Posts Tagged ‘Nancy Anisfield’

Bumpers Where They Don’t Belong

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Gazing at the small black and white Avery bumper hanging in the very top of a pear tree in front of our house, I started thinking of all the places our dog training bumpers have gone where they shouldn’t have gone.

Several years ago, a bumper shot from a dummy launcher flew over our barn and landed on the flat lower roof of the barn addition. I didn’t realize what was going on until I discovered my husband stuffing my German shorthair out of the window in the barn’s upstairs office, so he could make the retrieve.

dsfsdf. Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

…and a bumper in a pear tree. Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Another time, I discovered a Dokken Dead Fowl Trainer – the one that looks like a ruffed grouse – torn to shreds in our upper field. I’d been rubbing liquid grouse scent on the body for training purposes. The dummy got left outside and picked up (most likely) by a coyote looking for a snack. No doubt that coyote was mighty disappointed as he picked shreds of foam out of his teeth.

Last summer, while practicing double marks at a big pond, I woke up a skunk with my starting pistol. Doing what skunks do, he or she filled the air with a guaranteed gag smell close enough and bad enough that I called – well, screamed actually – my swimming dog off the retrieve. We high-tailed it out of town, abandoning the bumper floating nearby. No bumper is worth a 45 minute ride home inside a Jeep with a freshly anointed bird dog. Fortunately, two weeks later a friend found the bumper and guessed it might be ours.

When we drained our backyard pond, I found three bumpers in the bottom. They were the kind that float of course, unless my not-so-soft-mouthed older shorthair gets hold of them. Forever hungry, he loves to slink off into the high grass for a good gnaw. He eventually chews through and the bumper slowly takes on water until it sinks.

Outside, we’ve had bumpers lodged against the chimney, impaled in a thicket of buckthorn, and flattened in the driveway. Inside, they materialize under the bed or in the kitchen sink. They disappear; we replace them. They reappear; we lose them. My guess is that with five dogs, we go through an average of two dozen bumpers per year. That estimate has a plus-or-minus range of at least three bumpers on any given day depending on whether they’re in appearance or disappearance mode. And that, no doubt, has a lot to do with canine intervention.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

My Upland Season: So Far, So Good…

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Here’s what’s happened so far in my ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting season.

One dog ran into an electric fence three times within two minutes. Fortunately it wasn’t live. He bounded into it, bounced back out of it. Looked at me confused, then charged it again. This time he stumbled with one foot caught in the lowest wire. Then he backed away, ran to his left and charged right into it again. I worry about his IQ.

My other dog dragged me through what seemed like 20 miles of thick dogwood and buckthorn – the kind that grabs ankles, wrenches knees and makes my arms look like I had a cat fight…with a cat. After he pointed and tracked, pointed and tracked, a bunny raced through the underbrush in front of me. I bellowed “Rabbit, bad!” cursing my allegedly experienced bird dog. Then a lovely plump woodcock zoomed out of the tangle in front of the dog.

I spent two hours in the most magnificent, storybook gorgeous grouse cover I could imagine. Apple trees, ferns, dogwood, thick cedar trees and maples, young birches and raspberries. Blow downs for cover, open lanes for landing. Even a perfect, moist streambed meandering through. Two hours. Not a bird.

Never have so many chipmunks materialized in one region, however. Understandably no one knows where they come from or where they go, but there’s a shockingly large population this fall. Probably due to global warming.

The one grouse I got so far was beautiful, a gray female whose center tail feather had just a shimmer of russet brown to it. Carefully labeled with the date – and the dog who pointed it – it will wait in the freezer for another grouse to complete a dinner for two.

So far this season I have shot maples, dogwood, alders, black locust, sumac, oaks, cedars, beechnut trees and hemlocks. I’ve shot air, mist, leaves, rain, saplings, bark and inadvertently one abandoned squirrel’s nest.

My young dog taught me one of those “trust your dog” lessons when I didn’t believe he really had a bird under his nose. The older dog proves to me again and again that we hunt as a team, our communication fine-tuned over the years. Both dogs have told me that we need to hunt more than a couple of hours after work each day and that it’s okay if I run out of 7½ shot – 6’s will be just fine.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Why a Vermonter on the PF Board?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

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Nancy Anisfield serves on Pheasants Forever’s National Board of Directors and though she resides in Vermont annually makes pheasant hunting trips to the Midwest. Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Often, very often, when someone finds out I’m on the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever National Board of Directors their response is a big “Huh?” Then they point out to me (with raised eyebrows) there is no significant wild pheasant population in Vermont and no PF or QF chapter in Vermont. True enough, so I’m always compelled to explain why me, why Pheasants Forever.

I don’t just hunt in Vermont. I hunt in many parts of the country, each year fitting in at least one pheasant trip to the Midwest and one quail trip down South.  As a “consumer” of bird hunting resources – game and habitat – I feel an obligation to give more than my license fee and lodging dollars where I travel. Given the decline in bird populations and loss of habitat in most states, I am compelled to do something to support and replenish the resources I use in the field.

“Priority One” for most hunters is, understandably, supporting the habitat in their home hunting grounds. But there’s an equal responsibility we share when we partake of habitat in someone else’s backyard.  Helping to preserve and restore habitat anywhere in the country is the conservation equivalent of Fair Chase.

Another argument for a non-pheasant-state resident to support PF/QF lies in the work the PF/QF legislative team does – consulting on conservation program legislation, helping members voice opinions to their legislators, etc. These actions influence conservation legislation that, in turn, affects all 50 states.

Although I can come up with other reasons for a Vermonter to support Pheasants Forever, the last reason I usually give is based on the effectiveness of PF/QF as an organization: How PF/QF impacts young hunters today in pheasant or quail country could directly affect habitat and hunting in my region a decade from now.

Let’s say a young girl from North Dakota is on her first hunt, walking the edge of a PF project shelterbelt of tight junipers. She sees her dad’s Lab get birdy up ahead by a thick cluster of bushes. She moves closer, nervously watching first the dog, then the brush. A magnificent rooster flushes straight up. She carefully mounts her gun and squeezes the trigger, her heart pounding the whole time. The bird tumbles down. The dog retrieves it to hand. In those few moments she becomes a hunter for life.

Years later, she’s living in New England. Now she hunts ruffed grouse instead of pheasants. Now her hunting grounds are successional forest instead of buffer strips and grasslands. Now she hunts with her own bird dog and her own children. Some things have changed, but because she had that first place to hunt – and fall in love with hunting – she cares about habitat conservation not just there but wherever she calls home.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Recognizing a Bloat Emergency Could Save Your Dog’s Life

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Deep chested dogs are more prone to bloat than other breeds. Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Deep chested dogs are more prone to bloat than other breeds. Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Many of us who own deep-chested dogs have either encountered a bloat and torsion situation or heard about it. I’m writing this as a reminder, and as an alert to those first time owners of deep-chested dogs – German shorthairs and wirehairs, Weimaraners, Vizslas, shepherds, setters, boxers, etc. Please pass the word: Timing is critical.

One evening in August while we were outside playing fetch with bumpers, “Scratch,” my incredibly deep-chested German shorthair, suddenly walked away trying to throw up. He was clearly uncomfortable, couldn’t produce vomit and hunched up as he circled the yard. I immediately saw the problem. He looked like he’d swallowed a basketball. And he felt like he’d swallowed a basketball. Even though it had been three hours since he ate, his stomach was bloated and drum hard.

Fortunately, we recognized these symptoms as indicative of gastric bloat and torsion (technically, gastric dilation and volvulus, or GDV) because our oldest German wirehair, “Scrub,” had it happen seven years ago. We raced Scratch to the truck and drove directly to the emergency veterinary clinic. There, the vet put a tube down Scratch’s throat to where it almost reached his stomach, relieving the gas. We were lucky in that the “torsion” part of bloat and torsion – the twisting of the stomach – was partial and the stomach righted itself, so surgery that night wasn’t needed.

Dogs can bloat without the stomach twisting, but when that does happen, timing is critical. Blood supply in and out of the stomach is cut off resulting in a severe drop in blood pressure and damage to internal organs. The dog can die within hours.

When Scrub bloated, we got him to the emergency clinic within an hour, but he had already gone into mild shock. They took him into surgery immediately. Collateral damage from the stomach rotating inside the bloat wasn’t too bad. Scrub’s spleen had to be removed, but apparently spleens aren’t necessary. (He’s 14.5 years-old now and doesn’t seem to have missed his spleen the past seven years.)  The vet also performed a gastropexy, tacking his stomach to the body wall, preventing the stomach from rotating should he bloat again.

A week after Scratch’s bloat, he had preventative gastropexy surgery, so if he bloats again, at least he won’t be at risk of his stomach twisting.

All the vets I talked with agreed that despite an enormous amount of study, no one knows for sure why bloat and torsion happens. Genetics and body type appear to be factors. “Gassy” (aka “farty”) dogs are also more prone to bloat. Among others, precautions include feeding 2-3 times per day instead of once, withholding water after eating for a while, waiting an hour after exercise before feeding, waiting 1-2 hours after feeding before exercise, and pre-soaking dry food. I also carry a “bloat kit” with a tube and a few other items, so if Scratch has a severe bloat again and I can’t get to a vet, I can try to relieve the gas.

If your dog seems to be in pain and has a very tight, distended stomach, with or without trying to vomit, get him or her to a vet as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid of looking silly. We all have had the “should we call the vet” discussion, but a little embarrassment, even if nothing’s wrong, is a small price to pay for the alternative if your dog has bloated.  For more info, check online for websites about bloat and torsion, and for directions and contents for a bloat kit for dogs.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Gear and Gun Dogs: What’s Perfection?

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

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The quest for perfection can lead to finger pointing, but if the only pointing “Rimfire” does is on game birds, the author will be happy.

Frustrated by hunting gear that always seems to have most of the features we want but never all the features we want, my friends and I like to play “If I were to design a —-.”

Training collars always generate great debate. If I were to design an e-collar, it would have a decent range of stimulation adjusted on a rheostat, different beeper sounds and volumes, vibrate, locator, small ergonomic size, a tiny receiver, buttons with numbers or collar color letters big enough to read without my glasses, some blaze orange on the transmitter so I can find it when I drop it in the woods, a fixed antenna that’s not too long, a simple on-off button that doesn’t get squishy with age, and a reliable but small loop to attach it to a lanyard or carabineer without interfering with the transmitter knobs.

Ask the next dog handler, and he or she will come up with a different set of priorities for sure.

How about the perfect rain hat? Mine would be 100 percent waterproof, 100 percent breathable, blaze orange, never shrink or wrinkle, allow no water to drip down my neck, and would look terrific on. (That last part is the kicker.) We analyze game vests, hunting pants and guns. Boots are very personal, so we’ve given up trying to design the perfect pair. I wonder, though, what we’d come up with if we were to design the perfect bird dog.

I’d start with a dense coat to protect him from thorns and brambles. It’d have to be heavy enough for cold weather, but not too heavy for early season. He’d have to be so biddable, you’d think he’d read the training manual himself. A sensational nose goes without saying, love for swimming, and the ability to know exactly how far out I’d like him to range in the fields and woods. He’d come pre-wired steady to wing, shot and drop, and would retrieve with the style and grace of the head waiter in a gourmet Manhattan restaurant serving me filet mignon in a burgundy mushroom sauce.

He must have a sense of humor for those slow days in the field when I need diversion, and he must be forgiving, knowing that when I miss it’s because the sun was in my eyes, the trees were in the way, or my jacket pulled the gunstock away from my shoulder. As far as personality goes, he’d adore me and understand we’re a team – that if he finds the bird, I can shoot the bird; and if he retrieves the bird, I’ll cook it up for dinner, for us both.

Did I forget anything?

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Summer Dog Training: The Show Must Go On

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Scratch

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Hot, hot, hot…and rain, rain, rain. “Rimfire’s” growing green; “Tank” has sprouted mushrooms.  Coyotes left very weird white turds in the driveway. The sumac is turning yellow, and we’re growing gills and fins all around.

Nevertheless, dog training must go on. With my German shorthaired pointer, “Scratch,” and Terry’s German wirehaired pointer, “Rudder,” going to the NAVHDA Invitational in September, on test day we face an hour braced field run, 100-yard blind retrieve across water to the other bank, double marked retrieves, off lead heeling, and honoring another dog’s water retrieve. No e-collars on test day, commands minimal.

Translation: We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Training dogs in hot weather presents new challenges. While it’s conditioning to practice in the heat, it gives us something else to worry about besides how clean the retrieves are or if they’re backing consistently. I noticed recently the most worrisome part wasn’t while they were running in the field, it was afterwards. In the field, I felt the heat, too, and felt more in tune with Scratch’s need for water or shade knowing that down in the tall grass, he was pushing through captured heat up to ten degrees hotter than I was feeling. When we were done, however, and he was staked in the shade or resting in an open wire crate with a light breeze blowing, I was amazed how long it took for him to cool down.

Tongue flopping from left to right side of his gaped open mouth, drooling and panting in heavy breaths,  he wasn’t in trouble, but he was hot. Really hot. I watered down his ears, belly and armpits but didn’t give him any more water since he’d downed almost two bottles during our 20 minute run. It took him nearly twice as long to cool down.

Conditioning vs. overheating – another part of the summer’s learning experience. It’s not without its lighter side, though. Who could blame a dog that retrieves the final chukar in the field (how does he know it’s the last one out there?) and instead of coming to sit by my side with a proper presentation of the bird, blows right by me heading directly for the pond beyond the trucks.

And there I found him, reclining in the mud like a fat lazy crocodile, still holding his chukar, cool water lapping at his belly… with a very pleased sparkle in his eyes.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Bird Hunting Dilemmas to Ponder in the Off-Season

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

1. Your dog is on point in a nasty, thick blowdown. The bird is pinned and won’t flush.

(a) Do you wait and wait, knowing that if you go into the mess you probably won’t have room to swing your gun even though the bird might fly out the other side and you’ll have no shot?

(b) Or do you move in to flush it, hoping to secure a shootable location before it flushes, figuring it’s better to make something happen in case the bird decides to run and/or your dog breaks point?

***

2. You’ve trained all year to make your pointing dog steady. As soon as you start hunting and put up a few wild birds, he starts breaking on the shot.

(a) Do you forego the opportunity to shoot, focusing on correcting your dog and re-establishing his steadiness so all that training time isn’t for naught?

(b) Or do you say the heck with it, and take the opportunity to put a bird on the ground for him to retrieve (and for you to eat), figuring you’ll recoup the steadiness in the spring?

***

3. It’s late afternoon, you only have a half hour left to hunt, and you know of just one more spot that almost always holds birds that you can check on your way back to the truck. But you just shot at one, and while it really felt like you were on it, you didn’t see the bird fall.

(a) Do you and your dog spend that whole half hour, if need be, looking for that bird in case you got it, never wanting to waste game?

(b) Or do you send your dog on a quick search then get back to hunting your way to that last honey hole where the odds of another shooting opportunity are pretty good?

Post your answers in the comments section.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

The Bird Dog Name Game

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

According to DOGWatch, the newsletter from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, a study of close to 500,000 Veterinary Pet Insurance policies shows pet owners in general tend to prefer people names for their dogs. Currently the most popular dog names are Bella, Bailey, Max, Lucy, Molly, Buddy, Daisy, Maggie, Charlie and Sophie. This is not necessarily true, however, for hunting dog owners.

A few years ago I did some highly unscientific research on dog names. I went through one month’s records of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s test results for Natural Ability and Utility Tests, grouping dogs’ registered names into categories to look for trends. I disregarded the kennel part of each name, and I also skipped tongue-twisting German names, most of which had more than 37 letters per word. My goal was to see where hunting dog owners’ creativity led them.

Max was the most popular human name, but in the people category I discovered a curious, if not notorious, cast of characters such as Outlaw Josey Wales, Orphan Annie, Goliath, Cleopatra, Daisy Duke, Valentino, Buster Brown, DB Cooper, Jesse James, Son of Sam (!) and D’Artagnan. Owners of a more lyrical bent chose names to delight the senses, such as Rhythm of the Tide and Ray of Light.  Gun names were big – Citori, Benelli, Browning, Kimber, Ruger and Red Ryder. Important hunt-related designations showed up, too: Reload, Decoy, Scout, Gunner, Hunter, Silver Bullet, Buck Shot and I Can Pointabird.

Good will and positive thoughts sparkled from optimistic names such as Coasting Smoothly, New Beginnings, Revelation, Feeling Groovy, Practically Perfect, Bound ‘n Determined, Symphony of Dreams, Radiance of Paradise (try to live up to that name!), Razzle Dazzle ‘Em and Amazing Grace.

EZ Come EZ Whoa apparently came pre-trained.

Power names appeared in spicy (Hot Pepper, Black Pepper, Sage Pepper), climatological (Stormbuster, Speak Thunder, Rainmaker, Perfect Storm) and downright scary (Blazing Howl).  Adult beverages were a source of inspiration, as well. There were dogs named Budweiser, Zinfandel, Absolut, Rolling Rock, Bourbon Sippin Broad, and Jaegermeister.

Before drawing the totally superficial, statistically unconfirmed conclusion that hunters are inspired by notoriety, good vibes, hunting, booze and power, I checked  the most recent posting of NAVHDA test scores. Sure enough, Cleopatra and Artemis filled the famous name category; Ricochet, Camouflage and Hunter were on the hunting list; and Epiphany, Ace in the Hole and Luck Be a Lady joined the positive team. Power names included High Explosive, Solar Flair and Shock & Awe, with Grey Goose and Stolichnaya at the bar.

My research is not over. I’m not sure what category Moose in the Woods belongs to. And I’ve started to wonder…what if Bucky Badger met Nothing But Trouble who was actually Born to Boogie, then found Heart’s Afire but wanted No Strings Attached when he discovered the dog Ain’t No Pussycat?

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

On Women Hunters: Rethinking Pink

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

More and more women’s hunting and shooting events are popping up on the radar. Around the country, Becoming an Outdoors Woman and NRA Women on Target programs introduce women to a variety of outdoor sports and skills. State sponsored programs and special gatherings hosted by lodges, hunt clubs and shooting ranges offer instruction and opportunities for women interested in traditional sports.

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

These women-only events help the newbies learn without the pressure some feel trying activities outside their gender comfort zone. Women have a different center of gravity and musculature, which means they may need to be taught how to mount a gun differently than the way a man would be taught. Many women are intimidated by handling guns – something not part of the feminine playbook – and do better in a lighter, more supportive environment. Many women respond more positively to the social aspect of learning with other women.

There are lots of reasons why women-only instruction is successful, although assuming this is the best way for all women to learn is wrong. Just as some boys can be taught by their fathers while others need outside mentors, the dynamics of learning are as individual for women as they are for men.

More important, stepping beyond the learning phase, it is dangerous to over-emphasize gender specificity. I’m talking about things like marketing pink hunting gear, girlie hunting retreats that need spa treatments to lure participants, feminine camo patterns and silly accommodations for the “fairer sex” that insult our strength and ability to adapt.

Simply put, a pink shotgun won’t fix a poor mount and I can pee behind a tree as easily as the next guy.

If we continue to create the image of women hunters as essentially different from men hunters, the patriarchal – male dominated – view of traditional sports will be perpetuated.

We need to show girls and women that once they’re out there hunting, shooting or handling their own bird dogs, they are no different than male hunters, shooters or dog handlers. Hunters are hunters, and gender has nothing to do with the ability to shoot well, outsmart a rooster, read a dog’s body language or trudge through thick cover in the pouring rain.

The more women are separated out of the overall view of who and what a hunter is – in other words, implying a “woman hunter” is different from a “hunter” – the more we reinforce the notion of hunting as fundamentally a man’s pursuit. I don’t believe getting more women into hunting is the single key to the future of hunting, but it is important. We need to reinvent the image of the hunter to include anyone with the desire to hunt and shoot.

I love hunting with my female friends, and I love hunting with my husband and our male friends. Like most hunters, I hunt with partners whose hunting style complements mine, whatever sex they may be. We’re into the dog work and the laughs, the challenge, the outdoors and the adventure. Gender is irrelevant.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Fido Photo Ops

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

A friend sent me a photo of her young chocolate Lab last week. The dog was sitting nicely with a pheasant in his mouth, but the Lab had a head the size of a Neapolitan mastiff, the diminishing body of a Chihuahua and a wicked case of redeye. Poor pup. His awesome first retrieve deserves a much better picture to remember it by.

Digital cameras make it easy to snap pics in the field, but really good dog photos take a little more thought. Here are four tips that will lay the foundation for great dog shots.

1. See your dog eye-to-eye. Get down on the ground or put your dog on the tailgate of your truck, so the camera is looking directly at the dog, not down on it. If you take photos standing up over your dog, the result will probably be the Mr. Potato Head Effect – a dog that looks like its head is too big for its body. Taken on the dog’s level, your subject will look proportionately correct. Whistle, do your best goose call, or have someone wave a hat in the air. Dogs’ personalities and moods can be seen in their eyes, ears and tails.

2. Zoom in. For great photographic portraits of your dog, the closer you are, the more detail your picture will display. If the dog is facing you, position it in the middle of the image. If it is facing left or right, try to leave some extra space on the side to which he’s facing. That will give the picture a better sense of depth and won’t “trap” your subject inside. Remember to keep the sun or the light source behind you so the dog’s face won’t be in shadow, but make sure your shadow isn’t in the photo either.

3. Use the technology.  For motion shots, use autofocus and the “sports” or “continuous burst” mode on your digital camera. When you hold the shutter button down, your camera will take several pictures in a row quickly, focusing it for you. Try to move the camera with the dog – panning along with it – if the dog is running across in front of you. If the dog is moving towards you or playing in one place, hold the camera steady. Some of the images will be blurry, but you should get at least one or two frames in which your dog is in sharp focus as it moves.

4. Experiment.  Try different compositions and effects. Compositions with odd numbers of subjects (three dogs, five birds, etc.) are apt to be more visually interesting than groups of two or four. Similarly, varied sizes and positions are more eye-catching than simply lining up people and dogs. Also keep in mind that composing the picture in halves can be dull. If half the image is dark and half is light, it’s boring. Make it one-third dark, two-thirds light. One quarter sky, three-quarters ground, etc.

Remember: Dogs are dogs, and they won’t always cooperate. Be patient. Take your time. They’re worth it.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.