Dog Toys

dog walker and dog toysDog Toys for Tough Chewers

If anyone has had the opportunity to share their house with a tough chewer (ie. can destroy ANYTHING you put in front of them), then you share my pain.  Here is a comment from someone I know: My Chesapeake Bay Retriever has the jaws of a crocodile and can eat through pretty much any dog toy, whether it be rubber, rope, plush, etc. that we give her.  In fact, she is NEVER left unsupervised with any dog toy whatsoever because of her incredible ability to reduce anything to shreds and her tendency to then devour aforementioned shreds as a light snack.  As such, I wanted to share with you her two most indestructible and long-lasting dog toys. (Spoiler: not one of them is a stuffed toy – I have yet to find one that is a match for her). Moose pictured here is also a tough chewer and I can attest to the strength of the Kong Classic Shape Extreme X-Large. He has one!

  1. KONG Classic Shape Extreme X-Large

Not only is this toy one of the longest lasting, but it is also my dog’s absolute favorite.  She loves to carry it around in her mouth and will happily chew on it without any food inserts.  My one criticism is that my dog has recently started to chew bits off from the edge around the hollow part where food is inserted, simply because it is slightly thinner at this point.  However, this product has lasted significantly longer than any other KONG toys, and still lasts for several months.

Dog walker in Charlotte NC

  1. Dog Jolly Ball

So far, these dog jolly balls have stood up to the test.  The shape makes it impossible for her to chew through it like other toys, and she likes to knock it around with her paws.  Like the KONG, it is made of rubber and some dogs may not want to chew it because it has little taste.  However, I have found that the most voracious chewers will often gnaw on anything.

I did not include any bones or antlers in the list; although I have given them to my dogs in the past, I try not to now because of the risk of broken or splintered teeth that come from very hard chews.  If you would like to learn more about this issue, click on the following link:


I would love to hear about your favorite dog toys for voracious chewers, and any tips you might have for satisfying them.

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Pet Safety

pet safety

rescue dog Moose

Pet safety is something most of us don’t think about until we are forced to think about it. Hurricane Harvey striking the Texas coast has me thinking about it.

After Hurricane Katrina came ashore in New Orleans and the aftermath of destruction from all of the flooding, I joined an online group of volunteers trying to track down the displaced owners to help reunite them with their pets. In 2005, facebook didn’t exist. Many people didn’t use cell phones yet. Trying to track down people when their homes are flooded, the electricity is out and you have no idea where they went was a challenge. Our group was responsible for helping to reunite over 1000 pets with their owners.

Hurricane Harvey just struck the Houston area. The flooding after the storm reminds me so much of Katrina. People were caught off guard. Many had to abandon their homes in the middle of the night to save their lives and to save their kids lives. Some may have been forced to leave their pets. Some may have thought it wouldn’t be that bad and they’d be able to return soon. Just like Katrina, some Houston pet owners ended up leaving their pets behind.

I am not here to judge. I think until you are in that situation, you don’t know what you’d really do. I don’t have children whose safety I need to ensure so I’d like to think I would rescue my own dogs. But do you know what? My dogs weigh 80 and 90 lbs. I can’t carry either one of them and I certainly can’t carry them both. I can’t imagine if something happened in the middle of the night, there was no power so I couldn’t see and the water was rising. My heart breaks for the people forced to make these decisions. Instead of judging, we should say a prayer for them. Pray that their souls have peace because I know if I were ever forced to make these types of decisions, I don’t know that I could live with the guilt if I left.

Sadly some of the pets that died in Harvey were being rescued. They were in boats on their way to safety but some got washed overboard. Some got scared and jumped. What I would hope is that I would have enough warning to know if I might be in danger so that I could leave in advance with my dog. I don’t live in a flood zone but if I did, I would be one of the first ones out. I’d load up my car and hit the road to safe, higher ground.

pet safety in a storm

Moose and his dog walker 

So, what can we do to try and ensure our pet’s safety, follow these tips:

  1. Make certain your pet’s collars are on and that the information on the tags is up to date
  2. Microchip your pet. Make sure you contact the microchip company and register the chip to you. This is a free service. If you’ve moved or changed cell phones, contact the chip company and update your information.
  3. Have current copies of your pet’s vaccines. You might need them if you go to a shelter or hotel.
  4. Have enough water, food and medicine for you and your pet for several  days.
  5. Charge your cell phone.
  6. Fill your car with gas.

The biggest tip I have is to plan in advance. My thoughts are with everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma and I hope these pet safety tips help.

pet safety during a hurricane

My lab Moose

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Dog Photography in Charlotte NC


dog photography in Charlotte NC

Dog Photography is something I have grown to love. I started See Spot Run Dog Walking in 2009 and in 2016 I launched BARKography my dog photography company here in Charlotte. Here is a link to my dog photography website: BARKography.  I write at least one blog post / week on the site.  You can see some of my latest work there and read about my journey to become a dog photographer.

When I got my first camera, I knew next to nothing about dog photography. I actually didn’t even realize there was much to learn about photography. Early on I got really frustrated with myself and my camera. I didn’t understand why my photos weren’t any good and why they were frequently blurry. For those of you who try to take photos of your moving dogs with your phone, you know it’s hard. If they’re sitting still it’s easier (still hard but easier) but when they’re moving, it’s almost impossible to get a cell phone photo.

local dog photography

This is the image description

Fast forward to today and I am in love with dog photography. I love my camera. I love learning new things about photography and I love trying out new lenses. For my birthday, I got a lens that allows me to take really close up shots that are super sharp and clear. I love those types of photos: close ups of their eyes or their fur. I feel like I can see my dog’s soul through his eyes. I know I’ll cherish the photos that I’m taking of them forever.

I think cell phone photos are great. They’re great for capturing the moment but if you want to ever print out your photos, your cell phone photos aren’t going to look very nice. I’m a big advocate for printing your photos. Even before I got into photography, I’d print my photos. I have a zillion photos of my first 2 dogs Sam and Sloan but none of them are very good. I’m so glad that the photos I have of Willow and Moose are nice quality, printable photos.

I saw a stat recently that 20-30 year olds are the most photographed generation ever but their kids and grandkids won’t ever see photos of them in their younger years because all the photos are cell phone shots – the ones people never print.  There’s a hashtag #printyourphotos (I’m not making that up!)

If you’d like photos of your dog, contact me. Don’t wait. Time goes by too fast and you don’t want to have any regrets about not having decent photos of your furry kids.

local dog photographer

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Should You Hire a Dog Walker

dog walker


Should you hire a dog walker? Have you asked yourself that question before? Perhaps you’ve not thought about it but my asking the question makes you wonder about it. My answer would be if you work during the day and you’re gone for more than 5-6 hours, then yes you should hire a dog walker. I’ll bet your dog would agree.

Certainly the younger, higher energy dogs benefit from getting walked. It’s good for them to burn some energy, stretch their legs and be mentally stimulated. Have you ever wondered if your dog gets bored when he’s inside the house? I do. I wonder if mine are and I’ll bet the answer is yes, there are times when they are bored. I”ll bet my dog Moose would prefer that I’d take him for a walk right now as a matter of fact and as soon as I’m done here I believe I will do just that!

In looking out for the well-being of our dogs, I think exercise is important. As a dog walker, I always take the weather into consideration and in the middle of the summer when it is hot and humid, I don’t recommend going on a long power walk with your dog but some exercise is still important. As a dog walker, I always assess each individual dog and take things into consideration such as his age and his health when I’m hired to walk him. I report back to the owner after each visit.

We always need to be aware of our dog’s health too and that’s something else your dog walker can assist with. As our dogs age, they might not be able to walk as far or as fast. Some might think they can so as their owner/dog walker we need to know when enough is enough. This time of year we need to watch out for hot pavement too. If the pavement is too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it’s too hot for your dog. If the sand on the beach is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog. These are all things that I think about when I’m out walking dogs.

Patricia McConnel wrote a blog post about “What Your Dog Walker Needs to Know.” She did extensive resarch on the subject. You can find her article here.

All of these things are things responsible, professional dog walkers should consider. Your dog’s well being is our #1 priority. We want to help keep your dog healthy and happy with daily exercise and fresh air! After all, a tired dog is a happy dog! Your dog and I think you should hire a dog walker. 🙂

hire a dog walker


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Snow Days

Snow Days

Buster and Buddy are two BARKography clients sporting their coats during our session.

Snow days in Charlotte are a big deal. The famous Charlotte weatherman Brad Panovich has starting making his #snOMG forecasts and that means the bread and milk aisles at the stores are already empty.  The following is a true story and personal testament about keeping your dogs warm when it is so cold outside.

Many of you have read stories about my previous yellow lab Sam. Sam was a dog that loved life. She was always happy, wasn’t fearful of much and generally was just a pretty balanced, happy go lucky dog. He LOVED the snow. He’d get the zoomies. If I leashed him and took him for a walk, he’d walk with his nose to the ground. His nose was literally plowing the snow as he walked along.

As he aged, he starting losing his muscle mass and he got skinnier. He reminded me of a frail elder man. He still loved the snow but I’d always put his coat on him whenever we went out because he would shiver. One particular snow day, he zoomed around and then rolled around on his back like he always did. We didn’t stay outside too terribly long but it was too long for Sam.

When we got back inside, he wouldn’t stop shivering. To the point that it scared me so I called the vet. They said that his internal body temperature had gotten too low and I needed to SLOWLY warm him up. They suggested putting a dry coat or sweater on him (which I had) and wrapping him in blankets. They suggested warming up some water with a little bit of broth in it so he’d drink it.

I did that and it worked but it scared me.

Please be careful with your pets in during snow days or even just in cold weather. They don’t know when enough is enough. You need to know that for them. Dry them off. Get any packed snow out of their paws. Clean off their paws if they’ve been on any salt.

Have fun in the snow but be safe. #dogsincoats

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Halloween and your Pet

This weekend many of us will celebrate Halloween and many of us will include our pets. I am photographing a dog Halloween contest and parade on Saturday at Social Pet in Pineville from 11-2pm. Come on out. I photographed the event last year and had a great time.

puppy in Halloween costume

Her name is Wash and she was a puppy when I met her last year. I’ll get to see her again on Saturday and I’m sure she’ll be a lot bigger!

However, keep in mind that not all pets like to wear costumes. My yellow lab Willow doesn’t like to wear anything. If it is raining and I put a coat on her, she freezes and won’t move. She doesn’t like the rain either but apparently she’d rather get wet than wear a raincoat.

If you try to dress up your pet for Halloween and you get a similar reaction from your dog, perhaps you should forgo the costume. My other dog Moose could care less about having a costume or coat on. However if he is around other dogs who have on costumes that even remotely resemble something he’d like to put in his mouth, he will. That’s another thing to think about if you have a crazy dog like my Moose.

Something else to remember: make sure your dog can’t get in the Halloween candy. Chocolate isn’t good for dogs – it can be fatal if enough of it is consumed and the wrapping that is on a lot of the candy can cause blockages. Keep the trick-or-treat bowl and your kids’ stash out of your dog’s reach. Your kids will be happier about that too, right? 🙂

On Monday evening my neighborhood will have a Halloween party in the cul-de-sac. There will probably be a few dogs there although I’m not sure if they’ll be dressed in costumes. This is our 2nd Halloween with Moose. This year we are forgoing handing out candy because Moose is a lot to handle with all that candy around and the doorbell constantly ringing. We’ll give out our candy at the neighborhood party. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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Do Dogs Remember Each Other?

I’d love to know if dogs remember each other. I did a BARKography photo session earlier this week with Baxter, a dog that used to live in Charlotte and now he lives in Florida. I was introduced to Baxter and his family through my neighbor Tiffany. I’d done a photo session with Tiffany’s dog Jack and when Baxter’s parents saw the photos, they wanted to have a session with Baxter and they wanted to have photos of the 2 dogs together. The dogs used to play together all the time when they both lived in Charlotte.

I did an early morning session with just Baxter and later that day, I met up with Baxter at the Mint Museum and Jack joined us there. Seeing the two of them run around and play was a lot of fun.

do dogs remember each other

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since then and I wonder, do dogs remember each other? I have no scientific reasoning behind this but I think they do.

I know there are studies about a dog’s memory and many say dogs don’t remember things but I tend to question that. I think they remember certain things or events. When we rescued our black lab Buddy, he cowered if you lifted your hand over his head. I feel pretty certain he’d been hit in the past – he had to remember that and seeing a hand raised over his head made him remember being hit in the past, right? I can tell you over the last 6 years of his life, he was never hit again.

When Baxter and Jack saw each other, the first thing they did was sniff each other. There were a few other dogs around so they sniffed them all too but then they ran around together and played. I even captured a quick pic of Baxter giving Jack a little lick on his nose.

BARKography dog photography

I do think dogs remember each other. Perhaps it has something to do with their sense of smell. Perhaps they remember the dog’s scent. Seeing Baxter and Jack together was really sweet. I’m so glad I was there to witness it.

If you want to see more photos of Baxter, head over to my BARKography blog where I wrote a post about our time together.

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Moose and the dog sitter

I am a dog sitter and when we go on vacation to Hilton Head like we did last week and take Moose and Willow with us, we have to hire a dog sitter. No joke! This dog sitter hires a dog sitter WHEN the dogs are on vacation WITH US! And that’s because of our crazy Moose.

chocolate lab

Sunrise on the beach in Hilton Head. Moose is a happy dog: on the beach, off-leash and he has a tennis ball.

We were hoping that his separation anxiety would be better this trip but no, he didn’t like being left in the house alone. He isn’t destructive but it stresses him out. I’d love to have a doggie cam set up to see what he does but actually when I think about it, that might break my heart to seem him stressed.

no dog sitter needed

Moose loved his off leash time on the beach. Following is the sequence of him running to get his tennis ball.

It's a happy Moose!

It’s a happy Moose!

Getting ready to pounce on the ball.

Getting ready to pounce on the ball.

no dog sitter needed when Moose is on the beach

He got it!

So, Moose didn’t get left alone very much in the house. Luckily (or not so luckily for me), I’d planned to do quite a bit of work while we were on vacation. I have a ton of back office type of work that I need to catch up on so I’d planned to knock some of it out on vacation… and I did. Moose was happy to have me around.

We did plan to go out to dinner a couple of nights while we were there so the dog sitter came and stayed with him. He’s a funny dog. As soon as she got there and we’d go to leave, he followed her back into the house, perfectly content that we were leaving as long as someone was there with him.

Yay for the dog sitter and for her helping us and The Moose while we were on vacation! Do your dogs require special attention or treatment when you’re on vacation?


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See Spot Run Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

To all my dog walking and pet sitting clients, I have exciting news: I’ve launched my BARKography website and you can click the link to check it out.  If you do, please let me know what you think. This means several things. I no longer have to share my dog walking and pet sitting website with my photography site. Because I’ve spent a lot of time marketing the new dog photography business, it was taking over the See Spot Run site. No more. 🙂 The dog photography piece is still really important but so is the dog walking and pet sitting. It always has been. So now I get to blog about dog walking and pet sitting things here and I can blog about the photography side of the business on the BARKography site. If there is a downside, it is that I now have 2 blogs. Yikes….. 🙂

pet sitting doberman

I recently saw a post from a friend on my facebook page that was an article she shared about a pet sitter leaving a dog in a car and the dog died. The pet sitter was found through an online site. Here are my recommendations for finding a pet sitter:

  1. Ask your friends and family for a referral. If you have friends who have dogs, ask them who they use as a dog walker or pet sitter. Contact that person and see if she (he) covers your area. If she doesn’t, ask her for a referral. I get a lot of referrals and sometimes the person lives outside of my service area. I will always refer them to someone else. If it is someone I know well, I will tell them that. If the person has pet sat for me before, I will tell them. If I don’t know the person well, I will tell them that too.
  2. Ask your vet for the front desk staff at your vet’s office for a referral. Ask them how they know the person.
  3. Interview the pet sitter. Seriously interview them! (I would interview them as if you were hiring someone to care for your child. My dogs are my children and they are treated as such.)
  4. Check the pet sitter’s references. Really call them. Really check them out. Ask questions like: how long have you known her, how many times has she pet sat for you, were there any problems, how did she correspond with you while she was pet sitting for you, how frequently did she correspond with you, etc. Ask questions. Lots of them.

As a pet sitter, it breaks my heart to read the stories like what I read this morning. It breaks my heart for the family of the dog. I don’t like the black mark it leaves on my industry either. There are good pet sitters out there. Do your research and find them. You’ll have to plan ahead as this process will take time. Your dogs are worth it, right? Trust me if you find the right pet sitter, she’ll appreciate your efforts and your dog will too.

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Pet Photography Project 52, week 32: Lens Flare

For this week’s pet photography project 52 week challenge, we are examining lens flare. I’m so glad this is the assignment for this week because I have an image and I would really like some honest feedback on it. I took this 3 weeks ago. My mom was looking at all of the images from this photo session and she saw this one and audibly gasped. Now, she is certainly biased when it comes to the photos I take. I like this image but something doesn’t seem quite right and I don’t mean the fact that her front paw is cut off although maybe that is part of my issue. Does this image work? What would make it better? If you took this at a session, would you show it to the client?

lens flare

This is Tess. She is 12 years old and is the sweetest pup ever. I get to see her every week and her mom asked me to do a photo session too. She is a leaner and whenever I see her, she makes it very obvious my job is to pet her. 🙂 I took this photo at the very beginning of our session and when she saw me on the ground, she had to come over and sit beside me so I could pet her. I love her to pieces!

Here is another photo from this same session. I found the raw file while searching for the image above and just edited it now. I didn’t edit it before because I didn’t think it was good enough. Your thoughts? (Seriously, honesty is what I want. :))

lens flare

Lots of lens flare in this image… perhaps way too much??

Here is another of The Moose.

lens flare

Another sunrise photo. This is one I took when we were doing backlit photos and it also has lens flare.

Be sure to check back next week for some super exciting news!! 🙂 This is a blog circle. Click the link at the bottom of each post and you’ll see the other photographer’s take on “lens flare.” Next up is About A Dog Photography in St. Cloud MN.

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