Project 52 Week 4 – The Eyes Have It

The Project 52 theme for this week is “The Eyes Have It”… a most relevant and interesting topic in so many ways.

Being a photographer much of my focus is on the eyes, whether they be canine or human, for it is our eyes that connect us and give us insight in to what the other is seeing and feeling.

My Lacie Girl is no exception. I love her eyes and how expressive they are.

I have been a volunteer / photographer at Winnipeg Animal Services for over 8 years. The experience has taught me much about dogs and how they interact with their eyes. I have come to realize that making eye contact with a dog is a complete different experience from making eye contact with a human. People make eye contact to connect and show interest… with dogs its a whole different story.

For many dogs direct eye contact is not something they seek. And for the fearful dogs who somehow have found themselves in a noisy and scary shelter, eye contact is often strongly avoided… so much so that they will turn their heads and even their entire bodies away in their attempt to avoid interaction. In their minds, direct eye contact has come to signify a threat or a challenge and they have no wish to be on the giving or receiving end. Their safe place is found in appearing non-threatening and invisible.

I have come to greatly respect a dog’s eyes and what they are trying to tell me. This is something I consider each and every time I enter into a “new” dog’s kennel.

A dog’s stiff stance and hard stare at the entrance of the kennel will have me back off and try again later. But I may slide a cookie through the bottom of the kennel gate as I leave.

A turned away gaze or diverted eyes will have me pause and assess before opening the kennel latch. Once inside, I turn away my own eyes and crouch low if it is safe and possible to do so. Soft words, slow movements and a few tossed treats often work wonders in these situations. But I am always mindful not to push their limits and to respect what they are experiencing and expressing.

For the most part, these scared dogs simply need a little more time to adjust to their new situation. Hard to believe but this next photo is this same dog a few days later and away from the kennel environment.

I love these dogs and I love being able to work with them, the end goal being to find them homes. To do this I need to present them in their best possible light, sometimes not easily done in a shelter setting. Fortunately Animal Services has an outdoor enclosure that I use for the photo sessions. Once outside and away from the kennel environment, the scared and fearful dog persona often simply drops away and we get a glimpse of the real dog… the one that loves to run and loves to play. Throw in a toy and more treats and we have a photo session in the making. Their seemingly innate ability to be happy in the moment is awesome. These dogs teach me every day.

For the still fearful ones we take it slow, let them sniff and give them a little more time to hopefully relax. For these dogs the camera itself can be seen as a threat. It’s almost as if they perceive it as another eye staring back at them, only this one is very big and very black. They quickly revert to turning away their eyes, their heads, their bodies. Not the best circumstances for getting a good adoption photo. This is when a zoom lens and lots and lots and lots of treats comes in handy.

When the dogs appear more comfortable, I once more focus on their eyes. Not only because they are so very beautiful but because eye contact takes on a whole new meaning in an adoption photo. Now we are hoping to stir an emotion, to make a connection and give to the dog what they need the most, a second chance.

Four years ago Lacie was one of these fearful dogs, cowering at the back of her kennel, tail tucked, eyes averted.

Today her story is different, she feels safe and she is loved. Thanks to the shelter dogs I realize what a special gift I have been given when I look into her eyes and she looks lovingly back into mine.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” ~ Martin Buber

Project 52 _______________________
This post is part of the Pet Photography Project 52 blog circle. To see what the next photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “the eyes have it”, visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here. Enjoy!

Related Links:
City of Winnipeg Animal Services
Winnipeg Animal Services – facebook page
Winnipeg Animal Services Petfinder page

Project 52 Week 3 – About the Photographer

The Project 52 theme for this week is “About the Photographer”… a tough one for me as I prefer my place behind the camera, rather than in front of it. But none the less, here we go.

For myself, photography is about sharing moments, memories and the sensibilities that bind them together. My “happy place” is often found in the simple times, the quiet moments and I relish the beauty that I find there. My hope is that, through my photography, I am able to depict and share the essence, not merely the existence, of what I see.

For many years I have shared my life and my home with dogs and it is now to the point where I can imagine my life in no other way. For a long time my pack consisted of three…Sadie, Coco and Lacie. Sadie and Coco were the two seniors with Lacie entering the picture about 4 years ago. Along with Bear, the Manx cat, our home and hearts were full.

Bear, Sadie and Coco are gone now and my heart aches with the loss of these three souls but I am forever grateful for having been able to share my life with theirs. Lovely Lacie remains and these days I hold her close.

To be able to combine my passion for photography with my love for dogs has been a blessing.

Several years ago I was given the opportunity to photograph the shelter dogs going up for adoption at our local Animal Services. Today, 8 years later, this is where you will still find me. I love these dogs, they have come to own my heart. Being able to work closely with them and assist in helping them find good homes has become a passion and a joy.

Here are some of this week’s adorable, adoptable faces…


This recent photo taken at the shelter makes me smile. Being the photographer I don’t have many photos of myself, let alone a photo of me taking a photo. I love it. Thanks Leland!

Photo Credit: Leland Gordan

And, in case you are curious… these are the photos of beautiful adoptable Balto from that day.

“Love what you do, do what you love.”

Project 52 _______________________
This post is part of the Pet Photography Project 52 blog circle. To see what the next photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “about the photographer”, visit Elaine Tweedy of I Got The Shot Photography, serving pets and their people in Northeastern PA. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here. Enjoy!

Related Links:
City of Winnipeg Animal Services
Winnipeg Animal Services – facebook page
Winnipeg Animal Services Petfinder page

Earthdog Adoptables

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with some of my favourite people and dogs at an adoption event held by Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba. Here are some of the adoptables…


Would you believe Eugene is only 5 months old… he will be one big gorgeous boy when full-grown.


Fiona is one very loving, sweet gal… the ultimate cuddle bug.


Lacey is a fun-loving gal… she would do great with an active family and would love a canine playmate.


Pumpkin is an energetic guy who gets along with everyone… cats, kids, dogs.


Ava is a calm, mellow girl who is larger than she appears in the photos. She is about 50 pounds or more.

Some of these dogs are long-timers in the rescue. Having known them, I can’t help but wonder why. They are such good dogs and would make wonderful companions for the right families. If you would like more info on any of these dogs please contact Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba.

Candid Shots of the Dogs at the Event

“Rescued is my favourite breed.”

Related links:
Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba. – website
Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba – facebook page

Three Lovelies – Daisy, Queenie and Margo

Meet Daisy the retriever, Queenie the poodle and Margo the shih tzu… three gals that I recently had the pleasure of meeting and photographing. These lovelies are canine siblings and just the sweetest of sweets.

three pups











Three Lovelies

Margo Queenie Daisy

It is always a joy to meet such loving and loved pets… a special thank-you to “mommy” and “daddy” for the invitation into their home and the pleasure of meeting these three.

Dogs are like potato chips… It’s hard to have just one.