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!

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terrier mix on Florida beach

Florida Recap - Week 1

It’s been a week since we arrived in Florida. And it’s gone by very quickly. In some ways I got more accomplished than I had expected, in other ways, I’ve hardly made a dent in my to do list.

After a day’s rest, I hit the ground running. I headed up to Venice for the Bark for Life event. I met a lot of great folks, several who were excited to hear I might be settling down in the area. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people told me they had hired a pet photographer. Some had a bad experience, others said their family had grown since their last session and it was time to think about having another one.

The next day I headed down to Naples for the Pets on Third event on Third Street South. It’s hard to say for sure, but I’m guessing about a hundred dogs or so attended. I saw dogs in strollers, dogs dressed up, dogs with dyed fur, big dogs, little dogs and a breeds I don’t usually see in Pennsylvania. There was a pet ambulance, a wolf sanctuary that brought a tiger, skunk and several snakes. The highlight of the day was the pet parade with the theme Pets at the Oscars. Dogs dressed up and many owners matched outfits as they walked down a red carpet. Prizes were awarded as judges judged attendees in several categories. I made a few connections with a few other artists including photographers. It’s always fun to meet others who share the same passion as me.

Monday night I attended a local PPA (Professional Photographers of America) meeting in Sarasota. I called the group a couple of days before the meeting to find out more information and was so glad I did. They had a great presentation and announced that a CPP (Certified Professional Photographers) prep class was being offered the following week. Declaring my candidacy for the CPP is on my list of things to do in 2017. It was too ironic that the photographer who wrote the study guide would be teaching it while I’d be in the area. I'm looking forward to his class.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I visited a couple of pet stores in the area and talked to the owners about my pet photography. They were excited to meet me and were more than happy to take my business cards to share with their clients.

All in all, it’s been a great seven days. I’ve gotten lots of encouragement and interest in my work. Folks have been very kind to us, sharing tips on where to live, shop and market my business. I must admit though, what I’ve enjoyed the most is the sunshine. There’s nothing good about a cold, bleak January day after day in Pennsylvania. Down here, I’ve been able to sit outdoors and watch the sunset every night. Whether it’s a spectacular one or not, there’s no doubt the sun makes me feel a little happier.

There's nothing like a Florida sunset!

We’re here! I made it to Florida and I’m really excited about these next several weeks! I’ve got a list of places to photograph, events I’ll be participating, business owners to meet, photography group meetings to attend and of course, dogs to photograph! It was actually pretty warm in the northeast today, but there’s just something about the sun. As soon as we crossed the state line into the sunshine state, my mood became a little happier, my attitude a little perkier and in spite of being tired from driving, my body a little more energized!

I've longed to sit on the beach and watch the sun kiss the horizon in the last few moments of daylight. Such a wonderful way to end a day!

Another day in paradise!

Ah! There’s nothing like a relaxing trip to the beach, is there? Especially when heading for paradise means departing in the middle of a snowstorm! But alas, all good things must come to an end. While I love Florida weather, it’s great to be back home and reunited with my fur babies. I sure have missed them!

It was wonderful catching up on some much needed zzzz’s and soaking up some Vitamin D in the warm sun. There’s just something about being able to walk around with 20 pounds less clothing than I’ve been wearing this winter and watching the sunsets while enjoying a strawberry daiquiri. After spending what seems like an eternity cooped up within the 4 walls of my home, I was ready to spend some time outdoors. Summer can’t come fast enough!

My husband is a huge New York Yankee fan so we took in a spring training baseball game in Tampa, ate at some fabulous restaurants and checked out the real estate market as well.

Of course, I never travel without my camera gear in tow. In fact, some of my favorite landscape photos were captured during previous visits to Florida. I’m also really fortunate that my mother-in-law lives on a beautiful beach on the west coast of the sunshine state. We were blessed to have some spectacular sunsets during our stay.


I also had fun creating abstract images while the sky changed from blue, to yellow, orange, red, pink and purple. It’s really easy, just slow down the shutter speed and move the camera any way you choose (usually from left to right) while pressing the shutter button.  I never know what I’m going to get, so I just keep experimenting until I get something I like.


And of course, I can't help but stop to pet (and photograph!) almost every dog I meet. This is Riley. I ran into her and her dad fishing while walking on the beach one afternoon.

Until next time!

A New Year | A New Camera

Well, it's been an exciting year so far, but challenging as well. Shortly before Christmas I bought a new camera, my first new one in 8 years. It's long overdue, and while I loved my Nikon D80, I also knew it was time to upgrade. My husband and I headed to Florida to spend the holidays with his family. We both had been working hard, and time in the sun with family was just what we needed. I used this break to open the box and put the Nikon D610 to test. With a new lens to go with the camera, it's a huge step up from what I've been shooting with and by the end of the week, I knew I was in love! 

Upgrading cameras also meant upgrading software. Sounds simple, right? Well, something went horribly wrong and my computer crashed. Over and over and over again. I spent a week trying to solve the problem before taking it to the local apple authorized repair shop. Two more weeks later, and they were still stumped. That's 3 weeks without a computer, a month since I took my first test shots. Nothing like this set back to teach me patience. But alas, the problem has been solved, Lightroom 5 installed and I can view my images for the first time. Like anything new, there is a learning curve and I'm anxious to master my new equipment as quickly as I can. 

Izzy joined us on our trip and of course, she was my first model. Here's a few of my favorites of her in Florida. Enjoy!


Who doesn't love a head tilt?


My mother-in-law's house is right on the water. The light at the end of the day is just spectacular!

A special moment between my husband and Izzy!