Great dog photos


how to take great dog photos
Audrey Mead’s dog photos literally save lives.

As a volunteer with the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in Tempe, Audrey takes photos of dogs that appear on pet-adoption websites and social media channels. She knows a good photo can make all the difference in getting that dog a good home.

“I try to take photos that capture their souls,’’ she says. “And I think it is all in their eyes.’’

how to take great dog photos

It’s tough being a shelter dog

It’s not easy taking photos of dogs who find themselves at the pound, a noisy and sad place for both human and hound. “Good’’ dogs become fearful and aggressive after having their lives upended.  Some dogs slink around their chain-link door to see if whoever dropped them off is coming back; while, others bark so much their scared sounds echo off the grey concrete walls.

Despite the at-times heartbreaking setting, Audrey still gets photos that allow individual dog’s goodness to shine through.

So, if she can get great photos of these dogs in these conditions – her photo-taking tips should really help you out.

shelter dog

Tips for great photos

Her secret to getting a good photo?

Patience and the willingness to try, try again, she says. Audrey comes to the Tempe shelter up to  five days a week. Sometimes, she has to take 20 photos to get one good shot, especially of the scared dogs.

A couple more tips on how to take the best dog photos:

  • Shoot outside if possible: Natural light works the best. Also, if the dogs can get out of their pens, they can act well, more like dogs by running, sniffing and looking around. The more relaxed the dog, the better the shot.
  • Get their attention: Audrey makes kissing sounds or uses a dog whistle to get a pooch’s attention. When a dog hears a noise, his ears pop forward and that’s when she gets the shot. At that point, the dog is just being a dog – not some scared pound resident.
  • Use what you have: Audrey comes to shelter loaded with three cameras, yet it’s her camera phone on her Samsung Galaxy that does the bulk of the work.
  • Be aware of surroundings: Audrey goes to great lengths to make sure her dogs aren’t framed with chain link in the photo. Chain link can make some viewers wonder if there is a reason why the dog is behind a fence.

Beware burnout

Audrey also has some great advice about avoiding compassion burn out, which can easily happen in a shelter where the need is so overwhelming. Just walking into the pound rips some people’s heart out, but Audrey is comforted knowing that she is using her expertise to help. It’s that knowledge that keeps her coming back to shoot even more photos.

“I’m really just trying to save some lives’’

Where Audrey’s photos can be found

Adopt a shelter dog


Halloween in Phoenix for dogs
Artie the Beagle and I have a pact: We don’t tell each other what to wear. That being said, I am bummed that there is no dog in costume running around the house this Halloween. But Artie chooses nakedness over costume every single time.

Halloween is my favorite. The holiday happens just as the Phoenix weather has chilled somewhat. It involves no gift giving and it provides a chance to let your secret self shine through, whether you are a closet gore-master or wanna-be fairy princess. It’s just your chance to be someone completely different for at least a night.

Maybe we get Halloween costumes for our dogs’ so we can see their other personalities come out to play. Costume stores say their sales of dog costumes are doubling every year. Hmmm, which came first – the incredibly cute costumes or the demand for incredibly cute dog costumes – hard to say. But there are some great ones out there:

dogs enjoying Halloween in Phoenix hall-3


halloween for dogs in phoenix


I especially love this one. It’s a nice take on Artie’s relationship with the neighborhood’s UPS driver.

Halloween Dog Costume Contests/Events

And where to go once you have selected the perfect costume. The metro Phoenix weather is perfect now for nighttime events. Here’s a list of terrific Halloween spots for you and the dog that offer canines costume contests and prizes for their humans:

TV dog

artie on Ch. 12 AZ Midday show
So, Channel 12 called and invited me to be on their AZ Midday Show to talk about where to take the dog in Phoenix. “Could I bring Artie the Beagle?’’, I asked. “Bring her on down,’’ they said.

Thank goodness that I did.

Look — we are on TV! Video

The extraordinarily friendly Midday staff put us in front of a bar and had little Artie sit on top of a bar stool. “How long while she actually sit there?.’’ I wondered.

She was perfect. During the interview on dog-friendly Phoenix, she looked adoringly at me and thoughtfully at the hosts, Destry Jetton and Jan D’Atri.

And she let me pet her to death as I got through the interview. Sweaty palms and all.

Whew. It was over. Artie was down off the stool and nosing around the set, when I heard a yell across the area. “Artie!’’. It was Melissa Gable, Maricopa County’s crack PIO for Animal Care and Control.

Artie is famous (infamous?)

How does Melissa Gable know my dog?

Turns out Melissa knew Artie from the pound. I adopted Artie from Arizona Beagle Rescue but apparently before that, she was at the county pound. Melissa saw her there and had her on television in hopes that someone would adopt her. She even had a glam photo of made of her. Who knew? Artie had some showbiz experience.

Apparently, Artie’s TV debut didn’t pan out so well. And I ended up with her. To this day, I am still amazed that someone as loyal and loving as Artie was ditched at the pound. Some people.

So, the morale of the story? You never know what kind of dog you find at rescues. One may just be a born TV star.

Artie on TV Channel 12

Election cure?

elections and dogs tshirt

t-shirt available here

Can a dog help you deal with this year’s beyond-insane election?

This weekend I reached an end point with politics. Of course, I will vote. I picked my presidential candidate  awhile ago and shared my decision with anyone who asked. My friends, family and colleagues have already decided as well. And there’s no budging them either way.

So instead of watching last night’s “presidential” Town Hall, I walked the dog. I recommend it heartily. It provided the mental-health break I needed and it gave me a chance to avoid any more political discussions.

Don’t have a dog? Or have one that is not that jazzed about a stroll? How about volunteering to walk one?

It may be a little naïve, but what would happen if instead of reading one more political (and perhaps totally inaccurate) Facebook posting or listening to one more infuriating video clip, we all just did something for someone else. Helping a dog seems like a good starting point. So, instead of reading the Town Hall reviews, I just went ahead and saved you the time of Googling to find out which animal shelters need volunteers.

Here’s a lovely list of metro Phoenix shelters in need of someone to walk a dog or socialize with animals:


Election three weeks away

I’m not advocating burying your head in the sand and ignoring all election-related news. What I am suggesting is that if you are feeling overwrought about it all, just take an hour out of your day and step away from the computers and phones. The news will be waiting for you when you get back and in the meantime, you have made a puppy pretty happy.

The dog, by the way, seconds the motion.






Pumpkin-mania for dogs

dogs love pumpkin
This Fall, remember your dog loves pumpkin, too.

We’ve turned off the AC and opened the doors and windows, so that means its Fall in Phoenix. Hurray! The season only lasts for a few days here – so enjoy every minute of it.

Fall in Phoenix doesn’t involve any changing leaves. In fact, the only color we see a lot of is orange as in pumpkin as in pumpkin that everyone from coffee shops to grocery stores to soap makers are pitching this time of the year.

Your dog can get in on the pumpkin-mania, too.

Pumpkin and your dog’s health

Raw pumpkin is not great for dogs – so keep Fido away from the Jack-o-laterns!

But cooked, canned, unsweetened pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can help dogs with everything from weight loss to improved digestion. Ask your veterinarian first about any plans to make pumpkin a regular addition to your dog’s diet.

  • Regular Digestion: If your dog’s stools are either too loose or too hard, try adding one or two tablespoons of plain pumpkin.
  • Weight Loss: Mix some soaked dry kibble with a tablespoon of canned pumpkin. Pumpkin’s extra fiber boost lets your dog’s tummy think it is full faster.
  • Skin and Coat: Pumpkin seeds can help keep your dog’s skin and fur from drying out – especially nice with the area’s lower humidity.

Pumpkin treats for your dog

Here are three nifty ways to use this fall favorite as a treat for the dog:

  • Recipes: (No-bake peanut butter pumpkin rolls sounds pretty delish)
  • Pumpkin seeds: Spread raw, cleaned seeds evenly onto a baking sheet, lightly coat with cooking oil, roast in a 375-degree oven for five to 10 minutes, and cool. One or two seeds makes a great dog treat.
  • Frozen treats: The typical can of well, canned, pumpkin, is 15 ounces, which means you will have left over pumpkin at the end of the week. Instead of tossing the leftovers, freeze them in ice cube tray. Crush up the ice cube before serving or defrost it to serve over kibble.

Hope you and your pumpkin (s) have a great Fall!

Emergency prep and your dog

emergency dog sticker in window

We all know bad things can happen fast.

Phoenix is far away from Tornado Alley but we aren’t immune from floods, fires and other emergencies. Electric outage anyone?

September is the month dedicated for Emergency Preparedness and it is a good time to figure out what to do with your dog in an emergency. Here’s some tips:

Get a rescue alert sticker

This easy-to-use sticker will let firefighters, paramedics know that pets are inside your home. Get your stickers here. Or here. (Or the next time you see me, ask. I have some!)

Figure out your dog’s safe haven before an emergency

Everyday emergencies — medical crises — happen, too. Before anything happens, figure out who you can trust with your housekey and your dog. Make sure this person knows your dog’s feeding and medication times and habits incase you aren’t able to make it home. Other dog emergency-preparedness tips:

  • If you use a pet-sitting service, find out if they can help in case of an emergency.
  • Contact hotels and motels outside your area to find out if they accept dogs. Ask about any restrictions on number or size and if they would change policies in case of an emergency. This is a really handy list to have if the power or the AC goes out.
  • Ask friends or relatives outside your neighborhood if they would shelter you and your pets—or just your pets—if necessary.
  • Call ahead to see if emergency shelters will take your dog. The American Red Cross, for example, doesn’t take pets, except for service animals.

Prepare dog emergency supplies and traveling kits

  • Keep your dog’s essential supplies in sturdy containers that can be carried (a duffle bag or covered trash containers, for example). Checklist of pet emergency-preparedness kit.
  •  Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information. Your dog’s ID tag should contain her name, telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to also write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.
  • Get your dog microchipped.

If you evacuate, take the dog.

Rule number one: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. Dogs left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.

Stay safe everyone!


Dog Park Season

scottsdale dog park

Phoenix weather, especially at night and in the mornings, appears to be cooling off so now is a great time to introduce (or re-introduce) your dog to the neighborhood dog park.

These dog parks provide a great way for dogs to meet other dogs and people and well, frankly, for people to meet other people.

Here’s a list of metro Phoenix dog parks. If you know of any others, please let us know. We are trying to update our list!

Also dog parks allow our little friends to get some physical and mental exercise. That running around makes them less likely to destroy the house.

But — and there is always a but — there’s always a chance of your dog getting in fights or picking up strange parasites and diseases as a result of going to the park.

Our friend Abby Quillen has come up with some terrific tips on dog-park etiquette. She covers getting your dog dog-park ready, health hazards, behavior and general do’s and don’ts at the park.

Important reminder for all Phoenix peeps and dogs! Bring water — just in case. The weather hasn’t cooled off that much. And you never can be sure about the quantity and quality of water at any park

Check out Abby’s nifty, visual dog-park primer:



Frozen dog treats so delish

Next week, summer returns to Phoenix with a predicted 106-degree boom. Why not plan ahead and whip up some frozen dog treats (and maybe some for yourself)?

Here are some yummy, easy DIY recipes for you and your little buddy, they range from one ingredient nibbles to complicated (ok, three-item) delish treats.

frozen dog treats
Very simple treats

  • Frozen green beans, sweet potatoes (both great sources of fiber for Fidos)
  • Frozen pieces of fruit
  • Frozen chicken bouillon cubes (use low-sodium bouillon if possible)

frozen dog treats
Frozen watermelon treats

Watermelon is a good source of Vitamins C and A, potassium and magnesium for dogs. But canines can’t handle the seeds or rinds.


  • 2 cups of  watermelon (seedless, or if not, then remove the seeds)
  • 1 cup coconut milk or coconut water
  • 1/4 cup honey (optional)


Put all three ingredients in a blender and puree. Pour the liquid into some ice cube trays and freeze.

sanka enjoying frozen treat

Frozen Yogurt Dog Treats Recipe

Makes 30-40 Cubes


  • 4 cups yogurt, plain
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed


  1. Melt peanut butter in microwave for about 30 seconds
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a blender, mixer or food processor and mix well (until smooth)
  3. Pour into ice cube trays or Popsicle trays.
  4. Freeze until firm.
  5. Pop out of the tray (you’ll need a knife) and let your dog enjoy this frozen treat!

Let us know how these work for you or if you have any frozen treats you love to give to your dog. Want to go out for some treats – we have you covered.

Enjoy and stay cool!

Monsoons and your dog

dogs and arizona monsoons
The National Weather Service is predicting storms through Friday for Phoenix but of course, Dog Radar has already given you the heads up about this week’s monsoons.

Dogs can sense a storm better than a child can sense an ice-cream truck coming.

Why dogs can sense a monsoon

With their keen ears, dogs hear at much higher and lower frequencies than we do, so they can hear a faraway rumble of thunder. And their noses can detect the smell of lightning ionizing the air. Dogs are also super attuned to changes in barometric pressure, which indicate a storm is near.

So, your dog has street cred when it comes to weather prediction.

But what to do about a dog who freaks out at storms? It all focuses on keeping the dog safe and feeling safe during the storm.

Offer the dog a safe place from the storm

If you know a storm is a’brewing, take your pooch out to potty before the storm. That way you can have them safely corralled in the house before the first thunder clap hits.

Providing a secure space like a crate or a dark room can ease their anxiety. Covering a wire crate with a quilt will muffle thunder and lessen flashes of lightning. Also, drag out that old, noisy fan which can provide some additional white noise for the dog

Dogs also pick up fear from their people, so stay cool. Let your buddy stay close and try to distract him with play or treats. Do not use sympathetic voice – this can sound like praise and may increase his nervousness and confusion.

Or consider de-sensitizing poochie by recording the storm sounds and then playing it back once the storm has passed. Keep the volume real low at first and play it back during low-key times like when you are cooking dinner. Gradually increase the volume over time.

Some people opt for a step further and use “thundershirts” that use acupressure to calm the dog by hitting pressure points.

And as last resort, there’s doggie downers. The trick with them is that you have to give the sedative usually about one to two hours before the storm.

And when would that be? Ask the dog — he’s the weather guy!


Ice Cream for Dogs?

Hey, dogs and their peeps: What’s better on a hot summer night than to go out for ice cream?

We’ve got three great places in metro Phoenix that offer something extra special for the dogs in your life.

dog in car ready to find ice cream in phoenix
But first a warning from the Surgeon General (doggie version): Ice cream can cause trouble for some dogs’ tummies. They can’t tolerate the lactose and just like humans, the sugar is not good for them.

So ice cream should be a rare goodie.

Nonetheless, these three local businesses have whipped up some special frozen treats for our four-legged friends. Take a look:

Disclaimer: The Beagle went with me to all three places. She loved devoured every single item. Beagles are like that – your dog may not love them as much. But I doubt it.

dog enjoying frozen treat hot summer night in tempe

Aloha Yogurt, Tempe

What they have: Talk about going all out. The yogurt shop’s owners have dogs and wanted to create some cool creamy treats for them. Think yogurt with peanut butter or yogurt with bacon and cheese.  Served in a cup.

What we also love: Aloha is in a cute little shopping area where you can easily walk around and let the dog enjoy a post-treat stroll.

dog enjoying frozen treat in central Phoenix

Az Pops, Central Phoenix

What they have: Pup pops! A nutritious combination of sweet potato and oatmeal whipped up into a frozen treat.  Served on a stick

What we also love: AZ Pops’ Pup Pops aren’t dairy based and have all natural ingredients. And you can get something tasty and nutritious for yourself while you are there.

dog enjoying frozen treat glendale kinda ice cream

Papa Ed’s Ice Cream, Glendale

What they have: Frosty Paws! Delicious in a cup – the original dog “ice cream”

What we also love: Papa Ed’s has a large grassy area out front where your dog can just attack the ice cream in a cup. It’s also in the middle of downtown Glendale’s cute antiques area so there is plenty of places to walk to. Bonus: Papa Ed’s helps put on Dog Days of Glendale every year so they are super-dog friendly!

Still not interested in taking the dog for a drive? Worried about the intestinal repercussions of your dog having ice cream? Don’t worry because….

Next week: Three yummy dog treats designed to cool off your dog!