Author Archives: rich

When It Comes to Birds and Llewelyn Setters, Be Careful What You Wish For

LuLu, A Llewelyn Setter

LuLu, a Llewelyn Setter, is obsessed with birds. LuLu’s human dad was ecstatic at the prospect of their setter puppy becoming a companion for bird hunting, a pursuit in which she was born to excel. If her obsession with the birds in her yard was any indication of her talents in the field, she would be masterful!

The day finally arrived when LuLu’s dad decided that the young Setter would make the leap from backyard birding to field hunting. He was so excited to have a companion with him on his hunting trips, something he had wished for since getting a bird dog.

Everything on their first outing had gone according to plan except for one thing: the risk of LuLu getting injured from any number of elements: wild animals, hidden traps, stray shots. Hunters and their dogs are completely vulnerable in the open field. Lulu’s dad spent more time worrying about LuLu than sending her after game.

By day’s end, LuLu’s dad knew that even though he couldn’t have had a more enthusiastic companion, his fears of something terrible happening in the field to his dog far outweighed his joy of having a birding partner. His family was deeply in love with this dog; She was an integral part of the family. Consequently, their first birding trip became their last! From that moment on, the only birding LuLu did was in the backyard.

To this day, LuLu remains an avid bird watcher. But playing with the family is what everyone prizes above all, a talent far safer than any field work!

You can find other photos of LuLu in DOGS ON CAPE COD.

A Service Dog Brings a Shelter Dog Home

Adele, a black Labrador Retriever, was the first cardiac alert service dog in the United States. Trained from a puppy through Canine Partners for Life, she was able to join a family, once she graduated, at two years old. The family she joined had a young mom who had been diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope, a chronic condition that causes frequent fainting. With Adele’s ability to recognize a change in scent or sound, she can detect the warning signs before the fainting occurs.

Adele IMG_4280 for blog post 4x50Adele is not allowed to play with others in the family for fear of distraction, so the decision was made to adopt a dog for their seven-year-old son. The boy wanted his own companion and playmate.

Taking a drive to a nearby shelter with Adele in tow, they set out to find the perfect dog. Upon arrival, Adele began to inspect all of the dogs. She was methodical in guiding her mom to every cage, around every corner, to observe each dog. Approaching one cage, Adele noticed a four-year-old Collie. Her body language spoke volumes. Adele had made her selection. Within minutes, she settled down in front of the Collie’s cage. She wasn’t moving until it was confirmed that this dog was coming home.

Chewbacca IMG_4427 for blog post 4x50The Collie, now named Chewbacca, became a wonderful family dog. Adele and Chewbacca, Chewy for short, were instantly fast friends. Both have now been part of the family for eight years. They understand their defined roles. They both provide the unconditional gift of comfort, security and companionship.

What a Field Spaniel Wants Isn’t Always What a Photographer Wants

Lola, a delightful and good-humored Field Spaniel, finds the ocean mesmerizing. Her breed defines her job as: to flush out birds from land and water. Lola is far more successful at flushing tennis balls from waves for hours on end.

Lola

I met Lola, along with her human mom and dad, at Red River Beach in South Chatham one early evening. The light was magical, like most Cape Cod evenings. Lola had been newly groomed. Her coat was radiant in a silky rich auburn color. Jumping out of the back seat, she exuded infectious excitement! Before heading to the water, I wanted to take advantage of a cool little footbridge that crosses the salty marsh.

This was such a perfect setting for a photo. Lola’s mom decided she would stay at one end of the bridge while her dad stayed at the other. Enticed by treats, Lola walked across the bridge halfway. She looked like the cover of a Spaniel magazine. I positioned myself for a series of shots that would be breathtaking. After the first shot, one of Lola’s treats slipped out of her mouth, through the cracks between the planks, down into the marsh. Lola’s dad quickly tried to convince her that he still had many treats and not to worry about the lost one. Her focus, however, was on the treat she didn’t have. Ignoring the urgent cries from both ends of the bridge, Lola was determined to find the missing treat. As if in slow motion, we watched in fear as Lola jumped off the shallow bridge. It took what seemed like minutes, although it was seconds, for Lola’s dad to throw himself down onto the bridge and grab her frantically back up. This beautiful dog was now covered in mud. My happy, attention-getting noises had turned to groans as our fabulous footbridge photoshoot had gone terribly wrong! Thankfully, I did get one image before the fateful jump.

Lola

Without further ado, we headed toward the water. As soon as a tennis ball was produced, Lola forgot all about the trauma on the bridge. She now had a new mission: to retrieve the bright yellow ball from the water. Our hearts and stomachs began to settle after our brief nightmare.

Field Spaniels are known for their great perseverance. I can vouch for that trait one hundred per cent!

You can find other photos of Lola in DOGS ON CAPE COD.

A Shelter Dog Rescued This Family

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”—Roger A. Caras

There is nothing more painful than losing a member of your family. When it is your innocent and vulnerable four-legged fur child who has given you his unconditional love for his whole life, the pain is searing.

Dog Looking Out Window

After my husband and I lost our beautiful Jack to cancer, we were absolutely lost. He was our shining star; the one who made us laugh every day. He was a gentleman beyond description who truly, like the quote says, made our lives whole. Jack was a Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever mix we rescued from the Animal Rescue League in Brewster in 2002. After a long grieving period, to comfort myself, I bravely clicked on the Retriever rescue site to see dogs that reminded me of Jack and needed a home. My husband couldn’t bear to even contemplate getting another dog. The pain was too great. Clicking on a site I was not familiar with, NEARR (North East All Retriever Rescue, a Retriever rescue organization in New England), I was stunned to see a dog named Hank, who looked remarkably like Jack. I became obsessed with Hank. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I called to inquire about adopting Hank. Before I knew it, I was filling out an online questionnaire to get one step closer.

Hank was an eight-year-old yellow lab who was at a vet’s office ready to be euthanized. When the NEARR organization found this out, they immediately stepped in to pay for his surgery and save his life. Following surgery and recovery, Hank then spent three months with a nurturing foster family who nursed him back to health and got him ready for adoption.

Just when everything seemed in place to start the adoption process, we were informed there were two other families interested in Hank. I was devastated! I felt I had a connection to Hank I couldn’t explain. It went beyond his physical characteristics resembling my dear Jack. Having always had rescue dogs, I decided to be a bigger person and tell NEARR that due to the other people trying to adopt him, I would let Hank go and continue my search for another dog that had no candidates for adoption. But I was emotionally beat up and decided to put off my search for a new dog.

Two weeks later, I received a call from NEARR. They informed me that the other two families had changed their minds. If I was still interested, Hank was mine, pending other inspections. The saying, “If you set it free and it comes back to you, it’s meant to be,” suddenly had tremendous meaning.

Ironically, everything came to fruition on my fiftieth birthday. I was two hours away from having a birthday bash at my home when NEARR called and said that someone would come and inspect our home for the last phase of the adoption process in twenty minutes. After a successful inspection, the representative was getting ready to leave when my best friend’s dad marched down my driveway, in full Scottish regalia, playing Happy Birthday on his bagpipes! It was a wonderful finale in the process to adopt Hank.

Dog With Scarf

On November eleventh, my husband Rooney and I drove to retrieve our beautiful Hank. From the moment he jumped into the car, Hank wholeheartedly trusted us.
At that moment, all was right with the world!

Hank just celebrated his tenth birthday. He is the perfect dog: affectionate, funny, sociable, and loyal. This rescue dog saved our family.

We are so grateful for the heroic efforts of NEARR to save our perfect boy!

You can find other photos of Jack and Hank in DOGS ON CAPE COD.

How Dogs Help You See: Photographing Murphy and the Conception of Dogs on Cape Cod

Dogs are amazing! They make you see things differently when you observe the world through their eyes.

Dog and Flowers

When my friend from Arizona brought her new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy to the Cape, I was eager to get some great photos of Murphy. On a Fourth of July weekend, we walked to the Wequassett Resort where flowers are so plentiful, they almost seem wild. Murphy had only known life on the desert, so everything here was new to him. I have photographed dogs for many years, but this was the first time I was struck by a dog’s fascination with crushed shells, butterflies, flowers, and the like. Murphy was discovering so much. It was exciting to watch! I immediately began thinking about a book that captured the Cape through Murphy’s eyes. This premise grew to include not only other dogs but dogs doing what they love to do on Cape Cod: run, dig in the sand, swim the waves, explore and discover.

Whether it is Murphy attempting to catch butterflies, or Bella Blu, the Great Dane, running feverishly along the ocean’s edge, these wonderful dogs allow me to see the Cape through their eyes, as if for the first time.

You can find other photos of Murphy in DOGS ON CAPE COD.