Saint Patrick’s Day Dogs

Last weekend was full-on St. Patrick’s Day celebration time in Chattanooga. This, of course, included a parade. And what better way to celebrate that to dress up dogs in green costumes and walk them en masse in the parade?
Since I had a photography workshop scheduled on Action, I planned for us to meet in the park where the dogs would congregate so the group could practice getting shots of moving subjects. Well, some dogs were moving, anyway. Some were pretty content to sit around gazing at all the action.

I managed to grab a few shots of my own. Unfortunately, with daylight savings time having kicked in the weekend before, the sun was already glaringly bright by the time the dogs showed up at 10AM.

There was no green beer in the park and no drunken antics, but plenty of silly dogs performing tricks of their own creation. There was a silly mutt who preferred vertical motion over horizontal–he kept jumping straight into the air at his person, as if the excitement was too much for him.

A little too close to get the whole dog, but cracks me up none-the-less

A little too close to get the whole dog, but cracks me up none-the-less

Then there were the dogs meeting and greeting. Dogs greet one another differently than humans. Some start with a nose sniff. Nose-to-nose, they look like they are exchanging eskimo kisses. However, a dog in the face is really considered a breach of etiquette. Polite dogs approach from the side and start with a much less human-tolerated greeting by sniffing the opposite end of their new acquaintance.

Sometimes I imagine humans greeting like dogs. Looking, then looking away. Looking, then pretending to look at something else. Showing each other our sides. Approaching slowly, stopping to sniff the grass from time to time. Ultimately circling one another to sniff butts. That’s the part that just goes against the grain, isn’t it? But do you ever wonder if there was a time in human history when this was considered polite behavior?

I suppose it doesn’t matter–it’s not a behavior I advocate for humans. However, as humans, we really shouldn’t expect our dogs to greet the way we do. We put them into such stressful situations. Can you imagine being walked around in a collar and on a leash and being expected to greet strangers in the park but not in a way that’s considered polite by our fellow humans? Restrained, restricted, unable to escape and forced to face potential foes in this highly vulnerable position. Add to that a silly green costume.

It amazes me that the dog parade went as smoothly as it did. The occasional dog was walked away from the crowd when it became overexcited or encountered another dog it just couldn’t tolerate. But in general, dogs are so intent on pleasing their humans, they tolerate strange circumstances. Some even appeared to enjoy being dressed for the occasion.

It’s hard to find a better example of selflessness and tolerance that in our faithful furry friends–wouldn’t it be nice if we could follow that example?


It’s early Saturday morning.  Today is a big day.  I am nervous.  Taking on getting the word out about the event with a $100 budget for printing materials was a new challenge.  It’s an interesting comparison to have a corporate event where you know exactly who your target audience is–all their emails are in your contacts list, you have a budget in the 10’s of thousands (it was a small users conference for about 150 customers back in the days when corporations still spent money on such things), and you plan your activities based on your known audience.

In comparison, this event is the opposite in every way.  You plan your activities based on what you can do, then you try to find people who might be interested in attending what you’re planning, and you spend as little as possible to try to find them.  Social networking was not really an option for me although the other planners were able to leverage their Facebook pages and email lists.  Since no one on my facebook friend list lives in the vicinity who isn’t already participating in the event, my social networking was pretty limited.

I reached out to every person I knew in Chattanooga (which was 3 people) to find ways to get publicity.  My trainer hooked me up with a newscaster and we did the early morning news spot that I posted previously.  I sent emails to several radio show hosts and newscasters I’d heard about through my second contact (a small business owner in the same building as Pat).  That resulted in one radio spot.  So, we got a little free publicity from that.  A connection through other organizers resulted in a second news spot yesterday at noon.  Maybe, just maybe, people will know about it.

Now the question is, will they come?  The skies in Chattanooga are overcast.  There is a steady rain falling.  The weather says it’s supposed to clear for a few hours in the afternoon and then turn into thunderstorms later in the day.  We have indoor areas, but will people come out to Wildwood, GA if the weather is bad?

I’m crossing my fingers that this work will result in a huge turn out and lots and lots of funds raised for S.O.A.R.

For today’s photography lesson, I look at my impromptu portraits in the parking lot with Osceola from last night.  I see that I have taken on a rather challenging photography assignment.  Getting enough field of view for both bird and person means either using a shorter focal length or getting further back, which may not be possible.  I used the shorter focal length last night and am not pleased with the results.  There is no bokeh effect (background blur) yet in some shots I don’t have enough depth of field for both the people and the eagle to be sharp.

The classes I’ve taken don’t happen to mention how to get great shots of people holding birds.  Maybe I can find a niche for myself yet!