Twenty years later, my friend is a talented photographer and beautiful person. She tells me, “everyone is beautiful” and her lifestyle photography captures the beauty of people doing what they love. When I asked exactly what IS lifestyle photography, she described it as studio sessions incorporating objects used to fulfill the passion or talent of the person she’s photographing. See for yourself: http://www.cristinaperezphotography.com/
When I was in her studio, I also got to see some of the beautiful landscapes she’s captured. Dumbfounded and in awe, I sheepishly asked, “but how do you know if what you see, is going to make a good photo”? She explained that a good photographer has the gift of knowing a good composition when they see one. “oh”, I replied, “well, are you ever surprised”? She thought about it for a moment then began to tell me about her Chihuly abstract pieces taken at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. She said, “I was blown away when I saw them on my monitor and even more so when I printed them”. So I asked to see, and when I did, I thought one thing followed by a million other things. First I thought, “this is the kind of work seen in a gallery”. Then I thought, “I want her to photo me”, “I want her to photo Rocco” and “I want to share her talent with everyone I know”. But the most brilliant thought I had was, “I want her to join the pack”! That’s right! Rocco’s Pack! We’re cool, hip and groovy. Aren’t we? We are ONE cool pack! She’d love to be part of us! I told myself this several times and then finally, got the guts to ask if she’d come to Rocco’s Birthday/Holiday Party. To my surprise, she agreed and I was elated.
Ladies, gents and hounds from near and far, we bring you Cristina. She’s my friend from seventh grade, she’s talented as heck and she’ll be at Rocco’s Celebration this Sunday. She’ll be there to capture you and your pooch in your best holiday look. Don’t miss it! The best part is, out of pure kindness and generosity, she’s agreed to one complimentary digital image.
Several months ago, I got an email from an old friend who isn’t even a dog person, and when I say she isn’t a dog person, I mean, she really isn’t a dog person. Nonetheless, you know you have a supportive friend when she makes it a point to forward dog related stuff to you, even when it’s sometimes easier to mass select and delete. Turns out that Reg was not just forwarding any dog related event; Miami-Dade County was kicking off a pilot program where dogs would be allowed on Haulover Beach, the stretch of unincorporated Dade County beach in between Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles. HOLY! WHAT? Did she know how long I had been talking about how it’s no fair that Broward County has TWO dog beaches and how Broward County is so much more dog-friendly and how when Rocco was a puppy and needed more exercise than I could keep up with, I’d have to sneak into the beach down the street before sunset. Yes. That’s right, SNEAK into the beach before SUNSET! All this, so we could steal 15 minutes of beach time and my swimmer, runner, fetcher and candidate for all active things would get his exercise and spend his days happy.
I was so excited, I sent happy-grams to Commissioner Sally Heyman and we attended the doggie beach as much as we could, setting up facebook and meetup events to try to get as many people out there as possible. After all, since this was a pilot program, I felt that we needed to get as many dogs out there to show the county that people really like this idea and to have a positive influence on the probably that it would become a permanent thing.
End of the summer came and although, the beach continues to be open to dogs every Wednesday, from 3pm-6pm, I recently received notice from Miami Dade County Parks and Recreation Department informing me that the dog beach would be permanently open to dogs!! YEEHAW!!! How awesome is that?!? So the official press release is out and I’m happy to announce that October 30th at 10:00AM Miami Dade County Parks and Recreation Department will have the official kick-off, ribbon cutting, history making event for Miami Dade County’s first official dog beach. It’s going to be a big deal! Be sure to stop by Tower 3 in the beautiful Haulover Beach for the start of what promises to be a wonderful outlet for all responsible dog owners and well behaved doggies that enjoy the beach, swimming or otherwise eating sand. Also stay tuned to our meetup.com site http://www.meetup.com/Roccos-Pack-Out-n-About-Meetup-Group/ and our facebook page www.facebook.com/roccospack for scheduled pack outings to the beach and other fun events.
It was a beautiful sunny morning and I, naturally, gravitated toward the beautiful black lab. Later on when we were in the park, his handler said to me, “he’s a service dog, I’m visually impaired”. At that very moment, my interest in this beauty shifted to admiration. Robbie’s life had completely changed when she was diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome. A disease which in her case, causes her to gradually lose her vision and hearing. She wasn’t sure she wanted a service dog. She had dogs throughout her life, but at this point in the game, she wasn’t sure she could handle the long term commitment and responsibility…then she met Spike and everything changed. “Bonding was instant”, says Robbie “trust was a bit harder”. Nonetheless, she knew to go with the flow of whatever led her to Southeastern Guide Dogs, a school based out of Palmetto, Florida that trains and provides the visually impaired with guide dogs. “I couldn’t believe it when I received the call notifying me that I had been selected, they provided the guide dog, equipment, single-room lodging, all meals, outings, instruction for 26 days and post-graduation support completely free of cost”. If that’s not impressive enough, Southeastern Guide Dogs is a non-profit organization fully supported by private donations. Most of the staff at the school are volunteers that truly believe in the cause.
Match-making is a detailed, thoughtful process that begins with a representative actually conducting a home visit. They look at the area where the person lives taking into account whether it’s a rural or urban location. Lifestyle of the person is also a consideration, so that an active or sedentary person may be placed with the appropriate dog. Additionally, trainers assess the person’s pace, pull and pressure in order to match them up with a dog that will be fitting. According to Jennifer Bement, Public Relations Specialist at Southeastern Guide Dogs, trainers make perfect match-ups about 85% of the times on the first attempt, with only 10-15% of the times where a change in dog is required.
One of the things I was most impressed with is that Southeastern Guide Dogs not only has this amazing program of placing dogs with visually impaired people, but also they have programs for Veterans and children. The Canine Connections program is specifically designed for visually impaired children ages 10-17 and the Paws for Patriots Program places guide dogs with blinded soldiers. Some dogs are even trained to show empathy to help mitigate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and some will hug veterans on command when they are having a flashback or an anxiety attack. I was so touched when I heard about this and about Robbie and Spike’s story that I had to get in touch with Southeastern Guide Dogs and spread the word about all the wonderful things they are doing to help those in need. Please look them up at www.guidedogs.org and if you are so inclined, make a donation to benefit their cause. Also stay tuned for fundraising events here in our local area and hats off to these wonderful dogs that make such a difference in our lives.
For this week’s weekly review Rocco’s Pack is at the Waterways Dog Park. Beautifully maintained by the city of Aventura, this dog park definitely gets two “paws up” from Rocco’s Pack. There’s a lovely walking path around the perimeter of the park, so you can go there and actually get some exercise too. There’s tons of shaded areas, benches and picnic tables with the center of the park being under a big canopy. There’s two water stations for the pooches and a hose, so if the doggies get too hot, you can hose them off. The people are friendly and attentive to their dogs. The best thing about this park, unlike other nearby dog parks is that the city does a great job with maintenance. So there’s no muddy areas and it’s regularly re-sodded whenever it’s needed. Also various times during the day you’ll find park staff around willing to help or answer any questions you may have. Kudos to the city of Aventura!!
A VID (very important dog) and frequent visitor of the Aventura Park