Category Archives: animal welfare

What I learned from Paxton

I wrote this following the previous post about Paxton in 2016 and I am sharing it with you now, as I recovered this when I recovered the previous post.

I think one of the most important aspects of life in learning. If you have gone through life and haven’t learned anything you are missing out. Learning comes in many forms. I don’t just mean learning through formal education. There is plenty to be learned through life experiences.

Learning can be fun and exciting. We can learn new skills and learn about things that interest us. We can enjoy what we are doing when we learn. This is a good form of learning.

There is also learning that comes through our mistakes. Sometimes we mess up. It is inevitable. This is where it is critical to learn. No one wants to make the same mistakes over and over and never learn from them.

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Learning from our mistakes is not usually fun. Screwing up can be psychologically devastating. It can feel like a real setback and maybe it is for a time. But if you learn from your mistake you can change the meaning of that mistake and while it was terrible at the time you can help it to become a strength for you personally.

I made a critical mistake with my dog Paxton, which caused him to bite me.

The actual physical act I committed that initiated the bite was a mistake in and of itself, but there was more to it than that. I made other mistakes along the way. I think one of those mistakes is taking on too much. I have a lot of passions and goals in life. There are things I care about and it is important to me to accomplish things that are related to my beliefs. However, everyone has limits. We cannot do everything that we would like to. We can’t be involved in every project or task or endeavor that we feel is important. When we do this we risk burnout and that is when mistakes are made.

I am now learning that I have been heaping more and more on my plate regardless of the consequences. Most of which are relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But the consequences of my simple behavior towards Paxton were devastating.

I am a husband with a full time job, a part time photography business who has been writing his dissertation, while caring for 5 dogs and three cats of his own and also caring for 2 foster dogs. Perhaps it should be no surprise that something slipped. How does one balance all of those things without every dropping a plate?

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So, one thing I have learned is there comes a point where there is just too much and we must learn to recognize that point so we can say no and stop heaping more tasks on our plates. We must choose the things that are MOST important and focus on those and leave some things for others to do. We cannot do it all ourselves and that does not make us bad people. It makes us human.

I have also relearned a lesson that I seem to be frequently reminded about. Having a dog that has any type of behavior issues and working with them to keep them safe and keep the humans safe requires constant attention. Take your eye off the ball for a split second and you will get hit in the face, metaphorically or in my case literally.

We have been working with Paxton for close to a year with very few incidents. We have been careful and taken precautions to protect ourselves, our other dogs, and to protect Paxton. We were managing his behaviors and working with him on his issues. We paid attention to Paxton and were aware of his issues. All it took was one second where I was not thinking, for whatever reason, to ruin all of the work we had done. This is the challenge with dogs with behavior/psychological issues. You can work with them and everything can be fine but if you make a mistake you will have a setback. Sometimes that setback has dire consequences.

Learning from our mistakes is important and hopefully I will learn all of these lessons and never forget so that I never have to repeat this ever again.

Love is not conditional.

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Babysitting Foster Puppies

When your wife has a huge heart you end up babysitting someone’s five bottle feeding foster puppies so that they can go to a wedding.

So I took advantage of an opportunity to get some adorable photographs. It is hard to take a photo of these tiny puppies that isn’t cute. Adorable subjects make my job easy.

Today’s Running Partner

The more I develop myself over the years the more I learn that things I love and that are important to me fit together. I have been a long time dog lover. And over the last few years I have become an increasingly avid runner. I have been making more time to run than to do most other things in my life these days. I never thought I would say that. As I have been getting more into running I have really been wanting to be able to run with one of my dogs. I have tried in the past to run with one of our dogs but it didn’t really work out well for either of us. But I am thinking that I may try to get more dedicated to this idea. So today I set out with my new running partner today.

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Running together will require a lot of learning and training on both our parts. Brynn will need to work on walking and running on my left so we can stay on the proper side of traffic when running and stay away from cars (something I should have been teaching her all along, my bad.) Brynn will also need to learn to stay by my side and not get too far out ahead. She will also need to learn to stay constant and not stop to sniff or investigate interesting things while we are running.

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I will need to learn to modify my running plans to suit Brynn’s needs. Now I have to think about both of us instead of just me. That means extra water for her as well as for me if we are out for long runs as well as extra night lights if we run before or after the sun is out. More planning will be required on my part.

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The best thing is that on what was basically our first run together it went pretty smoothly. Brynn didn’t get too distracted to stop and smell things or try to rip my arm off to run and chase things like squirrels and other dogs. I owe this to the hard work with training my wife and I put in when we first got her, although we need to be more consistent with it. “Leave it.” is a magic phrase that will make your life with your dog much easier if you teach them that cue. Trust me.

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Brynn can dust me in a sprint or in repeated sprints over and over. She seems to have limitless energy playing n the back yard and fetching her Chuck It ball. or even just ramming around the house playing with her infinite number of toys. It was kind of nice to see that even though she can wear me out in short bursts of energy I can outlast her in distance running thanks to my training. We went out for what is a short run for me these days, just a 5k. Brynn started off strong, perhaps too strong. An error that I am sure many of my runner friends can relate to. I started off relatively slow for me.  Brynn started off out in front of me at the end of her leash. She still looked like she was just trotting along out in front, and not really exerting herself. However, by the time we were inside of a mile left to be done she had slowed considerably. She was either beside me or just behind me most of that last mile.

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She didn’t seem to be working too hard nor panting much, but she was definitively slowing down and getting tired from the sustained exertion. It’s nothing like the heavy panting and raged breathing and rapidly expanding chest she exhibits during her sprints across our yard to fetch her ball. She is definitely a sprinter and not a distance runner at this point. Something I definitely would have said for myself at one point, even though I really never was even a sprinter.

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So, Brynn and I will continue to work together. Hopefully frequently to work on her running with me on leash in hopes that I can run with her at events that welcome dogs some day. The sad part is I like that she is currently tired out and sleeping under my desk as I write this after our run. I am not sure if I really want to keep taking her out regularly and build up her stamina so that she will have even more energy and be able to run longer and longer and then require longer and longer runs to tire her out so she comes home and is peacefully sleeping at my feet. I like tired Brynn. I like that it only took 3 miles to tire her out. Here’s to the future of a new running-mate.

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Now I just have to work on incorporating photography into my actual runs. But I have a few ideas about that too. Stay tuned.

Jethro and his toy.

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Jethro

Jethro carried around this toy almost the entire time I photographed him back in April of 2014. He was such a fun and loving dog. I really enjoyed creating great images with him.

I am currently working on a project to help bring more awareness to the amazing work the Chemung County SPCA does. The project will consist of an art exhibit, on display at the Chemung County Historical Society, featuring photographs of dogs that have been at the shelter. Learn more about this project ans support hit here: Shelter Dogs at the Museum: Part 2. The exhibit will begin June.

Luke

 

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Luke

I loved my time photographing this old man dog, Luke, back in 2014. He was such a joy. It is great to see it when an older dog still has the spark. This is some of the great work the Chemung County SPCA does. They make sure older dogs like Luke have a home to live out the rest of their years the way it should be.

I am currently working on a project to help bring more awareness to the amazing work the Chemung County SPCA does. The project will consist of an art exhibit, on display at the Chemung County Historical Society, featuring photographs of dogs that have been at the shelter. Learn more about this project ans support hit here: Shelter Dogs at the Museum: Part 2. The exhibit will begin June.

Meet Troy

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This is Troy. Who wouldn’t want to bring home this big slobbery guy. Look at him slinging the slobber after playing in the pool. He is a bundle of energy and would need lots of exercise. Go visit him at the Chemung County SPCA if you want someone to play with.

Visit my project Shelter Dogs at the Museum for an opportunity to support a unique art exhibit with the goal of raising awareness of shelter dogs.

Paddy

I have been lucky enough to work with Paddy twice now. When I first met her she had just recently come to the shelter and she seemed a bit down. You could just look at her and sense that she was sad.

When I visited her this weekend it was obvious that her mood has improved. She is adjusting to life at the shelter well. You can see she has a different demeanor about her. Her posture is different and she has a little more energy. Her attitude is just much improved.

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Paddy

I spent some time with her outside in the large play area. Paddy was all about strolling around and doing her thing. She would come over to me for some petting and scratching when I offered.

She is a very calm dog. She is ready for human contact whenever it is offered but she is able to be off on her own if you are busy at the moment. She is not an overly clingy dog that will be constantly all over you.

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Paddy

She will be the perfect companion for someone looking for a dog who is up for short walks and some time relaxing.

I am currently working on a project to literally display how great shelter dogs are and bring more attention to them. You can learn more about my project here: Shelter Dogs at the Museum. Please consider contributing to the campaign or sharing the project with your friends on social media.

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Paddy

Great photos of dogs at the shelter help dogs find homes faster. The faster shelter staff can connect dogs with their forever homes the better for everyone. Dogs get to go home and humans get to start a life with a new best friend.

Help me make an impact on the lives of shelter dogs and the humans who adopt them by contributing to my campaign