Out exploring with Luke and Elsa.
"So what exactly do you do with dogs?" the woman helping with my poster mount asked. I had given her my email address (which is email@example.com) so she wanted to know. It is difficult to explain what I do in a sentence but my typical response is; "train, photograph and write about." Most people pick up on the photography aspect and ask about that; or they have a training question for me. It's a funny thing my job; it has most definitely been an evolution. Even funnier being that I did not come from a dog background or family. But my love of dogs was in attendance and showed itself at a very early age. I can't remember ever not loving dogs. Each Sunday as a small child, I would hope that a dog movie was going to be on and if it was I would sit and watch the Disney dog movie as if in a trance. I recall saying "I'm going to have lots of dogs when I grow up" and my father would always reply "you can have as many as you want in own your house."
I started handling dogs in the conformation ring at the age of 13 and the rest is pretty much history. That fateful day that I was handed a leash with an amazing Doberman named Jake on the other end was the day it all started. I handled for many years with many different dogs and breeds. I was trained by one of the most renowned handlers ever; Martha Covington Thorne. She was a big pro handler in Canada, way back when I was just starting off. So here I am 37 years later. I do not show anymore, haven't for years. I train, photograph and write. I started training with conventional methods and moved to positive as soon as I discovered it. When I transitioned to positive training, things really took off for me. I trained for years; both group classes and private and then switched to only private as it was far more effective.
I'm a behavior nut; I could watch dogs interact all day long. Doesn't matter if they are interacting with other dogs or humans; I love to watch them. Photography came very naturally for me; with my desire to watch canine behavior, capturing it was even better. There is so much that can be captured in a photo that you would never see if you didn't stop the moment in time. I love it and I could shoot dogs all day. I have on occasion considered other types of photography; even dabbled in a few but I always come back to dogs, it's what I do. Being able to capture the very essence of a dog for an owner is very rewarding for me.
I have photographed for all the big dog magazines for many years but now I strictly do private shoots and book work. When I do a shoot with a new canine I like to sit and talk to the owner first. Interacting with the dog and the owner and watching. This helps me to get to know the dog and the relationship which gives me some insight as to where I'm going for the best shots. Each dog is so individual that their photos will all be different, they have to be. I'm not a poser type photographer; in fact I hate posed shots. Sometimes I have to sit a dog for a shot or I'll never get the shot but I always wait for them to be themselves. Rescue work is often like this as I'm there to get a cute "adopt me" shot. But if I can also capture their personality in the shot, even better.
I try to get out and offer my services for non profits as well. I work with a local rescue group to shoot their dogs looking for homes. So many wonderful dogs; so many wonderful people helping dogs. I also shoot for Hemopet; which is a wonderful facility, blood bank and diagnostic laboratory. Getting to meet so many wonderful people and all the amazing Greyhounds there makes me feel very fortunate to be involved.
So from photography to writing. Let's just say that I have a lot to say. Having talked to so many people over the years; both my clients and people I just meet that say "I never knew," made me start this blog. Sure I was helping people and giving them the information as my training clients but I wanted to let so many other people know important things about living with dogs, so my blog was born. My very first blog was way back on June 04, 2007; that's a lot of writing. I am coming up on 2000 blogs which is pretty monumental.
Writing has taken many different forms for me; the blog, published magazine articles and now books. I love to write about dogs and along with my books already published I have several in the works. The only thing I find difficult about writing is the sitting still for long periods of time. I find that I have to break my day up if I'm writing for a book or long article. That is the great thing about working from home; I typically grab the dogs and we leave for a bit. It's a win/win for us all.
I share my home now with Luke and Elsa, both Standard Poodles. Just a year ago we lost our matriarch of the dogs, our little Jack Russell Jessie who was almost 16 years of age. Three weeks later we lost Tilley who was an amazingly beautiful gray Standard Poodle who was only weeks from turning 15. There have been many before as well, all taking a spot in my heart with their wonderful memories left with me to look back on. But it is not just my dogs that I love; it is dogs in general. I love my client dogs, dogs we meet on walks, friend dogs and your dogs. What an amazingly, extraordinary species.
Dogs are my life; I can never know or learn enough about canines and am constantly doing research on behavior, nutrition and every other aspect of the canine species. I try to pass on as much information that I can to you all. Dogs are truly the most wonderful of animals; often much better than we humans. So yes, my life does revolve around dogs and that is just the way that I like it. When I wake up in the morning there are two on my bed that make me smile every day. Just dogs with Sherri, yep.
Visit my website at www.JustdogswithSherri.com if you'd like to know more.