Home for the Holidays

The holidays are such a fun time of the year! Family gatherings, baking cookies, gift shopping and feeling the magic of the spirit of the season through the eyes of children. And yes, I feel the stress too, but I do my best to focus on the moment and enjoy the process. At the end of every night, I turn the lights on our Christmas tree and just sit quietly taking it all in. The fact that it snowed last night, made it even prettier!

It's also a wonderful time for many animals who find their forever homes just in time for the holidays. What an extra special Christmas it is for those families! Here are a few who are hoping or will be home for the holidays! To learn more about these and many other cats, kittens, dogs and puppies, click HERE to go to the Centre County PAWS website. 

E kitten I.jpg

EE kitten I

E kitten II.jpg

EE kitten II

Jack.jpg

Jack

Ivy.jpg

Ivy

Pumpkin and Spice.jpg

Pumpkin & Spice

Izzy.jpg

Izzy

Spot and Little Patches.jpg

Spot & Little Patches

Whitney.jpg

Whitney

Yellow Power Ranger.jpg

Yellow Power Ranger

Lessons from the dog - Love Unconditionally

All emotions stem from either love or fear.  We know fear all too well…sadness, anger, anxiety and stress are some ways we feel it. Choosing to love is easy to say, yet hard to do. But it is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons we love our dogs. Their capacity to love unconditionally is something the world needs more of.

If you’ve been away all day, or even for the weekend, they are always happy to see us when we come home. They don’t care if we’ve been wearing the same clothes day after day or if we’re wearing our nicest dress. They don’t keep track of all the wrongs we’ve done and throw it in our faces whenever they think we need a reminder. If you live in the best house in the neighborhood or a tent, they could care less. And it doesn’t matter to them if you have a million bucks in the bank or just $100, they still love us. 

With the upcoming holidays, it’s a great time to be reminded of this lesson. As we gather with siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, nieces and nephews, let us remember we all want the same thing - to be loved. Unconditionally. Leave all the fears and negative feelings at the door and be more like your dog. Even if no one notices or appreciates it, I bet you’ll feel better for having done so!

Izzy.golden.retriever.smile.love

Silent auction winner

You may recall earlier this year I donated a couple of sessions to silent auctions to raise money for local charities. I photographed one of the winners recently. After we met for their planning sessions, this family decided they wanted a fall session. I suggested the beautiful Penn State campus which was the perfect location since they have ties to the area dating back to childhood. 

Expecting cooler weather in October, we ended up scheduling the session during the heat wave that hit the northeast feeling more like a summer day instead. In spite of it cooling off in the evenings, I think all of us were plenty warm by the end of the day! We were at least prepared and brought plenty of water for the dogs. 

I can't remember if Tillie, Toby and Trixie had ever been on the campus before, but they definitely had fun watching all the little critters run around. It took a great deal of effort to convince them that what was going on in front of the camera was far more interesting! 

Like many dogs, it took this trio a little while before they settled down and began working the camera. But once they did, they were fantastic models and we were able to get some great shots. I'm happy to report that no squirrels or chipmunks were harmed in the process! Being terriers, which are bred for rodent control, the drive to chase and hunt small critters is pretty high! And there were plenty of small animals running around as they busied themselves preparing for a long winter. 

Here are a few images from their session! If you'd like to bid on a session for your own pets, stay tuned! I'm excited to announce that I will be donating a couple sessions to local fundraisers again next year. Details will be coming soon! 

scottish.terrier
West.highland.terrier.posing
Scottish.terrier.posing
Scottie.westie.fall.gardens
Westie.man.Penn.State.campus
Smith.family.Penn.State.campus

How a panda bear led me to discovering my life's mission

In 5th grade, my classmates and I were assigned to write a paper. I don't remember all the details of the assignment, other than we had to pick a subject, research it, write a minimum of so many pages and in good, neat handwriting, submit it for grading. Gosh, does anyone handwrite their assignments anymore?? I don't know if the subject had to be an animal, but I chose the Giant Panda.

Giant.Panda.eating.Smithsonian.zoo

I read several books and quickly learned that this cuddly stuffed toy like creature was endangered. Because of deforestation and population growth in China, their habitat was dwindling. Coupled with a low birthrate (female pandas come into estrus once a year and only for 2 or 3 days), the number of pandas in the wild dropped to dangerously low numbers in order for the species to continue to survive. Thus, they became the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund, an organization dedicated to saving wild animals from extinction. 

Giant.panda.playing.National.zoo

In the mind of this 10 year girl, I devised the perfect solution to save the pandas from this ill fated future. It was simple really. Since pandas live in the mountains, all I had to do was set up a table at the bottom and educate everyone why this mountain was now closed to anyone and everyone except the pandas. I would put a stop to growth, deforestation and human encroachment on the pandas' territory. It was their mountain after all. And if they were to survive, as is their right, my message would be respected and honored. 

Giant.Panda.backside.eating.Washington.DC

Don't you live the naiveness of children? I truly believed this would work. And I couldn't wait to grow up, move to China and begin my life mission of saving the panda. Needless to say, I have since learned, it is complicated, much much more complicated than setting up a table at the bottom of a mountain as a barricade. But there's no denying this paper is what set me on the path of realizing my purpose in life - to work with animals.

Over the years, I wanted to be all kinds of things when I grew up. But one thing did not change. From a veterinarian, to animal behaviorist, marine biologist, zoo keeper, circus trainer, dog trainer, to becoming the next Jane Goodall, I never ever wavered from wanting to somehow make a difference in the lives of animals. 

Washington.DC.zoo.Panda.Bear

I've been to China, I've been to zoos, but I've never seen a live panda. This has been on my bucket list for most of my life. And finally, after this past weekend, I can check it off. Not only did I see 1, I saw 4! It will be one of the most memorable moments of my life. To be so close to something that made such an impression on me, as I stood there with my camera snapping away, it felt as though my life had come full circle. I was once again reminded of the dreams of my 10 year old self and why I truly believe I am who I am - compassionate, caring and protective of those who cannot speak for themselves. Animals matter. That has been and always will be my life's motto. 

Ultimate gift guide for the dog lover in your life!

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I'd share a few things I found that would make great gift ideas for the dog lovers in your life. Or maybe you want to splurge a little and get something for yourself. Because, between you and me, I'm putting some of these ideas on my wish list too!

1. Carrying pet clean up bags can be a pain and unsightly. But you can change that with this adorable personalized dog bag case from Neiman Marcus! Choose from a selection of 5 colors, this is a perfect gift for that fashion forward dog mom! 

Niemanmarcus.com

6abbff514a3d1de600854b67ad0e304f.jpg

I've been looking for a necklace with a silhouette of a golden retriever, and when I found this website, I knew my search was over. So simple and elegant, it's the perfect touch to any outfit without screaming so over the top crazy dog lady!

Carrie Cramer 

a5dc08111edf6739cb0716f0a8f3a028.jpg

The Pooch Selfie may have been around for a while, but it's something I've been meaning to get for myself. While I may take lots of photos of my own dogs, I don't get that many great selfies. This tool would be the perfect way to change that!

Amazon

cbe67b298871a845ee495951b71f1f5c.jpg

What a great idea this is! Send a photo of your pet and My petsies will make a stuffed plush toy of your beloved fur baby. Not just for kids either!

Petsies  

ccdb5f438af2bc3665a12b4cb9324af6.jpg

You can never have too many t-shirts. Especially with a hashtag like this! This is definitely going on my wish list!

Etsy

il_570xN.1347116689_p2co.jpg