  • The result of this series is classic artwork with a timeless aesthetic that you will be proud to display on your walls.
  • Ideal for puppies, smaller breeds, cats or pets who are not comfortable travelling or spending time in the great outdoors.
  • Please note: The Creative Fee covers time and talent to photograph a maximum of four (4) subjects, which can be any combination of people and up to two (2) pets who live within the same household. Additional subjects may be photographed at a cost of $50 per subject.
  • Examples of portraits from Posh Pets Studio™ Sessions can be found here.
Have Dog (or Cat), Will Travel | Toronto Luxury Hotel Guide

Have Dog (or Cat), Will Travel | Toronto Luxury Hotel Guide

We, at Posh Pets® Photography, are wanderlust junkies – there’s nothing like exploring a city and discovering its secrets. And we know that the journey can be even more fun if you can bring along your entire family, including Fido or Simba. If you are planning a visit to Toronto, I’ve got great news – there are luxury hotels in Toronto that are cat and dog friendly.

I know that when I travel, I scour the internet looking for tidbits and information on how to get the most out of our trip. Having lived in the Toronto area for most of my life, I can tell you that this is world-class city. It’s also a city of pet-lovers. On any given day, you can see urban dogs going for their daily walks, making quick coffee runs or sitting patiently while their humans enjoy a drink on a patio. So, if you’re planning to travel to Toronto (or who just want to have a quick getaway in your home city), be assured that your Fido does not have to stay in a campground or dingy hotel. There are many options for luxury accommodations, and I’ve rounded up the five that I think you and your dog or cat will just love. (PS: Because you all know how much we love the kitties among us, I’ve indicated which hotels welcome feline guests.)

Four Seasons Toronto Hotel

This hotel is close to my heart because it is sort of the birthplace of Posh Pets Photography. We stayed here celebrating a milestone anniversary for my parents a number of years ago, and, at the time, they were one of the few luxury hotels I could find that would allow us to bring my mom and dad’s two shih tzus. After having photographed MacLeod in one of the suites, I coined the name “posh pet” and the seed was planted in my brain. The hotel has since undergone a major move and is the centre of all of the action during the annual Toronto International Film Festival, where I am sure they welcome their share of celebrity pets. To this day, even those with less star power can have a great night’s rest, so long as Fido doesn’t snore. (Additional $125 charge per stay) Please note: The Four Seasons also accepts feline guests.

main entrance of Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto

toronto pet photographer dog in hotel room

Image provided by the Four Seasons Toronto Hotel.

toronto pet photographer travel guide

Image provided by the Four Seasons Toronto Hotel.

Windsor Arms Hotel

Just down the road from the Four Seasons is another gorgeous boutique hotel. It’s located in the heart of the shopping district, boasts an amazing spa and, if you enjoy a British staple, hosts Afternoon High Tea everyday. My husband treated me to both last year for our anniversary, so I can vouch for the fact that the Windsor Arms takes care of its human guests. They are also very pet-friendly – one of the few that allow you to leave your pet unattended in your room/suite for short periods of time. (Additional $50 charge per stay) Please note: The Windsor Arms also accepts feline guests.

Windsor Arms Hotel at Bloor Street, Toronto

Gaby the hotel dog of the Windsor Arms Hotel

Image provided by the Windsor Arms Hotel.

suite at the Windsor Arms Hotel

Image provided by the Windsor Arms Hotel.

Le Germain Toronto Maple Leaf Square

Located in the downtown core, this is the hotel for you if you are a Toronto sports fan. The local hockey (The Leafs), baseball (The Jays), american football (The Argos) and european football (soccer – TFC) teams all have their home stadiums/arenas close by, as are the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium.  This luxury hotel has an entire page dedicated to #poshpetstravel information. (Additional $30 charge per stay)

Main entrance of St. Germain hotel in Toronto

Lobby of Le Germain Hotel, Toronto.

Image provided by the Le Germain Toronto Maple Leaf Square.

Suite in Le Germain Toronto hotel.

Image provided by the Le Germain Toronto Maple Leaf Square.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The Fairmont brand is known worldwide for it’s attention to luxury. The Toronto property was officially opened in 1929 and was originally the tallest building in the British Commonwealth. I loved our stay at the Royal York! If you are looking for a hotel that boasts all of the amenities of the modern world, but the old-world charm of painted ceilings, travertine pillars, crystal chandeliers and wall hangings, the Royal York is for you. You can even try and ride elevator number nine which has carried such guests as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I’m sure your posh pet will find that appropriate when you check-in. (Additional $25 charge per night)

Entrance to Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto

Signature Double Suite at Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

Image provided by the Fairmont Royal York.

Lobby of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

Image provided by the Fairmont Royal York.

Shangri-La Hotel

I walked past this hotel almost every day during its construction (it’s one of Toronto’s more recent additions) and it’s modern all-glass exterior is simply striking. It’s great for art lovers, as this hotel is situated within walking distance of the home of the Canadian Opera Company as well as Roy Thomson Hall where the Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays. The Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario are just a quick cab ride away. And you can do all of this without worrying about your ‘small to medium size’ pet. They allow pets to remain in the room unattended (as long as they are crated), and the concierge is more than happy to assist you with pet-sitting needs if Fido one needs more individual attention. (Additional $125 charge per stay) Please note: The Shangri-La also accepts feline guests.

Shangri-La Hotel on Avenue Road, Toronto

Lobby at Shangri-La Hotel Toronto.

Image provided by the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto.

Moongate Suite at Shangri-La Hotel Toronto

Image provided by the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto.

 

So, with that, welcome to Toronto! While you’re here, you might even want to consider a custom portrait session for the one that makes you smile every single day. For the dog guests, a Posh Pups in the City™ Session would be the perfect place to start. For the well-travelled cats, we could arrange something inside. Either way, make memories of your visit to Toronto last a lifetime!

POSH PETS BOUTIQUE™ SESSIONS

Where it all begins

  • Pre-session Design Consult that ensures we create images you will be thrilled with.
  • The result is gorgeous custom artwork the life your pet shares with your family.
  • A personal Ordering Consultation to ensure you select the right images from the gallery.
  • Please note: The Creative Fee covers time and talent to photograph a maximum of four (4) subjects, which can be any combination of people and up to two (2) pets who live within the same household. Additional subjects may be photographed for a small additional fee.
  • Examples of portraits from Posh Pets Boutique™ Sessions can be found here.

Photographing the Northern Lights in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Photographing the Northern Lights in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

I am just getting around to putting up some images from my trip a few weeks ago when I travelled to Yellowknife to see and photograph the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. (I previously wrote about photographing for the NWT SPCA and meeting all of the furries in this post.) I had signed up for a workshop with Dave Brosha and Paul Zizka who are incredible photographers – if you haven’t seen their portfolios, please check them out – so it was the opportunity to not only see this night-sky wonder, but also a chance to learn how to photograph it.

For many people, seeing the Northern Lights is on the bucket list. I have actually seen them before, but it was in September, so the display was much dimmer. Of course, we are dealing with the forces of nature, so there is no guarantee of seeing anything. But both Dave and Paul had chosen the optimum time of year to give us the best chance. And, that time, I discovered, was in February. In the Canadian Arctic.

I’m going to let that sink in for moment.

February was chosen because it is cold and clear, giving you the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Again, February. In the Arctic. At night. Because it is cold.

The only problem was: I really don’t like the cold. I don’t like the so-called cold in Toronto and try to make like a bear and hibernate whenever the winter hits. The idea of the cold in the Arctic…well, truthfully, I was a little scared. When the time came to leave, I thought maybe this was the worst idea I had ever come up with. But, I was booked, my bags were packed and my husband was pretty determined that I was getting on the plane.

The first night of the workshop and everyone was eagerly watching the Auroramax to see if the lights would make an appearance. It started slowly, but at about 9:00 p.m., we all loaded into cars and headed out to our first spot. The display that night was incredible! You could literally hear the cries of amazement from the groups of tourists assembled as the lights danced across the sky.


However, because it was the first night, it was all a bit overwhelming. I think quite a few of us had to relearn how our equipment worked. Working in almost complete darkness except for the full moon, along with a -41 temperature (with windchill)…well, there was a learning curve. Things like:

  • What glove/mitt combination will allow me to preserve all of my fingers while still allowing me to change the settings on my camera? (I had brought along four pieces which lent itself to a dazzling array of combinations.)
  • How do I hide that extra battery so that I can have a chance of finding it again under the numerous layers of clothes I am wearing? (I had five!)
  • Does anyone else realize what an absolutely fantastic invention snow pants are? (I cannot believe how much I fought my parents growing up about wearing them while walking to middle school because they were not ‘cool’.)
  • Is the unrecognizable person beside me, with whom I am having a conversation, a part of my group?(There were groups of tourists around and it’s hard to know what anyone looks like when they are bundled up.)
  • How do I tighten and secure my tripod when I can barely feel it?
  • Did my tripod just freeze in the open position and no longer fits into the car?!

While you might be chuckling as you read those questions, frostbite is a real possibility at those temperatures and it is best not to take chances. So, we left the car running the entire time. It gave anyone who needed it some respite if they got cold. (My lovely friend and host for the few days also kindly made us all hot chocolate and brought it in a large thermos – she’s the best!)

I have to say that I was always surprised when I brought my camera inside the car at night’s end how frozen it looked. But, it worked like a tank. Never gave me any problems and my batteries lasted very well.

By the second night, we were encouraged to push our creativity and see if we could do more than just ‘get green’ in our images. With some new found skills and experience, we set off! Some in the group had brought props, so we played around with those.

 

 

I call this the ultimate selfie. Yep, that’s me, sitting in the snow (snowpants, yea!) and just gazing at the wonder around me.

 

person looking at northern lights

I sent this image back home to the amusement of my friends, all who know my aversion to cold. This is me, taking my last breath….

breath in cold air under aurora

I also had a chance to play around with off camera lighting. Visualizing, pre-focussing, setting a timer, trudging through the surprisingly deep snow (whoops!) to stand absolutely still for a long exposure…for someone who had little to no experience with night photography, it was great fun!

full moon in yellowknife

On the third night, it was not looking too good for seeing the Aurora – we had a lot of cloud. But then it cleared up and were treated to another show. Nothing like getting an image of the full moon and the lights in one frame! This image was created on the Dettah Ice Road.

northern lights and full moon

I also saw my first ‘moon dog’. Never having seen one before, I had nothing to compare it to, but I’m assured that this is a rather large one.

moon dog in the arctic

Towards the end of the night, people were trying all sorts of ideas. It’s nice when you have someone willing and able to swing burning materials around at great speed.
steel-wool-night-photography

By the time I made it back to Toronto, I was dead tired, but happy. I walked out to meet my husband at the airport carrying my coat in my arms because I was too warm. It was -10C. My husband burst out laughing when he saw me. Here I was, the person who is cold inside the house most days during the winter walking around outside with just a light hoodie on. I guess I’ve got the North in my blood now…

 

 

Finding Pigs who Swim in Exuma, The Bahamas.

Finding Pigs who Swim in Exuma, The Bahamas.

Ever wondered what makes a Posh Pets® girl smile? Well, in terms of dream experiences, I have, for quite a while had one involving pigs. Ever since I read an article last year about these delightful, wild, swimming pigs who live on an island in The Bahamas, I’ve wanted to go there. Well, this week, I finally had the chance!

The swimming pigs live on a couple of islands in The Exumas, a region of the Bahamas. The Exumas are a chain of 365 islands – the locals say, one for each day of the year – with the most incredible clear, turquoise waters and a soft, sandy bottom. The clarity is stunning, but it does mean that it is very hard to judge depth which can be a real issue for boaters not familiar with the area. The particular beach we visited was called Big Major Cay. It’s now known as “Pig Beach” after its adorable residents. Isn’t this water gorgeous?

clear turquoise waters of The Exumas

The pigs freely approach boats as they come towards the beach which is why Big Major Cay is the most popular. The Cay is completely protected, resulting in very calm waters in which the pigs feel comfortable swimming. That is why, while a couple of other islands have wild pigs, they do not necessarily swim – their waters are too rough. Most tourists bring veggies or water, so the pigs have learned to look upon us gangly bi-peds as great sources of food. This was the first guy to approach our boat with a big smile!

swimming pig in water, Bahamas

Of course, their real intentions quickly became clear – they were looking for food! Seeing their opened mouths and knowing that they are not domesticated (always respect wildlife!), made me a little nervous to get off the boat. So, I did the wise thing. I let someone else go first. 🙂 But, once I saw that he survived, I was in! I found the piggies to be curious and friendly, so I got to pet a few heads and place a few carrots into eager mouths.

swimming pig with mouth wide open for carrots

These next few images were the ones I really wanted to get. The pigs swim like dogs, doing a little doggie-paddle. So, I wanted to be able to catch the pig with his head out of the water and the sight of his fat little body in the clear water. To do so, I had lure them out to deeper water with the promise of treats. They were funny little guys – they would come out so far, but if they saw someone else closer to land with food, they would give me this look as to say, Nope. Too much trouble., and turn around!

pig photography bahamas

pig swimming in The Bahamas

swimming pig in exam, bahamas

With about 20 adult pigs on the beach, it’s no surprise that there are also little piglets on the island. They don’t venture into the water too much, but they are happy to receive fresh water and apples (softer than carrots) from anyone willing to provide them.

3 little piglets on pig beach, bahamas

And because I am a pet photographer, I had to pose a pig and take a portrait. Well, truth is, there was no posing these guys…I just waited them out. This one was sizing me up. Was the carrot I was holding enough of a temptation to make the effort to swim?

pig portrait on pig beach the bahamas

You can watch a video of the pigs in action here. It was my husband’s first time using a GoPro and he did a great job of catching the underwater action along with what was going on above. Hope you enjoy it!

Getting There: There are various ways from the do-it-yourself to fully guided tours. (1) If you are fortunate enough to own a boat or know someone who does, you could chart a course for Big Major Cay and spend as much time as you like with the swimming swine. (2) You can fly to Exuma and charter a boat. (3) You can book with a tour operator. We were staying in Nassau, so we went with Harbour Safaris who did an amazing job. Our day included transportation on a speed boat, swimming with the pigs, a lovely lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club (I hear the parties are legendary), and feeding grapes to a group of wild iguanas on yet another island of The Exumas.

Technical Info: I have never photographed underwater before, so there have understandably been some questions about my camera. These were not taken with my usual workhorse – the Canon 5DMIII – a DSLR I use for client sessions. The simple reason is because I was not ready to invest in the required underwater housing to keep it dry and safe. This is a little point-and-shoot which came with great reviews. It’s the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 and it is definitely waterproof and boasts that it can be dropped from a height of 6ft. and still keep ticking. Well, it wasn’t dropped at any time, but it was in and out of salt water, sand, thrown in a bag and it has held up. I rinsed it in clean, fresh water each night and dried it off, but that is just because I am used to showing a certain amount of respect for my equipment. This is a point-and-shoot camera which does not allow you to go into full manual, so as a hardened manual shooter on my DSLR, there was an adjustment period. However, it is truly amazing what can be accomplished by reading the manual and a little practice 🙂

Hope you have enjoyed coming on this little trip! Maybe now you will add seeing the swimming pigs to your travel list too…

Baxter – Happy Gotcha Day! | Toronto Pet Photography

Baxter – Happy Gotcha Day! | Toronto Pet Photography

Three years. Three years of a warm, dry, safe place to sleep at night. A full belly. An older sister you comforted and cared for. A little sister you adore. Conversations. Head bumps. Snuggles. Naps in a sunbeam. And lots of love from your two humans.

Happy Gotcha day Baxter! A celebration of the day you left the shelter behind and entered the Posh Pets family. Truly, our world is so much better with you in it.

xoxo

black and white cat portrait

Dogs and Cats of the World – Bulgaria | Dog Photographer

Dogs and Cats of the World – Bulgaria | Dog Photographer

If you have been wondering why things have been a little quiet around Posh Pets lately, it is because I have been travelling in Eastern Europe! Bulgaria, to be exact. Now, it might seem a little off the beaten path, but the country is surprising accessible by major airlines. It also boasts membership in the European Union, but has not adopted the Euro, so travel is fairly safe, easy and inexpensive.

Our first stop was in the south, almost at the Greek border. We took a drive up to Kovachevitsa in the Pirin Mountains which was a breathtaking route.
Pirin mountains and valley

The tiny village of Kovachevitsa is a place where time seems to have stood still. So much so, that I am told that the village is used as a backdrop for movies when they need a authentic balkan experience.

old abandoned truck in Bulgariatraditional bulgarian house

Tons of tiny streets and alleyways to explore…

stone alley way in Bulgaria

But, you know my first love are the animals and I had the pleasure of meeting lots! Almost immediately, this sweetheart greeted us.

soft gaze of homeless dog

And not far off was this little one, peeking at me from under a car.

cat peeking out from under a car

This beautiful boy commanded my attention! He thought I was quite a curiosity with my camera and strange noises. And when he had figured me out, he walked off gracefully…

wolfhound in rustic village, bulgaria

A friendly little kitty followed us around while we explored the winding paths and ‘streets’ of the village.

cat walking on cobblestone road

However, this beautiful, BIG boy was the most outgoing of them all. He really was quite large – he easily matched me in weight and size. And he was a ‘leaner’ too. If you reached down to pat him, he nearly pushed you over with his big furry self. Just wanted to lovins’.

beautiful black and white lab dogwide angle shot of black and white dog

This is ‘his’ tavern (the translation of the word MEXAHA) and I could believe it when he was willing to pose beside the sign.dog-toronto-posh-pets

Sometimes, though, you have to look down and see the wee ones of the world. This tiny snail actually lifted his head and struck a pose for my camera – I guess he thought this was his moment of fame!

snail on stone wall

There’s much more to show and tell from our trip! I’ll keep sharing as I manage to process some of the photographs (I’m writing this post from an airport right now), so stay tuned…

Beaux-Arts Brampton Juried Fine Art & Photography Show | Toronto Dog Photographer

Beaux-Arts Brampton Juried Fine Art & Photography Show | Toronto Dog Photographer

A few weeks ago, I quietly entered my first juried show. (Well, it wasn’t completely quiet in Posh Pets land as I had sort of left it to the last minute to get my entry together.) I wasn’t really expecting much – more doing it for the experience and, if I was selected to show my work, that would be kind of fun.

Well, I was so thrilled when I received notification that my photograph, Arctic Tundra Dog 1 had been accepted into the 8th Annual Beaux-Arts Brampton Open Juried Fine Art & Photography Show. As an exhibiting artist, I was invited to attend the Reception and Awards Presentation this past Thursday evening. Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed when it was announced that I had been chosen to receive the 2nd Place Photography award.

The show runs from March 31 until April 18, 2015 and includes both the fine arts and photography mediums. Come and see a beautiful dog portrait on a canvas print as well as the images from all of the other great artists!

Beaux Arts Brampton
70-74 Main Street North
Brampton, Ontario L6V 1N7

 

Pet Photographer wins art award

Mentoring – A Chance to Learn from the Best | Toronto Dog Photographer

Mentoring – A Chance to Learn from the Best | Toronto Dog Photographer

Phew! It has been a rather busy Fall in Posh Pets land – so many cute, wiggly, furry dog faces to meet and photograph. And we had some of the most beautiful scenery to create portraits in with what was a gorgeous Autumn in Toronto. I cannot wait to share all of these sessions with you! (Hopefully, the imagery will keep us positive as we face another winter in Southern Ontario.)

In the midst of all of this, I also had a couple of days to catch my breath and spend some time with the amazing Barbara Breitsameter of Poppyblue Photography. If you are not familiar with Barb’s work, you should definitely go right now and check it out!  Barb is a Certified Professional Photographer, a Platinum Photographer of the Year for both 2013 and 2014, and a platform speaker for Imaging USA (National Convention). However, even with all of those accolades, she is an amazing, warm, down-to-earth, humble person who is more than happy to share her knowledge with those willing to learn. I felt so privileged to have the opportunity to mentor with her. Barb, thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart!

So, you are probably wondering what did we do? Well, I have good news! I have finally finished editing some of the images we created together and am ready to share them here on the Posh Pets blog.

First of all, here is one of Barb’s own dogs, Fern.  Fern is a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy…gorgeous from head to toe. She had been at the vet for a small procedure just the day before I met her, so I expected a quiet, dopey puppy. Nothing could be further from the truth! Fern wagged her tail and strained to greet me. By the second day, she was my awesome model.

Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy on couchsweet bernese mountain dog

The great thing about a mentoring session is the opportunity to go beyond your comfort level and try new things. In this case, I wanted to master studio photography. Knowing that Barb has won awards for her studio work, I was keen to get inside her brain and learn everything I could. Barb lined up some amazing models for me to photograph and guided me in the lighting. It was a great chance to experiment with so many pieces of equipment. Of course, I spent a good amount of time simply snuggling with the models 🙂

Two of the most perfect, roly-poly, frenchies (french bulldogs) I have ever laid eyes on! I literally squealed with delight when they walked up to the studio!

two french bulldogs in studio

And then we had four of the most gorgeous basset hounds to photograph! They arrived in their very own, professionally wrapped vehicle…these guys are celebrities on the show circuit!

Basset hound on modern couchbasset hound on black backgroundprofile shot of basset houndbasset hound portrait on curvy couch

We also did some outside photography which is definitely my forte.  Again, these two snuggle-bums!

french bull dogs on boxes in autumn

And then Summer…she became our model after a rather serendipitous stop at the local veterinarian. Her Dad was so gracious to give us the opportunity to work with a lovely golden retriever puppy!

golden retriever in field

golden retriever puppy on blue benchLast, but not least, I really have to thank Barb a ton for this last image. It seems appropriate that one of the last photographs a pet photographer from Canada could take was a dog holding a maple leaf. Not only did Barb help me by setting this up, she showed me how she would edit it. The result is simply stunning!

golden retriever puppy with leaf in her mouth

Thanks for following along on this little pet photographer’s adventure. I am always so happy to be able to learn new things and then incorporate them into my business and client sessions. If you are thinking of a Winter or Spring session for your furry face, now would be the time to set this up. In fact, given how busy this Fall was, if you really have your heart set on capturing the colours of next year’s Autumn, contact me and we can get you on the books NOW. Your first step is to contact me here. I so look forward to meeting you and your furry family members!

 

MacLeod | Toronto Dog Photographer

MacLeod | Toronto Dog Photographer

shih tzu smiling

“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.” – Sydney Jeanne Seward

I loved this dog.

It has taken me a while to write this post. A week to be exact. Seven days. Almost 168 hours since we’ve said good-bye. And I still can’t believe that MacLeod is gone. Because he didn’t live with us – he belonged to my family – it is still easy for me to imagine him snoring loudly in his sleep at my sister’s or parent’s place. At 15 years of age, he did do a lot of sleeping. And snoring.

But, it wasn’t always that way. MacLeod and his sister, Anthea, came to our family when they were both wiggly, little shih tzu puppies, both from the same litter. Like any puppy out there, they were both unbelievably cute. And although I loved Anthea and her love of exploration, it was MacLeod that was my favourite.

MacLeod, aka Mackie, Big Mac, Maxster, Mister Magoo, was a character. He was your everyman’s dog. He had no airs about him, took you at your word and had a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ way about him. He loved people, playing, balls and getting dirty. All the while being gorgeous.

Somehow, over the years, I had become  “Auntie Karen” to MacLeod. When he would hear those two words, he would get beside himself with excitement, whining and crying in anticipation. So much so, my family would not tell him I was coming to visit until I was less than 10 minutes away. When I would finally arrive, he would be there, ready to greet me at the door. And then, he would look up at me, turn his mouth up at the corners and give me an honest-to-goodness ‘grin’. After the initial fuss, he would turn his attention to my belongings and go through my bags in hopes of finding a treat, a new ball or something else wonderful that he was sure I had brought for him. And, when I finally settled in a chair to rest, there he would be – climbing on my lap and resting on my leg.

Time, of course, marches on. To see him get older, and less playful was hard. But when he got sick, I was heartbroken. My friend wasn’t the same. Getting up to greet me was difficult – laying back down was harder. There was no more joy in the thought of playing with a ball. And no more grin.

And so last week, my sister made the decision that the time had come to let MacLeod go. And we gathered, as we have for all our family’s pets, to say our good-byes. I had promised him I would be there when the time came, and I made good on that promise by holding his paw gently as he found peace.

While it is still hard to believe he is gone, I am so happy he came into our lives and that he allowed us to share him for a little while. Thank you Mackie. Please know we will miss you always.

I loved this dog. I still do.

shih tzu in bowtie

 

Lady Jane Grey | Toronto Cat Photographer

Lady Jane Grey | Toronto Cat Photographer

They say the camera does not lie. And yet, I look at this photo of Lady Jane taken just yesterday, and I am stunned by how good she looks. She was always a pretty kitty and even at 17 years old, Lady Jane was a beautiful old girl. But, what this image doesn’t show is the sadness that surrounds it. For, it was taken during the brief space of 5 minutes yesterday when she had stopped vomiting, we had already contacted the emergency vet to say we were coming and were about to place her in her carrier for her final car ride. I got her to relax on our bed (truly one of her favourite places) and took a few final pictures. Within 10 minutes of this image, we were on our way.

grey and white cat on bed

Lady Jane was a wonderful girl and such a trooper. Cats often are. She had been diagnosed in early October with Chronic Renal Failure and her vet had warned us not to expect more than a couple of months. We were understandably shocked and it took us some time to process the information. We knew she had been losing weight, but I don’t think either my husband, Dean, or I were prepared for the severity of the issue. But our vet kindly answered all of our questions, sent us home with lots of information and medication to stabilize her, and we determined to simply cherish the time we had left.

And you know, we got into a rhythm with giving her her medication and ensuring that she ate properly. It was at that point that we realized that Lady Jane had probably been feeling unwell for some time, because the medication helped her to rally. In the 6 months since her diagnosis, Lady Jane has done things and explored area she had never done before. She learned how to climb onto the desk in my husband’s office so that she could sit on the windowsill and watch the world go by. She no longer used the stool beside our bed which had been placed there to help her old bones get up more easily – she bounded from the floor and back off again. And then sometimes, she leaped from the bed onto the dresser. Her greatest success was when she propelled herself from the couch onto our dining table. Most of these things would certainly would have been unacceptable in our house (no getting up on the dining table!), but the fact that she had the desire and the ability to do it astounded us. For a cat who had lived most of her life on one level (she had been a little portly in her younger years), it was a joy to see her enjoy herself.

And then there was her personality. When we adopted her brother Baxter 18 months ago as a companion to Lady Jane, we could not have picked a better boy. Baxter has confidence, without a hint of aggressiveness. His patient encouragement combined with her feeling much better, and Lady Jane had come out of her shell. She travelled easily and adapted to new environments. She greeted visitors when they came into our home. She stepped outside onto the balcony and felt the sun on her face. It was like she had a bucket list of things to do and we had the joy of seeing her cross things off the list.

We almost convinced ourselves that she would be with us a long time. Our friends would ask how she was doing and we would answer that she was doing remarkably well. Deep down, we knew the disease would eventually get the better of her, but given her newfound love of life and adventure, it seemed a long way off. And, we were not prepared for how quickly it would happen.  It seems like on Friday the medication stopped working which translated into Lady Jane being extremely picky over her food. We had been very fortunate that throughout everything she was a great drinker – bowls and bowls of water helped flush her ailing kidneys and kept her happy. But, by yesterday morning, she had stopped drinking, stopped eating and begun almost non-stop vomiting. She also found it very difficult to use the litter box. I gave her her medication to help with the vomiting and offered her her favourite ‘treats’ – chicken and lactose-free milk. She refused the chicken, but lapped up the milk. Only to bring it all up within 10 minutes. It was as if her digestive system was shutting down.

Seeing her suffer this way helped us making a heart-wrenching decision. Of course, not only was it a Sunday but it was a holiday and therefore her regular vet was closed. Which led us to the wonderful people at Vaughn-Richmond Hill VEC who helped her pass, surrounded by the people who loved her most. I got to hold her and I hope that she felt me stroking her and that the last thing she heard was me telling her how much I loved her.

Seventeen years is a long time.  A small furry kitten originally from Brampton Animal Shelter left her mark on our lives and on our hearts. She made us smile. She made us laugh. There is now only a gaping hole that she used to inhabit.

Lady Jane, our little furry face. You were loved. Please know, we love you still.

“You’re the one that I love, and I’m saying good-bye…” ~A Great Big World (Say Something)

beautiful cat

Bella, Maya & Windy | Pet Photography in the Dominican Republic

Bella, Maya & Windy | Pet Photography in the Dominican Republic

Last week, the Posh Pets‘ family got to the see sun! Getting away to enjoy sunny days, blue skies and sandy beaches is reason enough to go, but this time we had an extra special reason – my sister-in-law’s wedding in the Dominican Republic. Las Terrenas de Samana, to be exact, and just so you all know I am not kidding when I say it is gorgeous, here is what you see as you drive from the airport.

Samana Penninsula, Dominican Republic

Now, at this point, you would expect me to be sharing with you wedding photos. But nope, I’ve done a count – I have 51 images from the wedding and over 300 images of various dogs and cats!  (You know you are a pet photographer when…) So instead, let me introduce you to Bella, Maya and Windy, 3 “siblings” that make their home in the Dominican Republic along with their humans.  First up, was lovely Windy, who has a “sad puppy” face that melts your heart.

sad beagle face lying on floor

But, then she was quite accommodating and willing to pose like a super model.

beagle sitting beside green bushes

Beautiful Bella who won me over with her quiet spirit.

beautiful dog sitting by bushes

And then I met Maya who made me laugh…her papa was a mastiff and the result is that her head looks like it is too big for the rest of her body. But, she can certainly do the head tilt!

dog with head tilt mastiff

However, the goal of this session was to capture a family portrait of all of them together. I was told that they really, really, really wanted this image, and to tell you the truth, I had no idea if we could get it. During my short time on the island, it quickly became apparent that Dominican dogs are very different from Canadian dogs. Their entire lifestyle is different – they live outside where they can come and go as they like and are usually employed in protecting the property and their family. In short, they don’t play with toys, they don’t do tricks, they easily block out any noises that would assist you in getting their attention, and they are not accustomed to being ‘posed’ in any sort of fashion. But, it was a challenge we were going to take up.

I wish I had the space to share with you all of the ‘outtakes’ that happened before this image was finally created. We had tongues sticking out, faces turned away, doggie bums toward the camera and one fall into a very thorny bush (ouch!). But, in the end, my camera tells me that it took only 1/200 of a second to get this. Makes it sound easy-peasy, right?  😉

group shot 3 dogs and 2 peopleWe ended the high energy session in the blazing sun (read: very HOT) with this…a beautiful statement on the relationship the three dogs share with their people.

black and white sunny garden 3 dogs

Would you like to immortalize your ‘pack’ in a family portrait? We can do that in Canada too! See our Investment page for your options and then contact Posh Pets Photography here. Hope to welcome you to the Posh Pets family soon!

Happy Gotcha Day! | Toronto Pet Photographer

Happy Gotcha Day! | Toronto Pet Photographer

Hard to believe it has been a year since we first brought Baxter home and into our lives. And now, we can’t imagine a day without him.

Even though it went by so quickly, a lot has changed in a year. First, Baxter has put on a little weight. He is still our long-legged beauty, but we are trying to watch the pounds so that he doesn’t lose his athletic shape. He does love to eat and with the changes in how we are feeding Lady Jane, he does sometimes manage to get an extra few mouthfuls of food. He is very good in that he never attempts to steal her food from her. But, once she has walked away (and Lady Jane never finishes her bowl), he will try one of two tactics. The first consists of sauntering ever-s0-casually in the direction of her bowl, as if to say, “I’m just taking a walk”, hoping that we don’t see and then he can have a bit of a feast before he is noticed. If we see him, all I have to say is no and he obediently backs off. The second is downright hilarious. He will choose this route if we are near her bowl, and he therefore knows that he will be noticed should he try his first method. In this case, he will simply take off at great speed, run by her bowl and, as he passes, dive in for one mouthful as he continues at breakneck speed around the corner. We call it drive-by eating.

Baxter has also learned our routine. He is a patient little guy and doesn’t often wake us up in the morning. However, if we sleep in a little longer than usual, I will usually feel a gentle pat on my face as if he is checking to see if I missed my alarm. He also snuggles up at night or burrows down in the covers if he wants to feel safe. I love to feel his fur against my legs and Baxter does enjoy being cuddled, snuggled, picked up and generally told that he is loved.

So, today we celebrate! One year of laughter and cuddles and fun! Crazy antics and friendship. Treats and belly rubs. And mostly, love. (Baxter will have a few extra mouthfuls tonight in honour of his Gotcha! Day!)

silver tabby on red couch natural light