With just two weeks to go until the new year, it’s about that time when I reflect back on the past 12 months and start to plan ahead for the coming year. As I wrap up 2021, I thought I’d do something different for this week’s end-of-year post and share with you the first-ever Bark & Gold dog photography superlatives. You know, like those high school ones that filled your yearbook, but better…because…well, dogs.
Disclaimer: This list is compiled all in good fun. I appreciate and love each of my clients’ pets as my own and thank you all for filling 2021 with absolutely magical moments!
Longest Licker: Stella the Senior Bulldog
There was absolutely zero competition when it came to awarding 2021’s longest licker. Stella, a 10-year-old Bulldog, waddled away with that title! Prior to meeting this squat little queen, her mom Elaine warned me that “Stella has a tongue that’s never in her mouth,” adding, “You can help but laugh when you see her coming.”
Best Smile: Winston the Rescued Pit Bull Mix
A portrait of this nine-year-old heart melter smiling was just one of the hopes Winston’s mom Julia had heading into his summer session at Mingo Creek Park. From who Julia described as “the saddest dog at the shelter” to the 2021 recipient of Best Smile, Winston showed us all how much joy a loving home can bring!
Most Playful: Brady the Boxer Puppy
If there’s one thing you can count on when photographing a Boxer puppy, it’s a whooole bunch of energy! At just a year old, Brady really amped it up during her spring session with her brother, Dugan, at Brady’s Run Park earlier this year. A beloved orange rope and plenty of open space to run meant this girl could freely show off her wild side for those action shots that her mom Brandi secretly hoped I’d be able to capture.
Best Celeb Lookalike: Jolene and her Scooby-Doo-esque Looks
She may be named after Dolly Parton, but the turquoise collar Jolene wore during her session was throwing some strong Scooby-Doo vibes, which–by the way–her mom pointed out was completely unintentional. The only thing distinguishing her from this iconic mystery mutt was Jo’s lack of black spots and some opposable thumbs. I’d still say she makes a pretty awesome sidekick.
Best Hair: Spud the Golden Retriever
When his rich red-tinged coloring and lion-like mane, Spud clearly dominated the Best Hair category. Whether showing off his best “sit” or strolling happily alongside his parents with a huge smile, Spud earned a spot as one of the most handsome boys; however, it was when he was at his most playful that this furry little guy’s good looks took center stage. Look at all that floof!
Youngest Pup: Baby Annie the Corgi
Beth initially had a session planned for just her and her 20-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Naela, but an unexpected addition to their family led to a call to me asking if it would be OK if she also brought along Naela’s new sister Annie. (Uh–of course!) Annie was just a few weeks old at the time I photographed her and had only been in Beth’s home for a little over a week. We headed to Schenley Plaza and Phipps Conservatory where the novelty of all-things-new-and-exciting coupled with a growing confidence alongside Naela to produce some pretty adorable puppy portraits if I do say so myself!
Sweetest Senior: Kali the Pit Bull
Arthritis, age, and a recent cancer diagnosis couldn’t slow down this girl during her fall Rainbow Session as she trekked through the park, much to her mom’s surprise. Wearing a custom-made flower crown from The Farmer’s Daughter Flowers, Kali enjoyed an afternoon of sniffs, chicken nuggets, and one-on-one time with her mom Caren in an experience that Caren attributed to giving this little fighter a renewed energy and happiness.
Most Adventurous: Coco, Olive, and Pepper
In addition to most adventurous, this gorgeous trio takes the title of one of my most photographed furry families. This past September, they had their fourth session, this time at a very special spot near their home where they take daily walks and adventure. Fields of vibrant goldenrod, hints of early fall color, and a honey-hued sunset set the scene for this go-with-the-flow session that created this running action shot of Pepper, Olive, and Coco, which their mom chose as another framed signature wall art piece.
Tiniest Doggo: Hoagie the Bulldog/Shih Tzu Mix
“Even more amazing than Hoagie himself, were the hilarious results of his DNA test,” exclaimed his mom Tricia. A “bullshit” (I mean, what else are you going to call a Bulldog/Shih Tzu mix?), Hoagie is the epitome of a squat, elongated sandwich, hence his name. His small sea-level stature required several reschedules due to rain and mud at our chosen location, but the results were every bit worth the wait!
Biggest Doggo: Boog the Gentle Giant
“I love his gentle giant attitude,” says his mom Nina. “He really just loves to be wherever his humans are. He is just the sweetest dog. He just warms the room being around.”
Boog was one of the 13 grand prize winners of the 2022 Biggies Bullies pet calendar contest and one of the biggest, smooshiest pups I had the pleasure of photographing for it. Nina told me that he often sits right next to whoever to get some loving and that due to having been rescued with multiple broken bones in his face and jaw that required surgery to install metal plates, he has chronic rhinitis. As a result, he loves to rub his head and eyes between your legs to itch his face, cautioning that he may try to do that with me. Well, Boog did one better and absolutely slathered me in kisses at the end of his session, and let me tell you: there are few things better in this world than big, wet Boog kisses!
Most Athletic: Keli the Beagle/Bull Terrier Mix
Keli, a Beagle/Bull Terrier mix, is essentially the kid who’s good at everything: ball sports, swimming, running–you name it–and she did it all during her session with her brother Bobo. Even at nine-years-old, this active girl didn’t tucker out the slightest as she ended our time together jumping and splashing through Brady’s Run Lake after her favorite ball. You’re not going to want to miss those “shake shots” I captured of her as her mom Julie called her out of the water.
Best Bromance: Riley and Teddy
While Maureen welcomed her Cairn Terrier Riley home in August 2011, it wasn’t until last year that she realized that he might enjoy playing with a puppy and went back to the same breeder to get Teddy. Maureen says that Riley had been a big help in training a new puppy and showing him the ropes, including how much fun Kong Wubba throw toys are and how to confidently nail their city session as we explored Phipps Conservatory, Schenley Plaza, and the CMU Columns to create a three-piece framed wall art grouping and fine art album that perfectly celebrated 2021’s Best Bromance!
Keep an eye on the blog next week to see our next group of awarded superlatives to close out an amazing 2021!
This post is a part of a photography blog circle featuring photographers specializing in a variety of niches. To see what the next photographer is sharing for our weekly theme, “Wrap It Up,” check out Gretchen Ciccone with GCiccone Photography, capturing special moments. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.