Sometimes, we’re so glad just to get a sharp clear photo that we forget to look at a dog’s body language. Hurray! He’s looking at the camera and he’s in focus –CLICK! But just because we can look at his photo and tell what breed he is doesn’t mean that photo will help him get adopted. You have to take it one step further. My previous blog post talked about recognizing animal behavior — so now let’s build upon the idea. Most dogs look friendlier with an open mouth, but you MUST pay attention to the ears. Forget the wagging tail, it may not even show in your portrait of this pet –but the eyes and the ears are key. The little guy pictured here was sleepy. You can see by the first image posted that we weren’t getting that happy alert face. We photographed the whole litter and shot him last, hoping he would perk up, but all he wanted to do was slump down and take a nap. Plus, because he was almost all black, I really needed him to look friendly. No amount of coaxing made him a happy camper –so we placed him in a shallow basket with a couple of his litter mates (who were wide awake) and he started having fun. Then, we were able to photograph him alone for an individual portrait for his online listing. What makes puppies happy? Other puppies! What makes a fat older dog happy? A treat! What makes a hunting dog happy? A ball or something he can chase –he doesn’t know you’re not going to throw it for him.
The bottom line: friendly dogs get invited to stay. Sad, frightened or mean-looking dogs get left behind. So do your best to learn what makes your subject tick, and then make him happy. Just a couple of days until our next webinar!
I recently discovered a fabulous website with some really good resources for those of us who work with dogs. Check out Dr. Yin’s website : The Art & Science of Animal Behavior. There are lots of good tips and free downloads for us. Here I have included the download on recognizing fear in dogs. This is very important for photographers who approach unfamiliar dogs –not only do we need to know when to snap the picture, we need to know when to back off to avoid getting bitten. Know your subject! Thanks, Dr. Yin.
Do you know any Pit Bulls? The shelters around the country are overflowing with them — and you could probably make a case for Pit Bulls being the most misunderstood and the most often euthanized of any shelter animal. For this reason alone, the breed captured my interest. Did you know Pit Bulls are BANNED in 14 states? If you own one, you may even have trouble getting homeowner’s insurance –and forget about finding a place that will rent to you. All because of a few ugly news stories about dog fighting and a certain pro football player.
So I’m launching my own personal campaign to give the breed a better ‘face.’ I’m not alone in this. Many Pit Bull (you can call them pibbles) owners have started working on the public to give these dogs a fair shake. Remember Cesar Milan’s ‘Daddy’? What a sweet loving (and yes, scary looking) pibble! He is gone now but there is a foundation set up to help abused animals in his name.
Basically, I would ask each of you to go to your facebook page and remove any images of mean or threatening pibbles. Just hide them! Starting today, let’s only show them with humor and grace. They are beautiful, loving dogs and if we can just show them that way, the tide of public opinion will start to turn. Every generation seems to have it’s breed prejudices. When I was a kid, everyone was afraid of Dobermans. Everyone, that is, except me –because I grew up listening to my father’s stories about Rex, the wonderful doberman that he grew up with.
So until we can get everyone in America to personally meet a Pit Bull and change their pre-conceived ideas about them, let’s take beautiful photographs that show how loving and smart they are! Deal?
Animal Sheltering Magazine interviewed me recently and they wrote a great article, complete with before and after photos and all sorts of tips. If you haven’t seen their publication, you can subscribe online – it’s a great magazine. It’s published by The Humane Society of the United States and the people that read it are serious in the world of animal rescue. They run shelters and rescue organizations all over the country!
The real reason I’m mentioning the article is that I constantly hear from people who have taken the webinar and are trying to get started with their at shelters and they meet with resistance from the shelter employees. So NOW you have some printed information to walk in the door with — ask them if they receive the magazine (they probably do) and suggest that they to read the 4 page article that starts on page 44. Hopefully, they’ll at least listen. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t appear on their website, just in their magazine — so I can’t link to it for online readers. But it’s well worth the price of a subscription 🙂
If you’re interested in the April webinar, we still have some room — see more info by clicking the “webinar sign up” tab above.