Thursday, September 10, 2015


Boo and my Dad were in their own bubble, sharing a moment in time.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 and 70-200mm VR; aperture-priority with aperture at f/4; shutter speed 1/320 at ISO 1000; auto white balance; matrix-metered; normal JPG.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bean is ready to play

Bean loves squeaky toys. And if they bounce, so much the better. I caught her one October afternoon playing with a Sprong® dog toy when she saw me, then grabbed the toy in her mouth and paused at the steps leading to the living room, waiting for me to play with her. I had my big, heavy 70-200mm VR with me, hoping she'd stay still long enough for me to get a few shots. To get more light into the house I opened the front door before I started shooting.

This is a close crop of the best of several pictures that I took as she waited on me. In the original picture I had composed the picture with Bean in the upper right corner of the viewfinder. As she was standing beyond the end of a wooden cabinet I wanted the bottom edge of the cabinet side and the lines of the hardwood flooring to draw your eye to Bean. I had to burn in the background behind her to make it less distracting. I donated a print of this to a greyhound event for their auction.

I can't help but think of how Sadie and Bean might have gotten along had Sadie lived long enough to have met Bean. I bet it would've been good, even though Sadie was over 10 years older than Bean.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 and 70-200mm VR zoom; matrix-metered; aperture-priority with aperture set to f/4; shutter speed 1/30 second at ISO 900; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Friday, August 14, 2015


It was five years ago last month that what was thought to be 14 greyhounds living in outdoor crates with no food or water in south Fort Worth, TX, turned out to be 28 dogs in need. The dogs came to be known as the FWACC (for "Fort Worth Animal Care and Control") 28. A friend of mine in Texas adopted one of these dogs; I met another of the 28 in San Antonio during the Remember The Greyhound gathering in 2013.

Nedra was a three-year-old at the time of her rescue. When her owner Kate introduced her to me, she explained that Nedra would be a little wary about me at first. Not a problem, I said. Eventually I was able to get a decent head shot of her as she grew accustomed to me:

But towards the end of her session she again showed a bit of wariness when I looked at her while we were on opposite sides of a tree. I sought to capture that here:

Thankfully, Nedra is in a home where she's loved. I can't imagine how she survived the conditions in which she was found back in 2010.

Monday, August 10, 2015

One of these Saturday morning schoolers is not like the others

A photograph I took on 7.11.15 at the Iowa Greyhound Park of Saturday morning schoolers running in a schooling race. Schooling races are run to help trainers evaluate their dogs before they're permitted to run in their first official race.

Pictured here are #1 Superior Tickle, #2 Billy The Kid, #4 Roc A By Metal, #5 Tuff and Ruff, and #7 Wl Lonesome Girl. Tuff and Ruff won this particular race.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 with the 70-200mm VR zoom; shutter-priority with shutter set to 1/2000 second; aperture f/5.6 at ISO 900; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Running with scissors

Bean is the doggiest dog we've ever adopted. We got glimpses of what that was like when we met Bean for the first time and watched her play with balls, pinecones, and tree branches in Aimée's backyard. So as she settled into our home Bean noticed that we also had small pinecones in our little backyard. It didn't take too long before she grabbed one and started to run with it in her mouth:

She has a lot of fun playing and running with them but we cringe a bit as we have to be mindful of her weak leg that can sometimes go out from under her and make her fall. The leg doesn't seem to bother her much as long as she doesn't play on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt for too long. (She often wears a Therapaw on hard surfaces.) Then it seems to get sore and she tries not to put too much weight on it. Still, we want her to have fun -- it's too hard to try and keep a young dog like her down.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 and the 105mm lens; aperture-priority with aperture set to f/4; camera set shutter speed to 1/640 second at ISO 800; auto white balance; normal JPG, processed with Lightroom.)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Puppy Bean Roadtrip, part 6

It was just as well we stayed a day longer in Minnesota than we had originally planned. The drive from Omaha to Grand Junction was dreary, gray, and mostly rainy. But the interstates were clear of traffic for most of the day's drive. Still, I wondered what the Eisenhower tunnel would look like and how much snow remained on or along the road.

South of Denver and climbing up the Front Range of the Rockies we ran into this:

Before we got to the tunnel we decided to pull over in Georgetown and stretch our legs. There was plenty of snow on the ground, so we let Bean play around in it. We figure it will be the last time in quite awhile until we can drive her up to our local mountains around Los Angeles during a winter where we actually will have some decent snow.

Note the small herd of deer visible in the background above Rachel's head.

After playing in the snow Bean decided to cool her rump:

Then it was back into the van. At the tunnel entrance we had to stop and sit for some minutes before being allowed to pass through and head down the other side.

Through it all, Bean traveled in the van better than I could have hoped. She repeated her traveling routine from the day before by napping, eating a few treats, and gently playing and squeaking some of her toys. She was so easy.

When we arrived at my parents' home we introduced Bean to them. Both Mom and Dad took a liking to her right away. Their black cat, Mischa, kept herself at a distance so Bean didn't get much of a chance to show her any interest.

After several hours' of sleep we got up early in the morning to start the final leg home. Feeling a little groggy we laid on the carpet for a few moments. Dad came over and laid down in front of Bean; she responded by giving him a nose-bump to the eye. Such a sweet gesture by her -- which is a testament to this dog breed.

Before we left I got in several pictures of Bean with my parents.

(My apologies to those who have never seen a leg amputee before: my dad was in an airplane accident while serving in the Air Force.)

Bean slept and played in the van all the way back to California where this journey began some eight days and nearly 4000 miles ago. After a two-month absence, it was so good to have a greyhound back in the house again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Puppy Bean Roadtrip, part 5

On Sunday morning we began preparing for the long trip back to California with puppy Bean. I think all of the dogs sensed that something was imminent. As they had in the previous mornings we were there they had congregated in the upstairs area next to the kitchen.

Aimee had made a run to the grocery store and was greeted by all the pups:

After we ate the dogs lay in their respective spots in the family room:

Rachel and I had decided to start home before noon, so we tried to occupy ourselves as best we could in the time we had remaining, and tried to postpone the inevitable, painful departure. Aimée played ball with Bean:

Then we went on one final walk down to Medicine Lake.

And then we returned to the house and got ready to go. We thanked Aimée and Stuart for fostering Bean for two months, and finished loading up the van. After that was done Aimée sat in our van for one more (and not the last, I hope) picture with Bean.

We drove away and headed south for Omaha under cloudy and sometimes rainy skies. Bean proved to be the easiest-travelling of all the greyhounds we've adopted over the years. She gnawed on a bone, ate a few treats, played with a toy or two, and then curled up and went to sleep. While Rachel rode in back with her she got this photo of Bean that will forever make me smile:

On Interstate 35 we soon passed the Minnesota-Iowa state line, and then passed the exit that would have taken us back to Bean's farm. I looked to the left several times as we drove by, I'll admit, although the farm was too far to the east to be seen. Then we took a turn to the west at Des Moines and onto Interstate 80 which we would follow to our overnight destination of Omaha.

As we neared Omaha I thought I'd make a detour at Council Bluffs and visit the Bluffs Run greyhound track because I'd never been to a track before. I mumbled some sentences to Rachel about wanting to go there, and she was a good sport in saying she was okay with it. I blundered my way around the casino and track trying to decide where to park. Finally I picked a spot to park and we all got out. As I wasn't sure if the security guard at the track entrance would let us bring Bean inside, I had Rachel led Bean around the front to relieve herself while I went exploring inside the grandstand.

Entering the building I asked the guard if they were racing at the moment, and he tells that they're racing right now. "I think the tenth race just finished," he told me. "You can go see the dogs being led out for the next race." I thanked him and wandered further inside, heading in a direction I though would take me to the track. Looking at the posters and racing paraphenalia as I walked past it seemed so foreign to me. I wanted to go out onto the apron to see how close I could get to the track. I had thought of taking my big camera with me but then thought better of it: I hadn't asked for permission and I wouldn't have been surprised if the track employees were a little leery and defensive of a stranger taking pictures of a race. So I only took my smartphone.

I found my way out onto the apron and decided I would watch a race. As it turned the tenth race had not yet run: in fact, the lead-outs were taking the dogs to the post parade. After the dogs were shown to the patrons they were walked over to the starting box, each dog being placed in their assigned trap. As the mechanical lure (whose name escapes me) started down the homestretch the dogs were released. They thundered past me going into the clubhouse turn, shaking the ground. I just watched and marveled. In a little over 30 seconds the race was over, so I turned around and walked back to the entrance to meet Rach and Bean.

The skies were full of mammatus clouds -- which Rachel found fascinating -- as we got back into the van. But as we drove into Omaha there was word of a tornado warning to our west so we went directly to our motel after making a failed attempt at finding some take-out food before the storm hit. We unloaded our bags and checked in. Afterwards I went back to the front entrance and fetched a few more things out of the van and looked up at the gray clouds being torn to shreds by the increasing winds. There was really nothing else to do but sit in our motel room and wait out the storm. Bean took all of this in stride by lying down on one of beds and falling asleep. She couldn't have made it any easier for us that night, although I did take her out a couple of times overnight (once in pouring rain) to do her business since we didn't know what her routine was.

Eventually the tornado threat ended in Omaha but we saw on the news that other areas to the west and north had some pretty heavy property damage. And the weather wasn't going to improve much for our drive to Colorado the next day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Puppy Bean Roadtrip, part 4

We originally planned on starting the long drive back home on Saturday, but talking to my parents on Friday changed all that. There was a late-season snow storm forecast to hit Colorado, so we couldn't be sure if the pass and the Eisenhower tunnel that cross the Rockies would be open or not. We just didn't want to have driven all the way from MN to CO, only to be stopped by snow at the pass. So we asked Aimée if we could hang out another day with them before heading home. She was more than happy to oblige, as who knew when she'd see The Bean again...if ever?

She had another day trip planned out: a nature hike at Taylor Falls and the St. Croix River on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was a beautiful day for a hike:

After we returned to Aimée's house we spent some time out in her backyard with her greys Boo, Dazzle, and Flower. Bean grabbed onto the sleeve of Rachel's hoodie to get her to play:

To this day Bean does this, and I don't think she'll ever completely outgrow it.

I had to get a few photos of Boo as I think she has one of the most extraordinary Greyhound faces I've ever seen:

While Rachel and I were anxious to be on our way with Bean, it was a bittersweet moment for Aimée. You can't foster a Greyhound puppy like Bean for more than two months and not grow fond of her.

The next day we would begin our trip back home.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Puppy Bean Roadtrip, part 3

I refrained from taking any pictures of puppy Bean when we arrived at Aimée's home the day before as I wanted to just take in what was happening (although I did take a video of Rachel meeting Bean in the backyard). This was the first picture I took of her while she was playing with a toy on Friday morning:

And then there was this one:

She was woolly from living in the cold climate of Iowa and Minnesota. We've become familiar with this look on her face in the second picture.

In the meantime, two of Aimée's Greyhounds kept their eye on us. Boo:


Later that morning Bean decided to "help" Aimée with collecting a garden hose:

I don't know...I don't call this "help"-ing in my book.

One thing we found out quickly is that she loves to chase after balls:

Despite having had two broken non-weight-bearing toes on two diagonally-opposite feet and a suspect right hind leg, she ran like it never posed a problem. I happen to like the middle picture of the three above -- the leap to pounce on the ball just shows me her joy at play.

After noon Aimée drove us to Minnehaha Falls. Pretty cool that the falls are in a city park:

Aimée pauses to give Boo a smooch:

After getting lunch at the Walker Art Center and walking around its sculpture garden we went back to Aimée's to relax before a little get-together dinner was planned to celebrate Bean's gotcha day. Rachel could not resist playing with Zorba (left) and Sid:

That night we got to meet some of Aimée's and Stuart's friends and met the president of GPA-MN, the adoption group we worked with to adopt Bean. We signed the adoption papers and she was officially ours!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Puppy Bean Roadtrip, part 2

So I mentioned in part 1 about this roadtrip that we applied to adopt a racing Greyhound puppy. None of this would have happened if it wasn't for our friend Aimée. When we asked her, she agreed to foster the unnamed puppy (soon to be called "Bean" by our daughter) as long as the pup tolerated cats because Aimée and her husband had two of them. If Bean wouldn't tolerate cats she would be fostered by someone else in her greyhound adoption group, but the puppy would be adopted -- no matter what. I mean...PUPPY!

Fortunately, Bean was okay with cats.

Now we had to plan on when we could pick up puppy Bean. She lived in Iowa, but Aimée would pick her up and take her to her home in Minnesota. Flying Bean out to us was out of the question, so the only alternative was to drive from California to Minnesota and back. I spent a few days trying to figure out where our rest stops would be, and eventually settled on this itinerary:
  • Day 1: Los Angeles, CA to Grand Junction, CO
  • Day 2: Grand Junction, CO to Omaha, NE
  • Day 3: Omaha, NE to Minneapolis, MN
  • Day 4: Rest up in Minneapolis
  • Day 5: Minneapolis to Omaha
  • Day 6: Omaha to Grand Junction
  • Day 7: Grand Junction to Los Angeles
This is crazy, but Greyhound people are sort of like that.

I had a hard time believing it's actually happening.

At 6AM our daughter and I left home and began the first leg to Colorado. After thirteen hours of driving through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado we arrived at my parents place, ate dinner, and chatted for awhile before going to bed. While talking with them about the roadtrip I still had a feeling that they thought we were a little crazy doing this but understood why and supported us.

Up early the following morning we needed to drive another twelve hours through Colorado and Nebraska to get to Omaha by nightfall. The weather was perfect and driving east on the Interstate 70, 76, and 80 was easy.

All this time I kept thinking and wishing that Sadie was with us.

We got some sleep after eating a late dinner in Omaha. The following morning we got up a little later than the previous two mornings. We were driving four hours into Iowa and stopping at the Greyhound farm where Bean and her eight litter mates were whelped on 16 September, 2013 (a week before Katie died). I grabbed a snapshot of the Iowa landscape scrolling past our car windows:

As we got closer to Bean's farm, I could still scarcely believe this was really happening: we were going to see where she was whelped, and we were going to meet her breeder. We turned off of Interstate 35 and after making a couple more left's-and-right's we made a final right turn and there it was on either side of a gravel road:

Our friend who was fostering Bean had just parked her car in the driveway just minutes before we arrived. She introduced us to the owners, and we were then ambushed by the resident greeter-greyhound, Thunder. Rachel got the worst of it:

Gary's wife, Bev, took a liking to Rachel right away after they invited us inside their home: Rachel noticed all the birds feeding in their backyard and started naming them right away. Bev was so impressed by this, so they started talking birds for minutes. In between all this, Aimée handed them a print of a photo she had taken of their previous greeter-greyhound, Rocky, who had recently died. They were really touched.

Let me just take a moment and thank Aimée for meeting us at Gary's farm because she knew that I very badly wanted to see it -- more so since it's Bean's birthplace. Our friend has been to the farm numerous times to pick up greyhounds who were ready for retirement from Gary, and they have a close working and personal relationship. It's a precious thing, and not the sort of thing that you take for granted, exploit, or take advantage of. And we have to thank Gary and Bev for letting us, as total strangers from California, open their farm to us. It's really not something that we, as greyhound adopters, ever get to see.

Gary told us to go anywhere we'd like on his farm. Gary and his farmhand walked with us when they had a few fleeting moments of free time to spare from their chores. They answered our questions and talked about the various areas of his farm. We stopped to visit the long, rectangular runs where the litters of greyhound puppies get to exercise and play with each other as much as they want. In one run were some of Bean's litter mates (at that time they were almost eight months old):

The particolor greyhound is one of Bean's brothers that looks very much like her. Aimée is hoping to adopt him when his racing career is over.

After meeting some yearlings in a nearby barn we drove down the 200-yard-long turn-out pens with Thunder as our escort and watched all the puppies run and barking before us. I'd never seen anything like that before.

Along the far end of the farm was a turn-out pen with rows of small trees. In this pen were more puppies hiding and playing. They came out to see us as we approached.

They are very curious to see new people, and lots of them were eager to play with us. Gary makes sure that his dogs are well-socialized: he has people stop by to play with his pups.

One of the highlights was spending time at one of the puppy barns. We got to play with a litter of puppies there.

We could have spent so much more time there.

Finally, we went into the pen where there were older pups (but slightly younger than Bean). Aimée was quickly mobbed by one of the pups:

Oh of the black pups has me in its sights:

I've heard it claimed that racing greyhound puppies don't know how to play with -- or don't get to play with -- toys. Really?

When you can get ahold of one, a puppy goes all limp.

Reluctantly we left the puppies so they could go back and play. Lastly we went inside a barn where the brood mamas were:

And we watched Gary's farmhand prepare the afternoon meal for all the dogs. I was impressed at how clean and immaculate the rooms in all of the buildings were. Gary is proud of how well he maintains his property and how he cares for all of his dogs -- and rightly so.

We bid a reluctant farewell to the farm and headed north under rainy skies to Minnesota for our introduction to our puppy Bean. Pictures of that will be in the next post (which I swear won't take as long to write as this one).