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The Human Dog Bond is Amazing – Medical Alert Dogs

Historically, people and dogs have shared a special bond, a close relationship where each looks out for the well-being of the other. That special rapport coupled with dogs’ extremely sensitive senses has raised the human-dog connection to a whole new level – training dogs to become Medical Alert Dogs.

More than just a loyal companion to those in need, Medical Alert Dogs receive highly specialized training and certification in critical fields including autism, diabetes, seizures, and psychiatric conditions. Much like their title implies, these Alert Dogs serve as both early warning systems when they detect a change in a person and also as early responders, helping the person directly and/or seeking help for them. Not only do these life-saving dogs receive training, their “handlers” – the people they’ll be caring for and helping – also receive training on how to relate to the dog, how to communicate with them, and what to expect.

For example, a person with diabetes experiences a chemical change when their blood sugar level either drops or surges – a trained Diabetes Service Dog will detect a change in that person’s scent and alert the person to take their medication, bring a phone to the person to call for help, or bring the person’s medicine directly to them. In that way, a medical crisis can be averted.

Autism Service Dogs are incredibly helpful to children with this difficult condition. These dogs offer positive social interactions to their children, they interrupt negative behaviors, offer a calming presence, alert the child’s parents to problems or night awakenings, and even help children verbalize more by giving the dog commands, among other things. 

Dogs trained to detect seizures can actually sense a seizure coming on before it happens and warn the person of an impending attack so they can get themselves somewhere safe. If a person has a seizure, a Seizure Alert Dog can remove potentially dangerous objects from a person’s vicinity, help bring a person back to consciousness, physically support the person, get help, and retrieve or carry important medical information about the person so they can be helped by others.

These are just a few of the ways dogs are being trained to help people with medical conditions and special needs. Medical Alert Dogs are very special companions; their love, loyalty and dedication to the people they help is invaluable. If you have a special dog in your life, contact us to create photo memories you’ll cherish forever.

Safety and Etiquette at Off-Leash Dog Beaches

The SF Bay area boasts several wonderful off-leash dog beaches, which raises an important health and safety topic: dog beach etiquette. More than just consideration for others – although that’s very important too – using good beach etiquette can help ensure the health and safety of your best friend along with everyone else’s.

First, make sure your dogs have been socialized before letting them loose with other dogs and people on the beach. This isn’t the place to see how they react to dogs they don’t know, nor is it the place for early training; confrontations can occur and can take a nasty turn if your dog hasn’t been properly socialized. On the other hand, a well-socialized dog can make lots of new dog and human friends and have a great time.

Make sure your dog has good listening skills. The ability to respond to a recall command is very important – the last thing you want is for your dog to run too far away or head toward something dangerous and then not respond when you call him back. Likewise, commands like “drop it”, “leave it” and “no” can prevent your dog from eating something harmful.

Large dogs or even smaller-sized dogs that are particularly jumpy and playful can sometimes scare small children or annoy adults. If you see your dog heading for anyone without an invitation – especially at a rapid pace – distract him with a recall command until you find out from the other person if your dog’s attention is welcome. Children can become frightened or get unintentionally knocked down by your dog, and adults can become annoyed or frightened by large dogs as well. It’s best to be considerate of others, even if you know your dog just wants to be friendly.

Dog beaches are a great way to let your dog burn off excess energy – they also offer excellent candid photo opportunities to catch pups naturally at play. Contact us to find out how we can make these fun memories last forever.

Preteen Portraits – Who I Am Project

I hate the word “lanky”.  When I was 10 I was much taller than the other kids, my pants were frequently to short as a result and I was skinny as a string bean.  All the boys called me “lanky” (and not a few of the girls).  I don’t look back at the few pics of me then and think “blossoming young lady”…..I think, “Ugh!  Too tall, awkward and gawky!”

Those years between 10 and 12 can be tough.  We aren’t cute little babies anymore, nor toddlers running around exploring everything new and we don’t yet have the privilege or excitement of our teenage years.  We are most definitely in the awkward trying to figure out ourselves stage. Perhaps you can relate and have a few photos from your “tween” days that reflect that same thing.

Tweens are often overlooked and forgotten when it comes to portraits.  Oh sure, you’ve got the school pictures, but if there are anything like mine then they show a cheesy grin, uncombed hair and big “deer in the headlight” eyes.

tween girl portrait in studio

I’m making it my personal mission to capture those lost preteen years. The goal is to help tweens look and feel beautiful and have unshakable confidence in themselves when they hit middle school.

Which is why I’m starting the “Who I am.” project.  A photography project to fill in the forgotten photo years while enriching the lives of pre­teens. The main goal is to help pre­teens appreciate how beautiful they are and be confident in who they are.

Who we’re looking for:
We are looking for female models for our photography project, ages 10­ to 12 (yes, boys can participate too, it is just that most won’t want to.  If yours does – terrific!). We will ask the model and their parents a few questions, then combine the text and photographs to create one impactful piece of art.

Why “Who I am”?
We want to capture the the personality of these tweens and record the last stage of their
childhood before they become young ladies (or men) . We want them to realize their true beauty so that they are confident in themselves before they hit middle school. Imagine the impact a single beautiful image can do for your tweens self-image.

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How to participate or nominate a friend:
Please e­mail or call us by Sunday, February 28th if you are interested in having your child participate in this project, or if you would like to nominate a friend or family member of yours that you think would be perfect for this. Please nominate people you think would enjoy the boutique experience we provide. The in­-studio session itself is complimentary and includes $50 in product credit (a $200 value). Our goal is to create a gorgeous group of photos you’ll love and that truly show your daughter’s spirit and soul!  After you email us, we will send you specific details and you can decide if this project is perfect for your daughter (or son).

Get In Touch

Dogs have always been man and woman’s best friend

Ask any dog owner if they have any children and you may get the response, “No, but I do have a fur baby.” People who have dogs don’t see them as pets, but more so as a part of the family. There are plenty of historical topics about people and dogs that may help the dog-less understand why dogs truly are man’s best friend.

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An example would be that the human and dog relationship goes back to at least 32,000 years ago. Dogs, or domesticated wolves, were a vital part of the survival of Homo sapiens. When we had to hunt mammoths for food and fur, dogs were right by our side, helping us track them down and catch them. They were also helpful as guards, just like they are now.

As early as the 17th century, English royal families were known to have self and family portraits taken with their pets. Dogs were being used for emotional support way before psychologists said to do so. Regal life was pretty lonely and dogs provided companionship. They helped to alleviate the sting of a life lived away from the public.

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Now you don’t have to be from a long line of royalty to have pet portraits. They are available for anyone who loves their four-legged babies. You can get photos taken of your dog for Christmas, Easter, or just because they are so darn cute.

Contact us today to take a look at the portraits we have done of people and the dogs they have welcomed into their hearts.

Hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area for Dog Lovers: Redwood Regional Park

Now that the Holiday rush is over it is time to get outside with your dog and enjoy the end of the year weather.  Hiking with your canine best friend can be a rewarding shared adventure for both of you. Taking your dog for an outing in a wild area not only gives him or her great exercise, it also stimulates the senses with new smells, sights, and terrains that he or she won’t experience anywhere else.

There are plenty of hikes in the SF Bay area for dog lovers and their pups, but it’s best to check any area you’re interested in before going to make sure it’s dog friendly – some parks and preserves don’t allow dogs.

One of the many great places to take your on-leash pup is Redwood Regional Park in the East Bay area.   A 1,830 acre park – peaceful now, but its history saw heavy logging activity in the mid-19th century – boasts a forest of 150-foot-tall redwoods that will take your breath away.

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I recommend it as a great place for a portrait session too and have taken a few clients there.  Like Bubs (above) or Niko and Izzie (you can check out Niko and Izzie’s day at the Redwood Park here).

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The park has a very diverse eco-system, ranging from evergreens and grasslands to wildlife such as deer, golden eagles, and creeks with rainbow trout (no fishing is allowed in the park). Because of the forest’s cover, the air is cooler and there is less of a tendency for dogs to overheat, though you should always bring enough water for your dog to drink throughout your hike.

Another wonderful feature of Redwood Regional Park is that you can choose the difficulty level of your hike to suit the ability and energy level of both you and your dog. Flat circuits offer no resistance and are easy meadow walks; if you’re interested in a more exhilarating hike, a relatively moderate challenge can be found by taking uphill loops on sloping trails that range from three miles to eight miles in length.

Dogs must be kept on-leash, and there is a $2 per dog fee (weekends and major holidays from April through October); there is no fee for service dogs.

Natural areas offer unique pet photo opportunities – contact us for ideas about having your dog photographed in the wild.

Enjoy Your Holiday Celebrations with Pets and Keep Them Safe too!

Tis’ the season for fun, family, food, and festive decor. While you are preparing for that holiday gathering don’t forget your four-legged friend. The holidays, while wonderful, can bring on some dangers for the family dog. Here are a few things to remember so that everyone enjoys the season.

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As tempting as it may be, don’t share

It’s always nice to give your dog a treat, especially during the holidays. On the other hand, cleaning up unwanted messes or taking an unexpected trip to the vets is not. Avoid giving your dog any of these food items as they can cause them harm:

  • Any sweets such as candy canes, gingerbread, etc.
  • Alcoholic beverages and coffee. Spills happen, just be prepared.
  • Chocolate is never good!
  • Nutmeg, yeast dough, salt, sugar and other baking goods.
  • Fat trimmings and turkey or ham bones.
  • Grapes and raisins

Anything that is covered in spice and tomato sauce will not be good for your pets. It is best to just avoid giving them anything you are planning on serving especially if seasoned. When you are out getting those items you need for your feast just stop by the pet aisle and choose a healthy pet treat for them.

Watch out for those plants and decorations

During the holidays many people love to “deck the halls” with all things festive and bright. When you have a dog at home there are a few things you will need to be cautious of when decorating.

Lights are a staple when decorating inside and outside the home. This means there are wires everywhere. This can be tempting for any pet, it seems like something great to chew on. So, be careful and tuck those wires out of reach. Even those battery-powered items can burn a pup’s mouth if they decide to chew. Also, flames are hazardous. Don’t leave pets alone with fires lit, or candles aglow.

Tinsel is very attractive and so are fresh trees. However, ingesting these items can be harmful for dogs. Tinsel and anything with plastic can potentially cause a blockage in digestion. And fresh trees can be treated with chemicals that can make your dog sick. Be careful that your dog does not try to drink that tree water.

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Ringing in the New Year

Most pets are not fond of the loud noises of poppers and fireworks. The loud banging and thunderous noises are scary to them. This is the time when many pets run off. Remember, they are just trying to get away from the noise. If you or your city celebrate with anything that makes loud noises be prepared to keep your dog inside. Let them find a quiet place they feel safe in, such as the bathroom or by your bedside. Keep a radio on or the T.V. And if nothing else helps calm them, crate them.

For many more Health Topics regarding Dogs follow our blog. At Chickpea Photography we specialize in portraits featuring your pets. You can contact us anytime to find out more.

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