Doggo Decoder – Tales with Tails

**Fictional Tale**

My tale this week is inspired by the lingo used in the pet world. When I chat with people not obsessed with pet/animals they either crack up or give me a blank look. How many quirky pet words or phrases can you relate to in this fictional story?

Doggo Decoder – Tales with Tails

Max shivered against the chilly sudden downpour. Darn thunder started early today! Even with his thundershirt hugging him securely the poor doggo jumped at the loud booms in the sky. But we have to go on our walkies and keep housetraining on track. No more potty pads for Max! He sniffed all the good places and finally settled on watering the classic fire hydrant. (Pretty sure the irony of that decision was lost on him.)

Back in the warm house Max squirmed under a cursory towel dry. As any full blooded pupper would he jetted off at full speed to race zoomies around the house. Running and leaping in circles, under the table, and over the couch he managed to spread the rain drops evenly throughout the living room.

Sophie nonchalantly observed the undignified chaos from the third floor of her deluxe condo. The tiniest twitch of her tail registered her royal disgust. Have canines no dignity? Obviously the proper response to a wet coat is to stretch out completely and begin a luxurious bristle tongue bath on a clean duvet. Followed up with a spiteful stroll across the dining room table. And finished off with a kitty roca deposit one inch outside of the pristine litter box. Ah well everyone knows that felines are supreme beings so her station in the hierarchy will remain purrfectly undisputed.

One final shake-off starting at Max’s muzzle and spiraling all the way to the tip of his tail feathers causing a fine cloud of mist and Max finally paused. What’s this? A BarkBox has arrived? Glory days! Much barking and bouncing is necessary until the treasure chest is pried open. Cookies and squeakies and kibble and bandanas are showered upon Max every month. Doggos age 7x faster than hoomans so he can celebrate his birthday every month right?

Besides that, who knows where Max lived the first five years of his life? Scooped up off the streets by a friendly animal control officer a year ago his previous life is a mystery. Heck we don’t even know his breed without a Wisdom Panel DNA test. (It doesn’t matter anyway since he’s fluffy so his breed is “Floof” in our minds.)

As part of the animal rescue foster network in town I agreed to care for Max until he found a home. All set up with yummy food, full veterinary exam, and a giant soft bed I loaded Max in my Subaru and brought him to my house temporarily. He earned the “Pawsome Pooch” award in obedience class. He kept a respectful relationship with Sophie. And he eventually got the hang of housetraining.

But after a few weeks I realized I had failed. Foster Failed. Yup, Max wasn’t going anywhere. He had worked his magic and found his furever home as my precious furbaby.

That evening while watching the storm subside we all snuggled on the couch under a paw print blankie. Sophie kneaded biscuits on my right leg with her little pink beans. Max flopped his fuzzy chin on my left leg and snored peacefully. I glanced at the plaque on my wall and contemplated it’s message again “Who Rescued Who?”

****Doggie models are Leo & Martha who live with Kathryn Eccleston. Kathryn is the mom of Ali who founded Animal House Rescue & Grooming. If you live in Colorado consider adopting from Animal House.

Listen to the narrated version on the Tales with Tails podcast Episode 6. Aired November 13, 2018.

Available on Anchor.fmApple Podcasts and your favorite podcast app.


Wildlife Vacation List – Tales with Tails

Wildlife Vacation List – Tales with Tails

Ever watch the movie The Big Year? Owen Wilson & Jack Black & Steve Martin are on a year long world wide competition to see all the birds on their list and win an award.

They may seem obsessed and over the top but I found out that Life Lists are very real and serious for bird enthusiasts. According to Life Lists are “a list of all the bird species they’ve identified with absolute certainty during their whole lifetime of serious birding.” Many Birders craft their entire annual vacations around spying a rare bird for their list.

Yeah really.

As I marvel at the dedication and depth of serious bird watchers I reflected on my own vacation habits. Shockingly I realized that I make a list of critters I’ve seen on every one of my trips! Casually, without forethought or intention I write a list. Maybe in the notes of my phone, in a journal or in a social media recap. And I’ve done it for decades! How have I just noticed this pattern? Who am I? Am I a closet naturalist? Is there a silent scientist lurking behind my camera?

With some reflection I decided that the explanation is quite simple. It’s thrilling. I get a rush when I see an animal in the wild by chance or design. I love to tell the tales of the critters I encounter to eager listeners. Like a “Wish You Were Here” postcard I share photos and stories to transport my friends and family to that moment with me.

Sometimes I have happened upon wildlife by chance. The school of dolphins in Hawaii, bear shockingly close to the trail in Alaska, the brazen wet racoon in Washington. Other times I have specifically sought out the critters. Burrowing owl families in Colorado, Orca pods in the San Juans, and tiny tail dropping lizards in Arizona.

But I can’t tell you all those tales today! You will have to watch the podcast and blog feed for all those tasty treats.

For now I am encouraging you to keep a list of the animals you encounter. You might be as shocked as I when you think back to your travels. Is your favorite story the time you rounded the bend in the trail to be face to face with a moose? Or the time you couldn’t believe your eyes at the number of tadpoles at your favorite fishing hole? Or the time you nearly bumped into a rattler on a bike ride?

Note all your sightings from your neighborhood to far off lands. Fox in your backyard? A bald eagle over the lake? Hummingbirds in the mountains? Or more exotic locals like puffins in Iceland? Blue Footed Booby in the Galapagos Islands? Giraffes in Namibia?

After a while you will have amassed a treasure trove of stories to captivate the room at any function. I have a feeling if you are tuning in to this story that you are like me. And all of your especially fond Tales have Tails.

Listen to the narrated version on the Tales with Tails podcast Episode 5. Aired November 6, 2018.

Available on Anchor.fmApple Podcasts and your favorite podcast app.


Seed, my favorite! – Tales with Tails

Seed, my favorite! – Tales with Tails

In high school my friend, Fancy, had a pair of zebra finches, Cecil and Beanie. When Fancy went out of town Cecil and Beanie came to my house for vacation. Every time she fed them they would immediately fly to their dish as if it were a giant birthday cake. She would narrate their enthusiasm in a squeaky voice “Seed! My Favorite!”

Ever seen a bag of bird food? Blend of millet, flax, grass seed, oat groats and a variety of oils and vitamins. Yum, pour me a bowl!

I loved having having her birds over so much I eventually had a pair of my own. Through high school and my kids younger years we always had a few finches. And all of them went crazy for their simple meal of seeds.

With my kids grown and off on their own a couple years ago I found myself yearning for a pair of “Beepety Beeps” again. After weeks of watching the Larimer Humane Society website I finally hit gold! One warm spring day I carted home 3 finches complete with cage and dishes.

All set up on my kitchen table I vowed to give them the good life. I added branches, toys and bits of paper. Because I love to hear them sing they were named Ingrid, Bruno & Brad after favorite musicians.

(A few months later it became clear that Bruno wanted Ingrid all to herself so Brad when to live with friends and their finches.)

True to their nature Bruno & Ingrid devour their simple seed diet. With a beepeddy beep they dive into their food dish. Wings fluttering, tiny orange legs hopping and beaks foraging excitedly through their breakfast.

I’ve tried supplementing their diet with appropriate fruits, with special pellet food, and a variety of seed mixes. They adamantly prefer their basic seed mix.

Watching them happily dig into the same meal day after day causes me to pause and consider my lifestyle. Am I infinitely grateful for the meals I consume? Does a piece of toast send me a twitter? Would a spray of grapes everyday give me joy?

Ok I do clap my hands, hop around the kitchen and hum a little tune when an especially tasty meal is dished up. What if I performed my happy food dance at every meal?

A simple bowl of cereal every morning, Thanksgiving feasts, meals with friends, popcorn with pups, reheated leftovers and quick snacks on a road trip. From basic to eleboate Bruno and Ingrid remind me every day to relish them all.

How do you celebrate food in your life?

Listen to the narrated version on the Tales with Tails podcast Episode 4. Aired October 30, 2018.

Available on Anchor.fmApple Podcasts and your favorite podcast app.


Fish in Costumes – Tales with Tails

Fish in Costumes – Tales with Tails

With Halloween stealthily creeping up the calendar, pet lovers are enthusiastically joining in on the action. Our pets are our furbabies and they deserve to celebrate holidays too!

In the Northern Colorado Animal Lovers Facebook Group Liana asked, “Do you dress up your pets?”

Images of Corgies appropriately displayed as loaves of Wonder bread, dachshunds as hot dogs complete with mustard and ketchup, kittens as fierce lions, pitbulls with frilly pink tutus, even bearded dragons as adorable vikings filled my imagination.

Alas I do not have a dog or cat in my life right now and am feeling left out of the festivities. With a sigh I replied to Liana’s question in the facebook group “My birds and fish likely wouldn’t be in the spirit this year.”

Liana’s responded to my post “I would pay good money to see your fish dressed up in a Halloween costume!”

Immediately my brain lit up and declared “Challenge Accepted!”

Over the last several weeks I have slowly crafted a plan. Black and white poster boards, check. Towels, check. Fish puns, check. Markers, check.

Hey it’s not what you think! I won’t be plopping my flying fox on a towel and drawing a mustache on him! And I won’t be pulling out the bristlenose pleco to pose in front of the poster boards as a teacher! The snails won’t be lining up as rockette dancers sliding across the counter with tiny tiaras! Just calm down everyone!

No my plan is much, much more difficult…for me. The set up: camera on a tripod. Dark towels draped over the front of the tank to block reflections. Posterboard propped on the back of the tank. Dry erase markers poised.

Perusing through Pinterest looking for fish jokes more times than I want to admit I formed a slick plan. All I have to do is draw part of a costume on the front of the tank, wait for a fish to swim by in just the right spot, then click the shutter. Easy right? Ummm not so much.

First it takes the fish about 15 min to acclimate to the towels and camera (this is when the excessive Pinterest browsing happens). Then they have to swim in the right direction, at the right depth and the right angle. And preferable only one fish at a time. And before 8:00 pm when the lights automatically turn off for fishy bedtime.

I started easy, a simple triangle shaped clown hat with little polka dots and pom pom on top. (Clown Fish, get it?) Swim, swim, swim….click! Dang it – blurry. Swim, swim swim…click! Dang it – turned at the last minute. Swim, swim, swim …click! Dang it – that fish is too small!

Fine how about a shark fin? Swim, swim, swim …click! Dang it – wrong direction! Swim, swim, swim …click! Dang it – fin on the head instead of the back.

Time for a break and a glass of wine and more Pinterest searching. How can I take these hysterical fish puns and draw them simply so my fish can participate in Halloween festivities?

Here are a few of my attempts:

“So-fish-tecated” Bowties and monocles.

“Oscar did you order dinner on-line?” Fishing line with a worm on the hook.

“Fastest fish in the river? Motorpike with a side-carp.” Stick figure motorcycle.

“Angel fish” Tiny glowing halo.

But my favorite theme is space.

Trouter Space.

Like Nasa throwing a party I decided to Planet.

Tiny astronauts with glass bubble helmets. Fish gliding along in rockets. Shooting starfish.

With the black posterboard as the background I created my scene. Moon in the corner, stars drawn on the front and back glass. Little rockets they could swim through. Helmets for the snails. And of course a whale of a sign declaring the fish tank now as “Trouter Space.”  

As a creative I love projects that make me think outside the tank and challenge all my skills. And I want to include everyone in my family, even the fishiest. Mission accomplished! All the fish and I are thoroughly impressed. #OhMyCod.

I am already researching themes for next year. If you hear of any good fish puns, let Minnow.

Listen to the narrated version on the Tales with Tails podcast Episode 3. Aired October 24, 2018.

Available on Anchor.fmApple Podcasts and your favorite podcast app.


Gypsy Over the Waterfall – Tales with Tails

Gypsy over the Waterfall – Tales with Tails

“What river is this?” Roman would ask my car full of kids on the drive to our parents house. All the kids would enthusiastically chant as groomed by my brother: “The Greatest River in the World!” Winding through southwest Washington the Lewis River holds many decades of family outing stories.

Gypsy, our golden retriever, loved water. Not hoses or baths of course but rivers, lakes and oceans. Her favorite game being Chase the Splash. As she swam her front paws hit the water giving her endless fountains of joy.

For Washington state Sunset Falls on the Lewis River is a short falls of only about 18 feet. One summer day, while all the kids splashed around above the falls Gypsy followed them to chase all their splashes too.

Sitting on the shore with our toy poodle my lazy daydreaming was abruptly interrupted by 6 people frantically running past me screaming, “Gypsy went over the waterfall! Gypsy went over the waterfall!” I looked up just in time to see her floating past into the forest. I clutched the poodle and listened to them calling Gypsy to shore a few hundred feet away.

Within minutes a very drippy Gypsy pranced back up the shore with all the kids. Relieved, I resumed my post on the rocks and held her leash while all the kids went back out to play. To my surprise poor Gypsy, shaking and drenched, whined and begged to be let back in the water! How dare I interrupt her beloved game?

That river still holds the title in my mind for the Greatest River in the World as it taught me to look at life through a Golden Retriever’s eyes. Falling off the waterfall was all part of the game and the fun for her. As far as I know she may have considered the waterfall the biggest splash to chase ever! Do you have waterfall moments? Can you view them through a soggy, panting, and carefree Golden Retriever filter?

Listen to the narrated version on the Tales with Tails podcast Episode 2. Aired October 16, 2018.

Available on Anchor.fmApple Podcasts and your favorite podcast app.


My Heart Dog Libby – Tales with Tails

My Heart Dog Libby – Tales with Tails

Ft. Collins pet and people photographerA sick little puppy visited the veterinary hospital I managed nearly every day in the spring of 2002. The other two pups in her litter were doing great but she was struggling. This 2 pound poodle would rest in my pocket during her visit all day in the hospital.

Her people were doing everything we recommended and were fully committed to her health. After a couple weeks I started considering approaching the family about transferring her to my care. “I’m at the hospital every day, my golden retriever would love her, my kids would be very gentle and with my employee cost I could continue her care as long as needed.”

These were the rationale I told them and my family. But really she had snuggled her way into my heart.

With a promise to keep them up to date and come to them if she ever needed anything teensy Liberty joined my family.

She had no less than 21 nick names including WooWoo, Small Dog, Lib a Dib & LouLou.

Although her medical issue had challenges her entire life she kept her funl-oving, bouncy, silly character. Camping trips she bravely tromped through the forest with our goldie earning the title of Jungle Dog. Favorite crowd pleaser trick was to sneeze on command. She learned all five kids names and would run to their bedroom to wake them up. “Libby, go wake up Crystal!” would send her jetting all the way down the hall to scratch on Crystal’s door until she let her in.

Being one of the kids she of course tried to be a rebel. At 5 pounds full grown she had to wear a cat collar with a little bell. The bell helped everyone know she was near so we didn’t accidentally run into her. But she learned how to walk extra slow so the bell wouldn’t sound and she could sneak a piece of forbidden people food off the floor.

And the Christmas she became so frantically excited to greet someone at the door that she jumped out of Amber’s arms, fell on the concrete garage floor and broke her front right leg. Thump, thump, thump she drug that cast through the house and up and down the stairs for weeks. 40 days of Pacific Northwest rain required we add a ziplock sandwich bag to her cast every time she need to go outside. With her medical condition she would often struggle to “go number two” and would end up walking on her two front feet to get in the right position. (Circus Dog.) Extra tough with a cast but she managed!

A friend to all big and small she loved our golden retriever Gypsy, the old cavalier Papy who joined our family as a senior, our kitty Kay (twice at big as her!), all our kids, all their friends and anyone who would pay attention to her.


But I was her favorite. She and I had a bond that in animal loving circles we call a “heart dog”. Many times in her final years I would defiantly exclaim “My plan is for Libby to live forever and no one can tell me different.” I snuck her into the no-dogs-allowed grocery stores. She modeled for me with tasty Tillamook cheese as payment. She became an internet star in the #PetLoversTribe livestreaming with me 5 days a week on Periscope. When I took a cross country road trip I printed her photo on a stick as Flat Libby so she could tag along virtually. All five pounds of her warmth kept me cozy snuggled on the couch on sick days.

In February 2016 she stopped eating. With her lifelong medical issues this wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. But I could tell a difference. Blood test at the vet had them calling me at 7:00 am the next morning to rush her in for all day hospitalization. With fluids, meds and extra tasty food we took her home that night. By the next afternoon we had her in for an ultrasound. She had dropped to 4 pounds. By the next day we could see her light fading and scheduled her last veterinary appointment for the next afternoon. I held her in my arms while she took her last breath surrounded by a caring vet staff and my little family.

Nearly every day for the last two and a half years I have thought of my little WooWoo. My sister had a sign made with a quote of mine after Libby died: “I think a lot of people say ‘they leave a hole in your heart’ & I don’t think I agree with that. I think my heart is overflowing, it’s just my lap that’s empty.”

Sometime in the next year I hope to add another Small Dog to my home. While there is no way a new dog will fill the giant footsteps left by the tiniest of souls I feel like I can finally open my heart and lap again.

The world and my home needs #MoreWoos.









Listen to the narrated version on the Tales with Tails podcast Episode 1. Aired October 11, 2018.

Available on, Apple Podcasts and your favorite podcast app.



Podcast Premier

Tales with Tails podcast coming soon!

Do all of your tales have tails? Mine too! We all enjoy a funny story, an uplifting account or a sweet childhood memory involving animals. That’s what I will be sharing on the podcast. As a lifelong animal lover like you and as a professional pet and people photographer you can imagine I have many tales to tell!  Every week I will be premiering an episode that I narrate or a special guest will join me to share their tale.

Next time you are out walking the dog, huffing and puffing on the treadmill, or driving to the pet boutique pop in your earbuds and give a listen, subscribe and review. Listen on, on Apple Podcast, or on your favorite podcast app!

This podcasts goes along with the Tales with Tails facebook group at Silver Paw Studio so be sure to join me there too. 


Mutt Dog Show

2018 Mutt Dog Show at Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House although a bit chilly had an impressive turnout. 

Two dozen dogs paraded across the lawn in costumes, did special tricks or showed off excellent obedience skills.

Kids throughout the audience held their scores high on little chalkboards. We packed the outdoor gathering area with humans and pups having a grand time at this annual low-key event. 


This is one of many off-beat happenings at Wolverine Farm in Old Town Fort Collins, Colorado. As the Letterpress name implies they of course have regular writing classes, poetry workshops, book sales, study hall and more. They also host The Prettiest Chicken Contest, craft classes, bike in movie nights, and the pop-up petting zoo. Their gift shop is full of note cards, books, and fun trinkets. The cafe serves coffee to wine and yummy pastries. And add Wolverine to your art walk as their upstairs meeting room is lined with fine art. 


Furtographer Files

New design for your weekly Pack Bulletin and Facebook Live Show: The Furtographer Files!

Each Wednesday morning you will receive a brief email bulletin with the following 3 segements that I will also discuss more in depth on Facebook Live at 9:00 am mst Fridays.

Three Fun Filled Segments for your entertainment, education and involvement each week:

1. Tip of the Week. Educational insight that I love to share. Cell phone photography tips, working with shelters, post processing and more in bite sized servings.

2. Pets of the Week. Featuring a client pet/family of the week AND an adoptable pet of the week. Maybe you will be featured or find your next furbaby!

3. Events & Projects. Heads up about local fun animal related events like pet expos, open houses, classes and more. Also spotlight on cool projects I am working on. Sometimes I will even ask for your help!

Monthly Interview, Once a month we will chat with a pet professional. Groomers, trainers, behaviorists and more. These interviews will help you prepare for a portrait session, give you behind the scenes workings of pet businesses, share tips about services and causes you may not know about, and more. If you would like to be interviewed or you have someone you would like me to interview, please send me email and let me know.

Be sure you are part of The Pack here!




Puppies Interrupt Tax Season

Best way to distract yourself during tax season? Play with puppies! That’s exactly what I did. While Jenny slaved away on my annual tax return I played with these two cutie pies. Great trade off if you ask me. While my favorite activity is not juggling numbers it is for Jenny! She is sharp as a tack and well educated on tax returns as well as bookkeeping, payroll, financial advising and all those money tasks that small businesses and individuals need! Here’s her info Jennifer Untied, Accountant.