Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Benny and Other Flakes

Walking and photography go hand in hand for me. I only need two hands to operate the camera but the challenge comes into play when Benny joins me. Now, ordinarily Frank handles the leash, and he endures the arm-jerks which signal Benny's desire to forge ahead. I can roll my eyes through his quickly-executed run-jump-tackle sequences which he does with all four paws when he's impatient and wants to move on, but his Herculean tugs and jolts make sharp pictures an impossibility. This past weekend, Frank wasn't feeling tip-top, so I was dog-walker and frustrated photographer rolled into one.

The snow poses yet another difficulty where Ben is concerned. When walking alongside me, he looks at every wayward bit of snow my boots kick up, as a contest. In his frenzied little doggie mind, he believes he has to consume each and every flake. So he hovers near my left foot, and watches each time it lifts a clump of snow. Then he pounces on the newly-landed white stuff, and devours it. That was how the first third of our walk went. Hover. Pounce. Devour.

The second third consisted of him shivering uncontrollably and stopping every three minutes to pee what appeared to be enough urine to overflow from an elephant's bladder. And yet he managed to repeat that shaky stream no less than three times over the next ten minutes. When he wasn't peeing, he was barfing. That crazy little pup was filled to capacity from one end to the other and his body did what it could to expel the volume of snow he ingested. Shiver. Pee. Barf.

During this same phase of our walk, I tried to distract him and keep him moving, so that he'd warm up. Benny can't resist a stick. If I have one in my hand, he wants it. He'll jump alongside me, trying to clamp his teeth down upon it. Once he gets it in his possession, he'll challenge me to come get it back, stick at his front paws, tail wagging, head cocked to the side and eyes locked on my hand. If I make a move toward it, he's off like a shot, prize in mouth. In fact, the only way to get it back from him is to find another. Once he sees the new one, he'll drop the first, leaving it forgotten while he tries to master a new conquest. I kept him occupied this way, occasionally allowing him to chase it down and trot along with his trophy. Jump. Chase. Trot.

On the final third of our walk, Benny had warmed up considerably. He was no longer shivering, and both his stomach and bladder seemed to be devoid of melted snow. This of course meant that he was ready to go back to hover-pounce-devour mode. The cold discomfort he suffered minutes earlier was already forgotten. Such is the nature of a terrier. Silly. Little. Twit.

Despite Benny's antics, I still managed to take a few shots of our snowy surroundings. Please remember to click on each photo to enlarge it.

Here's Benny, tromping through the snow, waiting and watching for when I take my next step so he can kill that clump of snow. His face is all frosty from this activity. (please click to enlarge)

The tree branches were weighted down by the snow but the tips of its pine needles glistened in the sunlight. (please click to enlarge)

There wasn't enough snow to disguise this recent branch break. (please click to enlarge)

There are many apple trees along the path. This one has seen better days but it's probably been sitting here since autumn. (please click to enlarge)

The pink pods of the Spindle tree have faded since autumn, but they still contrast strongly beneath their white caps of snow. (please click to enlarge)

Back at home, the fresh snowfall drew several Cardinals into my yard. This beautiful male watched me through the glass door - his mate partly hidden behind him. (please click to enlarge)

When the male moved to the feeder, I could see the female, looking inquisitive and bright. Despite her subdued colours, I think she's even more lovely than the male. (please click to enlarge)

More snow later in the day. I had seen the apple on one of the trees to the left of this path. (please click to enlarge)

Big, fluffy flakes. (please click to enlarge)

The only open water in the pond seemed to have a dull, pink-hued colour. I don't know what caused it but it cleared up by the next morning. (please click to enlarge)

The geese appeared quite unaffected. (please click to enlarge)


Susan English Mason said...

I love the photo of the cardinal but maybe that's because I live in Arizona. Go Cardinals!

Anonymous said...

The pink pods shot is incredible! I can see the individual flakes and their unique patterns.

Have you ever considered selling your work?

And I *heart* Benny.

Mental P Mama said...

Beautiful. I love that Benny! Bad, naughty geese.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Benny is a hoot! His antics seem not to have in any way to have affected your ability to take wonderful photos. Thanks for the walk! :)

Zuzana said...

Ah Hilary, this was an amusing read! I can so imagine that little dog doing all what you described in your post. Although I am a cat person, I can not help but think that there is something wonderful in the connection one can make with a dog.
Your pictures have managed to do the impossible; they have made me enjoy the winter season. Imagine that.;))
I love the two pictures of the cardinals.;)I wonder whether it is a couple?;)

Reb said...

Beautiful as always Hilary. I love the Cardinals and the female is just as lovely as her mate.

Hope Frank feels better soon.

photowannabe said...

Delightful word pictues Hilary. I could see every antic of Benny and had a silly grin on my face.
Love all the shots but I think my favorite is the brance with the blob of snow, no its the red cardinal, no its his mate. Darn...I like them all.

Daryl said...

Until I got to the Cardinals .. I was in awe of the pine needles ... but then I saw the snowy 'monochrome' and fickle me fell in love all over again

Jinksy said...

More beautiful words and pictures to thank you for. xxx

NJ said...

Hilary, love all the shots especially Benny and the bird shot.

Andrea said...

Great photos again! Ah dogs...they certainly make the walk interesting, don't they?! :) Since dabbling in photography, I invested in a new leash for Sophie (called The Best Leash)...it goes over your shoulder and across your body (like a carrier bag) which leaves your hands free and the dog still safely on leash (when they need to be). :) Benny is such a cutie!!!

Phyllis E said...

Shiver, Pee, Barf. How delicious your walk was! Hope Frank appreciated it.

Can't say that I envy you.

WARM hugs,

Cuzzie P

steviewren said...

Benny should be the star of a children's book. You could illustrated it with your photos.

I love your pictures of the cardinals. It is so clear and beautiful. Perfect.

Chica, Cienna, and Cali said...

Brrrrrr but/and (:D) still beautiful as ever, Hilary......:)
I know she-cardinals are pretty but do you think they sometimes may get envious , if not jealous, of their mates' bright plumes???? you have to give credit to Bennny for keeping you fit :)

Woman in a Window said...

I would love an opportunity to see Cardinals. You don't see them very often this far north. Maybe I should get out tomorrow to fill my feeders after all it's going to climb to a very balmy -20!

the Bag Lady said...

That Benny - what a goof. Of course, the Princess is a snow-chaser, too. Every time I sweep the steps she stands at the bottom trying to catch the snow (and the broom....)

Great post, Hilary!

Nancy said...

Beautiful, beautiful pictures, especially of the cardinals. Your little dog is adorable.

Indrani said...

All shots lovely and beautiful, as always!!! You are an alert photographer.

Maggie May said...

Ben is a lovely little dog. His antics are quite funny!
Your pictures are so lovely. I like the ones of the geese sitting it out in the snow and the cardinal is such a tropical looking bird (we don't have them). Looks like it should be in a warmer clime.
Don't blame you for taking your camera everywhere....... there is such a lot of beauty in your cold, but fabulous country!

Anonymous said...

A Jack Russell Terrier is just that. And ours was also yappy. She pulled, and jerked and was not that easy to take on a walk. I guess we should have trained her better.

I like all of your snow photos.

Peter said...

Having taken pics one-handed while hanging on to Sheba's leash with the other, I have come to the conclusion that a new genre of photography has been created: Dog-jerk photography.

Hilary said...

• Thanks very much, Poutalicious. I'm glad you like the photo. I've always associated Arizona with roadrunners.. but I'm not a sports fan. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much for the kind words, KC. I've only semi-seriously considered, then reconsidered it. Thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

• Thanks very much, MPM. Do we not like geese? :)

• Thanks very much, Pat. But you should see all the ones that didn't turn out. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much for the kind words, Protege. I'm a cat person too, but I've also always loved dogs and I'm quite nuts about Benny. I'm glad you felt warmth from these photos. :) And yes, I believe the Cardinals were mates. I almost always see a female lurking not far from the male. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Reb. I agree about the Cardinals and Frank is on the mend. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very much, Sue. I'm glad you enjoyed Benny's antics and that you're having trouble deciding on a favourite photo. That's a nice compliment. :)

• Thank you, Daryl. You can come and be fickle here any old time you like. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks kindly, Jinsky. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks very much, NJ. Much appreciated. :)

• Thank you, Andrea. That sounds like an ideal contraption. I suppose it wouldn't do much to prevent the body jolts, but it would free up both hands. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• I'm sure he did, Cuzzie Phyl. Enjoy your pool time! :)

• Thanks for the kind words, Steviewren. If we made Benny a star it would SO go to his head. We couldn't have that. Thanks fo stopping by. :)

• Thanks kindly, Moi. I don't know about the plumage envy. I think the subtle shades of the female are lovelier than the flashy red of the males. Thanks for the visit.. and for your always-kind comments.

• WIAW, it's been super cold here the past few days. Today is far comfier at -8C but snow is on its way - something you've seen a lot of this year. Maybe a Cardinal will stand out at that feeder for you. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Baggie. And yep, he goes for every bit of shoveled snow and the shovel which tossed it. The dog is crazy. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Lover of Life. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks very much, Indrani. Kind words, indeed. Thanks for stopping by.

• Thanks so much for your kind comments, Maggie May. The Cardinals are quite like you'd expect in warmer climates. They always stand right out on snowy days though. Thanks for the visit and for the kind words. :)

• Thanks, Abe. Yes, they're difficult on a leash. Some places where Benny walks, he can be off leash. Everyone's happier then. Thanks for stopping by.

• Black Pete, that describes it perfectly. Unfortunately most are not publishable. ;) Thanks for the visit. :)

Shammickite said...

I think Benny is a great little companion but I think he'd drive me bonkers with all the jumping and pouncing.
I have Tessa the Mad Puppy for the weekend. As much as I love her, she is seriously challenging my sanity by trying to steal every bit of food she sees, attempting to hide my boots, dashing round the back yard at midnight barking her silly head off, and coveting all Baby Callum's toys, especially his sippy cup! GRRRR!
Your pictures are super. You must feel so proud when you get so many appreciative comments from fellow bloggers. Congratulations. Lovely shots.

RiverPoet said...

As much as I love your photos, I love your Bennie stories even more. What a wacky little dog! Be sure to pop over to my place to see how Lily did at her eval today!

Peace - D

Dave said...

Hilary, its interesting to see your winter photos which compare well with the hot summer days that we are getting at the moment. I think your Cardinal birds, male and female are beautiful birds. Can you train your little dog to walk without the lead, then you could take photos easier? - Dave

Shammickite said...

Hilary.... next year, you should come to the Rabbie Burns Night, it's always in January, and it will be your first chance to taste haggis. After all Mississauga isn't that far from Stouffville!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Beautiful stark images. Love the cardinal too.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

sweet little Benny---Penny also eats snow while she romps, and both your dog and mine have such thin coats, they have to keep moving to stay warm!

Jenn Jilks said...

Benny is adorable. Have you tried attaching the leash to your coat or something? I remember walking my dad's (spoiled) dogs. Oiy!

Your photos are lovely.

Louise said...

Your descriptions of Benny's behavior always make me laugh... a lot!

Love the pine needle shot and cardinal ones. I miss cardinals. When I go back to Missouri, it's always warm weather. They are hard to capture then.

Tabor said...

Thanks for taking me on such a lovely walk! The photos are great. And it's nice to know that the only thieves near where you live are 4-legged.

david mcmahon said...

Yup, walking and photography go hand-in-hand for me too!

Kappa no He said...

Hover. Pounce. Devour. That's my boy!

I just read "A Year of Wonders" and the narrator talks about harvest and the smell of rotting apples in a very poetic and gorgeous way. My favorite picture was the apple wedged in the tree.

Yolanda said...


Frank Baron said...

Jeepers. All this love for my pooch. Maybe I oughtta' rent him out. ;)

I appreciate you handling leash duties. And you still managed to take some very spiffy shots. :)

Kerri Farley said...

Beautiful captures....but I am especially taken with the one of Benny AND HIS SHADOW! LOVE IT!

carmilevy said...

I'm so glad to read this - I thought I was the only frustrated dogwalker-photographer out there. I have often wondered about trying to shoot while walking Frasier, but he's such a nutty puppy on a leash that I worry I'd drop the camera. Funny how I never worried about that when the kids were babies, but a bouncy dog is a different experience altogether.

I'm going to have to give it a shot. You've inspired me. Yet again.

imbeingheldhostage said...

wow, fantastic shots-- the cardinals are fabulous! Benny is lovely all frosted up-- he looks like energy in the form or happy fur.

Aly @ Lip Zip said...

I'm glad you didn't take pictures of poor Benny's barfing!

The picture of the pine needles is amazing. I have never seen anything like that. I love all of your pictures, naturally, and I am completely jealous of your creative eye.

Megan Coyle said...

Benny is such an adorable dog! And your winter photos are fantastic--I especially like the close-ups of the cardinals. Well done!

Eaton Bennett aka Berenice Albrecht said...

The Cardinals are wonderful studies and the female is stunning. Love the curious pose! :)

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Love the shot of the old apple.

Walking and photography is fabulous, isn't it? Even if you are interrupted :)

AJEYA RAO said...

Lovely pics...Benny is cool:-)

Hilary said...

• Thanks very much for the kind words, Shammie. I'm sure you breathe a sigh of relief when Tessa goes home, balanced of course with a pang of sadness when Callum goes with her. Stouffville is pretty far from home without a car, but thanks for the invite. I'll be sure to keep it in mind. :)

• Thanks, Doris. Yeah, he's a nutcase, alright. Your Lily did great! You must be so proud. :)

• Thanks for the kind words, Dave. Benny isn't my dog as Frank pointed out below, but he does in fact walk without the lead when he's in his own surroundings, where traffic is not a concern. My place is too close to a major road to take that chance. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Angie. Much appreciated. :)

• Yup, Gary. He shivers like crazy when he's eating snow. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thank you, Jennifer. I've thought of it, but he's still awfully jolty. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Louise. I'm glad I could make you laugh and that you're enjoying those elusive Cardinals through these photos. Thanks for the visit despite what I know is a very busy time for you. :)

• Thanks very much, Tabor. You're welcome to join me anytime. :)

• That's an understood fact, David. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Kappa. I'm glad you liked the photo.. and the Benny tale. :)

• Thanks kindly, Yoland. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks Frank. Yes, your pooch is pretty popular in the blogosphere. You know I've never minded taking over the leash. :)

• Thanks, Kerri. I'm glad you like the pic. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Carmi. I just keep the camera strap looped around my hand just in case. I'm glad you were inspired to take a "shot" at it. ;)

• Thanks very kindly, IBHH. Your description of Benny as "energy in the form or happy fur" is right on the nose! Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks so much for the kind words, Aly. While we're being jealous, I'm totally envious of your hilarious writing style. I hope folks will head over to check out your blog. It's one of my best finds this year. :)

• Thanks very much, Megan. I'm glad you liked the pics. Thanks for the visit and for your kind words. :)

• Thanks kindly, Eaton. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks, Cowgirl. I'm glad you liked the shot, and yes, I agree that it's a fine activity. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Ajeya. Much appreciated. :)

Dave said...

Hillary, I couldn't find a comment link on your Jan 20 blog so am commenting here. Amazing blog! I think you are very profesional with a quote under each photo as well as your comment. Well done! I loved your photos too. It is nice to know that in the midst of winter you can find beauty. - Dave

Anonymous said...

How did I miss this post? Benny is celebrity dog among us bloggers. Cute little guy!

Hilary, your snow blanketed life in winter is stunning to behold!

Hilary said...

• Thanks very much, Dave. Your kind words mean a lot to me. :)

• Thanks very much for your kind words, MT. And yes, Benny has become quite the popular pooch! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Susan English Mason said...

A couple of years ago I never saw roadrunners; recently I see them a lot so I'm happy they are back. Mostly I see the female cardinals here in Arizona. We see them very often at our cabin in northern Arizona; not sure why I don't see too many males. Congrats on POTD and BTW I was the first one here and posted first. Thanks for visiting me. My blog is so new (25 days) that I don't have much yet. Cheers-Pouty-Susan

Hilary said...

• Thanks so much for stopping by again, Susan. I'd love to see a roadrunner - the cartoon sure made them famous. ;) It's strange that you only see female cardinals around. I usually see them in pairs - one never very far from the other. Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated. :)

Nita said...

Hilary, how funny, "hover,pounce,devour, repeat." followed by "shiver,pee,barf,repeat". Then moments later forgetting his discomfort going back to, "hover, pounce, devour, repeat." This post just proves Frank's point in that men and dogs are alike. Once the discomfort is gone, guys will go back to what caused the discomfort, if they thought they enjoyed it. And, since you're so good at making lemonade out of lemons, cool posts even when your picture taking was limited, I'm tagging you with the Lemonade from Lemons award.

Nita said...

Oops, didn't see that you were a tag free zone. Ok, consider yourself awarded the Lemonade from Lemons award, your posts are cool. But, exempt from passing the award on. K?

Hilary said...

Thanks very much for the kind words, Nita. It's good to see you visiting my blog again. It's been a while. :) Thanks also for the award. I'll come collect it very soon! :)