Welcome Hairy!

To the safest place on the internet for the dog obsessed!

I run a group over on Facebook called The Pawtrait Pack. It’s full of dog mad hoomans who think their Pack is the best thing since sliced bread and do you know what? they’d be right! All dogs are good bois and girls!

Well it occurred to me that I know a heck load of puppers, and I know a heck load of people who are pawrents. And in both those things is a wealth of information! So I decided to start interviewing (just for fun) some of the Pack members on a range of different topics.

For the first in this series I spoke with Karen from Sparrow Therapy who is mum to Captain, Nova and Luna Moons. Heck Karen, save some doggos for the rest of us please! Anyway, without further adieu…

Can we hear a little bit about you and your Pack?

Let me introduce you to my pack. We live in the Laois countryside, where we are lucky to have plenty of space for doggos.

Captain 4, the calm alpha.

Description: A special guy, bear, floofer
Loves: Destroying all toys, and drives
Demands: Dinner be served at 5.30pm sharp or windows will be banged.
Party Piece: High 5’s

Nova 2, the lovable goofball

Description: Bouncy, mountain goat, good girl
Loves: Cuddles. (Both hands) days out
Demands: Cuddles. (BOTH HANDS)
Party Piece: A strong paw shake

Luna Moons 5, the tortured hipster

Description: Moody, creative genius
Loves: A routine, swimming, her human, her robe, toys
Demands: Snacks, and no less than 5 star treatment at all times. And to know exactly where her human is at all times.
Party Piece: She is the party.
And then there’s me, Karen, the human of the pack, I own a mental health clinic and I am a trained animal assisted therapist but my life and contentment surrounds around my pack. My pack really are my best friends and I love seeing everyone else’s pack in our Facebook group and sharing mine too.

Have you always enjoyed taking pictures of your dogs?

I have. I remember asking for a camera for Christmas when I was very young and having an interest in photography while other people my age took photos of friends, I was more focused on the dogs and outdoors. I remember the impatience of waiting for the photos to be developed (remember that).
(Karen is talking about when we had to develop actual rolls of film to get our photographs, for you youngsters that may not know! Digital wasn’t always around)
Dogs were my first models and they continue to be my favourite models. I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t take a photo of my pack. 

What do you use the most to take photographs, or does it matter what you have to hand?

I use my phone mostly. I have an iPhone but I rarely use the portrait mode as I feel it sometimes ruins the quality and needs a very still doggo. I also use Snapchat camera a lot, it’s zoomed in a small bit and gives a different look. I also have my Nikon DSLR camera and a number of different lenses. If I want a movement shot I press and hold for continuous shots on my phone and I pick the best one.

Your photographs are so natural and it really seems like you just capture your Pack life, do you pose your dogs at all?

Thank you! I am lucky that I have dogs filled to the brim with personality. I love candid photos, so I guess I subconsciously photograph my dogs like that. My pack doesn’t like posing at all, they see it as a game and get excited. (Believe it or not, my dogs won’t do stay..I’ve tried many times) So I Usually capture what they are doing at the time (which is why most of Luna’s photos are her sleeping).

If I want their attention for a particular photo I hold a squeaker (that captain will have ripped out of a toy I keep a bunch of them) in my hand and move it around to move their head position but that will usually only last for 30 seconds before they get bored of me.


Do you have a favorite spot where you like to take photographs of them?

Wherever the doggos are comfortable that has good light. I don’t usually bring them to a certain place to get a photo, unless on a day trip. 

I’ve seen a good few pics taken inside, especially given our current situation! Do you have any tips for the Pack for taking pictures inside?

My photos are usually in the same place in the house; this is because it’s the only place with good light. Especially with black dogs, I find it can be difficult to photograph them indoors and get their cute expressions. I find the afternoon is the best light. My tips would be:

1. Make use of lots of natural light.

2. If you want to take a photo of your dog at night in the house, I usually edit it to black and white gives it a nicer finish and takes away the grainy look.

3. Make sure it’s a place the dogs are comfortable in and won’t want to leave immediately.


Do you change any settings on your phone or camera to help you capture your fab shots or do you just leave that stuff alone? 

On my DSLR yes I am constantly changing settings I am not the best at it but I am learning and rarely edit afterward but with my phone, I usually use the regular photo mode.

Your pics have this gorgeous warmth to them which I love. Do you edit your photographs after in a program or app?

I rarely edit my photos off my DSLR if I do it’s on Adobe. But I always edit my phone photos mostly changing brightness, highlights, black point and contrast using the iPhone photo edit.

I never use preset filters I think it’s better to mess around with the settings yourself and see what you like best. I often crop photos And to give a nice perspective with phone photos I sometimes blur/distort the background in Facetune app.


I know my two hate when I take out any type of camera these days, are yours the same?

I think because I capture them just doing their thing they don’t really notice me. Nova will sometimes walk out of the room so I take the hint and leave her be. Luna used to be terrified by my DSLR (I don’t blame her I run from the camera also) but I reward trained all the dogs (verbal reward “YES”) so now if Luna sees the camera she actually runs to it for a reward. I even have to pretend to take her picture sometimes. 

Any advice for a frustrated pet owner out there struggling to get their pack to cooperate?

1. Remember why you want that photo. You want to capture a memory of your best fur friend. It’s better to have a less than perfect photo with an amazing memory attached than a perfect photo with a memory of being frustrated at them for not posing.

2. Reward them during photos so they will start to enjoy it.

3. Shoot for a few minutes only. You can stop for a while and come back to it later if they are getting bored.

4. Move slowly and calmly (pretend you’re a wildlife photographer, think David Attenborough)

5. Have fun with it!

What’s your favourite photograph you’ve taken and why?

What a difficult question! Ok, I will go with my favorite photo from today. To cool herself down Nova rubs her head on the tiles to cool down and starts to snort. It’s really hard to capture her doing it but I got it today. I love it because It shows her goofy side.


What’s your least favorite photograph you’ve taken and why?

(I know, I know…there’s no bad photos of doggos but I was curious!)

I looked through so many photos and I couldn’t find one that I wasn’t fond of even the ones with dopey faces and closed eyes I usually love them. But Luna was very unhappy with this very unflattering angle. The camera really does add 10 pounds. Angles matter even with doggos!

Thank you so much to the Pack for the companionship, howls and virtual nose boops especially during this time. 
Keep on woofing Packs. 
Moons, Nova, Captain and Karen 

Until next time, stay home, stay safe, stay hairy!



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