Double Play

I have come to realize I am down to three obsessions to write about:  Tisen, Photography, and Hang Gliding.  I was hoping to combine all three into a single post today, but hang gliding didn’t happen today due to weather.  Maybe tomorrow–my own little triple play (sorry, it’s a telecom joke from back when I worked in the telecom industry).

After driving to the training hills, getting about 10% into assembling a glider, and then having to put it away and drive home, I consider taking a nap.  However, I have volunteered to help organize a St. Patrick’s Day fund raiser for S.O.A.R., so I decide to do some work on that instead.  I have a photo that I want to use of Cody, a Red-Tail Hawk, but it had a noisy background.  It was also taken with my iPhone–what I can do with it is somewhat limited.  Nonetheless, I end up spending an hour figuring out how to cut the hawk out of the photo and put it in front of a different background.  No wonder I hate editing photos!

Before:

Cody Flaring for Landing - iPhone photo slightly retouched

After:

Cody with New Background

I end up putting a different busy background behind Cody because there are so many places where I either erased something I didn’t mean to or didn’t erase something I should have.  I need the background to distract from my mistakes.  Regardless, I think it will work for a brochure and it turned out better than I thought it would.

After creating a draft poster and brochure, I take Tisen for a long walk.  There are tourists on the Walnut St Bridge taking pictures.  I have to smile to myself–I can’t count the number of times I’ve been up on that bridge shooting.  But, today is not a good day for shooting at all.  It’s gray and misting and I feel lucky I can pick the days I haul my equipment up to Walnut St Bridge.

I realize today that I’ve decided without actually deciding to include photos with each post, even if means grabbing a few shots with the iPhone.  After finishing the walk, I decide to get out my real-deal camera with the 100mm macro lens and start playing.

After seeing some shots on a real photographer’s blog that make me think maybe dog photos can be artistic, I decide to stick with Tisen as my model, but to try to use the macro lens to get something a little different.  Unfortunately, until I am going through the photos later, I don’t realize how much having a logo showing detracts from a picture.  It looks like I was hired to do a shoot for Kong dog toys.  That would have been nice!  While I’m doing an unpaid ad, Tisen does prefer Kong’s tennis balls–they squeak.

If I weren’t tired of photo editing, I would edit out the logos.  But now, I have the great joy of watching Tisen’s tail wag as we head out the door.

Feeding a Dog

Having recently brought Tisen into our home, we are going through the period of learning about each other.  We try to unravel the lessons that Tisen has been taught over the past 8 years and understand where we must be extra gentle, where we must be extra patient, and where we must be firm.

Since dogs cannot tell us their stories directly, we must hone our powers of observation to figure out what will work and what will not to gently shape this dog into the confident, trusting sweetheart he was born to be.

We start with food.

I mix his food with warm water and place the bowl on the floor.  Tisen cowers.  I take a piece of food from the bowl and hand it to him, telling him it’s OK in a “happy puppy voice.”  He tentatively takes the piece from my hand, stepping back quickly as if he’s afraid of what happens next.  I keep talking to him, telling him what a good boy he is.  I repeat the process until I lead him to the bowl where, at last, he sinks his teeth in and takes a mouth full.  I shift slightly and he is startled, cowering back from the bowl once more.

I continue telling him what a good dog he is and start over, leading him back to the bowl. I try not to move once he starts eating.  He pauses once and looks up at me; I reassure him again.  He finishes his food and I praise him.  I try not to imagine what his life must have been like that he’s afraid to approach a bowl of dog food.

As I keep increasing the ratio of his new food to his old food, I keep thinking it will be more enticing to him.  But it doesn’t make a difference.

I discover that he is just as skittish about his bone.  When I start pulling at smoked fat stuck to the bone, giving him something to bite on, he eventually gets interested and starts chomping on it for all he’s worth.  He can chew it just fine, he was just afraid to.

He seems to have a similar fear about his toys.  He won’t claim them the way most dogs will.  While it’s nice that he doesn’t claim my slippers, I’ve never had a dog who was afraid to play with a tennis ball.  Once again, I stop myself from wondering how full of terror his life must have been.

I am glad no one is home to catch me on video demonstrating how to chase a tennis ball.  For the record, I stop short of picking it up in my mouth.

Tonight, when I feed him, he comes over to his bowl with a wagging tail and digs right in.  It was the first time he’s eaten without being lured.  Funny how the sight of a dog with a wagging tail eating dog food can bring tears to your eyes.  I’ve just witnessed a miracle.