I said I was going to have a frugal year.
No. New. Gear.
Then I started thinking … I’ve done so many amazing images of dogs swimming in the gorgeous lakes we have here in the Inland Northwest that I need to take those images to a whole other level.
So … after one client bought a Storyblock and a print, I treated myself to a present: underwater housing for my Nikon D500.
And just a week after that happened, I found out that Seth Casteel, the genius behind Underwater Dogs, is going to be speaking at a dog photography conference I’m attending in September in Las Vegas.
I’m all kinds of squeeeeee about it.
Get outside and play
I’d say things are going to get epic around here but aren’t they already?
I kid, I kid.
There are always new heights of epicosity (epicness? epicment?) to find and damned if I’m not going to do it with my own version of underwater dogs.
While I love producing these amazing images — underwater or not — my happiness is based in being with the most joyful creatures on the planet, dogs, and worshiping all the greatness Mother Nature has bestowed upon us.
Dogs are social animals. They have been by our sides for thousands of years, providing us companionship, protection and assistance.
And they belong outside.
Not that they need to live outside 24/7 but to play outside, to be in their natural environment, to sniff all the smells, to explore all the nooks and to pee on all the crannies.
Why dogs need to play outside
Dogs are naturally curious animals that love to explore their environment. They love to play outside and satisfy their natural desire to run, jump and interact with their surroundings.
Many studies have shown that dogs with access to outdoor play are generally happier, more well-adjusted and less likely to engage in destructive or aggressive behavior.
They also get to dig, roll around in dead fish (oh, come on, you know it’s only us humans who don’t love it) and other smells, and mark their scent to alert other dogs and species of their existence (Kinda like in the ’70s when carving “I was here” into trees was cool. Note: We only thought it was cool. It wasn’t.)
All of these activities mean mental and physical stimulations, which is essential for our dogs’ overall health and well-being.
A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs that spent time outdoors had higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that helps protect against infection.
Another study in the same journal found that dogs that engaged in regular physical activity had lower levels of anxiety and aggression.
It’s not just for their benefit
It’s for ours, too.
We need to be outside, breathing in the fresh air, burning our legs on long walks and experiencing a world that isn’t made of concrete and metal.
Research about humans shows that spending time outdoors can improve mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. The exercise helps us reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
And not only we get to experience the joy of watching our dogs at play but the time spent together improves the bond we share.
We are both social animals and the shared experience helps us learn to trust each other, communicate better and reward each other’s good behavior.
The joy of underwater dogs
Kids, it’s pretty cold out there right now.
That has not stopped me from jumping in to the Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene lakes to practise with my new gear.
My friend Cat and her heelers, Newt and Artie, are always up for a day of fetching toys thrown deep into the water.
I have a pair of hip waders and, after the first tip into Pend Oreille at Farragut State Park, I’ve invested in a wetsuit jacket and gloves. (One glove has gone missing since our last day out but … ah well, I didn’t use that one anyway.)
It isn’t easy work. At this stage, I’m not able to see what I’m shooting so I have some technical things to figure out but once I do …
All around the circle
More underwater dogs are in our future in this space, for sure. Along with, of course, all kinds of pups on adventure at fantastic locations around the Inland Northwest (and beyond maybe).
Our Coolest Dog of the Inland Northwest calendar contest concluded on April 12, raising $3,400 for the Companions Animal Center in Hayden, Idaho, and I’m now contacting the top 12 vote-getters to schedule their sessions. We’re starting Friday at Farragut with a 15-year-old Havashire named Bubbles who loves to ride on his mama’s kayak.
And yesterday, I launched the Tails of the World Limited Edition sessions for 10 dogs to be featured in a photobook featuring dogs from all around the world. We’ve been live for less than a day and we only have seven sessions left!
I love cooking up these projects and I’ve no doubt there’ll be another before the year is over. (Translation: I’m already thinking about it.)
In the meantime, my pet photographer friends are writing about the word “natural” this week. If you want to see some more dogs on adventure, start with Endless Mountains, Pennsylvania, Pet Photographer, Elaine Tweedy, eho encourages her clients to choose lifestyle photography.
Click the link at the bottom of Jessica’s post to continue through the circle. When you get back here to my fundraising for dogs, that’s when you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.
And if you’re thinking about booking a Tails of the World session but aren’t sure where you might end up, check this out: