Looking up: How I use dog photos to change my perspective

dog with cerebellar hypoplasia runs toward camera for dog photos

I struggle sometimes. That isn’t new information for people close to me. It doesn’t make me unique in a world of people struggling. I luck out, though, because portrait sessions and taking dog photos help me change my perspective.

Perspective is the topic for this week’s blog circle about dog photos and if you think I’m about to take a left turn on it, you’re absolutely right.

Perspective is how we see something, how our eyes perceive what we’re looking at and the story we tell ourselves (and others).

That’s how life is.

We see it sometimes as joyful, peaceful, calm, free.

maremma sheepdog posing in daisy patch while i was taking dog photos

My joy

We see it sometimes as binding, stressful, oppressive.

A different perspective, a different way to look at life is sometimes all that’s needed to break out of whatever definition of life we’re living in.

Unless, of course, life is joyful, peaceful, calm and free. Then for goodness sake, stay there.

But life’s stresses dropped me down into the darker corner for a bit. It happens, even though life as a dog photographer is pretty easy-going and joyful.

I live with imposter syndrome, the belief that whatever you do, you’re never good enough.

I live with the stress that my business may never move beyond just paying for itself and I won’t contribute to the household income.

I live in a world where I never really feel like I belong, unless I’m at home with my husband and Bella. Or taking dog photos.

It can all be like a heavy black cloak draped over my shoulders, a cloak made with doubt, fear and stress.

When I get like that, I have to look for the reasons to smile and laugh.

These days, I think of Patrick and Portia.

Finding joy in taking dog photos for a rescue

We are fortunate in Spokane and North Idaho to have so many people dedicate their lives to the health and welfare of animals in need.

Just in my little circle, I think of Stephanie at Furry Farm Rescue, Caitlin at Path of Hope Rescue and, more recently, Jolene and Shawn at Heath’s Haven Rescue and Sanctuary. I’m fortunate to be called upon occasionally to take dog photos for them and help pups find forever homes.

Heath’s Haven is a little piece of paradise in Athol, Idaho. Jolene and Shawn have committed themselves to dogs with special needs. They rescue dogs who are often surrendered by owners who can’t afford or tend to their health care.

They ensure special needs dogs go to fosters and forever homes with folks fully prepared and educated on the dogs’ needs.

They also give permanent sanctuary to dogs in hospice or with severe medical challenges. I can’t wait to show you some of these angels in a future post.

Today, let’s focus on two special dogs who need homes.

Wobbly dog syndrome

Cerebellar hypoplasia, according to PetMD, is a “condition in which parts of the cerebellum have not completely developed.”

The cerebellum is the big part of our grey matter, lying above and behind the brainstem. It can be genetic or caused by infections, toxins and nutritional deficiencies.

When you meet a dog with cerebellar hypoplasia (and P.S. this syndrome occurs in cats and humans, too), you see a bobbing head, unsteadiness, clumsiness, a lack of equilibrium, and an inability to judge distance.

When I met Patrick and Portia, I saw pure, unadulterated joy.


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Sure, they looked funny and awkward, their long, skinny puppy legs flailing all over the place as they bounced around the front lawn at Heath’s Haven.

Sure, if you didn’t know what was going on, you’d know there was something “wrong” with these dogs.

Sure, I couldn’t resist the urge to bundle them up in a hug and keep them safe.

They had no interest in my hugs.

All they wanted was the opportunity to run, jump and play with their dog friends at the sanctuary.

Here’s the nut of it all …

Patrick and Portia have no idea they’re different.


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They have no clue how awkward and silly and goofy they look.

They don’t know there’s something “wrong” with them.

They flail.

They fall.

And they get up again.

With big goofy grins of joy plastered all over their faces.

So now, when I struggle, when I feel the ills of the world or the stresses of life closing in on me, I close my eyes and I remember a morning of joy in Athol, Idaho, and watching these dogs just be.

It gives me a better perspective and I can smile again.

Up for a goofy, fun-loving puppy?

Patrick and Portia are both available for adoption.

Wouldn’t I love to see them go together to a good home? But Jolene says they aren’t necessarily a bonded pair (rescue speak for inseparable) and have done well in separate locations.

Jolene and Shawn had an adoption pending for both dogs but, at the last minute, the adopters pulled pin and withdrew their application.

Patrick and Portia are still puppies, less than a year old. Littermates and Lab mixes, they’re full of that Lab energy and enthusiasm.

On the Heath’s Haven website, Jolene notes that dogs with cerebellar hypoplasia can “live long, healthy, normal lives just like any other dog, but loud noises and sudden movements can be a little scary.”

It’s important they find a home that doesn’t have small children.

Portia is spayed and Patrick is neutered. They are both current on vaccines, flea and tick preventative, deworming. They are both microchipped, crate trained and learning house training.

Heath’s Haven will adopt out of state as long as a home visit and transportation can be arranged and, if you give both Portia and Patrick a loving home, one adoption fee will be waived.

Back to perspective in photography

OK, so that got deep, eh?

Let’s go back to dog photos and perspective, shall we?

A simple change in perspective can change the way you see anything … everything … even your dog.

I love making beautiful portraits of your dogs, freezing their joy, their personality, their love as a moment in time.

I aim for a still sit with my 70-200 zoom lens and a shallow depth of field, like this recent one of Jaco in the awesome autumn colors at Manito Park on the Spokane South Hill.

senior dog at manito park


Or I strap on my 10-24 super wide for a beautiful landscape image, like this one of Jack at Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene.

jack the lab at Tubbs Hill in Coeur d'Alene

Jack and, ahem, #dogsonrocks

While doing Santa portraits at Laundramutt a few weeks ago, I was forced to change my perspective. I had only my 20mm lens to ensure I got the scene I wanted with my backdrop, some props, Santa and the pups.

Then came Piglet and Toboe.

Piglet is another pupper up for grabs, a recent addition to the Furry Farm, and Toboe belongs to a @grumpybabyanakin and family in Coeur d’Alene.

pitbull mix up for adoption at furry farm rescue

Piglet, a pitty mix who needs a home

They each sat their wiggly butts on the floor and I aimed my camera downward.

Some of my colleagues call this “the lookdown” and it’s popular among their clients because it’s how we see our dogs most of the time.

Smiling up at us.

With all the love and joy that a dog has in her heart.

golden retriever mix smiling for dog photos


And then I couldn’t help but see if Bella would cooperate. I squired her out to the backyard which is the only place she’s treat responsive.

maremma sheepdog stares intently


She sat down and stared up at me, with all the love and joy she could possibly have for a bit of Pupperoni.


All around the circle

That’s my perspective.

Now you get to travel around the world and see how other pet photographers saw perspective in their dog photos.

Start with Kylee Doyle Photography, serving pet parents in the greater Sacramento area.

When you get to the bottom of Kylee’s blog post, click the link to the next blogger and so on and so on.

When you find yourself back here, you’re back home.

Right where you belong.

And when you’re ready to book a session to get a fresh perspective on your dog, hit this handy button to get in touch.

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4 thoughts on “Looking up: How I use dog photos to change my perspective”

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  4. That picture of Bella in the daisies is divine and your images of Portia and Patrick made me smile, lovely work. We have feelings that we’re not good enough, so I try to channel mine into learning more. Taking online classes, attending workshops and further broadening my knowledge base and skill set. Hang in there, you’ve got the chops!

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