Bella turned 9 last Friday.
The light of my life is starting to slow down. Even after her rehab therapy is complete in a couple months, we will have to adjust our adventures.
The days of 7- and 8-mile hikes are over.
We must find delight in the 3- and 4- walks in the wood, a gentler pace and less rugged terrain.
That’s how I approach low-key portrait sessions with your dog who may be elderly or ill.
A little less rugged, a lot more gentle.
How to choose a location for a quiet adventure
If there is one thing I want you to know about portrait sessions with your dog who may be nearing the end of his time with you, it’s that we are going to enjoy these moments together.
They are going to be a celebration of your dog’s life. We are going to wash away the sadness and the fear of the future for a brief few moments in your day.
I want you to tell me stories of your dog’s life, the adventures you’ve taken together, the joy she’s brought you and the love you’ve shared.
As we talk through your session during your consultation – if there’s time, sometimes there just isn’t – we are going to discuss your adventures, what you’ve loved to do together and where you hang out.
When choosing your location, we are going to consider a few things.
1. Your dog’s comfort level
If your dog is ill or well advanced in years, he may not be up for a long walk or strenuous activity. During your consultation call, we’ll talk about his activity level and what you feel he’s able to do. Our location will center on keeping your dog comfortable, relaxed and at ease.
2. Your dog’s personality
Every dog is different, just like humans. Some love being outdoors and surrounded by people. I guess that would make them extroverts. Others may prefer a more quiet space. For your introverted dog, we’ll look at a less busy time of day or even rent a Sniffspot location.
3. Your attachment
If you have always loved going for a walk with your dog at Manito Park, then, dammit, that’s where we’re going for portrait sessions with your dog. The places that have meant the very most to you in your dog’s life are ideal for creating the memories that you will treasure and cherish in the years to come.
4. Open spaces
You’ve found me because you’re looking for a certain style in the images you want to create with your dog. I like wide-open spaces with lots of trees for backdrops and nearby water if your dog loves a dip in the lake. Your unique-to-you session will closely match what you see on the pages of this website, the images you fell in love with when you found me.
5. Time of day
The time of day can have a big impact on the lighting and atmosphere of portrait sessions with your dog but it’s really only a small factor when you’re working with me. I have invested in lighting gear and education that allows me to shoot at any time. That helps when you may have a restricted schedule or are in need of a session at a moment’s notice.
As Spokane’s only dog photographer who is a certified pet loss grief specialist, I have a deep understanding of the mix of emotions you’re experiencing. I want you to trust that not only will you and your dog be safe and comfortable but also that we will create the best possible series of images to design artwork or albums for your home.
It is imperative to me that your session adds to your cache of amazing memories of the life you’ve shared with this precious life, your best adventure buddy.
My 7 favorite parks for low-key adventures
Now, look, some of these parks can get pretty busy at times, especially in the summer or weekends when school is out.
Remember that I am free to schedule session any morning of the week and afternoons and evenings on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
And when it comes to portrait sessions with your dog who is elderly or ill, little to nothing will stop me from making sure it happens.
1. Lincoln Park
Just a few steps from the parking lot at this gorgeous South Hill park sits a couple of grassy fields and a duck pond.
2. Manito Park
This is one of those busy places I was talking about. However, there are lots of greenspaces and wooded areas to get lost in.
3. Mirabeau Point Park
Mirabeau is my go-to spot. Since Bella and I are usually here two to three times a week, I know the busy times and all the lovely nooks and crannies. (There isn’t a trail she hasn’t pulled me onto.)
4. Plante’s Ferry
I will never not have this spot as one of my favorite locations for any kind of session. Sunrise and sunset, wooded areas, access to the water … GAH, it’s my heaven. For a last adventure, though, we’ll meet at the driveway to the Spokane County Park Maintenance facility. It leads us to a small picnic area with lots of trees and if your dog is up to a 10-minute walk, a quaint wooden bridge. It’s particularly lovely in the fall when the leaves have changed color.
5. Rocky Hill Park
Lovely, quiet and perfect. Set in the heart of Liberty Lake, Rocky Hill has a nice, open field with a few rocks to add some interest. There’s also an old barn that makes for a lovely backdrop.
Not the dog park. Holy shit, no, not the dog park. I mistakenly tried to do a session there once and it was absolute bananas chaos. Before you enter the dog park parking lot, though, there is a trail along the river. It explodes with wildflowers in the spring and tall grassy fields the rest of the year. It’s the perfect spot for a sunset session.
There is a quiet little area at the boat launch in Fernan where I just love to have a session. The dock makes for a great spot, and from it we get a gorgeous backdrop of the Selkirk mountains.
8. Dover City
Just on the outskirts of Sandpoint sits a growing community with a lovely park on the waterfront of the Priest River. It’s another one of my favorite places to shoot in this area.
9. Trestle Creek
If we’re looking for absolute quiet and easy access, this is it. Cross the train tracks on Trailer Haven Road and there’s a perfect little picnic area with a rocky beach and – OMG – the most spectacular mountainscape. If you love the Sandpoint area and the mountains, we might not find a place that’s more ideal.
All around the circle
Some of these parks may be unfamiliar to you. I encourage you to check them out with your dog and see if you fall in love with them as much as I have.
Bella and I are always out exploring and looking for new places for portrait sessions with your dog. This summer will hit heavy on that as we make up for the time we’ve lost while she recovers from TPLO surgery.
Since we’re a few weeks out from that, we’re booking sessions, watching the donations pile up in our photo contest and planning more projects. I’ve been invited back to Same Dress Spokane this year and I am planning something epic.
In the meantime, my pet photographer friends are blogging about parks this week.
Start with my good friend, Las Vegas dog photographer, Nicole Hrustyk, of Pawtraits by Nicole with what she loves about Floyd Lamb State Park.
Click the link at the bottom of Nicole’s post to continue through the circle. When you get back here to my favorite locations for low-key portrait sessions with your dog, that’s when you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.
If you need a last-minute session, please don’t hesitate.
I love that you talk about how to do a session with a dog who is in their senior age and slowing down and how you’ll make it mega special. And those parks, ooooo they are stunning and brimming with variety! I may have to load up Blue and head that way to visit all of them!
I could see taking Lance and Lili to a few of these spots and Lili sniffing a mile a minute!
It’s so hard to accept when it’s time to do shorter walks or hikes. It’s such a hard recognition and acceptance that we don’t have forever.
But, it looks like you have many fabulous locations to enjoy your future, less rugged adventures with Bella.
I love how you help the reader decide which park or trail is best for their pet! It is valuable information when picking a place.
Great job of explaining how your process works so people will know what to expect and be comfortable with the entire process so they can focus on their pup during the session.