The Puppy Diaries
There’s no doubt that puppies grow up quickly. One minute your Shih Tzu is a cute little cotton ball that fits into the palm of your hand and the next minute she’s all grown up with her hair tied up in a top knot. There are lots of creative ways that you can capture this transition from puppyhood to adult dog and you can have fun doing it at the same time
Making a scrap book that diarizes your dog from the moment she becomes a family member can be a very rewarding project. You at can involve the entire family in collecting items and taking photographs. It’s some thing you can save to do on a rainy day and, because it’s a work in progress, you can put it away and take it out to work on at any time.
How to get started
“It’s important to select a nice-sized album that will accommodate your pup’s treasures and memorabilia,” says Eva Lee of Scrapbook Buddies in Temple City, Calif. “They usually come in squares and 12 inches by 12 inches is a good working size. It’s also a good idea to stock up on protective refill pages at the time to maintain uniformity throughout the project.”
Lee suggests selecting cards and papers in colors that will both compliment and accent your pup’s photos and treasured items.
“I always look to picking up prominent colors in photographs or items of memorabilia. For example, if you have photographs of your puppy on the grass, then shades of green would work well in the layout.
“It’s fun to treat each occasion separately and use different colors that compliment that occasion. It’s like putting together chapters in a book,” explains Lee. “It’s a good idea to visit a specialized store and buy a variety of individual sheets to add to the creativity of the project. Embellishments such as stickers and buttons also add a very professional touch. Stock up on such pet-related items when you see them.”
Tools for the Task
To successfully scrap book, it’s important to have the right tools. A 12-inch paper trimmer is a must have item. Various pairs of scissors should include a medium-sized pair with a sharp fine tip as well as some paper shapers that cut interesting edges. It’s a good idea to purchase a toolkit for beginners that includes the most popular tools required.
An acid-free adhesive will work well on different papers and surfaces. They usually come in sheets or on a wheel dispenser. It’s also useful to have a selection of permanent markers in different thicknesses to hand write captions and journal entries.
“Beware of markers that are too strong are seep through paper,” warns Lee. “A professional set of Zig markers is a good investment. Some people like to write directly on to their lay-outs. The alternative is printing it up on a computer and pasting it in.”
Specialty adhesive boxes that paste directly onto your layout are great for preserving teeth and locks of hair. Small plastic pockets are perfect for preserving such puppy treasures too.
Things to Include in your Scrap Book
Apart from teeth and lockets of hair, you can include your puppy’s first collar, the invoice from the first veterinarian’s visit and of course the till slip covering your first shopping trip for such doggie accessories as collar and leash, dinner ware and a comfy pet bed. A certificate that congratulates your pup on graduating puppy kindergarten as well as a certificate to state your puppy is house trained belong in your book. (Certain manufacturers of puppy pads will send you a certificate when your puppy has learned how to use a puppy pee pad.) Invitations for your pup’s first birthday party and any pet events you attend also have their place in your scrap book.
To give your book a professional look, its worthwhile signing up for a basic scrapbooking class at a specialty scrapbooking store or at a general craft store.
“There’s lots of interesting techniques to learn such as show to tear paper in different ways to creature texture as well as how to distress paper by taking any ink pad and running it along the edge of a page,” says Lee. “And after that, just let your creative juices flow and have fun. There are no fixed rules.”
Owning a Camera – The Moment important Tool of All
Whether you are scrapbooking or planning to place photographs in albums or individual frames, owning a camera is essential if you are going to keep a record of your puppy growing up.
A digital camera is probably the easiest and most economical option because you only have to print up the shots you plan to use whether you’re putting together a scrap book or a photo album. It follows that a digital photo frame is another fabulous way to keep a visual diary.
To capture magic moments, you have to be comfortable using your camera and understand all the features it offers.
Many camera stores offer free classes to first time buyers. This is a great way to learn about some of the basic features and even some advanced functions that can make your shots look focused, framed, and professional.
Capturing the Moment
“When it comes to still photography, composition is the key,” says ace pet photographer Jim Dratfield of New York. “Always get as close as possible to your dog. You can use toys or treats to get her attention. Hold treats next to the camera lens, just out of range of your viewfinder. Mesmerized by the biscuit, your dog will appear to be giving you his undivided attention.”
To make shots visually interesting, avoid snapping your pooch in the center of the frame. Be prepared to get on the same level as your dog’s face to capture your puppy’s candid expressions, even if this means lying down on the ground. And make sure the background contrasts with the color of your dog’s fur. You might even want to have a family member on hand to assist by grooming your puppy to keep her looking her best.
Keep your camera handy at all times to capture those magic moments. Every event in your puppy’s life is worth recording whether it’s the first visit to the pet store, a play date in the dog park and of course of family occasions from birthdays to Thanksgiving and every else in between.
When working with pets, natural light is best.
“But avoid placing your puppy in front of a window because you will blot out features and simply create a silhouette,” says Dratfield.
If you do need to use a flash, try angling it away from your dog so that the light isn’t too harsh and doesn’t spoil your work.
There are a number of ways to take care of “red-eye” in photos: most cameras have a “red-eye” flash that helps prevent the effect in both human and doggie eyes. (In dogs, this flash effect actually turns their eyes green.) If your camera doesn’t have this feature, you can purchase a special pen to touch up eyes on your prints from a photographic store. However, if you are working with a digital camera, the chances are you will be able to fix any problems on your computer with the help of photo software.
The Doggie Diary Video
If you have a video camera, chances are your Shih Tzu will be only too happy to star in your home movies. What’s more, she’ll happily work for treats! A doggy diary starring your dog is simply a chronological list of events that highlight your puppy’s life.
If you are about to get a dog, opening footage can depict anything from family members researching the breed on line and attending dog shows to that magic moment when you find your new best friend. This kind of video diary is not too demanding because you can pick up your camera where you left off and add footage at any time.
Remember, every event in your puppy’s life is worth capturing on film – your first trip to the pet store, the first visit to the dog park, the first obedience class, the first play date and birthday party. Not to mention general family occasions that includes your puppy such as Thanksgiving.
For a video of your pet to look professional, you must be comfortable following your puppy with your lens as she romps around. Practice makes perfect and will avoid you taking endless footage of empty grass or sky shots!
Hurrah for Hollywood!
Once you’ve mastered this filming technique, you can progress to penning stories that will highlight your puppy’s acting abilities (a little puppy training will help here) and make her a canine star.
It’s a good idea to write a story line or have a theme mapped out in advance. This will avoid producing endless hours of disjointed footage that’s unlikely to find an audience even amongst your closest family and friends.
Once again a free video camera workshop is a good idea. Use such an opportunity to
discuss your plans with a professional who will be able to suggest additional pieces of equipment like a tripod to keep you steady. And never skimp by buying cheap videotapes. Only the best if you plan to preserve your pup for posterity!
Adding Professional Touches
Titles and music add a nice professional touch. There are lots of computer programs available that will help you add the finishing touches to your video production. However, if you are technically challenged and unable to edit, don’t panic too much. Just stick to your storyboard. This will ensure you have some flow and sequence to your film.
Some More Helpful Hints
To get yourself in the zone to film your puppy, study some television advertisements that feature pets. For example, take your favorite TV dog food commercial and count the number of different shots that make up the entire production. When you start filming, follow suite and switch angles often. Don’t film from one angle for longer than about ten seconds. Practice makes perfect!
When you zoom in, count to five and do the same count when you zoom out.
Remember the days of silent movie are over. Learn how to talk or narrate while you film and include people in your shots that can keep the action and the audio going.
The same rules to taking great photographs also apply; make sure you are eye level with your dog to capture the action from his point of view. And don’t forget to use toys or treats to get your puppy’s attention.
The Perfect Co-star
If your dog is going to co-star with a child, make sure they are really comfortable with one another. It’s always a good idea to have an assistant to help.
Love Scenes and the KISS Rule
If you want two dogs to kiss and cuddle, stage the affection with peanut butter. Smear some behind the ear of one of them and be ready to film.
Finally, always apply the KISS Rule — Keep It Short and Simple! An attention-grabbing video starring your puppy shouldn’t run longer than 20 minutes. This will ensure your audience will sit and stay. If you get good reviews, no doubt your puppy’s fans will beg for a sequel.
Other Creative Suggestions
- •You can use photographs of your Shih Tzu to personalize greeting cards, T-shirts and mugs. They can even be laminated to make place mats.
- •For interesting holiday tree decorations, look for items like small wooden photo frames that you can paint in festive colors and hang on your tree.
- •Other holiday decoration ideas include taking several photographs of your puppy printing them on photographic paper, and glueing them over a glass or polystyrene ball to create a montage effect and date it. Spray with a clear lacquer and sprinkle a little glitter. If you do this every year, it’s another fun way to record magic moments in your pet’s life.
- •Holiday prints of your dog can also be pegged to colorful string and hung across a doorway. Glue prints back to back so that they look good from both directions.
- •Scrapbooker Eva Lee suggests doing a scrapbook layout and turning it into a calendar. You can buy calendars from stationary and craft stores. Simply glue it in place on the layout.
The Tooth Fairy
It’s not easy to keep track of a puppy’s loose teeth as they usually land up swallowing them. However, if you feel around it its mouth and are able to spot a loose tooth you may be able to maneuver it out and save it without causing any pain. Apart from placing it in a scrap book, a creative jeweler will be able to secure it into a locket or a Perspex tube (like a grain of rice) so that you can wear it around your neck or on a bracelet.
Sharing your videos with the World
With web sites such as U-Tube and MyPetCam.com you can share your puppy’s finest video moments with dog lovers around the world.
This article is from Shih Tzu Puppies
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