Meet Rio. Rio is an energetic, lovable and mild-tempered Portuguese water dog. Rio’s mom teaches at NAU and loves coming home to her best friend every day.
People who know me often say that I appear more comfortable with animals than I am with people. They are not entirely wrong. Documenting the love between humans and their furry friends through pet photography may just be my favorite thing – ever.
Because Rio has so much personality, I created this little slide show. It’s something I offer as part of pet photography sessions.
About Portuguese Water Dogs
Portuguese Water Dogs come from Algarve – a coastal region in the south of Portugal. Cão de água as the Portuguese Water Dog is known as in Portugal literally translates to “dog of water.”
The dogs are like shepherd dogs. But instead of herding farm animals, they herd fish. The dogs were trained to drive fish into the fishermen’s nets, retrieve broken nets, and act as a courier between ships.
Portuguese Water Dogs rode in fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the Atlantic waters of Portugal to the waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught cod.
Portuguese Water Dogs are known for their non-shedding quality and became famous when President and Mrs. Obama adopted two of the breed – Bo and Sunny.
Why Portuguese Water Dog Makes Good Pets
Did you know dogs can have a sense of humor? I did. And this breed has a very good one. During their fish-herding days, Portuguese Water Dogs were part of the crew. They ate with the crew, were often paid for their services and spent their free time hanging out with their work families. They are prone to acting silly and will repeat behaviors when their audience laughs.
Of course, Rio embodied these traits which is why his pet photography session was so much fun. It’s also why he was captured so beautifully on the images.
Portuguese Water Dogs are fairly easy to train. Some can have an independent streak, so training early (like with any dog) is the best way to ensure success. They respond to praise and treats. Harsh discipline and voices should be kept to a minimum. Personally, I believe that is true for every animal.
This breed has a desire to please. Use that desire to train this well-tempered, well-behaved beauty.
Behavioral traits of the Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water dogs are chewers, and while trainable curbing this behavior can be a challenge. They also get very excited when their owner comes home or visitors come to the house. This excitement often turns into jumping or presenting the visitor with a toy or some other object as a gift.
The breed is also known for its separation anxiety. The anxiety is easily addressed with a plethora of chew toys and plenty of exercise before being left alone. The chew toys may just save your furniture or favorite pair of shoes because chewing is how they express anxiety.
I’ve always felt very strongly that the best way to change the world is by volunteering.
My father had a saying that has stayed with me my whole life….”Contribute what you can, when you can and how you can, whether it be money, time or service…YOU can ALWAYS make a DIFFERENCE. Even the smallest gestures can change someone’s world.” Dad was very wise and I miss him so much. (but that’s another blog post)
A few weekends ago, I held my sixth annual Valen-Tails Photo Fundraiser for Paw Placement of Northern Arizona! I got to meet over 40 sweet and cuddly new furry friends and some of the most amazing pet owners in the world.
Even though the fundraiser just ended, I’m already missing my new friends. Nothing makes me happier than spending the day with animals.
I’m happy to announce that we raised $1,855.00 for this organization to help them continue their important work in the Northern Arizona region.
Currently, Paw Placement of Northern Arizona is working towards bringing a 21st Century Shelter to our area. If you live in Flagstaff, you know we need it! Please read about their vision on their website.
Pet Photography Tips
I have been called a “pet whisperer” by some very kind friends. But I will admit, I do have a special relationship with animals.
When photographing people’s pets, I’m always asked, “How do you do it?”
Here are some of my favorite pet photography tips and some of my favorite photos from the very special weekend.
Use these five pet photography tips when you are trying to capture a special moment with your furry loved one.
1. Focus on the Eyes
You know what they say, “Eyes are the Window to the Soul.” Well, that is especially true for our animal friends.
It’s the eyes that make any portrait memorable. And that is even more true for your pets. Pet eyes are full of wonderful expression and successful pet portrait focuses the attention there.
2. Let Their Personality Shine Through
You know your pet and you should trust what you know. The very best photos showcase the true character and personality of the subject and this holds true for your pet.
Let your animal play, yawn, or even dress up. Get the perfect image out of your head and let the favorite furry subject redefine purrrfect.
3. Surprise Them
You can’t expect your pet to wait for you to be ready to take the shot. Instead, let them continue to play, while you get ready.
Once your camera is focused and your animal is in the frame, call his name, or make a strange sound he’s never heard before and click. The surprise will catch him off guard and give you a few seconds to capture something special.
4. Go to Them
The best photos will come when your pet feels comfortable. Instead of calling him to you, try going to him.
Get down on his level, look him in the eyes and show him your love. That is probably the most important tip I have.
5. Be Patient
When your pet is excited by a new toy or some other excitement, it is often difficult to get the perfect photo.
But when your patient and you let your furball settle down, he will relax and you will end up with a much better shot.
In the end, if you want to capture great photos of your pet, remember they are your people. Let them be themselves and focus on them, not necessarily trying to capture the photo.
In closing, I just want to say Valen-tales is my absolute favorite event of the year. The fact that I can help raise money for a worthy organization while having fun with friends and their tribe is a privilege and pure joy.
Jennifer got the news that all of us with furry family members dread to hear…her beloved Oswald only has a few weeks to live. Oswald has been with Jennifer all over the world, and even enjoyed living in Germany for a while with she and her husband. He was there when they found his doggie siblings, Macy and Panda Bear, and there when they adopted their adorable little human child, Ava. For a soul that has shared so much, it’s hard to even think of saying goodbye. But therein lies the only fault with our animal friends, they have such short lives. But their time with us brings us so much happiness, so much unconditional love, so it’s the price we pay to have them by our side, if only briefly.
I was so happy that Jennifer reached out to get these photos of Oswald. I know that in the future, these images will provide some tears and loving memories of the spirit who first captured her heart.
I hope your final days are filled with love, belly rubs and all the bacon you can eat sweet boy. After spending only a couple of hours with you, I can see why your family adores you so much. Truly, when you do go to heaven, you will add one of the brightest stars in the sky. Much love ~ Melissa
We’ve all had animal friends in our life that fill up our heart and bring us so much joy that we feel like we want to burst. This sweet girl, Stella, is one of those dogs. Now that Stella’s face is turning grey, her family wanted to capture this amazing soul, so when the time comes, they’ll always have these precious images to remember her and her smile. We loved spending the afternoon with her, her mom and dad, and siblings, Grayfus and Vespa. Modeling is hard work Stella! We hope you got extra belly rubs and bacon snacks after!
The Red Rocks and landscape in Sedona are always beautiful but especially in the fall. We met the Sekhon-Bal Family at Los Abrigados for a few photos then finished our session at scenic Schnebly Hill. The day could not have been prettier and the Riehl Family could not have been more fun to work with!
This year we volunteered our time to photograph part of the Second Chance Center for Animals calendar. This organization, in our hometown of Flastaff, is a vital part of the ongoing animal welfare here in our mountain town. They “Rescue from the Rescues” and provide these animals a second chance for a forever home. They offer pet adoptions, humane education, pet behavior training and resources, and are the emergency designated animal welfare organization for Coconino County. We were proud to be able to help their efforts in our community and feel very strongly that it’s important to give back.
This year, beautiful Mora was featured on the cover, back and for the month of December! And Sweet Nesbah was chosen for the month of March. It was such a fun project and of course, we left with a little piece of each dog’s heart in our own.