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An afternoon walk last summer with the dogs. Sia takes the lead as Sheila, Corran (our other dog), and I struggle to keep up.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 320, 1/320 @ f/2.2

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What Polar Vortex?

As I mentioned in the last post (for you international folks) most of us here in the states went through one hell of a cold snap last week that the weather folks on TV incessantly called “The Polar Vortex”. Our dog Corran, who refuses to come inside, weathered the cold by wearing some custom made fleece coats that Sheila made him, even though we had to force him in at night. Sia, on the other hand prefers to deal with the cold in her own way from the confines of a comfy old couch.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 1600, 1/25 @ f/5.6

Not on my watch

Since I started back up on the blogging scene, I for one have been amazed the I have gone this long without post up one of my pets. As many of you who follow me know, I have a habit of posting a lot of my animals and the truth is at one point I kind of tired of it, but I always come back to the fact that I love them and they are a major part of my life. Besides, Corran wants everyone to know how diligent he is at guarding the house even when our alpha dog Sia (that’s her in the background) is asleep, thus proving (to her anyway) that he is just as capable of earning his keep.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 320, 1/320 @ f/2.8

Bed for one

I think it’s kind of funny how I keep catching the different animals claiming their rights to this doll’s bed. First the cats, and then Noah. Now I guess it’s Sia’s turn.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 3200, 1/250 @ f/3.2

Look, I know I’m laying in the middle of the fountain, but I’m old, so get over it

This one of our many cats. His name is Rumtum. Many years ago, he just showed up at my house and has been in our family ever since. The truth is that he is pretty old and we don’t expect him to be around much longer. That’s okay, because he has had a full and spoiled life with us and he has always been a content and happy cat. These days Sheila makes sure he gets his meds, feeds him whenever he wants, and generally makes sure he’s comfortable. In his glory days, he was a sight to behold. He was a pretty big cat, paws and all. He looks a lot like a Maine Coon cat, although we don’t think he he really is. He would chase any stray dog upon sight out of our yard without a second thought of his safety (and I haven’t seen a cat do this since). Despite his size and weight, Rumtum was always great with the kids. They would hoist him up into their laps and he would just lay there like a rag doll, looking for a belly rub. He did have a terrible habit of licking people’s toes, thus giving us another reason not to eat at the dinner table in bare feet. All in all, this cat has given us great pleasure over the years so a few old age eccentricities is certainly forgivable. Wanna lay in the middle of the kitchen floor? Sure. Wanna come in and out of the kitchen door every 30 minutes? Have at it. Wanna sleep in the middle of the water fountain? Fine by us, we’ll just make sure not to turn on the pump and disturb you while you dream of  chasing that one last dog out of the yard.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 800, 1/100 @ f/5.6

Do you really want some of this?

Looks like Tumnus has met his match.

Canon 5D markII, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/3200 @ f/2.8

Stop

On the rare occasion That I get time to steal a moment of my life for my own, I like to grab my camera, pick a location and go. This time it was Washington D.C., and as far as those of you who follow me, you know I live nearby. On such excursions I try not to plan anything as I just like grab some shots of things I that appeal to me as I go. As far as D.C. is concerned however, stopping at the White House is always a given. This is simply because there is always someone or some group in front with signs, and/or bullhorns. Some are vocal, some are silent. On this day there were a group of Palestinian protesters and a lone muslim man with a hand written manifesto on the back of his t-shirt. The Palestinians were waiving flags behind a huge banner playing very loud music, while the lone man remained silent performing some sort of what looked to be a religious ritual oblivious to all of the tourists and other onlookers who either watched in disbelief, or waited for their turn to get their picture taken in front of the White House.

While weaving in and out of the crowd of tourists and police, I managed to get a few shots in of the protesters. I was about to approach both parties to understand while they were there (something I always do), when I happened to turn around and see the woman in the photo above. She was at first only holding the sign in the middle of this shot, and for some reason, call it a temporary moment of dyslexia , I thought the sign read “Demand Kill Shelters”. Within a second or two, I quickly realized my error and start to approach her to discuss the reason why she was there. Before I could reach the woman, along comes a family who interjects to have their daughter’s photo taken with her. I noticed that the mother praised her for what she was doing and I also noticed how thankful and nice the woman was in response. After the family moved on, I asked the woman if she came here often and she told me that she comes out every saturday. I went on to introduce myself and ask for her name, to which she replied Reem Lajin.

Reem and I began to discuss her cause for the elimination of kill shelters in the U.S. Through our conversation I learned that approximately five million cats and dogs are killed each year in these kill shelters. The reasons are many: puppy mills, backyard breeding by uncertified breeders, and of course people who don’t spay or neuter their pets only to let them run off and well, you know the rest. Without getting into specifics, we also talked about the different types of cruelty to animals all over the world. I told her how Sheila and I have done our part in the past and present to rescue not just cats and dogs, but other animals too. I also told her how our friends and family do their part as well. We were speaking at great at lengths about these issues and other topics when Reem told me of her online petition at Change.org. I told her about this blog and that not only would I sign the petition, but I would encourage others to do the same. Mind you, not all shelters are run in the way that it states in the petition, but the cause is too eliminate kill shelters period.

At the end of the day, I realize that many if not most of the people I follow here and who follow me are great animal lovers. So is Reem. The thing that I liked about her was the fact that she wasn’t trying to rant aloud over the other protesters for a share of the spotlight. Nor did she try and have a one sided conversation to try and make the other party feel guilty for not seeing things the way she saw it. Instead, Reem just stood her ground in front of the White House, saying hello to people as they passed her and not much more. If one were to engage her, she would start an intelligent conversation with words that not only put you at ease, but let you know her passion and belief in her cause without trying to stuff so many facts in your head before you decide to just walk away. In fact with the family I spoke of earlier in this article, They simply read her signs, got their photo and left. And she thanked them without even trying to convince them to sign her petition. I am putting the link to this petition below this article for those who wish to sign it.

STOP KILLING CATS AND DOGS AMERICA

Canon 5D mark II, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/200 @ f/5.6

Fate II

Another shot of Fate relaxing on the sidewalk as people pass him by.

Canon 5D markII, EF 85 1.2, ISO 500, 1/200 @f/2.8

Fate

 I was strolling through downtown Frederick yesterday when I came upon a great guy named Marco who I knew through his association of a paint store that I shop on occasion for work through my company. After exchanging hellos and long time no sees, I happen to glance down and see this little guy looking up at me. His name is Fate and he is just an awesome little puppy. Marco was holding on to Fate’s mom who’s name escapes me for the moment. I think I have maybe one decent shot of her ( I was so focused on Fate that I must admit neglecting her a bit), and if I like it, I will post a shot of her at another time.

Canon 5D markII, EF 85 1.2, ISO 500, 1/125 @ f/3.5

The return of the three lazy bums

As per a previous POST, It seems that these three were at it again last night. Now I’m not one to imply anything, but if you can sleep with someone’s feet on your head, then you must be drunk.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, 580 EX II, ISO 800, 1/100 @ f/2.8

What lies beyond my window

We have a large window that goes almost to the floor in our living room, which is perfect for Sia as she can sit on the sofa or the floor to survey her domain.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 800, 1/50 @ f/2.2

Noah

This, as the title of the post implies, is Noah. He was rescued by Sheila’s son Camron and his lovely wife Erika. He was part of a story that made our local news here where a woman was caught hoarding an insanely large group of dogs, all of them living in neglect. Needless to say the dogs were removed from the house and Noah was one of them. As of today he is doing just fine. He gets along with our dogs pretty well, and as you can see, he has made himself right at home.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 70-200 4 L IS, ISO 1600, 1/40 @ f/5

Raven

Although Sheila is the cat person in the family, I must admit that I am fully responsible for acquiring this little bugger you see in this photo. His name is Raven. About two years ago I was working on a job (I’m in construction) near D.C. when I had to make a stop at a local supply house. After paying for my goods I drove across the lumber yard to pick up my materials. As I waited for a worker to pick my order, I noticed an all black cat darting in and out of the piles of lumber in the warehouse. As I looked closer, I noticed the cat had a pretty good limp. I immediately knew that he was probably a stray, and after having a short conversation with the yard worker he confirmed it. “How long has he been here?” I asked. “About six months” he replied. “He sleeps upstairs on a pile of insulation in another warehouse” he said. As soon as he said that, the cat strolled up to me and let me pick him up. “Look at that!” he exclaimed with amazement. “We have never seen him do that before. He likes you.” “Of course” I thought.

My first thought after all of this was “Man, we really don’t need another stray cat.” My second thought was “If I come home and relate this story without the cat, I’m going to regret it.” There was only one thing left to do. Call home. I slowly pulled my cell phone out of my jacket and at first I just stared at it. Still weighing my options, I looked back into the warehouse at the cat. He kept hobbling back an forth on three legs with this “Are you ready?” look on his face. I called home and told Sheila the story. She was pretty calm about the situation and made a suggestion that if I brought him back with me that maybe we could find him a good home. And with that, I Grabbed the cat and put him in an empty shop vac box. The yard worker was even nice enough to buy him some food for the trip home. Now two years have gone by, and Raven has settled in quite nicely. He loves his country life and doesn’t have to worry about living near a busy highway looking for food. As far as his leg is concerned, our vet informed us that he probably broke it long ago and with no treatment, it healed in a position that didn’t allow him to walk right. No worries though, as it does not hurt him and there is not much we can do at this point. I keep thinking about the conversation Sheila and I had back when I first found him, and the suggestion that we could find him a good home. Well, at least that part is true.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 70-200 4 L, ISO 500, 1/60 @ f/4

Terra

She may not look like it, but this little girl in the photo above is a wild one. Her name is Terra and she hates just about every cat we have. If one even looks at her for more than a few seconds, it’s on. The strange thing is that when we first got her as a kitten, she was adorable. You could hold and stroke her, and she even slept with us at night. As soon as she got outside however, things changed. For Terra, it was the call of the wild. She refused to come inside, would hiss and take swipes at any cat that got near her. We even bought a big dog house large enough for all the outside cats to sleep in with room to spare. The problem was that she liked to sleep by the entrance of the dog house, and instead of dealing with her nasty temper, the other cats would rather sleep out in the cold or rain then to deal with her. This of course led to the endless array of boxes, dog houses, and beds that line our covered deck to accommodate everyone else. Sheila and I are lucky if we can even get close enough to scratch her chin. In fact, since Terra refuses to groom herself, Sheila has to trick her into a box with some food so she can run up to the vet where they put Terra under so she can bathe and brush her. Then she has to get home before Terra wakes up so she can release her back into the wild so to speak. Despite all of this I really do like her, and although she is generally distant, she can be sweet when she wants to be. In this photo I happened to catch her sleeping in the sunlight standing up.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/1000 @ f/3.5

The Horse and the yard sale

Sheila has her own antique stall and often she will attend estate and yard sales to find items to sell. For the most part, I don’t go to such things as there aren’t enough photo ops to justify me even going. On this occasion, however, She was having a hard time locating the yard sale so I tagged along with my camera in tow to make sure she didn’t get lost. When we arrived at the sale I quickly realized that the place was not only someone’s home, but also a facility that teaches people how to ride horses. As Sheila looked over the goods, I got a chance to shoot a few horses including the one above, and even got to shoot a pig so fat that you couldn’t see his eyes. Sometimes it just pays to get off your lazy butt to go out and find yourself some photos.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 100, 1/250 @ f/5.6

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