Since I grew up on a farm we would only get two or three trick or treaters on Halloween, aka my cousins. I never got to experience the thrill of hearing the door bell ring, running over to the door unaware of what kind of costume was waiting for me, and handing out handfuls of candy.
Yesterday we participated in the 13th Annual P.A.W.S. Walk. P.A.W.S (Providing Animals with Shelter) is a local shelter where their mission is to provide lost or surrendered animals with temporary shelter until adoptive families can be found. The walk was a trick or treat walk through the downtown area with stops at participating businesses along the way. Since it was a Halloween theme walk, customs were encouraged.
|(Taking a break from the walk to pose with the sign.)
After registering, receiving our trick-or-treat bags, making some minor adjustments to my costume, we were on our way. Our first stop was to my great pal Laura Penning Photography, where she snapped a couple of pictures of me and my mom and we were off again. Next we hit up the McDonald’s table grabbed our free smoothies (well, I didn’t get one the humans did) and we hit the pavement.
|(Outside of the Art Center on our walk through downtown.)|
It was a wonderful day for a stroll through the downtown area. With the wind at our backs (and bottoms) and cars slowing down to check me out, I was loving it. We walked about 2.5 miles, while making 10 stops for some trick or treat fun. I’m sad to say that it is hard to go to the bathroom in a kilt. It may look easy but it is really hard.
|(Me posing in my costume.)|
When we arrived at the beginning the humans dashed over to get their complimentary hot dog while I took a couple pictures with some fans. We then grabbed a bench to rest our feet and paws and waited for the costume contest to begin.
|(I really didn’t want to put my head through this hole, but who can resist a Beggin’ Strip.)|
Finally, the time has come to the costume contest. There were a lot of wonderful costumes and ideas. The competition was tough. We saw dogs dressed up as football player, pumpkins, fairies, whoopy cushions, Mario and his friends, of course the traditional witch and much more. We all lined up, once our name was called we walked in front of the all the participants. There were two different categories, one was for the best dog costume and the other was for the best dog and human duel costume. I am happy to announce that I won first place in my Scottish Kilt! What an amazing prize I received, however, I knew that P.A.W.S. could use the gift card to Petco more then I could so I decided to donate it to the great organization.
|(My first place prize: a bed and four toys!)|
After everything today, I got home and find my “Move Your Mutt” inspirational band in the mail. It is a great reminder for my mom to get up and move her mutt! 🙂
It’s important to continue to support local shelters and rescue organizations. Please consider volunteering, donating, or simply spreading the word to others of their missions.
Written by my mom in honor of Belle.
In 1996, my father entered a contest through a farming magazine called “The Great American Farm Dog Contest.” Actually, I should note that my mother ‘encouraged’ him to enter the contest about why he felt he could use a service dog.
Perhaps it would be best to give a little back story to why my father would enter such a contest. In June 1986, my father was involved in a motorcycle/car accident on his way home from work. A car failed to stop at a stop sign and ran directly into my father, who then flew off his motorcycle and into a nearby ditch. The accident left him a paraplegic. Never one to be told he couldn’t do something or be held back from something he loved to do, he continued to farm once he got out of the hospital for the last time in February 1987. Through creating and adding various, and at first quite crude, lifts onto many of the farm machinery and equipment, he was back in the field within a year. Of course there were things he relied on other people to help him with but, for the most part, he adapted to his situation.
Fast-forward to 1996 and the contest, my mother thought he had a chance to win. Of the hundreds of applicants, my father won. The grand prize was a three-week trip to Independence, Pennsylvania to have a service dog trained and assigned by Independence Dog, Inc. If you are wondering how a dog would assist a person with a wheelchair, I found the following description:
Wheelchair Dogs are trained to assist a person with strong upper body function who uses a wheelchair. They are taught to pull their partners up ramps and to support their partners as they transfer from a wheelchair to another chair, car, or bed. They can even help their partner get back into the wheelchair after a fall. Since dogs are not color-blind, they can identify objects, such as books or clothes, by color. These dogs are also trained to open heavy doors, pop wheelchairs over high curbs, and carry packages or books in their specially constructed backpacks.
My family went to Pennsylvania and were set up in a house where the dog training facility was located. The dog assigned to my father was Belle – a golden retriever. Our family had always had dogs but we never had a golden retrievers. Belle was the typical golden retriever with a quite and calm demeanor and soft, fluffy fur that one could use as a pillow (and blanket!) on those cold nights. Most of the time we were there, the trainers would work with Belle and my father. Soon they became quite the pair as Belle identified her new master. We would go on day trips together so Belle and my father could adapt to different environments together. The three weeks went very quickly and soon we were on our way back to Minnesota. On the plane ride home, Belle said on the floor of the plane next to my father’s seat.
Once we were home, Belle enjoyed the openness of the farm and took an avid interest in the pigs. Luckily, she ignored the farm cats and soon they ignored her as well. My father and Belle were quite a pair as she sat next to him in his Kawasaki Mule and even in the combine and enclosed tractors.
One time, my father was feed in the pigs and as he was pushing up the small hill to the house, he slid on ice and tipped over. At the time my sister and I were in the house, suddenly we heard Belle barking – she never barked. We looked out the window to see her in the front yard looking at us and barking. She would then run towards the barn and back to the house, barking the entire time. We knew that something was wrong. After getting on boots and coats we headed to the barn with Belle leading the way. If she had not informed us that he had fell, who knows how long my father would have been out there on the snow and ice.
In February 2005, Belle passed away of cancer. As she got older, my father ‘retired’ her from her service dog duties but never as his faithful companion. It is always difficult to say “Goodbye” to our furry family members, but saying it to Belle was heartbreaking. She epitomized the saying “man’s best friend.” Since my family had Belle, they have since had/have mostly Golden Retrievers (with the recent exception of Louie). And all have been rescues. Belle still has a special place in the house as seen in the photographs. Her ashes, collar and Service Dog harness along with photographs of her and my father are positioned throughout my parents’ house.
Belle was “The Great American Farm Dog” and we still miss her dearly.
- Avoid green eyes by not using the flash.
- Take pictures at your dog’s level.
- Be creative with you environment/props.
- Experiment with different ways to get your dog’s attention.
- Use a continuous shooting mode whenever possible.
- The best photos are when your dog is completely relaxed and just being a dog
- Try to be as patient as possible.
- Your dog shouldn’t always be in the center of the photo.
- Be outside in natural light whenever possible.
- Pay your dog when you are done with a rewarding treat.
Parents: Mom (Reno)-Golden Retriever, Dad-Standard Poodle
Birthday: January 2008
Hair: Golden with natural wave
Height: 2 feet 6 inches tall on all fours
Weight: 65 lbs of pure muscle and fluff
Interest: He likes long walks anywhere, loves belly rubs, and is obsessed with his toys.
Dislikes: His gentle leader, going to the groomer and watching dogs on tv who he can’t play with.
Goals in Life: To bring a smile to everyone he meets.