Do your pets really care how you talk to them?

Good morning sunshine! Are you ready to rise and shine? Time to get up. Are you ready? You are, are you? Yes, you’re such a good girl! Yes you are!

Have you ever been caught talking to your dog when someone comes home and looks at you curiously? As though they’re wondering who you could possibly be talking to since you’re the only human in the house. If you’re like most pet owners you talk to your pets often and differently than the way you talk to your friends and family. With a higher pitch voice, repeating yourself and asking questions more than once, without expecting a reply. It’s also common for people to talk to babies the same way. But the question is, do our pets care?

I recently read an article by Stanley Coren, also the author of the “The Intelligence of Dogs” on this subject. And according to some researchers, they do. In a study, they recorded women talking to photos of dogs. Using the language typically reserved for our pets and babies. Then they played these recordings back to the dogs on a speaker. The researchers watched to see how the dogs reacted. Watching for things like did the dogs approach the speaker, or responded by barking or whining and so on. 

The results showed that the puppies reacted the most. And the older the dogs were, the less they responded to these recorded voices. So indeed, it does matter. Women talk this way to their pets more so than men. In addition, if you show a woman a photo of a puppy and record her talking to it, and then hand the same woman a photo of a baby, she will speak the same way. 

As for why older dogs don’t respond as well to the high pitched voices, this may be because the voices came from people they did not know nor had ever met. Thus, they are more selective to who they react to. 

So if you’re like me you talk to your dogs often, even if (and especially!) if no one else is in the house. Now, you know that this does work to get your pets attention and your pets do like it. So the next time someone tells you it’s silly talking to animals, you can share with them why it’s not. 

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Lessons from the Dog - Take Naps Daily

Some people can nap anywhere, while others can't nap if their life depended on it. I'm one of those folks that anytime I'm in something that moves, I will fall asleep. I nap in the car, on the plane and in a train. Something about that fast speed makes me fully relax and check out for awhile. Sometimes when I'm tired and cranky, my husband will suggest we go for a car ride out in the countryside. Because he knows I'll get a much needed snooze and will stop taking my frustrations out on him! I don't know this for sure, but if I had to guess, I'd bet my parents used to drive me around the block when I was a baby to get me to finally settle down and rest.

While I would love to nap, perhaps daily, I rarely do. Sometimes when I see my pups snoozing in the middle of the day, I get jealous. My to do list is far too long for me to take a time out and close my eyes. But boy, do I know how much good it would do me. Even when I try, I just lay there thinking about what I should be doing at that moment instead. There are times when I'm just so tired, that I can hardly keep my eyes open and I do get a little cat nap. Then the phone rings, or someone knocks at the door, or a thunderstorm breaks open, or my alarm on my cell phone goes off reminding me of a client appointment, or the dog jumps in bed reminding me it's time for our walk! I get up and think maybe later. 

For years I used to take a nap almost daily. But only because I couldn't get through my day on just a mere 6 hours sleep while working day after day after day. I don't recommend working 14, 15 or 16 hour days, but I do remember how good it felt to take a break and get some shut eye. Without it, I'm not sure I would have been able to function. Which brings me back to my dogs. They never get cranky, irritable, or grumpy. And I bet if I got a nap daily, neither would I!

If you've ever visited one of the European countries then you are familiar with a typical work day. Which starts around 8 or 9 in the morning, take 2 hours off at lunchtime and work until about 7 or 8 in the evening before a long relaxing dinner with the family. Why such a long lunch break? So they can take a siesta as it's known in Spain, or a riposo as it's known in Italy. Otherwise known as a nap. And it's not just in some businesses. Doctors' offices, museums, and churches all lock their doors so their employees can go home and rest. Ironically, many Europeans only work 35 or so hours a week. Now, that sounds like a perfect work/life balance to me. 

While my dogs don't work a job the way I do, they sure do remind me how beneficial a nap in the middle of the day is for my mind and body. Maybe it's time I start paying attention and join them when they are snoring peacefully at my feet while I type away on my keyboard!

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On the bookshelf - What I'm reading

Close your eyes and imagine your dream life. Are you living in a mountain? Near a beach? On 20 acres with a stream running through your backyard? Do you have a million dollars in the bank? Or five million? Do you own a boat? Are you traveling the world? Or are you traveling around the country in your RV? Do you wake up every morning and pinch yourself because you have the best job in the world? Are you healthy and active? Are you rested because you get a full night’s sleep every single night? Are you surrounded by the love of family and friends? Now open your eyes. Is the life in front of you the life you just pictured?

I just finished reading perhaps one of the best books I have ever read. It’s not on the best seller list and in fact was written more than 50 years ago. But it was on my list of recommended books to read for entrepreneurs. It’s called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I checked it out of my local library and loved it so much so, I’m planning on buying a copy. Just so I can highlight and dog ear all the pages I keep going back and re-reading. I plan on making myself read from it at least once a week so I can keep the lessons it teaches on the front of my mind constantly. It was that good.

Ever since I finished it, I have felt more confident, creative, richer and deserving. Did anything in my life change? No, I didn’t get a huge paycheck, or an unexpected compliment from a famous and successful photographer. Nor did I smoke a joint and start photographing my best work. But the conversation I have with myself is different. Because my thoughts changed. 

Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.

Mr Hill breaks down the steps you need to take in order to have the life you dream of. It starts and ends with your thoughts. It doesn’t cost anything. So whether you are rich now or want to be, you can make this happen. You just have to work at it. Daily. Twice daily is better. 

You are what you think. If you are met with luck over and over again, you created the opportunities that make that happen. Keep running into bad luck? Yeah, I’ve met him too. That was all my doing. Change your thoughts and you’ll change the outcome. Guaranteed. If you make a wish with one eye open because you’re not sure you believe it’ll happen, guess what? It won’t. If you tell yourself “you don’t deserve it,” the thing you wish for will find someone else to receive it. Read that again. The thing you wish for will come true for someone else. Someone who believes he or she deserves it. 

Thoughts are things. They respond to energy. And you are energy. Like a radio wave, you put out vibes. These vibes can be negative or positive, depending on what your thoughts are. If you’re putting out self-doubting thoughts, your radio channel will be tuned to that. And what happens? The universe hears it and responds in kind. You wish for a million dollars but think you don’t deserve it. The universe says, ok, I’ll find someone who does. Just like that.

What does this have to do with a pet photographer who wants to build a successful business? Like many of you, I doubt myself. I question my ability to be good at what I want to do. I ponder whether I could ever earn enough just to pay my expenses, let alone live on. I have so many ideas and dreams I want to make happen, but aren’t. Now I know why. 

This book isn’t just for creatives or business owners. It’s also not about being rich as in being a millionaire or a billionaire. Rich is defined so many ways. The line that stood out the most for me is that I can order any life I want. Just like at a restaurant. Place your order and it is delivered to you. You can and should do the same with your life. When you order a stack of pancakes, do you sit there and worry for the next 10 minutes that the waiter is going to bring you an omelet with a side of home fries? No. You placed your order and are confident the waiter conveyed that to the chef who then prepares it just for you.

What is your order?

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Photography Workshop - Expanding my creativity

Part of being an artist is challenging myself to learn and try new things. Whether that's a new technique, using new equipment, photographing a different subject or learning new photo editing skills. As a member of Professional Photographers of America (PPA), I have the opportunity to participate in classes twice a year through their super one day classes. These are mini workshops taught by fellow photographers all around the country. With a variety of subjects to choose from, it's the perfect time to hone skills or spread my wings and do something completely outside my box. 

When a fellow photographer Judy Reinford of Judy Reinford Photography  posted in a Facebook I belong that she was going to be teaching a 2 day class on compositing, I thought this might just be the class for me. I was a little apprehensive since this type of photography is so outside my box, but after thinking about it for a couple of weeks I thought, why not? What do I have to lose? I only signed up for the first day until Judy encouraged me to stay for the second day to make the most of the workshop. And I'm glad I did.

Compositing is a combination of blending parts of various photos together and "painting" to create an image that has an unlimited potential for creativity. I have so many photo ideas that simply can't be done just with one click of my shutter button. They involve things like elephants, dogs, firecrackers, bonfires, butterflies, fashion runways and so on and so on. Things that would never be at the same place at the same time. Which is part of the fun of creating composites. Letting your imagination run wild. 

However, it's not just as simple as taking say a photo of a suitcase, another photo of a dog and a third photo of a car and putting them all together. There are many elements to be considered, from lighting to perspective, to focal length of the lens. Then there are photoshop editing skills that need to be learned in order to blend everything seamlessly.

This isn't something I will learn with one or two attempts. It will take time to practice the skills and techniques I learned. But I'm really excited about the possibilities. And looking forward to some day sooner creating some of these images I've been sketching in my journal.  

And because no blog is complete without a photo, here you go! 

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Enzo | State College pet photography session

Shy, nervous, scared, stressed. These aren’t exactly traits I would describe as my ideal pet client. Yet, Enzo was definitely one of the best dogs I’ve ever photographed. When his mom contacted me, she inquired about setting up a studio pet portrait session for him. Knowing I shoot outdoors on-location, she was hoping I’d have a recommendation for a studio photographer. I suggested I come over and meet them at their home to determine if there was enough space for me to bring my studio equipment. 

Enzo is a sweet, eight year old rescue Italian greyhound. As soon as I met him, I knew why his mom was concerned. He definitely needed some time to warm up to me and no doubt any sudden noises or other dogs would having him feel worried and unable to relax during a photo session. So we went ahead and set up a date for his session, for sometime after he recovered from dental surgery. He’s already lost several teeth and had to have 2 more extracted. Which leaves him with just 3 teeth left! This just goes to show how important good nutrition and diet are early in life.

I was a little nervous about how Enzo would do when I brought all my gear in and set up, but he was fine. Happy to see me, as though he understood this afternoon was about to be all about him! He rocked his session allowing me to capture all kinds of poses and facial expressions. We finished after about an hour when he was clearly tired from the hard work of posing, listening to all my crazy noises, and eating treats for rewards. 

Enzo’s mom wanted a portrait to add to her wall collection of portraits of her canine family. She had worked with a photographer where she lived previously who had photographed two of her other dogs. It was important to her to have something different yet that captured Enzo’s true personality. A large part of our discussion when choosing the final portrait was Enzo’s ears. As with many sighthounds, their ears sit in a variety of positions depending on their emotions. In the end, she picked the pose with one ear up and one down - the way his ears are most of the time!

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