Photoshooting dogs

For years I have planned, that every dog of mine will be photo shooted in a studio once in their lives. Even tough I take lots of photos myself, most of them tend to be blurry or otherwise low of quality. They are good photos to Facebook and other social media and of course their sentimental value is high. But as I want to have stylish pictures of my dogs on my living room wall, I need quality photos as well.  Vilma almost missed her studio photo shoot, as she was photoshoot only a few days before she passed away.  With Melee and Ginga I decided to act bit earlier. I contacted the same photographer that had taken photos of Vilma, and luckily he also had moved to Oulu, so scheduling the photo shoot was pretty easy.

The photoshoot took place in a rental studio at Oulunsalo and we had about an hour to take all the photos. I knew very well what kind of images I wanted, so an hour was more than enough for the session. After all, Ginga and Melee are not the most patient dogs when it comes to “stay still” -kind of situations. Ginga thought it was ok to lay on the floor, but sitting was soooooo boring. Melees problem was the whole “don’t move” -concept, she has, after all, a soul of an adventurer.  Both dogs had 2×10 minutes sessions which were themed as “please look happy even tough this is boring”. It was easy to see, that they were bored in the end. As shepherd dogs, they will always do as told, but happy face cannot be forced.

This time it was easy for me to arrange this photoshoot, as the photographer was not new and I knew very  precisely what kind of images I wanted. When I searched photographer for Vilma, the whole process was not so easy.

Ginga, photo: Pekka Hartikainen

When I started searching a photographer, it was important to me, that he/she was used to photoshoot dogs. By this I  mean, that photographer has an idea of what a good dog photo looks like, and how to take photos of dogs of different breeds. Nobody can force the dog to look happy in a photo, so it is good that photographer understands dogs behavior: the dog needs to be able to check the room off-leash beforehand, so it can focus on looking at the owner and pose more relaxed.

Photographing is not cheap either, especially if you have certain needs. When photo shooting Vilma I knew, that these will be the last photos of her, so I wanted to have full-sized digital copies of the images. This happened to be a wish that only a few photographers wanted to fulfill. Some photographers told that they would not share any digital copies, some told that the price for a single digital copy would be 50-60 euros! It is not hard to count that if I wanted to have 10-20 copies, it would cost a small fortune. Some suggested, that I could pay 10-20 euros and have a “Facebook”-photo, which meant a small (400x500px) image with photographers watermark. No thanks. I know photographing is not cheap for anyone as the equipment is expensive, studios are expensive etc. But these prices some requested, are just too high and will definitely drive away customers.  Luckily I was able to find a photographer, that suited perfectly for all of my needs.

Melee, kuva: Pekka Hartikainen

Hiking with dogs at Oulanka

I and Janne had a chance to make a short trip to Kuusamo. At first, the plan was not to take dogs with us, but as we did not manage to find any suitable dog sitter, we decided to take the dogs with us. Most of the time they spent at the local dog daycare, which allowed us, humans, to spend time in the spa and other activities that did not allow dogs (for example The Predator Center).

We had previously talked about going to hike with dogs and mostly we had planned longer routes. However, due to our lack of hiking experience and limited time, we decided to start with a shorter trail, caller Pieni Karhunkierros (Little Bear´s Trail), which is 12 kilometers long trail situated in southern part of Oulanka National Park. Trail started and ended at the village of Juuma, 45 km north of the center of Kuusamo. The differences in altitude and various landforms made the trail bit challenging, but as it is planned to “day trail for everyone” there were some bridges and duckboards that made it fairly easy trail.

Passing a bridge at Pieni Karhunkierros
Passing a bridge at Pieni Karhunkierros

Usually, when walking in a forest, my dogs are always off-leash. But as this was a National Park, dogs must be on a leash all the time. I am not a huge fan of retractable leashes, but I wanted that my dogs could fully enjoy the hike too. I doubted how it would be for us, as my dogs do not usually understand the unit of “5-meter leash”, they only understand “off-leash” and “1-meter leash”. At first, it was quite difficult, as especially Melee wanted to test the limits of her freedom. Luckily she is a quick learner, so she soon stopped trying to rip my arm off. During bridges and steep stairs, she knew to stay close and wait for me as I was so much slower than her. Ginga had no problems either, she was mostly just concerned that everyone stayed together.

Beautiful view at Oulanka
Beautiful view at Oulanka

The facilities along the trail offered a great setting for resting and eating. We stopped once, to drink and warm some sausages at the campfire. This must have been one of the highlights for the dogs, as of course, they also got something to eat.

Melee keeping me warm while waiting food
Melee keeping me warm while waiting for food

Our hike was really a great experience and we already started planning what routes we could possibly choose in the future. Finnish nature sets some limitation, so probably we are going to take our first long hike next summer. We really fell in love with te view in Kuusamo, so it is not impossible that our next route would be the actual Karhunkierros (Bear’s Ring), which is Finland’s most common hiking route and about 80km long.

Kuusamo offers also many other possibilities to view Finnish nature and especially reindeer. They were literally everywhere, in the forest, on the road, sunbathing at the golf course… They really have no understanding of traffic, so while driving you had to be really careful as even tough one reindeer crossed the road, there were no guarantee that that same one would not want to cross the road again with no warning. However, they are super cute and surprisingly small animals. I also learned, that most of the reindeer had collars, which are used for GPS tracking and identify the owner. Collars also help to find a dead reindeer, as they recognize when reindeer has been immobile for a certain period.

Reindeer at the golf course
Reindeer at the golf course comeback

I started writing blog at on autumn 2009 and this site has functioned as my dog-blog ever since more or less actively. Last two years it has been quite a dead place, so instead of continuing the old blog, I decided to start over from blank page. I also decided to start write some of the articles in English, as some of my readers find it difficult to understand Finnish.

This new will continue working as a dog-blog, but probably some articles from my non-dog life (yes, that actually exists) aswell. Also it will function as my WordPress training field.