Monthly Archives: March 2013

Trap Release Workshop this Saturday, Mar 23 1-3pm

The newest news for Missoula dogs and their people is that the GoFetch Training Gym and Agility Center has a new owner and a new name.

Introducing SIT Happens Training Center and new owner, Sarah Spencer Hall. Sarah was the head trainer for the GoFetch facility and purchased the business just last month. She’s excited to continue to bring top quality training and agility classes to Missoula’s dogs and their people. After all, it’s usually we people who need the real training, right?

I’ll be checking in with SIT Happens Puppy Playground classes soon and sharing some adorable photos of the little guys in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know about an important Trap Release workshop being presented at SIT Happens by Footloose Montana. Join them this Saturday, March 23 from 1-3pm, to learn important and life-saving techniques and hands on practice for releasing a pet from a trap. There will also be tips from a veterinarian on providing emergency first aid to a trapped pet. There is no cost for the workshop, but donations to Footloose Montana, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization are accepted. If you plan to attend, do not bring your dog, but do bring a chair if possible.

SIT Happens is located at 3800 Russell Square, at 39th and Russell, in the same complex as Alberstons.

If you’re like me, the very thought of any animal – especially a pet – getting caught in a trap is horrifying. It makes my stomach turn. I’d really like to just bury my head and pretend the possibility doesn’t exist. But that would be stupid. Because, the reality is that there are more and more tragic stories of pet owners throughout Montana whose pets have encountered traps. Preparing and educating yourself about how to deal with the possibility could mean the difference between life and death for your pet. Consider this workshop as important as brushing up on your CPR training. You never know when your knowledge will help save a life.

I’ve attended a similar workshop in the past and I’ve got to tell you, it is seriously difficult to get those traps open, even when you do know how and it’s not an emergency. I’ll be there and I’ll be trying to get one of those things open. Race ya.

Posted in Dog Photography, Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula Tagged , , , , |

Ben Afraid of Thunder

It was a dark and stormy night. Early evening, actually. I had just driven all the way to the Bitterroot for a photo shoot that had been scheduled for months, but got cancelled at the last moment due to the brewing storm.


Now I had to drive all the way back through town in 5-o’clock traffic. Grrrr. My mood was as dark as the thunderclouds rolling in. This whole cancellation thing blew a huge hole in my Sunday afternoon. When I hold a day open for a photo shoot, I say no to all other things to make space for the creativity. No to invitations to meet up with friends, no to baking bread, no to starting projects. So now here was this hollow afternoon that could have been so productive.


Traffic was slow. Headlights glared on the wet streets and taillights pulsed in front of me. Thunder cracked and rolled across the valley. The sky turned green. Hail was on its way.


At the corner of Madison and Broadway, I saw a big yellow dog weaving between lanes of traffic. Oh no! No. No. No. No. I sent thoughts of heightened vision and quick reactions to all drivers around me. See him! Stop for him!


Wait a minute. Sending thoughts? Right.


So I did what any rational person would do. I pulled the parking brake and jumped out of the car leaving the door wide open. I put up my “stop!” hand the way traffic cops do and managed to slow the traffic in my lane.


I walked towards the old dog. Would he trust me? Or would he run? I always consider that I might be doing a disservice to approach a dog like this. I might chase him into more danger. But, I had such a deliberate intention to save him that I think he must have known.


I approached slowly, and beckoned. He came towards me. “Do you want to go for a ride?” All dogs have magic words that make them happy. Being a Missoula dog, I guessed he might know this phrase. He did. And yes, he’d like to go for a ride. I gently grabbed his collar and guided him to his waiting carriage.


His 110-lb wet bulky body filled my back seat. His thankful eyes filled my heart. I shot of photo with my phone and sent it to my husband. “Meet Ben! :D.” A few minutes later, I texted, “Don’t worry. I’m taking him home to his house. Not ours. 😉 ”


Posted in Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula Tagged , , |

Magic Words: Tips for taking great photos of your dog

When I arrive at a dog’s home for a photo session, I’m greeted with lots of energy.  Many dogs are so excited about me being there, they wag and wiggle, show me their favorite toys, peak inside my camera lens, check their food bowl, ask nicely for a belly rub or suggest a good scratch right above the tail. I’m happy to oblige, of course. All of this rigorous greeting and getting to know each other leads to a lot of panting. And pictures of panting dogs are fine, but a few of these go a long way. What I really want to get are shots that show more facets of a dog’s personality.

So, how to get a dog to close her mouth? Say some magic words. Usually anything that starts with “do you want…” and ends with a noun or verb will get her to slurp in her tongue if only for a quick second. And this is just enough time to snap the shot.

I’ll ask a dog’s person what her magic words are before the shoot begins so I have my secret arsenal ready if I should need it. Invariably, Missoula dogs will snap to attention when asked if they want to go to their favorite off-leash area, like Bark Park? Water Works Hill? Jumbo? Saddle? Blue Mountain? River?

Missoula dogs are also ready to say yes! to any of their favorite activities like Hike? Swim? Fishing? They also love any suggestion they’ll get to ride in a Truck? or Boat?

Kamukin visited me from out of town so she didn’t know Missoula dogs’ magic words. She came with one of her own….Frisbee?

Around our house, just the word “do” would get an immediate yes! But, that’s the price a dog pays for living with a dog-loving photographer.

What’s your dog’s magic word? Next time you are snapping a photo of them, try this simple trick and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.

Posted in Dog Photography, Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula, Photography Tips, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , |