Dog Breed Gift Guide: Great Gifts for the Labrador Lover

Today, I’ll be featuring awesome gift ideas for the Labrador lover!

It’s no secret that Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular choices for family pets. They’re friendly, love children, are intelligent, and have all the affection to go around for anyone who wants a lovable and larger pet to join the family.

I’ll include all types of labs: black, chocolate, and yellow. Enjoy!

Art for the Bathroom

The perfect addition to every bathroom, especially when your lab comes in to “get clean”! Comes in a variety of sizes starting at $12.99. Click here to buy.

Wedding Greeting Card

Are your chocolate lab loving friends or family tying the knot? This adorable card will make it in the wedding scrapbook. $2.97. Click here to buy.

The Perfect Addition to Your Home Decor

A fun, whimsical pillow that will add style to any space. Dog hair not included. $57.50. Click here to buy.

A Stylish Art Print

One of my best-selling prints, this yellow labrador print will always remind you that Love really is a four-legged word. (Only one LEFT!) $10. Click here to buy.

Add some flair to your front door

A perfect way to welcome guests! Choose from a variety of ribbons so it matches your decor perfectly. $50.00. Click here to buy.

Fun Women’s Apparel

A stylish addition to any Labrador Lover’s wardrobe. Starting at $24.99. Click here to buy.

A stylish (and functional) way to beat the heat. From $18. Click here to buy.

The Perfect Summer Addition

Stressed? Just listen to this lab and CHILLAX by the pool! Starting at $38.44. Click here to buy.

Do you have other awesome gifts for lab lovers? I want to know! Sound off in the comments below! And be sure to include links! FOr my other dog breed gift guides, click here.

This post is not sponsored in any way. These opinions, comments, and views are my own.

Product Feature: Gant’s Favorite New Collar

Gant showing off his awesome collar.

One of my favorite things to buy for Gant are collars. I have one for every season and mood. Is it Spring and he’s feeling preppy? Bring on the argyle! Feeling tropical? Got one with palm trees. Disney? Oh you know we got a mickey mouse one!

Recently, I came across a horrible video about animal testing from The Beagle Freedom Project. They were rescuing Beagles from animal testing facilities. Now, I know that animal testing happens. You can’t sell your products in China without testing on them.

That’s why I was so excited to come across Geopetric Pets. They not only sell cool collars, but they sell leashes, harness, bandanas for dogs AND cats.

Image from Geopetric.com

They have the coolest designs! Zig Zags, Stripes, Diamonds Pattern, you name it! Find the one that goes with your dog’s coloring, and they’ll be the handsomest dog (or cat) on the block!

And why did I mention animal testing? Well, these products are vegan and cruelty free! They even are made from recycled materials, like plastic bottles.

Dreaming of treats…

And as a special gift to my readers, use code GANT20 when checking out! You’ll get 20% off with EVERY order! Woohoo! Send it to your friends, family, any dog-lover you know! So check it out now here!

You can also recycle your old dog gear! Check out their program here.

And don’t forget to show me your adorable pooch wearing their Geopetric collar! You can also purchase Gant’s collar, pictured, here.

This blog post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. Thank you for supporting my blog and small business!

Wedding Inspiration for Dog Lovers

It’s that time of year… wedding season!

I love weddings. They’re a great excuse to see everyone in one place, dance to your favorite 90’s hits (Oh, cause you KNOW they’ll be playing Britney!) and dress to the nines.

What’s also so fun is how each couple does unique touches on their special day. Whether it’s having it in your own backyard, or doing a sketch from “Who’s on First” from Abbott and Costello (yes, this actually happened, and it was amazing), to wearing sunglasses for the first dance (We did that!), it’s always memorable. One of my favorites was one of my childhood friends had a taco bar. A TACO BAR. At the end of the night. HOW GENIUS? We had way too much wine and needed to soak it up with some carne asada.

Next week, we’ll be flying to Pittsburgh, where our friends will be tying the knot. They are bringing their dog, Daisy, who will be included in the wedding preparations.

I feel like I’m seeing this more and more nowadays. I’m sure people included their pets in their weddings, but lately I’ve seen so many more people want their pooches on their special day. There are dog-friendly hotels, AirBnB’s, and photographers who are experts at making Fido smile during the shoot.

Today, it’s all about wedding inspo, for dog lovers! If we got our dog, Gant, when we were getting engaged/married, I would have totally done one or some of these adorable photo shoots.

Engagement and Save the Date Ideas

Inspiration from Pinterest.

From costumes to beautiful wreaths and signs, so wearing matching t-shirts to announce the save the date, it is JUST SO CUTE!

Maybe they can’t be included in the special day for a number of reasons, so save the dates are much more chill, relaxed way to include them.

Wedding Day Ideas

Inspo from Pinterest. Photo top right and bottom right are from Katie Laines Events.

If they are lucky enough to be included, these are some ADORABLE ways to have them be part of something super special. I love the dog of honor bandana!

I am also excited to be partnering with wonderful wedding planners, both local and around the US. Katine Laines of Katie Laines Design and Coordination sent me the two right photos. They are an awesome planning service in the Bay Area. They do amazing work, as well as recommend my save the dates to dog loving couples.

Overeasy Events, another amazing planning service in Florida, wrote a great blog on many ways to include your dog in your wedding, whether or not they’ll be there on the actual day. Click here to check it out!

In the next coming weeks, I’ll be interviewing Overeasy Events on more awesome tips and tricks to include your dog(s), so stay tuned! And soak in all this amazing wedding inspo!

SMALL BUSINESS FEATURE: OH MY DOGGIES

Custom portrait I did of @ohmydoggies adorable trio!

Are there certain IG accounts you just love? Whenever they post something new, you immediately like/comment/look at their stories? Well, @ohmydoggies is that account. Their photos are ADORABLE. I can’t take the cuteness! They feature their three dogs: Frances, Sting & Dexter, both Boston Terriers, and Dexter, a Pitt mix.

This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing photographer behind @ohmydoggies! Here, I’ll be asking them how they developed their love of Boston Terriers, how they started their insta, and how the heck do they get their adorable dogs to pose so well?! I hope you enjoy!

First off, how did your love of Boston Terrier’s come about? What makes you love the breed?

I had always owned large breed dogs. I lost my 10 yr old Dalmatian in late 2008. I really wanted to experience a small, lap dog, so I narrowed it down to a Frenchie, a Boston, pug or a mini red poodle. I chose a Boston because they seemed to shed very little, and my husband didn’t want a poodle. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect breed for our family! They can be playful adventurers or Netflix potatoes. They are affectionate, friendly and intelligent. Plus, I love that they don’t bark all that much.

When did you create @ohmydoggies? How did you come up with the name?

I am an IG OG (Instagram Original Gangster)! I first began using this new, little app called Instagram for photo filter purposes only. One day, in 2012, I used a hashtag on a picture walking my first two Bostons, and received some likes from strangers. I thought, “That was fun, let’s see if it works again”. Those were the good old days, (when) Facebook didn’t own the app, and there weren’t a lot a lot of people on the app and the community feeling was incredible. Most dog accounts knew all of the other dog accounts. It wasn’t competitive and everything was in chronological order. So much FUN! No one had any idea it would become so big one day. My original name was @ohmydog09 for the year my first Boston was born. No one could remember the “09” so I changed the name to @ohmydoggies in 2013 or 2014.

Tell us a bit about why you started it, and who the adorable dogs are that are the subject of all your instagram posts!

I purchased my first Boston in May 2009 after MONTHS of endless searching for a female puppy. I found a little girl named Emmie that was born in March 2009 to a show dog breeder in Texas. I asked to be put on a waiting list even though I understood my chances were slim to none. I was obsessed with her and checked every week for the new photo update and progress report. Long story short, she ended up being mine. We drove six hours from Wichita, Kansas to Dallas, TX to pick her up. She was litter box trained and used her box about 6 times on the long drive home. I know it sounds silly but I was already deeply in love before we arrived home that evening. I kept her original name because that’s how I knew her for so many months on the internet. She was the smartest, fastest and sweetest dog I have ever owned. She could learn a new trick in about 5 minutes. I loved her so much I adopted her four year old, retired champion daddy, Skyler, nine months later in 2010.  

Emmie died in Dec 2013, at the age of 4 from kidney disease. I was devastated. The breeder had a 6 month old male puppy she offered me since she felt terrible about my loss. I initially said no because I had never owned a male dog and heard so many things about them urinating in the house. I went to bed that night and dreamed about this puppy, who I had seen in photos. I decided I wanted him. So, the day after Christmas, 12 days after losing Emmie, we got in our car and drove to Dallas. They were having a rare snow storm and the breeder wanted to cancel the puppy exchange since she had to drive a couple of hours as well. I was like “Noooooo, we are coming!”

We probably saw about 10 cars in ditches along the highway. This is where our IG story really begins, the puppy was Memo, Skyler’s great nephew. I started photographing him that weekend. He literally grew up in front of the camera. Even though he was a willing and excited participant, he always had a bored, sleepy expression with a sliver of tongue peeking out which made for some great photos! We started winning photo contests in 2014 and our account started growing.

In 2014, I received a message from the breeder’s daughter. Memo’s 1.5 yr old half sister, “Chanel” didn’t like the show ring so they wanted to place her in my home. Chanel and Memo were very close in age and even played together as puppies. I didn’t hesitate for a second even though I had never owned 3 dogs and wasn’t sure if I could handle it. I changed her name to Frances, aka Frankie. This was the best trio imaginable, (Skyler, Memo & Frances) they must have somehow known they were related. They were so in love, and they did everything together. It was easier than I anticipated and I was so happy for all the joy they brought to our family. 

Memo passed unexpectedly in Feb 2017. (It took almost a year for those tears to subside. I wanted briefly to delete my IG account. Thank God I didn’t because of all the memories) In May 2017, I was in a pet store buying some dog treats. They were hosting an adoption event for rescued dogs pulled from a kill-shelter. I spotted handsome, owner-surrendered, blue eyed Dexter and the rest is history. My husband kept telling me, “You are grieving Memo. This is going to be such a big dog, are you sure?” I was crying every day about losing a second dog so young. Memo was like my boyfriend or child. He was irreplaceable but I wanted to save this baby dinosaur that I couldn’t stop hugging and smelling. It took a week for baby Dexter to join our family and he still smells good to this day!
I decided Frances needed another small dog since the size difference was not really working between her and Dex except for nap time. So, that’s when Sting joined our family in 2018. Dexter and Sting bonded on day two. It took Frankie a little longer since she isn’t a fan of needle teeth!

How do you get them to pose? Do they enjoy wearing costumes?

Dexter, Stinger, and Frances

 My pups love taking pictures, they know it makes me happy. All dogs like “working’ or doing a job. Mine receive lots of yummy treats, hugs and praise. Any time I go downstairs, they run ahead of me and go to the studio and wait for me on a bench. So cute! And they don’t mind wearing hats, glasses or clothing. It is all normal for them.

Do you try to get them to pose a certain way or just let them naturally do their thing and capture the “magic” that way?

I always have a general idea in my head for a photo. I put them in position, set the camera to continuous shooting and let them do their thing. My current goal is to take less photos, but still get the shot and save the number of clicks on my camera, which wears it out and decreases its value.

How do you come up with the ideas for each photo? How long does it take on average, to get them set up and the photo taken?

There are so many things that inspire me; a quote, a song lyric, a prop, holiday or artwork. I can usually set up my background paper, the lights and props in 5 minutes. I try not to have the dogs there for the setup so they don’t become bored. But, they are so super excited at this point and are underfoot! A pro, like 2 yr old Dexter, takes about 2-5 mins to get the photo I want. And 5 yr old Boston Frances is the BEST. She actually understands and is incredibly patient. She will wait until I “release” her. She always wants to continue and I have actually turned the lights off on her and she still doesn’t want to leave the studio. She is REALLY food driven and I always have to watch her weight.

Stinger takes a little longer to photograph, 5-10 minutes because doesn’t know the “hold” or “stay” command as well. He always leaves his spot to come see me and the bag of treats! I am a little bit of a perfectionist so editing takes the longest of the entire process.

Show me your favorite photos you’ve recently taken and why.

Skyler, this boy couldn’t take a bad photo. He had the most expressive, puppy dog eyes. He didn’t enjoy the process towards the end, so he was retired around age 11. 

Emmie looks so regal and arrogant in her pearls. This is everything I love about Boston Terrier faces. 

Memo… Where do I start? This boy was my heart dog and my muse, so hard to choose only one photo of him.

Frances, my little girl, was too afraid to get in side of this tote. I put her behind it instead and she peeked over the top giving the illusion she was in the bag. Brilliant girl! 

Dexter in his Top Gun impersonation is probably my all time favorite photo. He looks like a human!

Stinger in his first puppy crown photo is amazing. When my family helps me take a photo, I always feel like they are my best ones.

What camera do you use?

My early photos were with an iPhone or Canon t4i. In 2017, I upgraded to a Canon 6d MarkII body and I use mostly my 35mm or 50mm prime lenses

You showcase a lot of cool products throughout your instagram. What are some products you’d recommend, not only for any dog lover, but especially Boston Terriers?

A product I am super obsessed with right now is custom, hand painted wooden ID dog tags from Poland, @moontailstag. I have one for each of my dogs and they are truly miniature works of art. 

It’s great how easily Dexter fits in well with your Bostons, Frances and Stinger. Did he immediately bond with them or did it take awhile?

It didn’t take any time for Dexter to bond with the Bostons. He loves all dogs since he has been going to doggy daycare since he was 4 months old. He is very gentle and sweet with puppies. Frances is very small so she is always nervous of getting trampled by Dexter (and Stinger)!

What instagram your followers should check out?

There are SO many wonderful IG accounts and I love them all for different reasons. Here are a few of my faves: @Totolino_16 is such a happy bright account with very creative content. I love @vieler.photography for his one of a kind photography skills. One of my friends has a new Frenchie puppy and he’s absolutely addicting, @theodore_jetadore. And @misstyflower, because who doesn’t love a trio of capuchins?!

What are your dog’s favorite daily activities?

Sting and Dex wrestle every night inside and play chase or ball outside. They all three enjoy going on a walk. Frances is a couch potato. 

Tell me one cool fact about each dog.

Stinger is the alpha of the house, Dexter doesn’t know he is bigger and stronger which is probably a good thing! lol Dexter loves eating ice. Frankie “snake-bites” her the edge of her dog bed while she sleeps. There is always a wet spot! 

What are 1-3 important things someone needs to consider before starting an instagram or other social media account featuring their dogs?

I would tell anyone starting a new IG account that the most important thing is lighting. It makes such a difference between an okay photo and a great one! You don’t need a fancy camera to take good pics, just a smartphone and a large window with natural light flooding the room. Get on doggy eye level, don’t stand and shoot down towards the dog. Lay on the floor if you have to!     

What do you hope to accomplish in 2019, that you haven’t already with @ohmydoggies?

My goals for 2019: I want to cure Stinger of his poop eating problem, fingers crossed. I also want to learn Photoshop in 2019 so I can edit out leashes etc. I want to continue licensing my images of my sweet pups to be sold on postcards and magnets in Europe. Nothing makes me happier when someone DMs saying they received a birthday card of Frances and they recognized her from IG! 

Photos are copyrighted and posted with permission of @ohmydoggies. Please do not repost without permission. Content edited for clarity and length.

Dog Breed Gift Guide: Gifts for the Great Dane Lover

I am obsessed with Great Danes. With a combination of their tall, lanky bodies and their lovable faces make them “Gentle Giants” (They can weight up to 175 pounds!) They are known to be incredibly affectionate, dependable, and patient. People love them so much, they even get a bigger apartment so their Great Dane can fit!

The only downside is because they are such large dogs, they only live for about 6 years. Maybe 8 if you’re lucky. The larger the dog is, the shorter their life span.

But it doesn’t stop us from loving these gentle “Beasts”! So this week we are rounding up some of our favorite gifts for Great Dane Lovers!

Great Dane Magnet, $6.99 from Etsy
A cute play on their enormous size. Where are you sitting?

Art Prints

Great Dane Art Print, starting at $10.82, from Etsy.
This pop-art styled print will look great in any room.

Wedding Topper

Ornaments

Great Dane Cake Topper, starting at $17.51 from Etsy.
Getting married soon? This is a great way to incorporate your favorite pooch! Once the cake is eaten, put it on a shelf for a memorable keepsake.

Great Dane Ornament, $12.00 from Etsy.
Great for Christmas trees, but during the off-season, hang it along a short wall or on a keychain.

T-Shirts

Mugs

Great Dane T-Shirt, $23.95 from Etsy.
I mean, true. It’s just on a t-shirt.

Great Dane Mug, $19.99, from Etsy.
Because you can never have enough stuff with Great Danes on it.

Awesome Hats

Great Dane Ball cap, 12.74, from Etsy
Show your love of this breed while keeping your face protected. Comes in a variety of colors.

Stationery

Great Dane Personalized Stationery, $24.00 and up (Depending on number of cards) from Etsy
You’ll always have stylish thank you notes to send!

That’s all for this week! Are there any other awesome gifts you’ve given to Great Dane lovers? Sound off in the comments below!

Also, what breed would you like me to do next? My goal is to get all of them, so let me know! Yours could be next!

To find out more great gift guides for other dog breeds, click here.


BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY!

Hello, dog lovers!

Well, it’s nearly the weekend. Some weeks seem to slog, and go by way too sloooow. The kind where you think, “Is it really only Tuesday?!”

Other times, the days are a blur, and before you know it it’s finally time to enjoy the weekend and sleep in.

This week went by pretty fast for me…because it’s MY BIRTHDAY WEEK! My actual birthday was on Tuesday, but in my family we celebrate the WHOLE 7 DAYS. That’s right! Days of celebration. You get to choose what you want to do, without anyone complaining. It’s the best. Everyone should have a week, at least once a year, where it’s all about them.

However, I’m going to give some of my celebration to you, my awesome dog-loving readers! I am offering a fun birthday GIVEAWAY! WOOHOO! I can hear you cheering now, I swear.

You could win one of my favorite products…

A “Life is ALWAYS Better With A Dog” tote bag! I love this so much. It’s high quality canvas, it carries practically everything I need when running errands, and I get tons of compliments.

Blank vibrant pastel colored split tone background

So, how do you enter the giveaway and WIN this bag?! All you have to do is:

  1. Comment below with your name, and what you would use this bag for (errands, carrying your dog’s endless toy supply, etc. be creative!)
  2. For extra bonus entry, copy this blog link and tweet it! Be sure to tag me in the post so I can see it (@saccostudios)

That’s it! Giveaway ends Tuesday, April 16th. Happy week everyone!

Weekend Laughs, Part II

It’s nearly the end of the week, and I think we could all need a little laughter. Here are some comics that made me chuckle. I think all dog owners can relate!

From theycanttalk.com





Dog Breed Gift Guide: Gifts for the Boston Terrier Lover

As most of you know (or if you read my about page), I have a Boston Terrier named Gant, who is the inspiration behind Sacco Studios.

You’re probably wondering, “why haven’t you done a feature on them?!” well, lately, Boston Terriers seem to be everywhere, from cute handbags, to shoes and more! It’s really easy to find something when their adorable faces.

But, I can’t resist and must do a Boston Terrier guide. I’m going to show you some products that I’m obsessed with, and even currently own! So now you can proudly proclaim your love of the “The American Gentleman”!

Boston Terrier pajama set – $68.00 from Kate Spade. Whether you’re headed to bed or lounging watching your favorite show, you’ll always be stylish. I bet you could even get away with wearing the shirt while running errands! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier Boxers, $8 from Banana Republic. I got my husband a pair of these! Maybe I should buy some for myself… Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier Print, $5. From Sacco Studios (yes, that’s me!). Inspired by my own dog, Gant, I used an image of him when he was a puppy, and made it into a stylish, pop styled print. Perfect for any home! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier earrings, $13, from Doodleworm on Etsy. I have the necklace version of this, but these earrings sure are adorable! The perfect handmade gift for your favorite Boston terrier dog mom! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier baby shoes, $12.00, from Fawn Hollow Designs on Etsy. The cutest shoes your baby will ever wear. Now only if they had them in my size… Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier tote bag, $21.50 from The Plaid Apple Shop on Etsy. Look stylish carrying your farmer’s market finds. Obsessed with the pop of red in the glasses! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier salt box, $46.00 from Hideminy on Etsy. A perfect addition to any Boston lover’s kitchen. Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier Notepad (set of 50 sheets per set), $14.00 from Hourglass Design Co on Etsy. Making to do lists will never be boring again. Click here to shop.

That’s it for today’s gift guide! Do you have an awesome Boston Terrier finds that need to be shared? Sound off in the comments below!

Small Business Feature: A Big Friendly Ginger

Brenner posing with one of my art prints! Posted with permission by @bigfriendlyginger
Purchase here.

Hello! Happy Thursday! I am sorry there wasn’t a blog last week. Family was in town, and of course, time got away from me. But, I’ve had some great projects in the works, including this awesome interview with “A Big Friendly Ginger” (@bigfriendlyginger), an adorable instagram account featuring Brenner, an adorable golden retriever, If you haven’t seen their account, please check it out!

I asked Mariah, Brenner’s dog mom, a bunch of questions, including how she came up with the name “A Big Friendly Ginger”, how she gets Brenner to pose for all those adorable photos, and so much more! I hope you enjoy!

Tell us about yourself.
I’m Mariah, Brenner’s mom, and the “bfg” is Brenner. We are currently residing in Gainesville, Florida. I moonlight as Becky on the gram (I don’t know how that started). Aside from full time dog momming, I’m also a scientist. I work with agricultural and entomological viruses to improve food security. Photography has been a hobby of mine for a few years, but it wasn’t until Brenner that I started shooting dogs.

Mariah, Brenner’s dog mom! Photo posted with permission from @bigfriendlyginger

I started Brenner’s account January 2017. He was a year and a half at the time. I actually wasn’t planning to ever be one of “those people” with a gram for their dog…but well, here we are. Foot meet mouth.

I enjoy it so much it’s my main focus now. As I had said before, I didn’t want to start up an instagram for Brenner, but it got to the point that I had all these cute shots, but nowhere to show them off. I had already over saturated Facebook with his face. A dog friend of Brenner’s had an account, and convinced me to give it a try. Even though I’m now a hypocrite,  it’s been a lot of fun! Especially meeting new people and dogs that we would have never known otherwise. It’s also great to be involved with Brands, and working with small businesses. I had never imagined Brenner’s account getting to this point. Shout out to my lovely followers!

How did you come up with your name, “A Big Friendly Ginger?”
Originally, I set up Brenner’s account under @Only_ingold. Right away I realized I hated it! It just didn’t fit Brenner and it wasn’t catchy. But I struggled coming up with a new name, so I kept it for a while. Inspiration for abigfriendlyginger actually came from our followers who ragged on Brenner for being a redhead. It was all in good fun, and it just kind of stuck with me. So, I decided to embrace his ginger-ism and go with it. He’s also a hefty chonker by nature. BFG just suits him.

Tell us about Brenner. He’s so cute!
Brenner is going to be 4 this June (June 22nd). I’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old. Brenner came into my life at a time when I really needed companionship and someone to go places with. I had moved out to Iowa to start graduate school, it was the first time I was truly on my own.

Everyone I knew was back on the east coast and I had a difficult time making new connections. Brenner just kind of fell into my lap. A family in a small town had a litter of goldens and I went to just look and see. I’d say about twenty minutes after going to “just look” I was riding home with a puppy that I didn’t have the money to pay for, hadn’t let my landlord know about, and my boyfriend hadn’t known I was getting. Fast forward a few years and Brenner has been the best companion a girl could ask for.

Brenner is a big, friendly dope. He doesn’t know the word “stranger.” Everyone is friend. He smiles all the time and loves to go hiking. Swimming is probably his favorite thing in the world. He’s been swimming since he was 8 weeks old, and it’s never too cold for a swim. He, however, is the slowest runner in the world.  

I also see a cute cat that shows up in the photos. Tell us about the cat!
So there are actually 3 cats. Elsie was a shelter cat, and is the oldest at 11. She’s the big sassy fluff monster who loves photography paper. Lucy, is a tortoise shell and 9 months old. She was a feral kitten I rescued from a busy roadway back in August. Gus is 6 months, and friends of mine found him after he was thrown onto a highway. This sadly is not an uncommon occurrence here in Florida. Gus is the one seen most in photos with Brenner. He’s just such an easygoing cat, it’s not hard to get him to pose.

I post the cats’ videos on our instagram stories, and our highlights have a section dedicated to just them. I especially post a lot of stories with Lucy and Brenner. They’ve been best friends since Lucy first came into our lives. He has taught her how to roughhouse and she’s still trying to teach him how to cuddle.     

How did you develop your photography skills? Tell us about the camera you use.
Everything I’ve learned has been through free online resources (BH Event Space, Creative Live, TWiP, Youtube) and general trial and error. I really like studio photography, but there isn’t a lot of content out there about dogs and studio (at least not when I was first learning). So, I spent a lot of time studying wedding and portrait photographers, such as Sue Bryce, Lindsay Adler, Rick Sammon, Scott Kelby, etc. I figured that while the subject might be different, light behaves in the same way.

I highly recommend that even if you have no interest in photographing people, that you still take the time to learn from portrait masters. They have a wealth of knowledge. If anyone is interested in learning flash photography for the first time, I cannot recommend enough Scott Kelby’s courses.

I started with a Nikon D3000. I bought it used for $200, and then I bought the nikkor 50 mm 1.8. I still use this lens. My all time favorite photo of Brenner was taken with this camera and the kit lens. The D3000 was limited (I couldn’t go past ISO 400!), but I think that actually helped a lot with my photography. It really forced me to learn how to use light and exposure to get a decent image. This is also the camera I was using when I got my first few paid clients. I upgraded about a year ago to the Nikon D750.            

Do you have a studio set up?
It is more of a bedroom setup! Half of my bedroom is dedicated to a slapdash photography studio

How long does it take to do one photo?
This depends on what I’m trying to accomplish. A simple portrait can take about 5-10 minutes for set up and setting adjustments. I usually use a cat to test my settings with first. Brenner is a true professional model and cannot be asked to wait while I fiddle with the camera. (Kidding, the cats like to help set up, so it’s easy to just use them). Brenner does know his job though and as long as there is food, will do most of what I ask. A simple shoot is pretty quick and can be done in 30 minutes, with about 50 photos.

I try to keep my photoshoots spaced out during the month, so that Brenner doesn’t get burn out. If he’s not happy doing it, then a shoot doesn’t happen – or I cut it short. Usually a shoot will be about an hour long, with a few prop or costume changes. This way I have a variety of photos to work with and all done at once.  

Do you plan out your photos for the week? Month? Do you wait for inspiration? Tell us about your process.
For posting photos, yes. I plan out my posts using UNUM for at least a week in advanced. I find this helps me keep a theme and consistent look going. For photo inspiration I keep a little notebook. Any time I have an idea I’ll write it down or draw it in this notebook. Sometimes ideas will come randomly throughout the day, or I’ll see a photo/post that inspires me. My inspiration comes from all different sources. My favorite challenge is to take something I see being done with people and making it work with Brenner.   

How do you get Brenner to pose/sit/give great expressions?
This is all Brenner. He’s not just a good boy, he is the best boy. Brenner has always been a very patient dog, and I’ve been photographing him since he was a puppy. I think he just sees this as his job. And because of photography he knows a lot of weird commands. Like “scootch over.”

When I’m working with dogs that haven’t been in front of a camera before, food, a toy, or a noise maker will help get their attention. For excited dogs you need to work with their energy. Let them run around and get it all out before trying to make them pose. Small dogs are easier to work with if you put them on a platform of some sort. This will help keep them in one place. Working with cats can be hell, good luck.

Getting good expressions can be tricky, but can usually be accomplished with food or noise makers. Brenner has this “I’m bored” face. His eyes will be half closed, his shoulders hunched, and he will have his mouth hanging open – not very attractive.

To get him out of this I’ll try tossing a few treats to him which will force him to pay attention to catch them. If this doesn’t work I’ll try noise makers, or we will take a break and play with one of his toys. Anything to get him back in the game and more active. If all else fails I’ll try changing his position, outfit, or location.  

Show us your favorite photo you’ve taken and why.

Photo reposted with permission by @abigfriendlyginger

I have a lot of photos I love of Brenner, but this is my absolute favorite. This photo was taken in the middle of winter in Iowa. Brenner is a snow dog, he loves it. That day we were out at a local park, it was freaking cold and he was off running through the dead prairie grasses. This photo was taken as he was leaping out of the field and back onto the trail. I think my favorite part about this photo is his ears and his happy face. It is easy to see he was having a blast.

Is there anything you cannot get Brenner to pose or wear for a photo?
I had to really think about this one. So far there hasn’t been anything Brenner the golden retriever hasn’t let me try. He let me put a freaking pumpkin on his head for Halloween.  

I love the videos you do of your pets. How many do you do a day?
Not as many as I would like. I’m trying to get more into video, but it’s just not something I’m very interested in.

What types of businesses do you look for when considering a collaboration?
I’m willing to consider work with many types of brand, as long as they have a good (safe) product that is relevant to my follower base, they’ve been respectful in communications and if I feel comfortable working with them. I try to always do my research on a business before accepting anything from them.

It’s also important to know what a business is looking for when they contact me. I have turned down collaborations because I didn’t think I was the right fit for them. Also, when working with brands know your worth as a content creator. I don’t necessarily mean monetary value, but the value of your time and energy.       

What’s one of your favorite products you’ve collaborated with?
Thats a tough one! Probably our collaborations with Pop Your Pup. Our first collaboration was a tank top with Brenner’s face on it. I wear it all the time.

Can you provide some tips on how to photograph your dog effectively?
There are a few great online resources I can recommend if someone is looking to improve their dog photography in general. Hair of the Dog and Kim Hartz are two good places to start.

My first tip is, if you are first getting into studio photography, start small. You really only need one cheap speedlight and a wireless transmitter. My first flash was a $50 cheapy from Amazon. It came with an equally cheap transmitter. With one flash you can bounce the light off a light-colored wall or ceiling. You can use a white sheet to make your own softbox, or buy a cheap piece of white foam board (Lowe’s or Home Depot) to bounce the flash on.

White foam board (insulation board, polyboard, foam core, etc) can make really handy photography tools. They can be used as backdrops, reflectors or a floor drop. I have two that I use depending on my needs. Backdrops can be as simple as a plain wall, or made out of sheets, swathes of cotton from Joanne’s, or poster board. You don’t need to invest in photography paper off the bat.   

Tip two: This one you might have heard before and that is: shoot from the dog’s perspective. Meaning get at their eye level with your camera. By being on eye level with your dog you will have more connection between the viewer and the photo. But also don’t be pigeon holed by this – shoot at different angles and heights to change it up a bit.

Tip three: Use food to direct your dog’s eyes. If you want them looking into the camera hold the treat against the end of the lens. It can help to have a different person controlling the treats.  

Use treats to get them to look in the direction you’d like them to pose. Photo by @saccostudios

Tip four: If you are having trouble with blurry images, you can try bumping up your shutter speed to 1/1000 sec or faster. If that doesn’t help, or this isn’t possible try holding down the shutter and rapidly taking 3-4 photos. One photo in the sequence will be clear. This is something I learned from a National Geographic photographer who would have to take photos in very low light situations without a tripod. I’m a shaky person, so this method has really helped me a number of times.

Use a shutter speed to reduce blurriness. Photo from @bigfriendlyginger

Tip Five: If your camera can do it, learn to use Kelvin as your white balance. Learning to use Kelvin has greatly reduced my editing time, because all my photos will have the same color temperature. I can just adjust one and then apply that adjustment to the whole sequence.

Tip Six: This is the tip everyone is probably sick of hearing, but it’s the most important thing a photographer can do. Practice! However, that doesn’t mean go out and take the types of photos you are comfortable with.

Practice is only effective when you are pushing your comfort zone and trying things that you know you’ll probably fail at. Do it anyway! Then afterwards really look at the photos and see what went wrong. It can help a lot to go back to old photos and try and pinpoint why you don’t like them. By knowing what you didn’t like, you can start learning to avoid doing that.

Lastly, what are your business goals for 2019?
For 2019, I’d like to work on scene building and incorporating more complex props. I’d like to push to limits of what I can do in my small studio space. Another of my major goals for this year is to get outside my safety net and take my flash outdoors, Kaylee Geer style.


Best Questions To Ask A Rescue Before Adopting

It’s finally time. You’re ready to bring a furry family member into your home. Discussions about the responsibility of taking care of a dog were talked through at length.  You’ve looked on Petfinder, Adoptapet.com, or followed your favorite local rescue. Maybe you’ve already found a couple of dogs that caught your eye, or you know what you’re looking for but want to see options.

But before you take the plunge, here are a few questions you need to ask, not only when you attend the adoption event, but while you’re inquiring about the dog. Working with a few rescues, I have noticed the organizations can ask a lot of information about you, but you deserve to know about the rescue! So here are my go-to questions that will help you make the right decision for your family.

What to ask a rescue….

When researching online:

  • Get the right contact info. If you’re on adoption websites like Petfinder or Adoptapet, a lot of times rescues will post under each of their dogs where and who to contact specifically in the section where you learn about the dog’s background. While there may be a “contact the organization” button to click on, be sure to read and make sure there’s not a separate website or email. A lot of times, organizers like having one source of contact since they have so many inquiries and they will not check those sites, so you may never hear back.
  • Find out the dog’s background and story BEFORE meeting! This happened to me recently. I saw a couple of adorable Boston Terriers, clicked on them, and realized they had the same story on each one! This couldn’t be accurate, as they completely different ages. Also, they will usually say if they’re good with kids, dogs, cats, or housetrained. Contact the organization and get as much information about their background as possible. That dog could not be what you were looking for after all.
A typical profile on Adoptapet.com
  • Look at the reviews! Check google, their Facebook page, Yelp, or any other site where you can get trusted feedback. Did past adopters find the organization helpful? Did they feel the dogs were treated well during their time in the rescue? Also look for responses from them when negative comments are posted. That shows they care and are willing to help.
  • Where does the rescue get their dogs? Do they get them from no-kill shelters? People who surrender them? A mix of both? It’s always good to know where these dogs come from.
  • Is there an adoption application? This is SUPER important! Good rescues will have thorough application process, where they ask questions such as what type of residence to you have (apartment, house, etc.), your vet information, are you able to care for this dog on a daily basis (and not leave it alone for 8 hours a day), references, and other pertinent questions. This shows they want to find the right dog for the right family. Additionally, some rescues take up to a week to process their application, so apply early to get the dog you’ve been eyeing! If the rescue doesn’t have an application process, or it’s not clear how they vet applicants, please make sure you contact them first to see their process. DO NOT work with a rescue you feel isn’t thorough!
  • Do you have another dog? Can you bring your dog to the adoption event? If not,  perhaps at another place by appointment? You want to make sure they get along!
  • What is their vaccination process? Do they do the spay/neuter process? Most rescues do. Some also provide the first months of heartworm and any other medications for the first month the dogs may need. Be sure you are aware of the cost of these important medications and vaccinations they may need.
  • And of course, what is the cost?! Most adoption fees cover the above care. You may think $500 is “a lot”, but if you think that’s costly, then you shouldn’t get a dog. Ask what that fee covers.

What to ask (and do!)

At the adoption event:

So you asked all the right questions, including above, and are ready to attend the adoption event, or meet at the rescue by appointment only.

  • Get to the event early. Speaking from experience, people don’t get to there until the late afternoon, and all the puppies are gone, or the dog they wanted was adopted. If you have your heart set on a dog that you know is going to be there, make sure you arrive right when the event starts, so you’re not disappointed.
  • Be clear on the contract! Some rescues will have a contract upon adoption, where it states their refund policies, what happens if the dog is sick within the first two weeks of being in your care, etc. Be sure you understand everything.
  • What are the medicines they are giving? Some dogs in a rescue’s care can get sick, which is common, as may not have been treated before or get kennel cough, a frequent occurrence in closed spaces. Be clear on the dosage, what it’s for, and how long the dog needs it to be treated.
  • Talk to the foster mom’s (if they’re there!). If you have an idea of what you want but are looking at options, the best way to find out if a dog is right for you is to talk a foster mom! They obviously know the dog best, and they will give you an honest opinion. As much as they want the dog adopted, it’s more important to find the right family. So ask away!

What some questions you recommend potential adopters asking? Comment below!