Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

More on Colorblind Adoptions

October 30, 2011

"Tessa" Photo Credit: Jackie Maples

Wow! What a terrific response I received following my recent blog post about colorblind adoptions. I discussed the fact that black colored dogs and cats tend to languish in shelter and rescue situations because they are less likely to be adopted. Thanks to all of you who took the time to respond with your terrific comments. Some of your stories about your own animals brought me to tears.

Jackie Jurasek, supervisor of City of Rosenberg Animal Control in Texas, pointed out that the darker the animal’s coloring, the more difficult it is to capture their facial expression in a photograph. Such marketing photos are key for creating the “Awww!” factor amongst potential adopters. Jackie has recruited professional photographers to take photos of her shelter animals. The photos they take result in higher numbers of adoptions, and as Jackie so eloquently states, “We see a lot of the bad and the ugly in my profession, so adoptions are the ‘balm for our souls’… it is what helps us keep on doing what we have to do.”

The photos in this blog come from Jackie Maples, one of the three professional photographers who volunteer their time snapping photos at City of Rosenberg Animal Control. Jennifer Marie,  a second photographer, has graciously provided us with some tips for capturing the funny, adorable, and endearing expressions on the faces of our dark colored dogs and cats. Thank you Jennifer!

Tips on Photographing Black Pets By Jennifer Marie Photography

Are you tired of your cute pet looking like a black blob with red eyes in your photos? The color black absorbs light thus making it difficult to see texture and shadows on fur. And then if you have used your flash aimed at them, often times you see the red-eye effect and a funny blue-cast on the body.  Ugh! We need to see those cute personalities shine through!

"Elvira" Photo Credit: Jackie Maples

So here are some tips to help:

  • Go outside and turn off the flash! Take your pet outside in the early hours, around dawn or later at dusk when the light is warm, and have the sun at an angle to your back. If you have to go out during the bright daylight, seek shade from a big tree or the shaded side of a building. If those are not options, have a friend hold a big piece of cardboard or a sheet stretched out over the pet to prevent harsh light. Turn off your flash! If you can change your ISO setting (equivalent to film speed) to 800+, do so. This increases the light sensitivity of your exposure but keeps the shutter speed fast enough to capture some small movement.
  •  Turn your flash to the side! If you have to take the photo inside, turn your flash to the side and bounce the light off of a wall close to the pet. This will light your black pet from the side and give some nice shadows and visible texture on the fur as well as reducing red-eye effects. If your flash is built in, try using a piece of white paper just to the side or under the flash to direct the light to the wall or ceiling. Best yet, if you have a large window, place your pet beside and close to the window and turn off the flash. Use the window light from the side as the lighting source instead of the flash.
  •  Be aware of the background! Keep an eye on what is behind your pet, but still visible in the frame of picture. Try to use a background that is not busy or cluttered, that way the attention goes to the pet. Importantly, use a significantly lighter background behind a black pet to create contrast. Vice versa for a white pet. And focus your shot on the eyes of the pet.
  •  Don’t forget treats, squeaky toys, and your high-pitched funny voices to get your pet’s attention for that one second, and then snap away!

Now go have fun with Fido’s photo session!

Tell us about your successes( and your foibles) while taking photographs of your dark colored four-legged family members! Please feel free to share your favorite photos on my Facebook page.

Best wishes for good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Advertisements

The Time of Year to Think About Colorblind Adoptions

October 16, 2011

I see pumpkins everywhere in my neighborhood reminding me that Halloween is right around the corner. This might be a good time to repost the following blog that I wrote a couple years back. Enjoy!

Dr. Nancy Kay with her dog Lexie (all black before her muzzle turned grey)

Whenever I meet with a patient (the pet) and client (their human) for the first time I always ask some version of, “How long have you two known each other?” I love watching my client’s face light up as they recall that first moment of kitten or puppy love.  I delight in hearing the wonderful and amazing tales of how their lives managed to cross paths. If my patient happens to be a black cat, I always provide kudos to my client for having performed an extraordinarily good deed. You see, black kitties are notoriously more difficult to find homes for than are cats of other colors. Perhaps this is related to black cat Halloweenish superstitions. What I hadn’t realized, until now, is that black dogs are also more difficult to place than their colorful canine counterparts.

According to an NBC News article by Emily Friedman, just as is the case for black cats, large black dogs tend to be the last ones to be adopted from shelters. There are a few theories as to why. Many shelters offer no natural lighting, making it hard for the face of a black dog to stand out. It is more difficult to distinguish their facial features than it would be in lighter colored dogs or those with contrasting markings. Kim Saunders, the head of shelter outreach for the Web site Petfinder.com believes that black dogs are overlooked because they don’t photograph as well as lighter colored animals. When people are shopping for the next love of their lives, they are looking for a face that stands out with special appeal. Some theorize that it is human nature to be drawn to things with more vibrant color or riveting hair coat patterns. Placing solid colored black cats and large black dogs can be so difficult that some shelters run promotions and try to create more color and appeal- necks adorned with colorful scarves, discounted adoption fees, and even superhero names.

When you are ready to begin searching for the next canine or feline love of your life, I encourage you to pay special attention to those that are solid black in color. They’re in need of a special advantage when it comes to landing in the type of loving, caring home that every dog and cat deserves.

Have you ever adopted a dog or cat with a solid black hair coat? I would love to hear your story.

Best wishes for good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

 

 

 

And the Winners Are…

October 31, 2010

 

The results are in!  Five winners were selected from the 58 entries in the Speaking for Spot Halloween Contest. Each winner received an adorable canine Halloween costume compliments of OhMyDogSupplies.com

Ready to meet the winners and hear the stories supplied by their human companions?  I’m ever so pleased to present Buddy, Gayle, Marty McFly, Roxy, and Elmer Fudd. Before you begin reading about them, grab a couple tissues. I think you might just need them!

Nebraska winner:  Buddy, a devilishly handsome (and lucky) doggy doctor

According to Buddy’s mom Linda “Buddy is 10 3/4 years old and will turn 11 in January.  I have known him since he was born but he wasn’t a member of my household until a little over two years ago.  He used to be shown in the conformation ring but because of medical problems was neutered.  He has been trained as a Delta therapy dog and has made many trips to hospitals and rehabilitation centers to help others feel better.  On a Sunday morning in August, 2008 his owners (and my best friends) were murdered at their rural home north of Lincoln by a young man who was looking for money for drugs.  Why he and his granddaughter were spared we will never know.  He was found later that day by a neighbor as he and Annie (the granddaughter Boxer) were wandering the neighborhood, probably looking for help.  He was turned in to animal control and I went and got the two dogs the next morning.  A daughter took young Annie but asked if I would like Buddy to stay with me.  He has been my constant companion since that time.  I had back fusion surgery this summer and Buddy was at the door to greet me when I came home and lay beside me to comfort me during the three months of recovery.  We are now pretty much back to normal and taking the walks that we both love.  He is a memorial to the friends that I lost and whenever I am missing them I talk with Buddy.  I am so glad to have him in my life.”  

Tennessee winner: Gayle, a vampire who’s a sweetie pie

Charon, Gayle’s human companion, tells this story.  “Gayle was a found puppy (during a thunderstorm in Texas) in May 2000.  In January of 2010, (when Gayle was ten years old) we noticed a small lump on her right front wrist.  It was a soft tissue sarcoma, grade III.  Gayle had her leg amputated February 17, 2010, followed by five rounds of doxorubicin chemotherapy.  She is the bravest girl I’ve ever known.  She’s ever once backed away from doing what we’ve asked, and she never really complained, even though there were a few times when the chemo was pretty rugged.  I’ve been by Gayle’s side during every step of this journey.  I’ve knitted a zillion socks watching her recover, sitting through chemo, and just being in the moment with my sister. Every day with Gayle is a gift and a learning experience.  She’s not only my ‘sister’, but she’s my teacher.  I learned a big lesson when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.  Through surgery and now radiation treatment, Gayle is by my side every step of the journey.  We both know how lucky we are to have each other, to have such supportive family and friends and to be enjoying every moment.  Gayle keeps a blog to document our challenges and achievements – www.etgayle.tripawds.com.”

Maine winner: Marty McFly, an insanely adorable “Maine lobstah”

Here’s what Lisa has to say about her little dog. “Marty McFly is thrilled to be selected as a costume winner.  He is a very special Miniature Dachshund whom I rescued from a shelter in Ohio two years ago when his time as a stray was up.  He arrived skin and bones and with pneumonia, and almost didn’t make it.  After lots of TLC, he gained five pounds and blossomed into an incredible dog who has taught us so much.  He has been a therapy dog, and made lots of friends at a local nursing home.  He adores children, and if we’re out for a walk and he spots a child he makes a beeline right to them to give them kisses.  It makes us wonder whether he had children in his previous home.  We do not know his true age, but estimate he is about 14.  He has lots of spunk, loves to chase squirrels, and ‘sings for his supper.’  There are thousands of senior dogs in shelters with so much life left.  We feel so fortunate to have this one in our life.  Of our five dogs, he makes us laugh the most.”

Northern California winner: Roxy, a cherub of a chimp

Karen adores Roxy as you can tell from her description.  “As a volunteer dog trainer and foster provider at my local shelter, I was asked to come to meet a couple puppies that had been placed in the back of the shelter in a small enclosure with their mama.  The mama was a confiscated ‘breeder dog,’ that is, a dog whose sole purpose is to become impregnated with money-making pups.   The shelter’s plan was to euthanize the mama once the puppies could make it on their own due to her being a Pit Bull and that fact that she was a black dog.  Add to the fact that she was engorged with milk, and you have a dog whose adoption chances are nil.  I went down and met the puppies and mama and learned she had been in that small enclosure with them for over a month without ever having gotten out or any contact aside from being fed. She was scrawny and scared, but she still had a sparkle in her eye and absolute love of people. I brought the pups home along with the mama who we called Roxy. We spent the necessary time socializing the pups and eventually they were adopted, but since the day I brought her home Roxy has truly been my best friend.  We eventually adopted Roxy.  Her adoption essentially saved the lives of four dogs:  Her life was spared, her two pups’ lives were spared, and another stray dog had a chance at life since an enclosure was empty.  Roxy has become a great teacher of life.  She has taught us to live in the present and not dwell on the past, as she never looks back at her hard life with regret. She does not let the bad things that have happened to her affect her today.  She taught us that we can change if we just let go. Against the odds, Roxy has become an ambassador to her breed and is now effectively helping other shelter dogs become stable and happy dogs. She has opened the eyes of so many people with misconceptions about this breed.  She is a friend to anyone she meets.  Roxy has impressed us all with becoming a certified ‘Good Canine Citizen’ and is currently in training for therapy. Roxy’s story is important and we want to send this message to the masses:  Many many shelter dogs are put down needlessly every day. So many of them are good dogs like Roxy that just need a chance at a good life. Provide food, shelter, leadership, exercise, and love and the benefit you receive in return is immeasurable.”

Southern California winner: Elmer Fudd, a precious little vampire

Anne shares her home and heart with Elmer Fudd.  Here is how she describes him: “Elmer is about 13 years old and I adopted him from the LA city shelter about six months ago after a plea went out for him from the shelter staff.  He’s probably a Jack Russell/something mix and they said he was geriatric and visually impaired, but he’s actually a pretty active and somewhat hyper little guy.  But he’s got some kind of brain damage. I’m not sure what caused it.  We saw a neurology specialist but without spending a lot of money on an MRI and spinal tap, we don’t have a definitive diagnosis and I decided to watch and wait and see how things go for now.  He mostly walks in circles, always in the same direction.  He can’t go up and down steps and if he’s on the sofa he’ll walk off and fall on the floor instead of jumping – I think it’s a visual problem.  He has hearing impairment too, he can hear but can’t identify the source of the sound and has not really learned to understand any words.  He has a bunch of other quirks but he’s very sweet and full of spunk.  He likes to be picked up and held, having his ears rubbed and eating.  Especially eating, he is just crazy about food.  He is very curious and loves exploring the yard (in a circular fashion) and chasing the cat when he has the chance.  I could go on and on, but anyway he’s a special dog and I think he makes an awesome vampire.”

Now here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members a safe Halloween and abundant good health.  

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

You can support your favorite rescue group.  The Speaking for Spot Gives Back Program shares a portion of the sales proceeds with approved non-profit organizations when you purchase a book via the Speaking for Spot website and designate the organization at the time of purchase.

Boo!

October 11, 2010

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!  Skunks and caterpillars and zebras, oh my!  Never have I seen such an adorable and hilarious assortment of canine Halloween garb as can be found at OhMyDogSupplies.com. I hope you will check it out (click on the link at the bottom of this blog), but I recommend doing so only if you have an empty bladder- you’ll be laughing so hard you just might ……….   have an accident!  I keep going back and forth about which is my favorite costume- it remains a toss up between the Cheerleader and the Spicy Taco!


   

Please have a look and then let me know which Halloween outfit is your favorite!  When you respond be sure to provide the following information:

1.  The name of your favorite costume (just one) from the OhMyDogSupplies website
2.  Your dog’s size (see sizing recommendations provided on the website)
3.  Your dog’s name, age, and breed (best guess if he or she is a mix)

Be sure to respond by October 18th because on October 19th I will randomly choose five names from those of you who have responded.  If your name is chosen, you and your dog will receive a wonderful Halloween costume (we’ll try to provide you with your favorite) compliments of OhMyDogSupplies.  In return, I will ask that you provide me with a photo of your dog in his or her Halloween duds so I can share them with my blog audience.  Happy Halloween!

Now here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health. 

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Oh My Dog Supplies

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

You can support your favorite rescue group.  The Speaking for Spot Gives Back Program shares a portion of the sales proceeds with approved non-profit organizations when you purchase a book via the Speaking for Spot website and designate the organization at the time of purchase.