Category Archives: In The News

Did Someone Say Double-Trouble? But They Look So Innocent!

Sometimes, life’s little ironies can be entertaining — regardless of how unplanned they may be.

Case in point…  Shortly after Zuke went back to The Seeing Eye for his medical evaluation and formal training, another local Seeing Eye puppy-raising family asked us if we’d “puppy sit” for them during mid-March, starting on March 13th.  They were raising a female black Lab puppy, named Oceana.

I vaguely remember thinking something to the effect, “Sure… no problem.  It’s a common courtesy among Seeing Eye puppy-raisers to help each other out from time to time.  And since Zuke had just gone back for training, it would be great to have another black Lab around — albeit temporarily — to fill the void we felt when Zuke left.”

Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans.  Little did we know that Zuke would be released from the program back to us by early March.  So by the time March 13th rolled around, we would have not one puppy — but TWO black Lab puppies in our care… and for 10 days no less!!!

At one point in the week, when our puppy duo temporarily tired of their near non-stop antics and chicanery, I managed to capture a few “photo op” moments with my handy, unobtrusive Canon G9 camera.  In each of these images, Oceana is the puppy on the left (who’s all of 9 months old)… and Zuke (now nearly 21 months old) is the familiar puppy you’ve come to know on the right.

And of course, here’s a casual moment featuring yours truly trying to keep both puppies in check for a photo op while outside in our front yard on a cool Spring afternoon.

Life is beginning to resume a sense of normalcy, now that we’re back to just one puppy in the household.  But the week that Zuke had a full-time playmate is one that we won’t soon forget!!!  And more than a few clients stopping in for a photo session or to pick up orders were pleasantly amused with the added entertainment as well.

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A Seeing Eye Puppy Comes Home…

Thomas Wolfe coined the phrase, “You Can’t Go Home Again”, in his novel by the same name.  But thankfully, that doesn’t apply to Seeing Eye puppies that don’t — or can’t — complete their formal training program as originally planned.  Or so we would hope.

This past Thursday afternoon — six weeks to the day we said our puppy-raising “good-byes” to Zuke — we were notified by The Seeing Eye that Zuke was being released from their puppy training program due to a minor medical condition.  It was nothing serious or life-threatening; however, it would preclude him from being considered for further formal training as a dog guide.  Whenever this occurs, the puppy-raising family is often given first choice to adopt the puppy.  So on Friday afternoon I made the drive to Morristown, NJ to formally adopt Zuke and bring him back to his familiar home in Doylestown, where we raised him for nearly 18 months.

Upon entry to The Seeing Eye’s main campus in Morristown NJ, I couldn’t help but notice the huge banner acknowledging 2009 as the 80th year that The Seeing Eye has been training dog guides and matching them to people in need of their services.

Having not seen Zuke for 6 weeks, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  However, after completing the adoption paper work, I was quickly greeted by one very happy black Lab puppy — tail wagging feverishly followed by a quick, unabashed roll-over onto his back in expectation of a healthy belly rub.  Zuke was still Zuke!!!

Before jumping into the car for our ride back to Pennsylvania, I gave Zuke a good walk on The Seeing Eye’s campus and captured a quick picture of him near one of several bronze monuments on the campus grounds.  It was admittedly the most reflective portion of our walk, because that moment-in-time represented a “destiny unfulfilled” for an otherwise healthy and promising puppy we so lovingly raised for a very special purpose.

The inscription by this monument reads: “BEST FRIENDSThe Seeing Eye gratefully recognizes the children, familes and 4-H leaders whose gifts of love and gentle guidance nurture our puppies during their first formative year preparing them for their special destiny as Seeing Eye dogs.

Upon reading that plaque, although we were proud to have helped Zuke this far along in the program, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad that Zuke would never reach that special point in the program where he’d be partnered with a person in need of a guiding pair of eyes.  At the same time, I also realized that Zuke’s ultimate destiny is yet to be determined.  And my wife Linda would love to introduce Zuke into the pet therapy field, where he could periodically bring a special dose of his energetic enthusiasm to people in need, while serving in a job that would be much less-demanding than that of a full-fledged Seeing Eye dog guide.

Meanwhile, Zuke is now back in Doylestown… making the adjustment to being our pet and loyal companion — all the while defying the notion that “You Can’t Go Home Again”.  In fact, he’s most likely going to discover his ultimate destiny in his own way and in his own time.  And from the looks of things (seen here with one of his favorite toys), he’s definitely going to have fun trying — amidst the comforts of home!

Watch this space closely, and stay tuned for future updates!!!

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Our Seeing Eye Puppy Zuke Begins a New Chapter: Onward to Formal Seeing Eye Training!

Back in August 2007, my wife Linda and I took on the role of Seeing Eye “puppy raisers” for our first time — hosting a wonderfully affectionate, “high-energy”, black Labrador retriever puppy named Zuke.  But ultimately, we knew we’d need to say good-bye to Zuke sometime in the late 2008 / early 2009 timeframe, at which point he’d return back to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ to begin formal training on his continued journey to potentially becoming a full-fledged Seeing Eye dog guide.  Knowing this ahead of time still made saying our good-bye’s to Zuke last Thursday a day filled with mixed emotions.

On one hand, we felt a sense of accomplishment that we’d given Zuke the best foundation we could during this early stage in the program – socializing him to as many “real-world” experiences as possible: walks in the park, walks downtown, car rides, retail shops, school activities, hospitals, children in the neighborhood, etc…  But on the other hand, we also knew we’d be saying good-bye to a lovable puppy who increasingly worked his way into our hearts with each passing day he was with us. He even greeted many a client who came in for a studio photo session or to pick up a print order!

Zuke was a tremendous gift for us during the 18 months we raised him, and he undoubtedly changed our lives — and those near to us — immensely.  Simply stated, “life was good” with him in it.  Saying “good-bye” was undeniably very difficult, but the time had come to see if Zuke is ready to fulfill a greater purpose.  I will forever be amazed at how quickly he became such a loyal friend and companion. His energy level — even by puppy standards — seemed nearly unbounded… to the extent that even now, there are times I think he’ll be lurking right around the corner contently playing with a toy, lifting his head up with curiosity and anticipation as he’d hear my footsteps draw closer.  But then reality sets in, and the fact that his toys sit quietly in a corner confirms he has now entered the next phase of the program — one that will critically determine whether he’s ready to be the guiding eyes for someone who’ll need him to help build greater independence while moving about in their world.

Naturally, we captured countless pictures of Zuke.  A few are simple snapshots, while many are the result of the attention to details that are simply a part of what we do — creating very special images.  We even managed to set aside some fun time for a quick “studio session” with Zuke the day before he went back to New Jersey! All in all, this collection of 88 images set to light music simply tells the story of Zuke — just being Zuke — at this early, formidable chapter in his life.  Enjoy!!!

Some of you have asked how it’s possible to say “good-bye” to a puppy like Zuke. Actually, it’s tough — very tough, in fact. But these are the thoughts I whispered into his ear while giving him a few kisses before his ride back to The Seeing Eye on Thursday: “Fulfill your ultimate destiny, my puppy friend!!! In your relatively short stay with us, you’ve already done more good here than you’ll ever realize. And if you’re successfully matched with a Seeing Eye companion, may you be doubly good to your new partner as well. Remember us forever… and may God bless you always!”.

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Three C.B. East Seniors Firm Up Plans for College LAX

We always love to share great news about students in the school organizations we photograph, and this week we send our congratulations to three C.B. East seniors who’ve recently signed letters of intent to play college lacrosse: Adam Bitzer at St. Johns University, Matt Hughes at Towsen University and Zack Sharman at Providence College.

C.B. East students, families and friends have enjoyed our Lacrosse coverage since Spring 2005… so we pulled a few images of Adam, Matt and Zack from our archives in honor of their recent scholarship signings:

Adam, from 2007/2008:

Matt, from 2008:

Zack, from 2007/2008:

We wish Adam, Matt and Zack the very best in their future lacrosse careers, and we hope to capture some great high school senior moments this Spring during their final season as C.B. East teammates.   Congratulations once again to all three gentlemen along with their families!!!

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Congratulations to Dana!!!

We ALWAYS love to share great news… so when we decided to launch our new blog during Spring 2008, we couldn’t have planned a better “inaugural post” than to send out our heartfelt congratulations to Dana for becoming one of the newest 2008 Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders!!! Many of you will recognize Dana from our Central Bucks East High School action sports and senior portrait coverage, where she was a member of the Patriots cheerleading squad for 3 years before graduating in 2007.

Earlier this year over 1,000 ladies — including members from last year’s Eagles Cheerleader squad — competed in open-call auditions, which were subsequently narrowed to a group of 60 finalists competing for the squad’s 38 coveted positions. The Eagles Cheerleader final audition show was held April 23, 2008 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center, where the ladies were judged on appearance, dance talent, and an impromptu interview in front of a live audience and webcast. The Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleading Organization officially announced the 2008 squad to the public on April 26, 2008.

Just a few days prior to the final audition, Dana stopped in for a combination studio/outdoor photo session. And here are some of our favorite images from the session.

We wish Dana the very best in all her future professional cheerleading activities. Winning a spot on the 2008 squad will undoubtedly be a great opportunity for Dana to showcase her talent, poise, discipline and athletic skills in what is sure to be a year filled with high-energy Eagles football cheerleading along with many personal appearances at corporate and charity events! The cheerleaders’ travel schedule is already in full gear, as they’re currently in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic this week for the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader 2008 Calendar photo shoot.

So let’s wish Dana a huge “Congratulations” for this terrific achievement!!!

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