Location scouting - Phillippi Estate Park

While I’ve been to Phillippi Estate Park before, it’s been a couple of years. Two things that struck me about this location when I first discovered it was how awesome the light is and how beautiful the property is. Oh, and dogs are allowed! Ok, so that makes it three things that I love! This weekend I decided to go back and explore it again with a fresh pair of eyes. I loaded the car with all 3 of our dogs and my husband to head off for an adventure. When we arrived, we walked around the side of the main building just in time to hear over the loudspeaker, “I now pronounce you husband and wife!” As we came around the corner, the bride and groom were walking down the aisle in our direction. Afraid my dogs would start barking, I quickly ran to the other side of the sidewalk and hid behind a tree. The happy couple and bridal party seemed genuinely happy to see the dogs. And to my delight, the girls were well behaved and didn’t make a ruckus barking and carrying on at the wedding party as they walked our way.


We headed off to another section of the property to explore. I set up my gear and took dozens of test photos. The longer we stayed, the more I just loved it. Photographers always shoot with the light and I just couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful evening. I tried new things, practiced old techniques and checked off a bucket list photo I had been wanting to shoot for a while. Some photos I took for specific reasons and I’ll share more when the time is right. But for right now, here’s one of my favorite images I captured of Kita. This is definitely going to be one of my go to locations for client sessions.

Thanks for reading!

 
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terrier mix southwest florida park

Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue seminar training

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue training seminar in Sarasota County. I’ve always admired the dog teams who are involved in finding missing, lost and even human remains to help bring families back together or to provide answers and closure. I met a few of the team members back in January at the Bark for Life event in Venice. Later, they contacted me and asked if I would be willing to photograph their HRD (human remain detection) training this spring. They are a nonprofit organization available for deployment 365 days a year. While this seminar was a 4 day event, training is non-stop. The dogs and their handlers put in hours of their time and spend thousands of dollars so they may selflessly help first responders. I was honored to be asked to document the hard work that takes place behind the scenes.

In typical Florida fashion, it was a picture perfect day - partly cloudy with temps in the mid to high 80s. Several area businesses and parks allowed the teams to use their facility and land to train on. It’s important that the dogs work in situations exactly like they will find when involved in a search and rescue operation. So they worked in open fields, near houses, in rubble, and among objects resembling what you'd find in collapsed buildings.

The teams ranged from novice to experienced and had traveled from all over the country to attend.
I saw a wide range of dog breeds, the most common one being a Labrador retriever. They ranged in age from young adults to 8 or 9 years old. The ability of dogs to be able to find a scent among so many smells is absolutely amazing. I have developed even more respect for what these dogs and their handler do after this weekend.

If you’d like to learn more about the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue, click HERE to visit their website. I took over 1000 photos the day I was there, it’ll take some time to sort, cull and edit them down. But in the meantime, here’s a quick peak of some of the teams in action.

Thanks for reading!

 
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golden retriever search and rescue K9
Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue
Sarasota K9 search and rescue dog
German Shepherd K9 search and rescue
Sarasota K9 search and rescue lab

Whose home is it really?

I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, it’s usually on HGTV. I love seeing the transformation of old homes from designers like Joanna Gaines, The Property Brothers and others. I never tire of looking at home decorating magazines, or browsing Home Goods for home decor. Sometimes I think I could be happy as an interior designer.

While I love the home I own in PA, it’s not my dream home. One of the features I love most about this house is the fenced in yard. I’m partial in part because my husband rebuilt the fence a couple of years ago and it turned out fabulous. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this project. But it was well worth it.

The rental home we’re living in now does not have much of a yard, let alone a fenced in area. Which means we have to walk the dogs every time they need to go out. It’s good exercise for all of us, but it’s not exactly enjoyable when it’s raining out. Really, what we miss most is allowing the dogs to run freely, playing, chasing balls and each other. There really is truth to the saying a tired dog is a well behaved dog. I can tell they have more pent up energy because walking isn’t the same. And I feel bad that they don’t get to spend more time outdoors.

In addition to watching HGTV, I also enjoy looking at homes during open houses. It’s fun to think about what would make a home perfect for my family and I. My husband and I have been spending part of our weekends touring homes in the Venice and Sarasota area. It’s a great way for us to get to know the area better. We’ve discovered parks, shopping centers and parts of the town we never knew existed before. While we are touring the home, we always chat about what we like, what we don’t like and what we would do to make it the right home for us. This process has really made it clear that one of the most important features for us is having a fenced in yard. Because some neighborhoods have deed restrictions that don’t allow fences, we are also learning where we would not want to live.

I haven’t found my dream home yet, but I am getting closer to knowing what it must have. And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the number one requirement is being led by my dogs!

Are you living in your perfect home? How much do your pets play a role in determining what makes your home the right one for you? Leave me a comment and tell me about your home!

Thanks for reading!
xoxo

 
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Australian Shepherd on southwest FL beach


To titer or not to titer

I’m always cautious when it comes to ingesting harmful foods or chemicals in my body. I try to eat as healthy as I can, one of many reasons why I am a vegetarian, and keep any and all unnecessary chemicals out of my home and body. It’s not that I won’t take a pain killer if I’m experiencing pain. It’s just that I only take as little as I need to help me cope with it. I believe our bodies are fantastic healers, if we let it do it’s job.

As a dog mom, I also apply the same care toward my dogs and their well being. I feed them a high quality dog food and healthy treats. When I share people food, I only give them healthy snacks like carrots and blueberries, if I share anything at all. I am a true believer that our health reflects our diets. Thus, a poor diet, leads to poor health.

So what about vaccinations? My terrier mix, Kita, is due for her rabies shot this month. According to her veterinarian, she is also due for her other vaccinations - canine distemper and Parvovirus. Because I never board my dogs, I don’t give them bordatella.

Years ago, it was recommended that we vaccinate our dogs every year. Then Colorado State University did a study and concluded that we were over vaccinating out pets. So they changed the recommendations to vaccinating every three years. It took a while to catch on, but eventually vets all over the country changed their protocols. But there was always that lingering question, was this still too much?

When I had my first golden retriever, I vaccinated her as a puppy and got a booster shot a year later. After that I titered her. What are titers? They are blood tests that measure the level of antibodies your pet has against a certain disease, like distemper and Parvo. Mika’s levels were high every year I had the test done. Which theoretically indicated she had immunity from these diseases. Thus, I never re-vaccinated her (except for rabies which all pets are required to have by law).

I had my golden retriever, Izzy titered when she was 6. Both her tests came back low, so I chose to re-vaccinate her. Again, I have always kept my pets rabies vaccination up to date in accordance with local laws, so she gets the rabies shot when she is due. My hope is by vaccinating her, she will have immunity from distemper and Parvo for the rest of her life.

Now that my terrier mix, Kita, is due for her rabies vaccination. I am revisiting this question - should I or should I not titer? In an age when research in health care issues is advancing rapidly, we are constantly learning something new all the time. Lyme disease comes to mind for example. What was recommended just a mere 10 years ago, is no longer the protocol for treatment of a positive diagnosis in a dog that is asymptomatic. But, I digress. One concern about titering is the question of whether the results are a good measure of immunity. Thus, while more and more pet owners are getting titers done, it still remains controversial.

I know that I am leaning toward titering Kita as I have my goldens. Having been a pet sitter for over 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand how vaccines can negatively affect the health of our pets, most often resulting in skin reactions. I am not, however a veterinarian, so I do encourage you to do your own research and make the choice that works best for you and your pet.

Thanks for reading!
xoxo

 
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terrier mix on Florida beach

The best nurses a girl can ask for!

Spring has arrived here in Florida! Though when it’s green pretty much every day of the year, I haven’t figured out what makes this season different than any other one. Except for the pollen. Oh my gosh! Some reports I’ve read have suggested pollen counts are really high this year because of a mild winter. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know my head aches, my throat is scratchy, my sense of taste has decreased, my eyes are watery and just generally don’t feel very good. This isn’t anything new, I’ve suffered from allergies off and on for several years. However, not usually this early in the season. Medication helps alleviate the symptoms, but mostly all I want to do is sleep or just sit still trying to prevent the feeling that my head is going to explode. I’ve had worse symptoms in previous years, so I know I’ll survive this bout. Even if at times, I find myself questioning that!

Being under the weather is also hard on my dogs too. They don’t get as much attention, and because of the pollen, I spend as little time outdoors as possible, which means short, like really short, walks. I can tell my girls are antsy - they have a lot of pent up energy. But they also have been a source of comfort for me.

This weekend for example, when I curled up on the couch and watched TV for several hours (I rarely watch television, so this is a huge anomaly for me), Kita curled up right there with me. Izzy laid at my feet, giving me big brown sad eyes every time I tried to cough up a lung or used up yet another box of tissues blowing my nose. Tillie did her best to fight her way to my side to comfort me in her own way as well…bumping my arm to get me to pet her. It was all very cute and very sweet. Even though it meant mustering up more energy than I felt I had, I truly appreciated the effort my 3 furry nurses made to try to make me feel better.
It’s hard not to feel cranky and irritable when you don’t feel well. I do my best to keep an upbeat attitude, but I know I have my moments when I fail at this. Having these 3 pups to cheer me up does my soul so much good. They may not be able to “cure” me of my ailments, but they sure do make it easier to suffer through these allergies!

Anyone else feel the same way about their furry kids? Leave a comment and share your story!

golden retriever in bed

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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