Oftentimes when I photograph outdoors I will use flash (often an external Nikon SB-400 or SB-800 flash) to fill in shadows. "Fill" is sometimes not an accurate description when referring to fill flash: for me, fill flash is a matter of trying to balance the ambient light (the outdoor light, in this case) and how dark the shadows are. I don't mean to use flash to fill in any shadows completely -- I just want to make the shadows less dark. (I'll talk about how to adjust the flash compensation in another post.)
But in this case, when Nikki was standing on our front lawn one late afternoon I liked how light was falling from her left (or camera right, if you prefer) while the vine-covered wall behind her was in shadow. I positioned myself so that her head was in front of the dark wall and quickly took three photos. I was happiest with this image (the first). I used no fill flash at all in this instance: light reflected from the house to my left provided some fill. With the dark background I was able to capture the shape and texture of her ears (which she often stood up like this), as well as her illuminated left eye.
She was a good, good and happy dog. We miss her.
(Shot with the Nikon D200, 18-200mm zoom at 50mm, 1/180sec at f/7.1, ISO 100, program mode, matrix-metered, auto white balance.)