Yoda’s Puppy Love Session at Mingo Creek Park and Schenley Plaza

Just a day or two after welcoming him into the family, Yoda’s mom Leah contacted me to schedule a session for him. Leah told me that she and her boyfriend, Ethan, had just adopted a puppy from Cross Your Paws Rescue after he was pulled from a farm in Kentucky, and they did not want to miss out on capturing those adorable memories of him. 

Ethan and Leah knew they wanted to get a puppy and got in touch with one of the foster families with the rescue. As soon as they saw Yoda, they immediately fell in love. Leah told me Yoda, at just 12-weeks-old, has been the perfect addition to their little family.Listening to her describe why it was so important for her to document this time in Yoda’s life, I recommended a Puppy Love Session, which included two separate seasonal sessions so that she could have a variety of photos of Yoda growing up for their home. 

In late October, we met up at Mingo Creek Park, one of my favorite spots to shoot, for a fall session filled with everything from colorful leaves to awww-worthy puppy antics. Yoda warmed up right away and, with those heart-melting puppy eyes on his dad, sat like a champ along the creeks that flowed throughout the park near the Ebenezer covered bridge.
Brown puppy at Mingo Creek Park posing by water

“Yoda came from a liter of seven, ” Leah explained. “The foster family he was with always named puppies after a theme. Yoda and his six siblings were named after Star Wars characters.
Rewind three years. I had never seen any of the Star Wars movies until I met Ethan. He insisted on having me watch the entire series on our first six dates. After a lot of rewinding from me falling asleep and many questions, I ended up really enjoying the movies. It only seemed fitting to keep the name since it was a small part in the foundation of our relationship.”

Brown puppy at Mingo Creek Park exploring the covered bridge

Like most puppies I work with during these sessions, Yoda was still very much a puppy, but we took a go-with-the-flow approach and captured some truly adorable portraits, including some of these that turned out to be first session favorites. As Leah explained,  “Yoda loves people, animals, and adventure, [and he] is easily motivated with treats, toys, and his dad. Ethan is home with him almost full-time, so where Ethan goes, Yoda follows.”

Brown puppy at Mingo Creek Park playing in fall leaves

Before wrapping up for the night, Yoda was given plenty of time to play and unwind with his family and a favorite toy. He looks so itty bitty in that big field and barely reaches his dad’s knees. Oh, but just you wait…

Brown puppy at Mingo Creek Park running through a field

Nine months later, this trio returned for Yoda’s second Puppy Love Session, this time at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Plaza and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Now, look–I know how quickly puppies can grow, but Yoda shot up like the towering flowers within the gardens he posed in.  One thing that didn’t change: that happy-go-lucky attitude. Look at that smile!

Brown mixed breed dog among flowers at Phipps Conservatory

We started their session along the cobblestone paths leading down to Panther Hollow Lake as we waited for the sun to get juuust right for us to move up the the garden area around Phipps. Big, brightly-colored sunflowers, small beds of lavender, and vibrant green leaves lit up as Yoda playfully posed among them.

Brown mixed breed dog at playing in flowers at Phipps Conservatory gardens

After grabbing some family portraits, we hopped in our cars for a short drive over to Schenley Plaza, which is practically around the corner, making it a great spot to pair with Phipps. Our first stop: the charming rustic cabin you can see from the road as you drive along Forbes Avenue. I have to laugh looking at these photos remembering that just minutes before, Yoda took Ethan on a full-out sprint after a squirrel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone run so fast! Thank goodness for leashes (and fast-moving dog dads)!

Brown mixed breed dog at Schenley Plaza's log cabin

The light illuminating the plaza was absolute perfection that evening and we captured some beautiful portraits of this handsome boy that each had a different feel despite being taken all within walking distance. That iconic red door, the perfumed blue hydrangeas, and the sunlight filtering through nearby trees: utter summer goodness!

Brown mixed breed dog at Schenley Plaza by iconic red door

Because I believe all good boys need a break from being super handsome on command, Yoda got to go wild in the open grassy area between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel. He had a blast showing off his zoomies and his rope toy.

Brown mixed breed dog playing with toy at Schenley Plaza

So with so many fantastic memories, how does one choose to enjoy them day after day? Well, for Leah and Ethan, that’s in the form of a beautiful 11×14 framed print for their living room and a jam-packed 10×10 fine art album. The images they chose for each couldn’t be more perfect!

If you would like to book a Bark & Gold Photography session for your pet, click here or give me a call at 724-913-BARK (2275). For more information on Bark & Gold Photography sessions, visit “Your Session” in the menu and be sure to share your email on my homepage to join the VIP list.


This post is a part of the Pet Photography 52 Weeks project blog circle. To see what the next pawesome photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Seasons,” check out Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

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7 thoughts on “Yoda’s Puppy Love Session at Mingo Creek Park and Schenley Plaza

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Yoda and his family are great! They were so patient, fun, and laid back. They made the experience very stress-free for little Yoda who, especially at his first session, had no idea what to expect or basic training as he was just days new to his family!

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