Were you the person who knew that your dog or cat was for you as soon as you saw them? When we first met Bentley at Pet Smart where he was being housed during his rescue days, we knew that we were meant for each other. It would appear that Bentley did too and he was very intent on closing the deal. I remember that he confidently strutted out of his cage and came out begging to be picked up. And when I willingly did that, he instantly snuggled into my neck. My husband and I looked at each other and whispered…I think he’s the one.
Our first few months together flew by. Just like all new cat parents, those early-love days with Bentley were full of learning, but we had the opportunity to make lots of one-of-a-kind memories and set the stage for our life together.
Here are some of the things we did to celebrate those first few months and develop our lifelong bond.
1. Capture memories on your smartphone.
This is one that most people find unexpected, coming from me. After all, why would a professional pet photographer encourage people to take their own photos with a smartphone?
Well, here’s the reason: memories and events are fleeting and you cannot get that moment back. So…when the opportunity presents itself, take the photo with whatever you have in your hand at the time! When you look back at that photo, the memories will come flooding back and you’ll have captured it to enjoy it forever.
So, don’t forget to photograph the big events like Gotcha Day, First Walk, First Bath, First Haircut etc. But also some of those details: The colour and texture of their fuzzy fur, the toe beans, the huge paws. They change so fast, don’t let it slip by.
Pro Tip: Pick out your favourites and back up the rest of your puppy pics each month, so they don’t get lost or deleted. Afterward, you can safely remove outtakes from your camera roll so you have plenty of room for new photos and can avoid the dreaded “out of space” message.
2. Keep a journal or memory book
The goal is to capture the firsts, the best moments, the fun times and the silly abandon of your new dog or cat as they happen. In addition to weekly highlights, track their growth, the food and treats they like (or dislike) and anything that will be interesting to remember. Trust me. You’ll enjoy revisiting these moments in the future. When you and your now adult cat and dog are enjoying some quiet time, you can read through and be surprised with how much you both have changed and grown together. There will be little habits and events that you may forget ever existed. Or – and no one wants to think of this now – when the years have passed and you have said your final goodbyes, you’ll want to look back at a life well-lived. I know that in our case, the written notes we have kept on all of our pets are so heartwarming when we read them now.
Pro Tip: Don’t get caught up in the journalling you see on social media where every page has to look pretty and well-designed. Just get your memories down on paper to preserve them. We use a plain coloured notebook from the dollar store. Then, if in the future you want to design something around the memories you’ll be at your leisure to do so.
3. Start The Great Adventure
Get out there and enjoy life! Weekly adventures help your puppy grow into a happy, comfortable adult, and build your own lifelong habit of seeking out new experiences together.
And for those who want an adventure cat, now it he time to start exposing them bit by bit to the great big world out there. That means getting them used to a harness, a backpack (or some other safe space for them), as well as the sights and sounds of the outdoors.
Have fun, but don’t overwhelm your dog or cat with too much stimulation or with frightening situations. Pay attention to how your pup or kitty is responding to new sights and sounds, and take a break if you see any signs of fear or stress like yawning, showing the whites of their eyes, shaking etc. Plan for short, fun periods of time together.
Pro Tip: Have an exit strategy if things get overwhelming for you or your pup. Even if you have planned to spend a certain amount of time at a location, be ready to leave early and return home. Snuggling at home is a perfectly great way to spend your day too.
4. Book a Professional Pet Portrait Session
Okay, so full transparency – I am biased because I have a front-row seat to see how meaningful professional pet portraits are to dog moms and cat dads.
But hear me out: Not only does a custom-designed session ensure that you receive portraits that you are thrilled with, but an experienced pet photographer will also be able to capture the love between you and your pup. Even if you are camera shy, a professional photographer will make you look good. And here’s a secret, most people completely relax when all they are doing is simply having a good time with their puppy or kitten. No more awkward thoughts about what to do with their hands, where to look etc. You just love on them and let us capture it.
Pro Tip: You can always plan to only have your pet photographed, but I always encourage clients to dress as if they might get into one or two images. It gives you the option. And by the time we get to the end and you see how much fun it is, 80% of clients do get a few portraits too. Get in touch to discuss your perfect portrait session.
They call it puppy love (or kitten love)
Bentley is now 21 months old. When I look back on those first days and photos I am shocked at how much he has grown and changed in a relatively short period of time. I am so glad we took the time to build our relationship. Most importantly, I’m glad I saved the times we shared in words, pictures, and traditions. In some ways, I wish I had saved even more of them!
Did you do something else meaningful in the early days that you think more puppy and kitten parents should try? How did you capture those puppy moments? Shoot me an email or let me know or tag me on Instagram.
Looking to book your own new puppy or kitten session?
We have a number of options including outdoor, studio, in the home, and our popular A Year in the Life series sessions to really capture the growing stage.