What About Paris?

Good news!  I heard from the shelter and I get to pick up our foster dogs on Tuesday.  I have become obsessed with dog preparations.  It started with a stop at the local dog supply store, Bone Appetit.

I was only looking.  I just wanted to know what kinds of toys and tools were available for dogs these days since it’s been a few years since we lost our last dog to cancer.  We met an owner and she explained a new type of leash to us that is a thick, rubber leash that prevents jerking either the dog or the owner.

This reminds me that our foster dogs don’t know how to walk on a leash. I’m not sure if a gentle leader or something like this semi-stretchy leash is a better idea to start with.  I’m pretty sure that whichever route I go, we’re going to go through a lot of bacon in the process.  🙂

I look at the display of stuffed toys on the wall and remember my own childhood when I used to save up my earnings from mowing lawns to buy myself stuffed animals.  When we discover animals that look like pelts, I realize these are not for human children.

I can’t make fun of anyone for spoiling their dogs.  Besides working on not being judgmental, I was guilty of spoiling our dogs rotten.  We used to feed them a raw diet that involved stocking a huge freezer with whole chickens, grass-fed cow bones and stomachs, livers, and a variety of other “goodies” that we would never eat ourselves.

I check out the brands of dog foods offered by this store and am happy to see that several I’m familiar with are available.  I don’t plan to go the raw food route, but I would like to use a high quality food that will help with the house breaking.

The owner tells us that the store works with the same shelter.  I’m excited to meet people who love dogs and work with the shelter–it gives me confidence that the foster dogs are being treated well and will be OK.

I return home and dig out some photos of my best friend’s dogs.  One of her dogs, Bonnie, hates the camera.  I crawled under a table to try to get a shot of her and only got the back of her black head in an even blacker shadow.  I tried sneaking a shot from my iPhone and she was even savvy to that.  No pictures of Bonnie.

The other dog, Paris, just laid there and let me shoot her for as long as I wanted.  The lighting wasn’t great, but I managed to have fun talking to her like a fashion model while I shot.  “Paris, look this way.  Oh, that’s it.  Now tilt your head.  Now raise your eyebrows.  Perfect.  Play dead.  Perfect!”

I am sure I will be posting plenty of foster dog pictures in the near future–I hope Paris isn’t jealous.

Faster than a Foster Cat

My sister-in-law likes cats.  However, she and my brother, like us, are at a place in their lives where they don’t want to tie themselves to an animal for the next 15-20 years.  My brother often jokes about looking for animals with a short life expectancy for this reason.

My sister-in-law, Megan, being more practical, has come up with an ingenious solution to the problem of how to have pets without having a long term commitment.  She provides foster care for a local cat shelter.

Megan has fostered numerous pregnant cats who gave birth under her watchful eye as well as taken in young litters with no mother.  Keeping kittens with no mom fed, emptied, and cleaned up is a big chore that has to be performed diligently and regularly.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

Megan nurtures these kitties through the tough part of their early lives or supports their mom in doing so.  When they are weaned, healthy, and confident, they are returned to the shelter until they find permanent homes.  Megan takes a break from fostering if she has a heavy travel schedule or needs a break and then takes on another set when she can.

Other than the heartache of getting emotionally attached to animals that you will eventually hand off to someone else, it’s the perfect way to have pets without taking on permanent ownership.

Chibs and Clay, named by the shelter (perhaps by a fan of Sons of Anarchy?), are the current kittens staying with my sister-in-law (see photos).  Chibs needs to see Clay do something before he is willing to give it a try.  Even when he finally joined Clay in my lap and laid there purring, when something moved, he would dart off again to hide.

Getting even these few pictures was quite a chore.  First of all, they were doing something cute and my 100mm prime lens was on my camera.  While I really like this lens, I could have used the 400mm of my telephoto zoom given Chibs’s skittishness.  But, I started shooting and gradually crept forward, crawling across the floor slowly and shooting every few seconds so I didn’t lose out on a decent shot because I was holding out for a better one.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Rapid fire shooting mode is a must.  The faster the better.
  2. Focus, focus, focus.  Rapidly moving critters in low light make this difficult.  I often end up with out of focus faces and sharply focused feet or rear ends or backgrounds.
  3. A little more depth of field is better–otherwise, I end up with just the eyes in focus and then the surrounding face is too soft (see the second photo).
  4. When flash is not an option, the animal is fearful of cameras, and the light is low, I just have to live with a shallow depth of field.
  5. Most animals will not pose.  Bribing domestic animals with treats and toys can be helpful, but requires an assistant.