Tag Archives: Chatham

The Excitement of the Catch

IMG_8009-Edit

One winter afternoon, I had a date with two Vizslas named Midget and Mimosa. They were both young, energetic dogs owned by a fabulous trainer in my hometown of Chatham. I had never spent any time with Vizslas. I only knew they were wonderful hunting dogs who were recognized for retrieving upland game.

I set up my tripod amidst a lovely wooded lot with a fresh coating of snow. The trainer had explained how she trains the dogs with birds beginning at an early age.The birds used for hunting practice are closely monitored and protected by the individual towns. I was anxious to see how the bird training was executed. I heard the trainer say, “Are you ready?” I exclaimed, “Yes!” What happened next was a blur. All I recall were the alert expressions on the faces of Midget and Mimosa. Their bodies were in a pointing position, apparently preparing to do something great. Seconds later my focus went completely awry. I heard a furious flapping of wings, two dogs sprinting in the air, and a pit in my stomach, front and center. I had no idea what happened until I saw Mimosa running back with a bird in her mouth, alive! I asked the trainer how it was possible that this dog retrieved a bird without killing it. She told me, in a very matter of fact way, how they are soft-mouthed hunting dogs who are always on the lookout for bird scent. Their intention is only to retrieve, not to kill.

It took me a few minutes to gain my composure before I could start photographing. It had been a magnificent moment. These dogs were amazing!

Since that experience, I have met many Vizslas. I have the utmost respect for their many talents and their affection and loyalty to their families.

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.