Monthly Archives

November 2011


Light at the end of the tunnel

Today I ordered a new (to me) DSLR and two lenses. After spending weeks trying to decide between Nikon and Canon I realized that the film work I’ve been doing is the most challenging and fun photography I’ve done in a long time, and that I wanted to keep the feel of film and vintage glass.

So I abandoned CaNikon entirely and got the Sony A700 and two older Minolta lenses. The Sony supposedly inherited a lot from the fact that Sony purchased Minolta’s technology, so the colors are more “analogue” than digital and the images are said to be rounder and more pleasing than the more analytical Nikon or soft Canon. And the glass is what I’ve been using all semester for my film stuff and I am enjoying the heck out of, and because it’s a “third-party” brand the really great older lenses are easily available and inexpensive for their quality. The DSLR body I got is three or four years old and, when it was introduced, competed with the Nikon D300 and Canon 50D, so it’s designed to be a beginner pro body. Hopefully it’ll give me another good few years and then I’ll move on to whatever Big Honking Camera Sony has put out by then.

So, hopefully in a week or so I can stop typing words and post a lot more pictures! I’ll also get back to photographing other people’s dogs – more on that as it comes.

Meanwhile, you’ll have to forgive me as I try to put together my final assignments for both digital and darkroom courses. Finals are in two weeks and critiques are ramping up and taking most of every class period. That means less lab time just when we’re supposed to be producing many more pictures per class, so at this point I feel like I should just move a cot in there and catch naps while my negatives are drying.

Next semester I’ll have advanced darkroom – Biff has promised to teach me medium format, which is downright thrilling – and then I asked for advanced digital but they canceled the class at the last minute. So I am signed up for an art history class but pushing hard for a directed study in photography that will allow me to put together a portfolio.

Puppy updates: I think the last time I blogged we still had four boys here. Since then our precious Puck has flown to California and merry Bosco went to a wonderful local home. Quince and Sebastian are still here and available, but I am sort of whispering that because I love having them and so does everybody else. I’ll post pictures as soon as the new camera gets here.

And now, because the college closed down for the weekend and I can’t go immerse myself in yellow safety lights and f/stops, I will go take a nap. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


Sebastian at 12 weeks (on film!)

I actually have a ton of puppies here right now, but it’s sort of the last gasp of litterhood in my house. Moth is here to be babysat for a few days; Puck leaves on Tuesday; Quince gets picked up tomorrow to meet what will hopefully be his new owner on Wednesday; Bosco has a solid inquiry – and then there’s Sebastian.

I don’t know why this always seems to happen – that the one left is the one I thought would be gone first – but it sure does. Maybe it’s because I fall in love with the odd puppies, but I really think Sebastian is to die for.I rather desperately want to keep him myself, but I am worried about becoming overdogged and I have access to his brothers if I needed the pedigree.

He’s a SWEET, thoughtful, calm puppy, athletic to the extreme, SO sound, SUCH a good mover. Huge ears, beautiful face, wonderful topline and rear and front, good round bone. His coat is hard and dry and flat, he’s flashy as heck, he uses himself beautifully.

The only reason I am not locking him away for myself forever is that I don’t think he has the depth to be a top breeding prospect. I think anyone who wanted him to show would do just fine, but I don’t want to sell a show puppy who might not be a breeding puppy.

He’s a funny little dude, thinks very intensely about things )can you see him thinking hard about Doug next to him?) but never overreacts.

He loves to solve problems and figure out puzzles, and will keep going long after the other puppies have given up. He’s creative and will use his nose, teeth, and paws to manipulate things. But after spending twenty minutes escaping from whatever diabolical thing I’ve put him in, all he will do is come sit on my feet. There’s not a bad bone in him.

He’s not a heavy or coarse puppy – he’s long and elegant and scopey, more of a Thoroughbred than a Quarter Horse. If he doesn’t find a place, I will keep him with great joy in my heart, but (just being honest) I don’t have the resources to exploit this much ability and would sure like to see him shine like the superstar I think he could be. 

He’s had his puppy shots, wormed, crate trained, working on house training, great on leash, introduced to large and small animals, LOVES training, and generally is the awesomest of awesome puppies.

And, of course, is the perfect color for black and white photography. Sigh. Maybe I can keep him just to be a model? Somebody tell Doug that he’s essential to my career, please.



General puppy roundup!

Hi, everybody and especially puppy owners (yay!):

I am working super hard right now and I know I’m not responding to e-mails as promptly as I should. Once things quiet down a little I promise I’ll spend a day just saying things like “I am so glad you love your puppy!” because I DO, and I mean it every time. Every e-mail update you send me is treasured in my heart and makes me so happy.

I also have the good news that I have a very solid inquiry for Puck and I’m thrilled for him and his hopeful new family. Quince and Bosco are still available, and are both out in socialization homes being housetrained and crate trained and having the time of their lives. I am getting nothing but amazing reports from both of their temp homes, so either one of them should be able to slot into a pet home with ease and joy. Let me tell you that I am LOVING my temp families and am so, so thankful to them for taking such fantastic care of the babies and letting them blossom as “only dogs” for a few weeks. Sebastian is hopefully on his way out the door to a socialization home soon, and is also still available but he’s getting less and less available by the day. He is a REALLY nice puppy. If you want him, tell me before I make him an ID tag that says MINE HA HA HA HA.

I know that people have questions, and since a lot of the questions are overlapping here are some general answers:

A) They are 11 weeks this Saturday, which means you should have made an appointment for the next shot for either 11 or 12 weeks, OR be doing it yourself. Contact me if you want to know brands I recommend. Local (MA/NH/ME) homes, if I have enough requests for me to do second shots I will order a flat of 25 Recombitek doses. So let me know if you’d like me to do that; I will ask something very nominal like $10/shot, just to cover the actual cost (a flat of 25 doses is around $175, and syringes are additional).

A2) I also have Comfortis (flea stuff) on order, and will have enough left over to give tiny puppy doses to anyone who needs one. Let me know.

B) Ears should be on their way up; I don’t usually worry until 12 weeks but I’d like to see them starting to levitate for a few seconds at a time now. If you are seeing little or no progress, you may want to tape now. The general methods are outlined below: (ignore the crap about how wonderful cropped dogs look)

But – but – these are all different! And some aren’t even for Cardigans! What’s the right way?

The biggest secret about ears that I can tell you is that ALL the methods work. Read through these articles, find the one that looks the most do-able TO YOU, and that will be the method that works best in your house.

The only real advice I can bring to the table is that letting them fall is a mistake. Once you start taping, you need to keep taping until they’re strong. Don’t even let them fall for a second if you can. One good week of tape is going to do the job that five weeks of one-day-up half-a-day-down will do.

Right now both Puck and Sebastian are taped. They’re using different methods because Puck’s bases were up and his crease was in the middle; Sebastian still had ears like a Lab (absolutely flat).

Here’s what I did for Sebastian:

1) Take one long strip of masking tape and begin at the base of the front of the ear, go up over the ear, down the back of the ear to the head. This just keeps the ear stiff enough that it won’t bend in half. I try to keep this piece on the outer edge of the ear, not right in the middle of the ear – the outer edge is where the biggest bend is, so you want to scaffold it the best.

2) Fold ear in half lengthwise, two lengths of tape around the base and middle. This made his ears stiff and straight but they were still falling too much to either side.

3) Build a bridge with a very long length of tape around both bases and adhered to itself in the middle. This brought the ears to their proper position and held them there.

If this sounds familiar to people who have had cropped breeds, it should – it’s basically the way you post a cropped ear once the puppy has strong enough ears that it doesn’t need a physical support inside the ear. It’s the way I learned to do Dane ears and it works for Cardigans so I do it for them too.

Here’s what I did for Puck:

1) Masking tape up and over the ear as with Sebastian.

2) Opened the ears wide and did two rounds of tape around the base and middle, holding the ear up but OPEN (instead of folded in half).

That’s it for him – no bridge because I want him to use the muscles to hold his ears up. Because his bases are strong already I didn’t need to fold the ear in half or bridge them. He just needs a little bit of support in the middle, which I gave him.

C) Microchips are not in yet. I’ll let you know as soon as they are. Darn discounted pet warehouse thingy.

D) Registrations from AKC ditto.

E) Everybody doing OK on nails and baths? You should have dremeled or cut the nails back at least once at this point, hopefully twice. Let me know if you need any help.

F) Puppy eval videos are giving me fits. It’s kind of a long story but it involves file extensions and conversions and frame rates and Sony doesn’t like Macintosh. I can watch them on the video camera but not on the computer. As soon as I have fought it into submission I will post them.

FINALLY – I would like to start posting the pictures and updates you are sending me. If anyone DOES NOT want me to copy your pictures or updates (I strip them of anything personal or negative or that is for my eyes only), let me know. Otherwise I know there are a lot of people out there who would love to see your puppies grow.

Love and smooches!


Family, Godric, Sammy

Wherein I tell a dirty story

Here I sit, in my chair, looking over at dogs sleeping on my pillow, and trying my best to not think about what stil has to be done in my kitchen.

Here is the story:

In the middle of last week, we got a dusting of snow on the ground and everybody kind of nodded gravely and said oh my goodness, snow in mid-October, haven’t seen this since my gramps was knee high to a coon dog and hadn’t met grandmama yet.

Just as this was petering out as a topic of conversation in the self-checkout in Shaws to ease the embarrassment of not being able to find the barcode on the jar of vienna sausage, the weathermen announced that we might have some real snow that weekend.

Piffle! we all sniffed. Tosh! One more reason to get all worried over nothing.

Doug and the kids and I had to drive out on Saturday to meet Amanda, who is socializing Bosco for us for a few weeks or until someone decides they want to be his devoted slave and nose-kisser for the rest of his life. We had vague plans to get back home before the snow got deep, with a very world-weary attitude of “Just in case they actually know what they’re talking about FOR ONCE.”

Sure enough, as we headed back up the highway the flakes were falling and even beginning to gather a little bit on the ground. It was so charming; the kids were oohing and aahing over the first real snow of the season. I had visions of getting home and brewing a big pot of coffee and beginning my night’s work in cozy peace.

Halfway home, we stopped for a few things at the store, and I was so buoyed by contentment and picturing Bosco riding off into the horse-scented sunset that I was super indulgent and let the kids pick out paperback books and halloween candy. We paid and headed for the big double doors, which opened gracefully for us.

Doug turned to me and yelled something, but I have no idea what because the wind had just whipped sixty pounds of snow down my throat and the kids were yelling incoherent things about death and escaping. We managed to wheel our cart through the four inches of snow that had appeared from some trapdoor in the sky while we were pricing peanut butter cups and got to the car, where we stared at each other in shock and then drove in dread-tinged silence out to the road.

And then began an adventure called “Oh my gosh, all the lights are out here, Here too!, Did you see that tree? Get behind that sand truck; he is our salvation, Are the street lights gone too? That guy’s garage is totaled!”

Two hours to travel what should have been thirty minutes, and we were home. We could hear the dogs howling in panic from the driveway, and we hadn’t seen any lights on in five miles.

I’ll spare you the details of trying to walk dogs, wondering whether we should put food in the dead fridge or on the deck for the snow to keep cold, and then bringing every blanket from every bed in the entire house and piling it on the queen-size bed in our bedroom, then slipping kids under the quilts and stacking dogs on top of them. I will say this: Six people and seven dogs and two puppies in one bed is very warm, but you wake up with a splitting headache and a lot of hair in your mouth.

The next day came word from the power company – there were only six customers in our town who still had power. No repairs expected for days. Two thousand limbs down just in our one little town. Don’t be a hero.

So we were not heroes. Doug began calling hotels while I began to make our bedroom into a place where we could leave dogs for days on end; crating and using the dog room in the basement were out of the question because the weather was predicted to be in the teens. They had to be able to get up off the floor and snuggle together for warmth. So gates were installed, cords up and unplugged, chairs covered with blankets, enormous bowls of food and water in the corners. He found a place 30 minutes away and we packed up Sammy and Godric and left.

For the next two nights and three days, I didn’t come home. Doug drove the distance four times a day to feed and water; the big kids went morning and evening to do chickens and puppies. I, knowing what I’d face when we finally got home, took 30-minute showers, read three books with Extremely Naughty Vampires in them, and entertained the two little kids by convincing them that the Food Channel was the most awesome thing on television. In short, I luxuriated. I hadn’t stayed in a hotel room for three years, and that was because our house had half-burned down. The last time I stayed in a hotel and was able to relax was over seven years ago. So wow did I relax. I ate breakfast. Actually, who am I kidding. I ate second breakfast and third breakfast on my way to early lunch.

When word came this morning that a) we had power and b) we were not going to be able to eat for several weeks if we paid for one more night in a hotel, we packed up and drove home, waving a sad goodbye to the heated pool and the nice ladies who gave us clean sheets every morning, to the colossal shower and the TV in every room.

On the way in the door of our house, I grabbed the enormous shop vac off the porch and turned it on while I was walking. After that there wasn’t much except a lot of gagging noises and cries of “I don’t care! Throw it OUT!” and “Did this used to be a shoe?” Every time I appeared from the room, I gritted out something about if you guys are not advancing the laundry every 45 minutes there will be heckfire to pay, now sweep up whatever awful thing that is and tell Daddy that the shop vac needs to be dumped out. Again.

Then there were mop buckets with bleach, then mop buckets with simple green, then mop buckets with clean, hot water so the open windows could dry the floor and blow away the last of the funk.

Finally, I opened a bottle of hard cider and drank it where I stood, and then sat on the bed with Zuzu in my lap until Oswald the Friendly Octopus made my eyes close and I dreamed of very large, hot showers.

Half of my bedroom is now out in the woods on the mulch pile. I have a hundred e-mails to return. But we are warm again, and content, and the correct number of dogs are on the bed once more. All I need is an extremely naughty vampire hot shower and I’ll be set for the next seven years.