What are your best tips for getting good animal photos?

How do the good animal photographers do it?

This 2009 Holiday season is one of the best times for taking photographs of pets and sending them to friends and family. We have tried to get a good photo of Allen and our dog Leaf. With Linda as the photographer, we didn’t always have the best results.

We have great admiration for good animal photographers. How do they ever get the animal and the person to CALMY and simultaneously look into the camera with pleasant expressions on both of their faces? It’s a mystery to us.

When Leaf looks directly into the camera, the glint of light turns red in his eyes. If he looks at Allen, his cute profile is fun to see. His eyes with their unique expressions, though, aren’t clear in a side view.

One time, after putting up with us trying to get a good photo for about fifteen minutes of hassle, Leaf found a solution. He licked Allen’s nose, then turned, and stuck out his big, pink tongue at the camera. So there!

On the other hand, our cat Cuddles poses like a runway model. She’s the ultimate beauty, posturing for the camera, arching her back, and gazing contentedly toward the lens.

What are your best tips for getting good animal photos?

We wish each of you a happy holiday and a Merry Christmas. Please give the special pets in your life an extra hug and tell them it’s from us. We’d do it in person if we could.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net
angelanimals@aol.com

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

Have you befriended an animal who showed remarkable intelligence that others hadn’t seemed to notice?

“GRATITUDE FOR AN AMAZING HORSE” was first published in Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter on 12-12-09.  To subscribe send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

GRATITUDE FOR AN AMAZING HORSE
By Karen Murdock

“Lukas is such a lucky horse. He should be so grateful to you, Karen, for everything you’ve done for him”.

Gratitude is something on everyone’s mind around this time of year. Especially for me. I receive over one-hundred e-mails a day about Lukas, from all over the world, and many are similar to the one above.

Granted, Lukas has come a long way since leaving the racetrack after three unmemorable back-of-the-pack finishes and two bowed tendons. After changing hands several times, he ended up in a yard with a family that had no horse experience and severely neglected and underfed him.

When I purchased Lukas as a ten-year-old, green, project horse from the lady who had rescued him, I was hoping to be able to show him in some lower level local shows. However, within a month of competition training with the person who was then my barn’s instructor, Lukas quickly became surly, aloof, and dangerous. He began bucking, bolting, and spooking. Before long, he was unsafe even in his own stall.

At that low point, I decided to fall back on my trick-training experience to try and bridge the gap between us. Over the years, I had put tricks on horses as a way to help them find homes, establish a connection, and improve their concentration. I have found it to be a very fun, interactive, and creative process that promotes confidence, trust, and performance.

The foundation of my system is based on kindness and patience, using positive reinforcement to shape desirable behaviors and extinguish what I don’t want. Certainly, though, dangerous behaviors receive a correction based on the offense.

We started with the smile trick. As our lessons progressed, I began to notice a definite improvement in Lukas’s attitude and behavior. He became an eager and willing partner, happy to cooperate and initiate games. Our relationship deepened to love.

His ability to learn, his curiosity and personality flourished to the point that only four short months ago, friends and family urged (insisted) that Lukas was too special not to share with others. I agreed to have his videos posted on You-Tube and have since then, posted shorter clip versions, in hopes that it would increase awareness of horse rescues and thoroughbred ownership. The rest is history, as they say.

To date, Lukas is able to do all liberty moves: smile, pose, nod yes, shake his head no, yawn, catch, kiss (dry and wet), fetch, cross his front legs, wave, curtsy, bow, park out, push a cart, passage, Spanish walk (front and back), jambet (3 legged 180 pivot), act lame, put his legs all together, lie down and let me sit on him, rear, stay and come and go to a mark, pedestal work, hide-and-seek, and be “blindfolded”. He can spell and count and identify shapes and discriminate colors.

We have been privileged to be on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN (along with many non-affiliates), and Equisearch globally. The Associated Press released a feature story on Lukas last month, and it is still being picked up nationally.

His amazing story has also been included in many magazines, newspapers, forums, blogs, and on numerous websites. He has over 4,000 Facebook friends. He is currently listed both on Yahoo and Google as “The World’s Smartest Horse” (living) and is being compared to Beautiful Jim Key.

I am most proud of his association with The California Thoroughbred Breeder’s Association — an organization dedicated to correct breeding and promotion of Thoroughbreds. Lukas is the official “Spokeshorse” of Canter — a wonderful group committed to finding homes for ex-racehorses. In addition, we are associated with Heal with Horses, a program to aid trauma victims through equine-assisted therapy.

To date, Lukas’s invitations include The Grand Prix HITS Desert Circuit, The Equine Affaire, The International Equestrian Festival, The Western States Horse Expo, and America’s Family Pet Expo.

So, as you may have already guessed, it is I who am grateful to have such an incredible equine partner. His resilience, ability to forgive, zest for life and learning, sense of humor, trust, and love are a daily inspiration to me. Now he also inspires so many others.

Visit www.playingwithlukas.com to see photos and videos of Lukas.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/nlimage23.html to see a sweet photo of Lucas with a friend.

BIO:
Karen Murdock is a retired psychiatric nurse who has been fixing problem horses for over 30 years. She uses a combination of shaping techniques, a specialized version of clicker training, and positive reinforcement. Her unique approach uses games and play as a way to connect and bond with horses to develop confidence, increase focus, improve performance, and build willingness and trust. All of her services and proceeds go to benefit horses. Visit www.playingwithlukas.com to see videos, photos, and read more about Lukas.

SOMETHING TO THING ABOUT:

Have you befriended an animal who showed remarkable intelligence that others hadn’t seemed to notice?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

What ways have you found to help animal rescue organizations?

Early New Year’s Resolutions

Today, we had an invigorating breakfast meeting where we talk and about new goals for the new year. In this tough economy 2009 was hard on just about everybody. But the animal shelters and animal welfare organizations experienced undue hardships.

So many people’s houses went into foreclosure that animal shelters were deluged with frightened, confused pets who suddenly became homeless overnight. The shelters have become overcrowded. Not as many people felt they could afford to adopt a shelter pet.

We’re exploring ways that we can help animal shelters and organizations. We’re looking at possibilities for doing fundraising and speaking engagements to increase awareness and funds for homeless animals.

Just a reminder that in this season of giving, please be sure to remember how much your local animal shelters (and even the national organizations) need your donations of time, materials, and money. Shelters with websites often list the types of donations they need. Things like blankets, food, toys, and crates go a long way toward helping them to survive.

The animals will thank you. They always do.

What ways have you found to help animal rescue organizations?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

What experiences have you had with animals in which they showed you irrefutably that you and the animal had communicated?

Communicating with Animals

How many times have you wished you could communicate with your pet or an animal in nature? It’s a universal wish of animal lovers to exchange thoughts with a creature who means so much to you.

Trained and skillful animal communicators often say that they’re only doing what we all have the capacity to do. Ours is just undeveloped. The average person doesn’t trust or recognize what she or he sees and hears from animals.

Animal communication has always intrigued us. But living with our especially talented communicators — our cocker spaniel Leaf and our wise black-and-white tabby Cuddles — has provided us with a deeper level of understanding this process.

This morning, Leaf made his customary trip to the acres of off-leash dog park near the river where he loves to explore. Allen has many experiences with him there, because Leaf seems to be more of who he truly is in that expansive freedom.

Today, a little boy was teetering like a tightrope walker across a fallen log that hovered above the forested ground below. Leaf typically enjoys performing a balancing act on this type of log — the higher off the ground the better.

Allen said to our daredevil dog, “Why don’t you go and show that little boy how it’s done?”

With his amber eyes Leaf looked up at Allen as if to say, Great idea! He trotted off to the log, leapt on it, and soon was strutting his expertise for the little boy. The child’s parents clapped for Leaf, and the boy giggled.

No one had taught Leaf to obey a command: Show the little boy how it’s done. We don’t think you’d find it in any dog training manuals. But Leaf understands this everyday kind of communication and proved it with his actions, much to everyone’s amazement.

What experiences have you had with pets or animals in nature in which they showed you irrefutably that you and the animal had communicated?

We welcome you to answer this question and the “Something to Think About” question at our blogs and forums, so everyone can see your comments.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
Autographed Horses with a Mission books are half price. Many of the other Angel Animals books are at a 25% discount only until DECEMBER 14TH. We have limited stock, so order early for these wonderful holiday gifts that will thrill the animal lovers on your list. http://shop.angelanimals.net/main.sc
Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net
www.horseswithamission.com

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com