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Pet Photography - Moments To Treasure

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 10, 2018

This is a story about love in all it’s many forms; the binding connections between people and their pets and how children learn about life through their relationships with them.

The first chapter is of a self-effacing mother and grandmother offering her pet photography gift voucher to her daughter and her family to be photographed with their variety of pets. I decided to extend the voucher to include everyone and every pet, including Val’s cat Leo.

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Val thought that because of her advancing age Bella, the smaller and feistier of her daughter’s two dogs, may be the first beloved pet to cross the Rainbow Bridge so her desire was for me to capture some great images to honour her.

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Bella, a cream-coloured Labradoodle, came into Amanda and Matt’s lives fourteen years ago when Amanda was expecting their first child. As a young pup she would snuggle up to Amanda’s pregnant tummy and it seemed that right from those early moments she and Spencer formed an inseparable bond. Even now she is always by his side.

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Betty, the black Labrador-Boxer cross, joined the family 6 years later. She immediately became attached to Bella, followed her faithfully and was very protective of her. Bella liked being the top dog and was not averse to leading her playmate astray.

These two dogs are able to roam off-lead on their Queensland hinterland property, but not with each other. If both were untethered at the same time or found the door ajar at night they would embark on adventures to explore the undergrowth of the surrounding bushland. With all the enticing new scents to follow it was surely great fun when they set off from their rural sanctuary but alarming for them and their human companions when they became lost for several days on end and were unable to find their way back to the safety of their home. 

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Spooky and Molly are the two cats in the family.


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Impressively Olley, the younger son, bought Molly with his pocket money from the RSPCA 2 years ago. Aware that she was an old cat and probably wouldn’t live much longer he decided he could give her a loving home for the remainder of her life. She doesn’t often venture outside but loves his company and sleeps curled up on his bed with him every night.


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Spencer is more drawn to his nine chickens and is pictured here with Jet. Not only are they his pets but also an income earner as he sells their free range eggs to the teachers at his school. Pets with benefits you might say.

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Unexpectedly Betty recently became ill and passed away. Bella is a little lost without her canine companion and, as you might expect, searches every nook and cranny trying to find her. I am so glad I was able to photograph this dearly loved dog with her family snuggling into her and showering her with their love.


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Ball Obsessed Dog Photographed in Melbourne

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, December 16, 2016

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These days, most people with pets have hundreds of photos of them on their phones. So when I ask if I can see what their pet looks like they can readily find some cute shots of their adorable furry friends to illustrate all the amusing and endearing little things that they do.


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However, this was not the case when I first met Melissa. She said her dog, Rupert, was camera shy and really hard to photograph  and she could only find one photo of him to show me. She had plenty of her family’s other dog, Spencer, who enjoys posing for the camera.

So, when I met up with Melissa and her brother Michael to photograph them with their family dog I was expecting to be challenged. Happily that did not prove to be the case and I ended up with so many great shots of this wonderful little character that it was hard to know what to share on my blog.

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Part Pomeranian, part Terrier, Rupert is an affectionate character who loves interaction and planting kisses on Melissa's face. He presents himself as a beautiful golden-red ball of fluff who mostly wears a happy, smiling face. I saw him only briefly with a serious expression and weirdly it made him look like a completely different dog; in fact almost like a fox. However, every single time I look at his serious face I feel affection for him which in turn makes me have a little smile.


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Rupert is, however, not at all fond of other dogs and likes to loudly stand his ground when one comes into view. Photographing in the inner city streets of Melbourne therefore had the potential of a dog-to-dog confrontation and a very stressed subject. I scouted for locations carefully in the hope of avoiding canine conflict but there were occasions when we had to block Rupert’s view of passers by.


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Rupert’s attention is easily focussed when there is a ball in play. He will jump extremely high to catch one and I was fascinated by how accurate he was at the task. Very athletic and impressively steady when standing upright on his hind legs.


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As these photos show, Rupert turned out to be the quite the model dog and I really enjoyed my outing with him.


Melissa and Michael now have a wonderful collection of images that show that when the attention is all on him, Rupert can rise to the occasion and be the star. 


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Bulldog Fans Shot by Pet Shots Photography

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 05, 2016

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With the exciting win by the Western Bulldogs in the AFL Grand Final this year it seemed only appropriate to photograph a Bulldog to celebrate the momentous occasion. 


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So it was that this Australian x English Bulldog, donned the club colours and posed perfectly as a loyal and excited supporter. I could not have asked for a more cooperative and fun canine model.

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Clover Bell enjoyed endlessly chasing a small football up and down the aisles of the grandstand, slobbering copiously all over it as she did so. 


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You can tell by her swollen, extended tongue that this gorgeous girl was enjoying her active outing. The more tongue exposed the greater the ability to keep cool but I did marvel at how such a big muscle would ever fit back inside her mouth when she closed it.


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I waited for the moment when Clover would reward Cal with a full wet slap on the face but she was a true lady with manners and was content to be just held and cuddled by him.

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Read stories about other pets I have photographed.

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Rescued British Bulldog Finds Love

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, June 27, 2016

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Vito is not sure what traumas Snookie suffered in the past but when she came to live with him she was extremely timid and anxious. Taking her into his care has meant devoting himself to improving the life of his adopted British Bulldog.

 


It took a long time for her to feel confident enough to come out of her crate in his presence. Initially she would only venture out of it during the dead of the night to feed from her bowl when she was certain Vito was sound asleep.

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Happily Vito’s perseverance, love and patience has paid off and Snookie can now walk on a lead, meet other people and explore her neighbourhood without being petrified. Understandably she is now very loyal and affectionate with her rescuer and known to plant big sloppy kisses on his cheek. In turn she has taught him responsibility and brought him happiness.

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These two now enjoy daytime outings to their local parks and spend their evenings curled up together on the couch. Domestic bliss for both of them!  

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 Snookie featured in my latest fund raising coffee table book featuring stories and photos of people and their pets. If you would like your pets to star in the fourth edition please register your interest here. I would love to have you on board!

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Rhodesian Ridgeback photographed in Melbourne Parkland

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

All dogs are special but some burrow themselves so deeply into human hearts that they become THE SOURCE OF JOY in their companion’s lives. This is how Dawn regarded Bella.

    

I photographed these two a few years ago now as subjects for my second fund-raising book Connected Tales 2. I recall a fun time in parkland Bella had not previously visited. We were both amazed and amused at how keen her senses were and how she drew our attention to every creature in the undergrowth and the possums sleeping in the trees; critters we would probably have never noticed if left to our own inadequate observations.

Recently Dawn contacted me again. This time it was with the sad news that her beautiful rescued Rhodesian Ridgeback cross had struggled through unbeatable cancer. She wondered if I still had the photos. I suggested that, in honour of Bella, I make her an animated slideshow of her 40 favourite images. Dawn thought that would be a great idea and then wrote me this touching letter of appreciation.


Hi Lesley,

The mail has arrived ..... I just need to tell you that it was a great deal more than I thought it would be. I was expecting one page with one image on it, then scroll forward to the next.

Yes, I have wept and wept ..... so obviously there is more grief inside ... but what you have done for me, I cannot thank you enough for.

I had forgotten some of the placements we had - some of the images of me with her are just so moving and it really and truly captures just exactly what the relationship was that I had with her - even then only having her some 6 weeks or so. The connection only grew stronger - hence the deep void now she's gone.

Yes, it will give me great comfort. Once the tears stop I know I will cherish every single frame and see her personality, her curiosity and interest in everything that was around her that day - and know that was precisely my girl.

I will frame one of the pages you also sent .. I wasn't expecting that either as it is just beautiful.

I've had anticipation all week on this coming and I guess the pressure valve has now been released. I'll put this on my digital frame and play it on the TV later tonight.

I'm really truly overwhelmed at all you have done and so very grateful to you for the suggestion.  This will stay with me, life long.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful that I can have these images. It was a magical day for me.

Dawn x


P.S. I am now taking bookings for my fourth coffee table book. If you would like to feature with your pet please let us know and, like Dawn and Bella did, you can help us raise funds for animal charities.

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Gentle Greyhound Photographed in Melbourne

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, December 07, 2015

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Benny is one lucky dog to have found a home with Jackie and Nigel. They absolutely adore their Greyhound Wolfhound cross and will shortly give him a new life overseas when they relocate to England. I had so much fun photographing at their home and Albert Park Lake ensuring they have some meaningful Melbourne memories to take with them.

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Active when outdoors, Benny is obsessed with his ball and loves nothing more than venturing to one of the many parks near his home where he repeatedly runs after and jumps high in the air to retrieve it. He also loves excursions to the country to visit the horses Jackie rides.

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However, once home, he becomes a bit of a lay-about and when Jackie and Nigel leave him home alone he likes to sneak into the spare room to his favourite resting place on the guest bed. He is not alone all that often though as he spends the working week with a dog sitter who possibly loves him as much as Jackie and Nigel do.


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Benny is very affectionate and gentle and was a joy to photograph because he did everything he was asked to do. I can't imagine why he was ever surrendered for adoption as he is such a delightful companion.


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Country Kelpie moves to Melbourne

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 28, 2015
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Tristan met Cork as a newborn puppy while staying with a friend in country Victoria. He fell for him immediately but was instructed by his urban based parents that he was not to get another dog while living at home with them. You know how it goes: young man gets a dog, young man stays away some nights with friends, young man studies and works and then young man travels or moves overseas leaving the parents to become the care givers, exercisers and providers for the dog. 

Tristan stayed on the farm for a few weeks while on a country assignment. The more time he spent with this dear little Kelpie pup the more their hearts became entwined. 

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Hard to ignore his desire to have Cork permanently in his life, Tristan developed a plan to subtly introduce him to his other family members and took him for a weekend visit to Melbourne. Ingeniously, he did this several times until everyone else had fallen for the puppy too. His plan worked and when Tristan returned to the city full time Cork came with him.


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Cork absolutely adores Tristan and is always wanting to please him. I admire how this young man has invested the necessary time to train his canine companion to be so obedient and well behaved. He looks at Tristan with soulful eyes for guidance and loves riding in the car with him to destinations that always reward with doggie adventures.

Cork was a dream to photograph when he had his “pet portraits” taken as a celebration of his first birthday. Kelpies are so synonymous with this country and I love how Tristan included, with a fashionable twist, other Australian icons such as his Akubra, RM Williams boots and moleskins into their photography session.

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This match has worked out perfectly for both man and his best friend.



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Maltese Shih Tzu Stars in Melbourne Studio

Lesley O'Donnell - Sunday, October 25, 2015

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Meeting Buddy for the first time was tinged with sadness as Kylie had already informed me that he was suffering from mouth cancer and she wasn’t sure how he was going to respond to his treatment. There was an urgency to have photos taken that captured their relationship while he looked happy and well.

What struck me with these two was how close their bond was. Buddy by name and definitely buddies by nature.

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This dear wee Maltese Shih Tzu stayed close to Kylie and, while we chatted about how she wanted simple, interactive photos to remember how close their relationship was, he rested his head comfortably across her knees as if that was the sole purpose of her lap.


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They constantly shared intimate exchanges such as tummy rubs and kisses. As soft as silk, Buddy’s ears were irresistible to Kylie and he adored having them stroked. It was quite possibly his favourite form of affection.

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I think Buddy understood human language because when Kylie spoke to him he would look attentively at her with his nose right up to hers.

Sadly Buddy’s health declined and he crossed the rainbow bridge shortly after these photos were taken.

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Buddy was more than just a dog to Kylie, and indeed her extended family. He was a friend, a cuddle buddy, an exercise partner, a playmate and the perfect foil to life’s stresses. He would always greet Kylie with an enthusiastic welcome when she returned home from work each day. I know she misses him terribly and for the short time I knew him I completely understand why.

His photos will keep him alive in Kylie’s memories forever. RIP Buddy. You brought love and light into your world.

Read stories of other pets I have photographed.

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Cavoodle Archie Poses in Melbourne Photography Studio

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, October 09, 2015

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Archie was a handsome Cavoodle with seductively long eyelashes. His quiet, gentle nature meant he didn’t need to force himself upon you but would happily accept a tummy rub, a back scratch or a fondle of his long, soft ears. He was content to just hang out with you and keep you company.

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He was my friend Leanne’s dog but one for whom I felt a particular affection. I treasure this promotional portrait Leanne took of me with Archie a couple of years ago. 

Sadly, Archie recently departed this world.

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A few years ago, as a personal project, I photographed him in the studio with Leanne’s daughter Emelia.

 

I positioned him ready to take the first photograph and walked back to my camera. When I turned around again I noticed him pulling a very comical expression as he screwed up his nose and raised it in the air. Puzzled, I assumed he must have breathed in something that was irritating him. Then I noticed he was slowly, but determinedly moving towards me. 


With much amusement, I realised that, even though they were firmly sealed in a zip lock bag, he could smell the dog treats I had in my camera bag. He just couldn’t resist the lure of the liver treats so of course I had to indulge him with the tasty tidbits and then bribe him with them during his pet photography session.

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Archie was a placid dog unless he sensed possums had intruded into his backyard. Then his defensive streak would come to the fore as he alerted all around that there was foe to be warded off. He sounded fierce so I doubt that they ever came down out of the trees until he was fast asleep inside.

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RIP dear Archie. You are missed.



Read stories about other pets I have photographed.

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Family Photographed with Their Whippet in Malvern East Park

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 07, 2015

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Isn't this dog a little darling!  Just one look at her and you can see why it didn’t take long for the newest member of this family to win over the hearts of her four human guardians.

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Testimony to that is when I recently photographed Mark, Karen, Katie and Rachel in Hedgeley Dene Gardens, East Malvern. All were happy to be photographed together but they also each wanted their own individual photo with Lily.  

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This dear little Whippet is gentle and cuddly and doesn’t seem to mind which one of them is sharing their affection with her. She realises she is on to a good thing and will happily embrace the attention from any one of them.

Lily definitely distributes much love to those in her new home. She makes everyone in it feel just that little bit happier.




Read stories about other pets I have photographed.


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