Your pet in pictures!

It’s that time of year when the days start getting shorter, nights longer, and the hounds are restless. My greyhound Laura LOVES the chance to stretch her legs and visit with other greyhounds (and LOTS of people). Sometimes she even helps me find other pets to photograph!

As a pet owner (and pet photographer), I know that many people want their pets to be included in the yearly family photo. But sometimes it can be pretty stressful. I’m not excluded in this… our Maine coon cat Olivia tolerates Laura, but certainly doesn’t like her. In fact, Laura is bigger and heavier than Olivia, yet the cat rules supreme.Which, as you probably can tell, makes getting a “family” photo extremely hard.

That’s why when you’re planning that family picture, you should consider including the fur kids. My family, in fact, expects that the pets will be in the photo card.

Here are some easy ways to include pets in your holiday cards:

  • Go to a photographer who specializes in pets and ask them to do a session just about the pet(s). Green Acres Kennel Shop will be hosting me on Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for holiday pet portraits. This has become an annual event that benefits the Furry Friends Food Bank… a pet food pantry that helps keep pets and their seniors (or owner with a disability) together. Check them out at Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s website!

  • Be on the lookout for other events:Your local pet store might also host an event for photos with Santa. But before you bring Fido to a Santa photo event, ensure that he’s not going to be afraid of the Jolly old Saint. A freaked out dog or cat will not have a good time with photographs.I heard through Facebook that Walkin’ the Dog in Bar Harbor is having a photo day with Santa on December 3 from 10:30 to 2:30 p.m. Proceeds go to the MDI Pet Food Pantry and The Ark Animal Shelter.

  • Ask your photographer to include the family pets in your photo session. Photographers with experience with pets are the best ones to do family portraits. Always ask if they have experience with dogs (or cats… or horses… or rats) before booking the session. Some photographers love to include pets and some can do it, but it’s not a specialty.  Your photographer should be aware of how animals interact and be willing to be patient. Sometimes it can take some time to get the right mix of people expressions and pet expressions. And you don’t want to stress out the pet too.

  • Know when enough is enough. Kids and pets both have different tolerances for photography. For do-it-yourself family and pet photographs, watch your dog’s body language. A great resource for some basics on body language can be found at the ASPCA’s Virtual pet Behaviorist page (Find it here). Don’t push it if your dog or cat are giving you signals that they’re done. That “one last shot” isn’t worth it.

  • Make it a multiple picture photo card. Can’t seem to get everyone together (and happy)? Consider doing a holiday card with multiple pictures! You can have your regular family photo plus cute pictures of your pets. Everyone wins!

Whatever you choose to do for your holiday family photos, don’t leave the pets out. They’re family too!

Happy Howl-idays to you!