5-day dog photo challenge

Forest Poodles challenged me to a 5-day dog photo challenge, and I accepted, deciding to challenge myself to get a few more pics of my pups using a nice DSLR camera, instead of relying on my phone. Since things are slow at work this time of year, I’ve hardly used my good camera at all for what feels like months.

Here are the highlights.

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Goldilocks and two other bears

Not dog-related, but I saw Grizzly Bears!

Rocky and Coco, Atnarko River, Oct. 2015

I first learned of grizzly bear rafting tours a year ago when I drove through Bella Coola, British Columbia, with my mom, but it was July and the bears weren’t out yet. Rob and I returned for a one-day whirlwind trip with one goal: to see grizzly bears.

It’s possible to get there by ferry, but it takes about 20 hours along the inside passage from Port Hardy, B.C., (and first you have to get there). Rob and I flew one hour on a small Pacific Coastal plane from the Vancouver Airport and were met by a staff member from the Bella Coola Mountain Lodge, which also operates the bear tours. Fraser Koroluk and his wife, both biologists, own the lodge and Fraser is the bear guide.

Arriving on the banks of the Atnarko, we were hit with the pungent smell of rotting salmon carcasses; familiar to me, less so to Rob. Fraser paddled us and four others down the Atnarko. Pink salmon were still spawning, and we saw the occasional chinook under our raft as well.

The most bears they’ve seen on a tour is 20, and that was last summer. Sometimes, they don’t see any. About 10 minutes into our tour, just as I thought we might be one of the unlucky groups not to see any bears, there she was, standing on a log. I felt like everyone on the raft saw her at the same time, but Fraser was concentrating on paddling, so my breathless, “Bear,” alerted him.



He’s been calling her Goldilocks, because of some light brown coloring near her face. A single female, Goldilocks likely had mated with a few boars over the summer, and was now eating as much salmon as possible to get fat enough to survive pregnancy, birthing cubs and nursing them during hibernation. Egg implantation in female bears is delayed, so if they don’t gain enough weight, they won’t get pregnant.

Since the lodge has been doing these tours for about 14 years, the bears are tolerant of rafts of people floating by, and Fraser is careful to keep a respectful distance.

After watching Goldi devour several whole salmon carcasses and wander back into the woods, we continued downriver where we found Coco and her two-year-old cub Rocky on a gravel bar. Other tour groups have witnessed lively wrestling matches between mother and son (which is how Rocky got his name), but they were moving a little slower on this day.

Coco and Rocky


Rocky log

Even though Coco won’t have more cubs until Rocky is grown and on his own, they also have to eat as much salmon as possible before hibernation – this gorging phase is called hyperphagia. While Coco swam between gravel bars looking for salmon, Fraser observed that Rocky seemed a little bored.

In addition to my utter joy at watching grizzly bears in their natural environment, I really appreciated Fraser’s expertise about grizzly bear life cycles, and these bears in particular. It was also another reminder of the importance of healthy salmon populations.

Monday Mischief

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The girl with the Isis tattoo, part 3

In Part 1, I said I had no plans to get a tattoo.
In Part 2, I said I’d never do it again.
(In between I explained why I changed my mind the first time.)

All I can say now is that I’ve grown to admire the artistry of tattoos. And I wanted more than her name. I wanted her face with me forever.

With huge thanks to The Sara Kay at Laughing Buddha.

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How to respond to a stolen photo on the internet

While scrolling through Instagram this morning, I discovered a 2007 picture of my very own baby girl, Isis, three and a half months old, with a soccer ball in her mouth. Normally I would be thrilled that The German Shepherd World reposted my photo, since that’s entirely what the feed does. Except…  I’ve never shared this picture on Instagram, and it was credited it to someone else who has a private Instagram account.

I stared at the photo on my phone, sure it was my photo of my dog, but had this iota of doubt. Like, could it be someone else’s dog in the snow with a ball in her mouth? Wearing a pink collar like hers, with what seems to be a small black tag like hers, and bushes in the background that resemble mine? When I got to work, I found the original, and tracked down a couple of blog posts where I had shared it, and asked The German Shepherd World to correct the credit in their post (and make it up to me by telling their 42,800 followers about my book, which all German shepherd people should read).

I haven’t heard back yet, but in the meantime, in the spirit of this unwitting Internet Sensation, I doctored my own photo.


Because creating a silly meme is the only defensible reason to steal someone else’s photo.

UPDATE 10/21: The German Shepherd World has corrected the photo credit on Instagram. The woman who was originally credited tells me her 10-year-old daughter sent the photo in, with proper attribution, and didn’t mean to take credit. Which doesn’t explain where she found the photo or why she’s sending other people’s photos to a third party.

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The Dog Knight Rises

Last weekend I fulfilled a longtime dream… I dressed Leo in a Batman costume. I was inspired by Super Cooper’s Instagram page. The costume from Petsmart is a 2XL and it’s a little snug. Maybe after a couple of photoshoots, I’ll cut off the cape for Leo to wear separately and sew the Bat symbol from the front onto his ThunderCap.

We took the Caped Crusader (and his sister, who doesn’t care for costumes) to the Dog Days of Summer event to raise money for the Whatcom Humane Society. He impressed us by jumping in the bobbing-for-tennis-ball tank. But then he had trouble getting out. Kind of an embarrassing moment for the Dark Knight.

If you’re wondering about the sticker on Leo’s head, it’s a “fifth paw” bindi from Tails-a-Wagging. They give them out every year and give a prize weeks later to the dog who keeps it on the longest. Both our dogs’ bindis fell off by this morning.

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