Achieve More with Your Pet and Strengthen Your Bond
Purina Farms trainer

Inspired To Do More With Your Pet?

Purina Farms trainer Tracy Custer spends her days working with her team of dogs — most of whom come from shelters — putting on shows for busloads of visitors who’ve come to see high-flying canines do things like dive 30 feet into a pool, catch a flying disc and land in a pool. With her expert advice - and wisdom - you can start breaking barriers with your own dog.

For Tracy and her family, Purina Farms is a large part of her life, you might even say it’s her calling. But while this one-of-a-kind training facility is a great place to see ordinary dogs do extraordinary things, it’s also a place to explore the relationship people can have with their pets. 

Tracy helped start the Pro Plan® Performance Team at Purina Farms. "It's super special to have the ability to take dogs people have given up on and show what they can do in sports," Tracy says. "It's a testimony to the greatness of rescue dogs and demonstrates why people shouldn't lose faith in the dogs they have."

While Tracy makes it look easy, she’s aware of just how daunting it can be for the average owner trying to get on the same page as their pet, whether it’s teaching them a new trick or simply getting them to not jump on every visitor who comes to the door.

How to Get Started

Many believe that bonding with a pet is a mysterious art form best left to overpaid dog whisperers. The reality is more formulaic: Time + Goal + Conditioning = Happy Dog (and happy owner). 

The Purina® Pro Plan® P5 app provides step-by-step instruction, helpful video demonstrations, and insight from top Pro Plan® trainers. From basic commands to agility and tricks, this app is an ideal companion for you and your dog. Available for iOS and Android devices.

Put in The Time

“It’s crucial to make your dog an everyday part of your life,” says Tracy. “Go for walks diligently. If you can bring your dog to work, that’s ideal. But even if you’re just picking up the cleaning or going to your kid’s baseball game, bring the dog, just like you would any other family member. Being by your side, consistently, day in and day out, satisfies a lot of the bonding needs of your pet.” 

Take your dog with you — to the pet store, on hikes, on errands, and even on family vacations. Tracy advises, “Treat them like the family member they are.”

Release the Hound!

As Tracy likes to say, “a tired dog is a good dog.” Here are a few ways to get your dog’s heartbeat up and get some training/bonding time in all at once:

  • Interval training: Walk briskly for a few minutes then ease to a slower walk to recover. 
  • Obstacle course: Set up chairs, tables, or whatever you have around and have your dog run around them. This is also a good time to get your dog used to hearing his name when called. 
  • Hula hoop leaping: Find a hula hoop and encourage your dog to jump through by throwing a treat through the opening. 

Pick a Goal, Any Goal

According to Tracy, “Bar none, the fastest way for the two of you to bond is to start with a goal.” She goes on to say that it could be any goal. If you want your dog to be obedient, that’s your goal. You could teach him to play with a flying disc, do tricks, or just train him to cuddle up next to you on the couch.  Whenever you achieve a goal — high or low — if you do it together, you form an instant bond. She adds, “Simply completing an obedience class together would be a great bonding experience.”

“We set a goal and achieve it. We get to do that a lot, “ says Tracy. “But in the end, it’s your response that your dog responds to. If I do my best and don’t win, I’m still happy with my dog. If we win the competition, my response is overwhelming and my dogs can’t help but reciprocate.”

Have Fun Out There

Remember that accomplishing more with your dog shouldn't be all hard work — it should be fun.

Tracy sums it up this way. “Every time we go out and play, as long as we keep it fun, they respond. That’s the bond. We get so much more fulfillment from a dog that seems to be enjoying what they’re doing. That’s the ultimate goal. A dog that loves to do what he’s doing.”

If your dog seems happier, you're probably on the right track! Breaking barriers is something that all pet owners and pets are capable of.

While there can be some hoops to jump through (literally), a lot of it just comes down to spending more time with your best friend. Once you start setting goals and going after them together, you'll find your bond gets even deeper.

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When Sami Stoner discovered running back in 2008, she had no idea she was going to become legally blind before entering high school. She also had no idea that she was about to gain a new best friend, rally a community and rewrite the cross-country running rule book.
For some people, bringing a pet to work is a privilege worth fighting for. For Jamey Erickson, a “no pets allowed” policy ended up being less of a barrier than it seemed.
Overcoming a No Pets Allowed Policy - Jamey + Major
Jamey and Major

Sometimes All It Takes Is Working Together

For some people, bringing a pet to work is a privilege worth fighting for. For Jamey Erickson, a “no pets allowed” policy ended up being less of a barrier than it seemed.

When Erickson started Minneapolis-based digital creative agency Sevnthsin, he knew dogs would be essential to their creative process. Why?

They'd already helped him get through many all-nighters working.

"I used to share a space with some friends of mine and they would always bring their dog in. We just wanted something to liven up the fact that we were going to be working all night on a freelance project," he says.

An Unexpected Barrier

Dogs quickly became an everyday part of life at Sevnthsin, but when the agency moved into a bigger space, they ran into a problem they had never anticipated.

There were no dogs allowed. 

"They just said you can’t have dogs and we said, 'Well, why not?' 'Well, that’s the rules.' But why?" he asks.

For the employees at Sevnthsin, the ability to bring dogs to work was worth fighting for - or at least worth spending a lot of time researching and creating advocacy for. They considered pets just as much a part of their culture as their Twin Peaks-themed conference room.

Erickson started looking around the area, taking note of which types of businesses allowed pets at work, and made a list of 27 total to present to his leasing agent and landlord. It worked. His leasing agent, Chad Blihovde, quickly called him back and explained that the main reason that there were no pets allowed was that it had never come up before. It turned out that the building owner, Peter Remes, was a dog-lover himself, and was interested in the idea of allowing pets in his properties.

Getting Your Boss on Board: First, talk up how pets could improve productivity and boost morale. Add flow charts if your boss is visual. Anticipate any questions using our FAQ guide. Next, share stories of companies similar to your own who have successfully allowed in pets. If all else fails, share this with other employees who also want pets at work and start a coup d’og.

The Recipe for a Creative Space? Plenty of Dogs

Remes’ real estate company, First & First, is on a mission "to build inspired environments that remind us that our time on this planet is brief and that is our human imperative to create." Many of his properties are warehouse spaces that are renovated to hold creative businesses like digital agencies, coffee shops and breweries. A dog-lover himself, he suspected that allowing dogs could make these spaces even more creatively inspired.

"I thought this was a great opportunity for First & First and [Sevnthsin's new building] The Broadway to let people know that we do [allow dogs]. That this is who we are. We want creative space and creative companies, and they want their dogs," Blihovde explains. 

"Everybody brings their dog to work in the creative environment," Erickson says.

Jamey's dog Major helps keep work fun.

Setting the Rules

The three worked together to establish ground rules so that everyone could understand their responsibilities and keep things running smoothly. From creating liability waivers to preventative measures that ensure dogs are harmonious citizens in the building, they hashed out a plan. 

"We went from a feeling of sheer frustration and helplessness to feeling awesome in four weeks' time," Erickson says. Now, Sevnthsin is settling into their new space, and they're happy to make their dogs a part of that.

As he summarizes it, "At the end of the day I’m a firm believer that life is much more than just what you do from nine to five. If I can find a way to get a dog in my office, it’ll make it that much more fun for everybody; then I’m going to do it."

Break Barriers in Your Workplace

Inspired to start making your workplace pet-friendly? Our Pets at Work toolkit can help you get there.

Lessons From Sevnthsin

1. Start by doing your research. Find similar companies in the area that allow pets at work, and make a list to show how common it is. You can even contact those companies to get their tips for making everything run smoothly. 

2. Have a talk with your landlord, building manager, leasing agent and whoever may be relevant to the discussion. Start by listening and understanding their concerns. They’ll be a lot happier to listen to you in return. 

3. Be willing to work together to create liability waivers and guidelines so that they can understand just what allowing pets in the building will involve, and what the building owners will be responsible for. The more you can make your business take responsibility for anything that may arise, the more successful you’ll be.

4. Share your success story, so that others can gain inspiration in their efforts to make their own workplace pet friendly.

Visit our Pets at Work section for even more tips on breaking barriers to make your workplace pet-friendly.

 

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When Sami Stoner discovered running back in 2008, she had no idea she was going to become legally blind before entering high school. She also had no idea that she was about to gain a new best friend, rally a community and rewrite the cross-country running rule book.
Purina Farms trainer Tracy Custer spends her days working with her team of dogs — most of whom come from shelters — putting on shows for busloads of visitors who’ve come to see high-flying canines do things like...
How I Became a We - Sami Stoner & Chloe
Sami and Chloe

Paving The Way For Legally-Blind Runners

When Sami Stoner discovered running back in 2008, she had no idea she was going to become legally blind before entering high school. She also had no idea that she was about to gain a new best friend, rally a community and rewrite the cross-country running rule book. 

After Stargardt’s disease, an inherited form of juvenile macular degeneration, took away her central vision when she was only 14, Sami met Chloe, the dog who would change her life. Today, their "I" has become a "we” – and she and Chloe are ready for their next adventure: college.

But it's taken a lot of hard work and training to get where they are today.

When Sami was finally united with Chloe two years after her diagnosis, thank to an organization called Pilot Dogs Inc., she had to spend four weeks away from home training. But being away from home quickly became worthwhile when she got to meet her new dog.

Many people with Sami’s type of vision loss can still drive with the help of bioptic telescopic glasses. A small telescope embedded in the upper part of the lenses helps the driver spot things that need to be seen better like traffic signals, signs, other cars and people.

"It was really cool getting to see the dog that you know is going to be there for years and years and is going to have such a huge impact on your life," Sami remembers.

"It was an incredible feeling knowing that they had finally given us a chance because they had said 'no' so many times," she says.

Once Sami and Chloe returned home, they got to put their new skills to work running cross-country together. 

"The first time we ran together, we could barely get Chloe to calm down enough to go a hundred meters, she was so excited to run," Sami explained. 

Chloe's enthusiasm hasn't faltered since.

"Every time we say 'Chloe do you want to go run?' she'll just jump up and run to the door because she's just so excited to get out there."

Sami and Chloe ran their first race together in Galion, Ohio. They couldn't place because of special restrictions they had to follow, so Sami instead measured their success against their own personal times. Their final time, 29:30, was their personal best - more than enough for a round of cheers and tummy rubs.

When Sami and her family found out dogs weren't allowed to run cross-country in sanctioned high school events, they didn’t give up. They worked continually with the initially reluctant Ohio Athletic Association to explain her scenario – and managed to get the rules changed in time for a big race.

While certain restrictions make it impossible for Sami to place in a race, she and Chloe ended up running the fastest they'd ever run together.

"It was just incredible," Sami says. "I don't think I’ve ever been that happy.”

As the summer of 2013 winds down, Sami is planning to head to college at Otterbein University with Chloe in tow. There, they plan to find a running club at school and continue running together and pushing their own limits.

As Sami leaves the small town where she grew up, she's glad to be assisted by her best friend.

As she puts it, “At the end of the day we come back together and we just love each other unconditionally.”

Inspired to start breaking barriers with your own pet? We'll show you how.

Purina Takes Sami On Her Dream Run

At Purina, we were so inspired by Sami and Chloe's relationship that we offered to send them on a dream run anywhere in the U.S. before they went off to college together. Sami had always wanted to visit San Francisco, so we made that happen.

"Everything about San Francisco is incredible," she says. "It's so unique." 

In August 2013, we sent the pair on a whirlwind running tour of the San Francisco Bay area. From running on the beach beneath the Golden Gate Bridge to the redwood laden paths of Mount Tam, Sami and Chloe experienced the best sights, sounds, and smells San Francisco had to offer. 

Sami's favorite part was running on the mountains and the rolling hills. And of course, sharing that experience with Chloe. 

"Traveling with Chloe is a lot of fun - she always keeps things interesting. She's my other half so having her with me was incredible."
 

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For some people, bringing a pet to work is a privilege worth fighting for. For Jamey Erickson, a “no pets allowed” policy ended up being less of a barrier than it seemed.
Purina Farms trainer Tracy Custer spends her days working with her team of dogs — most of whom come from shelters — putting on shows for busloads of visitors who’ve come to see high-flying canines do things like...
Inspired by a Dog's Unconditional Love Julian + Max
Max and Julian

Capturing The Many Happy Moments Dogs Bring Us

For the Becker family, finding ways to be creative every day isn’t a problem. Why? Their love for one another (and their Newfoundlands), keeps this Navy family tightknit and constantly having fun with their camera.

With nothing but themselves, a few props and a phone camera, mother Stasha Becker’s photos have risen to Instagram fame. What’s her secret? "My every day is so happy. I just really do have a good life." 

In a sense, the network of fans and supporters that she has gained online is an extension of what happens every day when she walks her dogs in her neighborhood in Whidbey Island, Washington.

"People are just always stopping to talk about our dog," Stasha says. "We've probably made more friends in the neighborhood through our dog than we have on our own."

Did you know it’s especially hard to get a great photo of black dogs and cats? That’s because they soak up more light than other pets. Stasha has found that photographing Max in front of their white garage helps him stand out.

Max, her family's black Newfoundland, has been an inspiration since even before her 5-year-old son Julian was born. They brought him into their lives after Stasha became pregnant with Julian, thinking that caring for him would help teach them how to be parents. But as soon as Julian was born, Max ended up becoming both an extra parent and a brother figure to the only child, always keeping Julian within his vision and comforting the child with his presence as he learned to sleep in his new bed when the family moved. 

You might remember one famous Newfoundland in culture – Nana the Newfoundland who took care of the children in Peter Pan. Nana’s caring personality is typical of the breed . Newfoundlands are known for their calm temperament and sweet personalities. That might be one reason why they’re great with kids.

"If Julian ever gets in trouble, he'll go and cuddle up with Max, so he thinks that Max will protect him even when his mommy gives him a punishment," Stasha laughs.

On their many days together on the island, Max has helped inspire the mother and son to connect over a love for photography. It started as a simple habit of posing for a picture in front of the garage before leaving the house, and eventually became a habit that drew in fans from all over the world.

Stasha and Julian like to send the photos to Stasha's husband and Julian’s father, Jason, while he's off at work for the Navy. 

"He'll look at it, and he's like ‘What are you guys doing? Why is my dog wearing a pineapple on his head?’" Stasha laughs.

She believes pets help tell a unique story that brings out creativity. Why?

"First of all we love them. We love them unconditionally, and they love us back. It's easy to capture that when you take a picture of your pet," she explains. "It's just like moms and children as well."

This love for Max, she says, has helped her son gain the confidence to start taking photos with his own iPod. 

"Whenever he's taking a picture he incorporates Max because he plays a huge role in his life,” she says.

In Stasha’s eyes, life is made up of many simple, happy moments, filled with hikes, playing dress up and hanging out with our loved ones, human and pet alike. Photography is just one way to capture all that happiness.

Purina Helps The Family Grow

Max has had such a great impact on the Beckers’ lives that they wanted to add another Newfoundland to their family. To get a dog as amazing as Max, they opted to go back to his breeder in Yorkshire, England. That meant the puppy had to take a journey overseas to settle down with the Beckers on Whidbey Island.

Purina was so inspired by the Beckers that we contributed to the cost of acquiring their new Newfie.

Meet Bruce, a gentle, sweet and of course cute dog that will now be one more star in their famed garage photo shoots. We think he makes the photos even better!

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Even if you’re not a professional photographer, there are many reasons why you’re ahead of the game when it comes to taking pictures of your pets.
For creative people, inspiration comes from all kinds of places. For some, like graphic designer Kady Lone, it comes from cats. She and her cat Pudge are inseparable – where Kady goes, Pudge goes.
Pets inspire creativity every day at Purina. Just look at Industrial Designer Kisun and her dog Munji.
The Happy Dog Owner Behind the be Happy® Bag Kisun and Munji
Munji the Be Happy Dog

Dogs Help Us See Our Creative Work In A New Light

Pets inspire creativity every day at Purina. Just look at Industrial Designer Kisun and her dog Munji.

The inspiration Kisun finds in the dogs in her life and at her job helps her design new products for pets.

Behind The Be Happy® Bag

A new source of inspiration came into the office when Kisun was working on the design vision and brand story for a new dog and cat value brand, Be Happy®. That inspiration on four legs was her colleague Bethanie’s dog, Grizzly. A little black Morkie Poo, the dog’s sense of mischief and adventure, not to mention his big eyes, influenced the way Kisun illustrated the Be Happy dog.

Her co-worker started noticing how much Kisun enjoyed Grizzly, and offered to help her adopt Grizzly’s brother, who had just been born into a new litter.

With that, Kisun adopted her first dog. She named him Munji upon her sister’s suggestion. “Munji” is Korean for “black blob,” which was how the hummingbird-fast Munji showed up in photos.

Drawings of Munji happen often when Kisun is around.

Inspiring Empathy

Now, Munji helps Kisun see her creative work in a new light. At Purina, Kisun works in Packaging and Design, a human-centered discipline that takes intangible insights and designs them into tangible and commercially viable consumer experiences. Kisun collaborates with a design strategist in the snack category, working to turn transactional treat-giving into stronger bonding moments that make both pets and owners happy.

Kisun’s department is in an open, sunny corner of the Purina campus, where collaboration is fostered by group spaces and creative materials meant to kickstart new thinking.

“Our job is to have empathy for consumers, so we can create something meaningful for them,” she explains. Whether that ends up being a type of packaging that creates a shared experience between a dog and his owner or a brand new way to provide food to cats, Industrial Designers are responsible for many ideas that go outside the box.

Being able to bring Munji to work with her every day doesn’t just relieve Kisun of the anxiety of worrying about what he’s doing while she’s gone. Interacting with her dog at the office helps her better understand dogs in general, as well as the needs of every day pet owners. That helps inform the new product opportunities conceived by Kisun and her fellow industrial designers.

Kisun and other Purina staffers sometimes hang out in 2T, an innovative gathering space full of stimulating materials that encourages employees to think outside the box.

Continuing Inspiration

Taped onto the window next to Kisun’s desk is a drawing she made of Munji.

Munji’s already inspired plenty of drawings and doodles from Kisun, and we’re excited to see what artwork and products he’ll inspire next.

Kisun’s Tips For Pet-Inspired Creation

Capture Your Pet’s Quirks

1. Spend some time observing how your pet behaves to capture their quirkiness. Chances are, they do something weird and ridiculous that makes them unique and different from other pets. Try catching them in that moment by snapping a photo or by drawing a simple doodle.

Keep Practicing

2. Try taking a break after dinner by spending some time doodling in a notebook, on a napkin – whatever. That will help you flex your creative muscle.

Make Your Pet a Gift

3. You don’t have to create art that depicts your pet – you can also create something to be a gift for your pet, whether it’s a fancy collar for your cat or a bow tie for your dog. Or you can start by creating your pet a birthday gift!

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"I'd be a fool not to go up into these mountains and see what's there,” Stephen Simmons said to himself after moving his whole life across the country to Grants Pass, Oregon in 2012...
Are you inspired to take your pet on more adventures? Heading out into the world and exploring together will be stimulating for both of you, and give you more chances to bond.
A Designed Life Kady + Pudge
Kady and Pudge

Cats Are The Perfect Muse

For creative people, inspiration comes from all kinds of places. For some, like graphic designer Kady Lone, it comes from cats. She and her cat Pudge are inseparable – where Kady goes, Pudge goes. This tight bond has blossomed into a whole creative enterprise, as Kady’s photography documenting Pudge’s life has become its own force of nature. Their relationship keeps Kady constantly inspired – in her graphic design job and in her hobbies as well.

A Lifetime Love of Cats

Even when Kady was a kid growing up in a family with dogs, cats quickly became her main muse. 

"I remember being obsessed with the Sailor Moon tv show as a child. It had these two cats and I'd spend hours drawing them," she says.

Pudge definitely influences the design aesthetic of Kady's apartment.

Her Very Own Inspiration

Now that she's a grown-up graphic designer and photographer, she’s able to have her own cat for inspiration. When looking for a cat, she opted for an Exotic Shorthair. A breed fairly small in size, Pudge has what Kady calls "dog-like" characteristics, including a strong attachment to her owner, a laid-back nature and a high capacity for training. At barely eight pounds, Pudge's fluffy hair makes her look much bigger than she is. Thus the name Pudge, inspired by a bear from the video game Animal Crossing, who always talks about loving food.

Connecting Cat Lovers through Photography

When Kady adopted Pudge, she also brought a new photography muse into her life. As she started posting Pudge’s photos to Instagram, the little cat quickly became a force of nature. Soon, she had acquired a following of cat-lovers around the world.

"When I post Pudge's photos," she says, "It's like she's broadcasting to her friends what she's up to that day. Pudge and I suddenly have thousands of new friends."

Does Pudge have a Mona Lisa Smile? Kady's Pudge portraits capture the many moods of her cat.

A Creative Home

On a daily basis, Pudge helps inspire Kady as she works for her graphic design job from home. Whether it's scoping out the perfect cat accessories to suit their stylish space or taking a photo shoot break, Pudge makes her day-to-day more creative.

"Working on Pudge-inspired creations is what I love," she says. "I can take a break to spend a little time on an idea, then return to work more energized and inspired."

When Kady does leave home for a day to go into her office, Pudge gets to come too. In work, play and creation, wherever they go, they go together. 

Kady's Tips For Finding Inspiration In Your Cat

1. Don't Worry About Being a Pro

Even if you don’t have a professional camera or any photography training, you can still create work inspired by your pet. All you really need is a cat or a dog and a smart phone. “I didn't start off taking photos of Pudge with the nicest camera or with the best knowledge of how to use that camera, but I got better at it,” she says.

2. Avoid Posing Your Pet

Your cat’s personality will shine through the most in natural, candid photos. “Except for some special occasions, none of Pudge's photos or videos are staged. They're all captured spur-of-the-moment and therefore her true personality comes through,” Kady says.

3. Photo Captions Can Take it to the Next Level

Adding a funny caption can make a photo of a cat go from cute to relatable – even poetic. Adds Kady, “Sometimes it can be challenging coming up with new photo captions, so some days it's easy to just resort to how I'm feeling that day.”

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Even if you’re not a professional photographer, there are many reasons why you’re ahead of the game when it comes to taking pictures of your pets.
"I'd be a fool not to go up into these mountains and see what's there,” Stephen Simmons said to himself after moving his whole life across the country to Grants Pass, Oregon in 2012...
Pets inspire creativity every day at Purina. Just look at Industrial Designer Kisun and her dog Munji.
Take Inspiring Photos of Your Pet Tips from Stasha
TIPS FROM STASHA

Learn To Take Photos That Capture The Connection You Share With Your Pet

Even if you’re not a professional photographer, there are many reasons why you’re ahead of the game when it comes to taking pictures of your pets. That is not to say you will always come up with amazing photos of your pet, but the more photos you snap, the more likely it is that you’ll get that one special shot.

So grab that phone or dust off your camera and start clicking. After all, our pets are part of the family, and they deserve to have their lives documented too!

How to Get Started

Think About the Background

Make sure your background always helps show off your pet. If your pet is dark, try to find a light-colored background setting so he’ll pop out more.

Want to capture your favorite fort on the beach but your subjects are too dark once you place them in? Flip it around! Tuck yourself in the fort instead and take a photo of your loved ones standing outside.

Get the Light Right

Finding the perfect level of exposure is important because pets’ eyes quickly look dull if the light is not right. Also make sure to avoid direct flash. It usually gives a pet the look of deer in the headlights.

Get Down to Their Level

Don't be afraid to zoom in and get close to your pet, even little details like their snout make for a great photo.

Even world famous landscapes benefit from adding loved ones to the frame. It makes the moment personal and changes it from postcard perfect to everlasting memory. Don't be afraid to focus on the loved ones like I did here.

Catch Them Doing What They Love Best

Snap photos of them sleeping, eating, and playing - because that is what they’re great at. Rarely do you see your pet sitting prim and proper posing, right?

Get Others Involved

Your pet has relationships much like we do, so get your kids, neighbors – even the postman to appear in the photos. After all, memories are made of moments and the interactions that created them.

Remember – It’s OK to Give Up

Sometimes, when your dog is too busy chasing birds to sit for a photo you have in mind, put the camera down and chase birds with him instead. Maybe someone can take a photo of you two playing together instead.

Most Importantly - Make it Fun!

Always remember to praise your pet for being a great sport. The life of a model is not easy you know.

5 Reasons Why You’re The Perfect Person To Photograph Your Pet

1. You Know Your Pet Best

The one thing that will bring great results is truly knowing your subject. Nobody knows as well as you what makes your dog happy or gets his attention. You also know their routine - what time of the day they sleep, when they are most active and when they will cooperate best. Beyond that, you know their limitations. There is no point in me asking my huge Newfoundland to stand on his hind legs for a photo or balance on a hydrant no matter how awesome it might turn out.

Plus, since you’re with your dog for most of his days, there will be plenty of opportunities to catch great moments.

2. You Know the Best Settings

You walk your dog and know where he can be off the leash, where he likes to swim and what backdrops make him look best. You also know which part of the house he is coziest in. Take advantage of it!

3. They Listen to You and Want to Please You

Dogs are people pleasers, so they will do what you ask for a simple reward, whether it’s a treat or just a little affection from you. That means you are the person most likely to get them posed just right for the shot – it’s your belly rubs they want more than anyone else’s. You ask them to sit, stay, roll over- they will! They trust you because you have proven many times over that you will never harm them.

4. You Know What it Is About Them You Want to Remember

A professional might shy away from taking a photo of your dog's overbite because it doesn't look nice, but you think it's the cutest thing ever and want to have it on your wall!

5. You Love Them

Ultimately, a photograph is a conversation between the subject and the photographer. And when there is love between them it adds magic to the end result. Trust me.

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For the Becker family, finding ways to be creative every day isn’t a problem. Why? Their love for one another (and their Newfoundlands), keeps this Navy family tight knit and constantly having fun with their camera.
For creative people, inspiration comes from all kinds of places. For some, like graphic designer Kady Lone, it comes from cats. She and her cat Pudge are inseparable – where Kady goes, Pudge goes.
Pets inspire creativity every day at Purina. Just look at Industrial Designer Kisun and her dog Munji.
Travel Safe, Travel Often with Your Pets
TRAVEL SAFE, TRAVEL OFTEN

Planning An Adventure? Don’t Forget The Leash.

Are you inspired to take your pet on more adventures? Heading out into the world and exploring together will be stimulating for both of you, and give you more chances to bond. But remember, the comfort and safety of your pet should come first. Whether your pet is in the backseat of your car or joining you on a bike ride, there’s almost always a smart, safe way to bring them along.

For advice, it’s best to go to an expert. Gerardo Perez-Camargo - Purina Global Pet Welfare and Behavior Manager - takes his shelter-adopted Labrador Retriever and his cats almost everywhere. Here are some of his tips for traveling safely with your pet.

Buckle Up

If you’re going by car, it helps if you can get your pet used to going longer distances, little by little, starting with short rides. Be sure to harness your pets anytime they’re mobile. It’s no different than having a baby in the back seat. Your pet will not be able to fight inertia if you should suddenly stop or hit something. You can buy travel harnesses that come across a pet’s chest and clip onto a safety belt. These help promote your pet's safety and help prevent your pet from interfering with your driving.

Always practice safe driving habits and remember: If your pet isn’t secure, neither of you is safe. Here's an example of a harnessed dog. For more tips, watch this video.

Time Your Feeding

Since a full stomach might be uncomfortable for your pet during travel, try not to feed her too close to departure time. If she’s going to get car sick, there’s a higher probability it will be toward the beginning of the trip.

Just like Home

The more comfortable your pet is, the better her trip will go. Petcentric recommends you bring her bowls, a leash, some toys, a crate, any medicines she may need and grooming equipment. You might also bring a spill-proof bowl and hollow toys you can stuff with food, like the Kong®. Both are ideal for quiet time in the car, campsite or hotel. You’ll never regret bringing a waste scoop or a few grooming supplies either.

When Gerardo’s on the road, his cats come too, in a carrier big enough for them to turn around and lie down comfortably. Disposable litter boxes have made cat travel a lot more convenient too. For more tips on safe car travel with a cat, visit here.

Staying in a Hotel

If you’re planning an overnighter, many hotels allow trained and appropriately restrained pets. Most will charge a small fee of $10 to $50 per pet. To find pet-friendly hotels, use our Petcentric hotel finder tool.

Off the Beaten Path

Gerardo takes his pets everywhere, including the great outdoors.  

One of his favorite destinations is the Smoky Mountains, partly because he enjoys watching his dog splashing about in the ponds. “Just make sure when your dog returns to dry land, he is kept on a leash. With wildlife around, you don’t want him running off. And keep a basic emergency kit in case your pet does go off-leash and gets injured.”

Gerardo also stresses the importance of checking their paws. “If they walk on hot ground, it’s easy for that sensitive skin inside the paw to burn. Also check paws for seeds or small, sharp rocks. If they pierce the skin, it’s not only painful, but it could also lead to infection.”

If it’s hot outside when you return to the car, run the A/C a bit before you re-board. If you’ve brought your portable water dish, now’s a great time to re-hydrate while the car cools off. 

Along For The Ride

Traveling with your pet can be fun, fulfilling and adventurous! So when you can, bring your pets with you! As long as you’re taking the right precautions, travel presents an opportunity to bond with your pet on a whole new level. Says Gerardo, “It’s exciting. As soon as they hear the keys jingle, they know they’re going somewhere.”

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Stephen, Puppi + Burma: Moving Mountains
STEPHEN, PUPPI + BURMA: MOVING MOUNTAINS

The Healing Power Of Exploration

"I'd be a fool not to go up into these mountains and see what's there,” Stephen Simmons said to himself after moving his whole life across the country to Grants Pass, Oregon in 2012. He had moved out west from Bluefield, West Virginia, after a year-long stint in Iraq, arriving light in baggage but heavy in spirit due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Stephen was right in thinking that great things awaited him at the top of majestic mountains. It was on a mountaintop that he first found his dog, Puppi, back in 2004. And it would be on many mountaintops that he would start to heal himself in nature by practicing adventure therapy with the dog and cat he loves.

Adventure As a Way of Healing

So what is adventure therapy?

"Adventure therapy, to me, is stepping outside that space in my own head where I feel compressed and I can't think,” Stephen explains. "Society is space-invading. It's stressful. You don't have that in nature. You come out here, it's the total opposite.”

Stephen has always been an outdoors man, and connected with other veterans through the Outward Bound program in 2012. The program seeks to change lives through challenge and discovery, using unfamiliar settings and experiential learning to help people build a sense of confidence and community. But it wasn't until early 2013 that Stephen decided to try using his outdoor adventures for therapeutic purposes. When he began, he put his own unique spin into adventure therapy - bringing his pets along for the action.

The Empathy of Pets

To Stephen, pets help with healing because of their companionship and capacity for empathy. Stephen believes that pets have a sixth sense - an ability to tap into something invisible, something bigger than we can perceive.

Stephen feels that throughout his life with Puppi, his dog has been able to read and absorb his emotions. When he’s happy, Puppi’s happy. When he’s upset, Puppi knows it.

Stephen first found Puppi at the top of a mountain in 2004 and took her in. She waited for him while he was away at war, and, as Stephen puts it, “she’s never wanted to be more than 10 feet away from me since then.”

For his next project, Stephen hopes to create a book that focuses on Burma the "Adventure Cat." The photo above is one of his own photos of his feline adventure companion.

He brought his cat, Burma, into their lives after he moved to Oregon. Already “missing the feline touch,” he was drawn in when a teenage girl outside of a grocery store was walking around with a box of kittens. A particularly unusual brown cat, Burma caught his eye, and Stephen knew he was the cat for him. Soon enough, Burma was keeping up with Stephen and Puppi just fine.

"We're Burma's pack,” Stephen says, “and he grew up doing the same things we do out in the wilderness, in the woods: climbing mountains.”

Stephen believes adventure therapy would be a lot lonelier without his pets. 

“They just fill my day with laughter and funny things, happy things. As someone with PTSD who keeps to myself, if I did not have Puppi and Burma I probably wouldn't have spoken to 90% of the people I've had conversations with.” 

Underneath the PTSD

Bonding with his pets has not only helped Stephen move away from his PTSD-related urge to isolate himself, but it has helped him get back in touch with who he really is. 

“The biggest lesson that I've learned in the last couple of years is that no matter how dark it seems, down underneath all that is the same person that you were as a little kid,” he explains.  "And that hopelessness, it's a lie. It's something that's hijacked your life, and the real person that you were is still there.”

For Stephen, connecting with his inner child is easier with pets around, since they’ve always been a part of his brightest memories. “We had a really good upbringing and pets were always a part of it,” he remembers. “I loved to go play in the woods, and dogs would always be by our sides and cats would be coming along and playing in the trees.”

Stephen’s Journey To Inspire Others

Stephen’s gentle, observant nature and willingness to talk about his feelings have helped him reach out to others in his battle with PTSD.

He recently connected with a fellow veteran, a Marine veteran named Lydia Davey, who helped him raise funds on Kickstarter to publish a book of his photography. The project opened his eyes to how many other people could connect with his experiences, and motivated him to help inspire others. Now, he wants to become a motivational speaker.

Sharing love with people and pets, and staying in touch with nature has been a recipe for a better life for Stephen. His riff on a Sun Tzu quote, painted on the back of his Jeep, sums it up well: “The best revenge to war is to live well.”  For Stephen, the vantage point to a good life is looking down from a mountaintop, his cat and dog by his side.

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The Doberman Pinscher was bred in Germany in the late 19th century as a guard dog and companion. Brave, intelligent and easily trained, he also came into high demand as a police and war dog. This energetic, watchful and obedient breed makes an affectionate and loyal family dog. His short coat requires minimal maintenance, but he does best with regular exercise.

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