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Zada's Journey Continues

I'm that geek who goes back and re-reads old blog posts from time to time and in doing so today I came across my first day with Zada – also a long day of "firsts" for her. She'd never done a lot of things a dog owner sort of takes for granted when they bring a new puppy home...things like wearing a collar, walking on a leash (keep in mind she was 4 months old when I got her), going for a car ride, being used to meeting new dogs and seeing new places, etc.

Reading through my emotions of that day I'm definitely glad we've progressed to where we are now. Namely, I have a nearly-4-year-old German shepherd I can mostly trust around new dogs and kids and who motivates me to get out for walks. When I pick up her collar, she comes to me and puts her nose up so I can slip it on. I grab her leash out of the closet and she knows we're heading outside for an uber-fun walk (any walk is a fun walk for her). She rides in the car like a champ – she never threw up again after that first day – and is calm, doesn't whine or get excited and waits until I tell her she can jump out.

She waits at doors for me to tell her it's okay to go out (or come in). I never realized how NICE it is to have a polite dog until I see everyone else's dog rushing headlong through doors. I don't have to worry about her taking off to chase squirrels, rabbits, ducks or turkeys, though I do have to watch her around deer and cats. I can walk her off leash and trust she'll stick around (unless, again, there are deer...but we're working on that!).

She's been – knock on wood – healthy, with no major illnesses or surgeries (save for her spay and having to get her leg stitched up when she sliced it open 3 years ago). I did recently put her on glucosamine because historically she's been sore after a ton of exercise. She hasn't displayed that for a while (pre-glucosamine) so might not be an issue.

I get compliments all the time on what a good dog she is...and while she's not perfect, she IS such a great dog and I'm thankful – in spite of a few quirks – I have her. Here's to the time you've already given and those years left yet to give!

A Horsey Weekend

A Girl on Her Horse
A couple weekends ago I made the sojourn up North to hang out at the parents' Ranch n Spa. Not only to relax...I had a few items on the agenda: I had to enter my photography at the Crow Wing County Fair; a family friend wanted me to take pictures of her daughter and her horse; and my mother and family friends were riding in a horse show in Aitkin.

Haley & BlazeNeedless to say it was a busy – and very fun-filled – few days. It was also very photography-focused. I always bring my DSLR when I go up there, but I don't think it's ever gotten quite the use it did on that trip: I ended up shooting over 1,500 images. Normally I don't get those types of numbers unless I'm shooting a wedding or on vacation.

It all started with the cloudy, slightly-foggy morning photo shoot of a girl and her horse (a 30-year-old horse, I might add). Since animals aren't always super-cooperative – though old, this horse is still somewhat naughty and wasn't willing to stand still – and I needed to catch the "poses" quickly, I cheated and threw the camera into the sports mode setting. *Sigh* Yes, for a portrait-type photo shoot I did this. But, it was a slightly cloudy day (and with my 24-105 f/4, that wasn't ideal), the horse was moving around and I wanted to be able to continuous-fire.

National Show Horse Grazing
Turns out it was a good setting for that particular situation. No time to manually set up f-stop and aperture for each image. Partly the reason I took so many shots, since of course I was trigger-happy. Got some good ones, and our friend is happy so that's all that matters.

Joy of Perfection & Hucklebey CharmerThe day after that I went ahead and kept right on shooting – for the majority of the day, anyway – in my cheater sports setting since I was at a horse show. Again, lots of shots snapped in order to get the good ones (in this case, it's so much about framing, lighting, etc. as it is about how the horse looks). I ended up shooting more video of the classes than images, and none of the shots were great, in my opinion. But, the weather was (mostly) good, ribbons were won and fun was had.

Grass with Horses in Background
After getting back from the show it was time to head into Brainerd to enter my photography at the fairgrounds. Evidently the judges liked me, my photos did well again this year :)

When I got home from that it was only natural to head out to our own horse pasture and continue shooting. Sometimes a horse of your own standing in a field evokes more of an emotional response than anything else...again, while not exceptional shots they're my family's horses and I just like the shots.

Three Horses Lomo Effect
That weekend kick-started my picture-taking gene. Since then I've been pretty focused with not only shooting more but also wading back into the plethora of stock I have and editing older images. I don't think I could re-create that weekend if I tried...but I'm glad I got the chance to get to blend two of my great loves – horses and photography.

National Show Horses in Pasture

Thanks to the horses for posing for the camera :)

Victory 44

Scotch Egg Plate at Victory 44
I lived in North Minneapolis for 4 years and never knew about Victory 44. Maybe it's new or maybe I was too scared to venture out. Regardless, I've recently experienced this cool little place and I must say the experience was a surprise.

For that neighborhood the cuisine is shockingly cosmopolitan. My friend and I sat on the patio –  which is cuter than the inside and according to our waiter, dog-friendly – and sipped our cold, adult beverages while said waiter explained their chalkboard menu (including how to say "charcuterie").

Since their plates are all small and we wanted so many items, we ended up ordering quite the parade of wonderful food. To accompany my waiter-advertised white wine and my friend's cocktail, we dined upon the following:

Charcuterie at Victory 44: Their Meat & Cheese Tray
  1. Bacon fries (these were tasty, big french fries with crumbled cheese; we didn't notice any bacon)
  2. Scotch egg - absolutely to DIE for if you like scotch eggs!
  3. Charcuterie - their "meat and cheese tray" which is actually a lovely concoction of head cheese, liverwurst, paté and pickled veggies and overall yumminess.
  4. Seared scallops - extremely tasty. 
  5. Dessert - a 2-part, delectable, sinful, utterly fantastic display of art which we also ate. FABULOUS.

We did spend a nice little sum of coin –  although they're small plates the prices add up when you eat as many of them as we did – the quality of the food was definitely worth the price. 

I'm thinking I'd love to head back sometime and try more menu items (and also the'd be silly not to) and maybe I'll even bring the dog!

Dessert Tray at Victory 44