Commitment: the state of being emotionally impelled to do something. My commitment is to making art, loving life and doing well.

Daily Artworks... my continuing challenge for 2015: Observe and record. Record and observe. And stretch - s-t-r-e-t-c-h - myself.
What will I discover?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 28

 Momentarily Distracted 

Something has caught their attention...
- should they run to check it out?     

Casper and Spirit keep an eye on the neighborhood, and very little gets past them. Especially the neighbors' dogs out on the road.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 27

An Interrupted Conversation  

An interrupted conversation
- the dogs look guilty     

Casper and Spirit look like third-graders caught in a surreptitous chat. What could they possibly be discussing?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 26

Spirit Eating an Apple  

An apple is a special prize
- the dogs' senses are on high alert     

 Casper and Spirit knew there were apples in my hand before I got anywhere near the dogpen. If apples smell good to humans, imagine how incredibly good they must smell magnified tens of thousands of times in a dog's specialized olfactory system.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 25

Casper and Spirit Sitting and Waiting  

Casper and Spirit do a lot of sitting and waiting when we're in the pen with them
- they're waiting for something good and they want to be close to it when it happens   

Casper and Spirit are trained to sit and wait for treats. They usually have to do a trick like give a "Paw" and shake hands, or "Lie Down". They have learned to stay close and be ready when the treats come appear.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 24

Casper and Spirit Playing "Tag-You're-It"  

Casper and Spirit work off a lot of steam playing running games
- their wagging tails show it's all in fun   

Casper and Spirit both love jumping at each other for fun and then running away. Like youngsters playing tag, they don't realize it's good for them.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 23

Spirit and her Shadow  

Spirit is enjoying the late afternoon sunshine    
- and her shadow puts another dog in the pen   

Spirit is waiting patiently for a treat, staying close enough to nuzzle up to where the treats are in the jacket pockets.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 22

A Momentary Distraction  

Even though there's a treat coming, Casper has to check out something across the way    
- Spirit stays fixed on the prize.   

The dogs are constantly on alert for anything out of the ordinary - including an extra treat tucked in a pocket.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 21

Casper Hunting for a Treat in the Snow  

There's a treat buried in that snowbank    
- and I'm going to find it!   

We've had some fresh snow, and the dogs are having fun playing in it.
An added incentive is a dog biscuit buried somewhere in there. It's noses and paws, all out!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 20

Casper Waiting For Something Good  

Casper Lies Down    
- as soon as he hears the command    

We are trying to challenge the dogs to sharpen up some of their basic training.
Besides their own names, they are supposed to know "No", as well as "Sit", "Stay", "Drop It", "House", and "Lie Down". Somehow, the dogs were understanding the last two commands as one, and if we said either "Lie Down" or "House" they would head for the house, before they would lie down.
Now, that's not a problem for the "House" command, but it is a problem if we want them to simply lie down where they are.
Well, after some practice, and quite a few dog treats, Casper has got it. We're still working on Spirit.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 19

Spirit Eating A Carrot... just watch...  

This is the way to eat a carrot    
-  note how she uses her paws    

Spirit enjoys her treats, especially if they are treats that are bigger than just one mouthful. This one was good.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 18

Casper Eating Turnip  

Our friends were amazed and amused     
- watching our dogs eat turnip as a treat    

The digestive systems of domesticated dogs have evolved to allow them to eat a wide range of food that comes from humans. In the wild, wolves and coyotes probably eat root vegetables, if they find them, but I'm willing to bet that they don't enjoy veggies as much as Casper and Spirit do!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 17

Play-fighting and Play-biting  

Play-fighting keeps dogs sharp for real encounters    
- they think it's just a game    

Dogs who play-fight and play-bite are able to practice a range of dominant and submissive displays which they can use in encounters with other animals that they are meeting for the first time. This puppy-style romping and running around is still lots of fun for adult dogs. And it's great exercise, too.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 16

Casper and His Treat  

Casper is waiting    
- and guarding to make sure the treat doesn't disappear    

Each dog has characteristic behaviors and postures. From the time he was a puppy, when Casper was made to wait for food in his dish, he would fix his attention on the bowl and not take his eyes off it. Now that he is learning to wait for a treat, Casper demonstrates the same behavior.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 15

A Reflection of What Spirit Sees  

In Spirit's Eye    
- you can see both Casper and me    

The flow of a dog's fur, or the shape of her head, or the way she holds her tail may be beautiful features.
For me, one of Spirit's most beautiful features is her dark shiny eyes. And surprisingly, as she looked at us, I was able to see reflections of both Casper and me in her eye. And the photograph caught the moment.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 14

Two in the Doorway  

Rushing the Gates    
- who will be first out to get the treats?    

The doorway in the doghouse is small. One dog at a time can get through with no trouble.
Two dogs, however, presents a traffic jam.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 13

Casper in Profile  

Casper Spots Something in the Distance    
-  and displays that handsome profile    

Casper and Spirit are cousins. They are "Mixed Breed" canines, meaning that there's a variety of genetic material blended in their makeup, and in many ways the two dogs do not resemble each other. However, in their profiles, there is the shared shape of nose, muzzle and lips that is obvious in this photo and the last one.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 12

Spirit in Profile  

Spirit is momentarily distracted    
-  and she shows me her profile    

Spirit is a highly alert dog. She is playful and she can be boisterous, but she is always aware of her environment, and if something catches her attention, she will break off play or eye contact to check on what is going on.
Here in profile, she displays the delicate shape of her nose, her muzzle and her lips.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 11

Nibbling and not-Nipping  

It's About Not-Biting The Hand That Feeds You    
-  and the gloves are really for protection against the cold    

Grabbing that treat and running with it to a safe spot isn't working here.
So, it's nibble and chew. And be aware of where the biscuit is and where the fingers are.
And be careful not to bite the hand that feeds you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 10

Casper Yawns  

Casper's stretch-and-yawn routine    
-  can you keep from yawning, too?    

Yawning is contagious, when you see someone do it, you yawn too, or else you try to suppress it.
There are scientific studies about how this comes about, but for me it is sheer pleasure to watch Casper pull himself out into a long stretch, first front and then rear, then yawn and bring in a deep breath, and finally shake his entire body to loosen up. And then I do it, too.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 9

Spirit's Eyes  

Is Spirit trying to stare me down?    
-  or is she trying to figure out where her treat is?    

Casper and Spirit have learned that they get a treat as a reward for doing something on command. So, responding to "Sit", "Stay", "Come" and "Lie Down" usually means that a treat is on the way. Right now Spirit is waiting to hear the magic word... "Okay!"... to collect it.
And while she is waiting, in those eyes I can see a lot of her wolf-background staring back at me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 8

Casper Head on Paws  

Lie Down!    
-  Casper waiting for his treat   

Casper's command was "Lie Down" and he settled into a comfortable position right away, head on paws and waited. He knows that there is a reward coming, and now that he has earned it, all he needs to do is wait.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 7


Spirit is ignoring me    
-  and hiding so I can't see her    

Like people, dogs demonstrate different behaviors in strange situations. I asked Spirit to perform a command that she had obviously forgotten. Frustrated after several tries, she pulled back behind a post to gather herself together before she comes back out - a variation on the old wolf trick of hiding behind a tree to size up an opportunity.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 6

Close up on Forepaws  

Spirit's Forepaw
Casper's Forepaw
His and Hers    
-  different sizes, different shapes, even different colors, such variation    

Here are Casper's and Spirit's forepaws in winter. The nails are growing long and give the dogs grip in the packed snow, the fur is growing thick and long and it helps insulate between the toes and the foot pads.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 5

Comfortable At Home  

Waiting to See What Will Happen Next    
-  it's bound to be interesting    

Casper and Spirit are cousins. Their mothers, two sisters, got out of our friends' garden together and roamed the neighbourhood for a while, with predictable results. There were nine puppies altogether from two litters, and these two chose to come home with us. We think it was a good choice.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 4

Portrait of Casper  

What a smile    
- and he's hoping for something nice    

"We always welcome dog treats. And if there are no treats, we'll chew on anything else we can find.
And we'll come back smiling, just in case."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 3

Portrait of Spirit  

Ears perked up    
- any sound could be important     

She knows something good is coming. Sometime soon. Any minute. Listen... concentrate.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 2

Casper on Alert  

Casper and Spirit in the Doghouse Doorway    
- vigilant guard dogs    

We made the doghouse doorway small so as to keep the heat inside in the winter and to keep the doghouse cool in summer. A dog can go through comfortably, but only one dog at a time, although both dogs could poke their heads out together. Right now, Casper is on alert, and so Spirit will have to wait to get out.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gone to the Dogs - Day 1

My Tame Animal Models  

Introducing Spirit and Casper    
- photography models as long as there are treats    

I am interested in doing "street photography" but that kind of shooting requires complete control of the camera and the ability to set up a shot quickly. I want to sharpen my skills in this technique. So, for the next little while, I propose to work with my tame animal models, Spirit and Casper, two six-year old mixed breed dogs, who are puzzled by the camera, but who understand the concept of treats very well. We'll see where this takes us!