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2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Dog Lovers

I seriously dig a good holiday gift guide, especially if it's geared toward dog lovers and pet parents.  Simply click on an image to visit the website.  There are no affiliate links or paid promotions - just a few of my favorite products and gift ideas for dog lovers!

1. Door Mat - because it's the truth!  2. Those who love me love my dog paperweight bone, get it?  Ha!  3. Love this for long dog walks!  4. LL Bean comes out with new flannel dog print pajama pants every winter and they are super comfy.  5. Having a Nest has brought us so much peace of mind when we're away from home.  6. I was really impressed by the quality of this beautiful ornament (different breeds are available)  7. Laura Stinchfield, The Pet Psychic is absolutely amazing, I've had two readings and highly recommend her.  8. I just want this all the dogs tee - because who doesn't?  9. Barrel Oak Winery is such a picturesque and fun winery to take your dogs to - the Chocolate Lab dessert wine and the Bowhaus White are some of our favorites (they ship too!).  10. All you need is this sign!  11. I'm a Baggu freak and have way too many of these reusable bags (they can hold 30+ pounds!). 12. Kittenhood - photographed by the super talented Sarah Beth Ernhart - it's a gorgeous book and my little one will be getting it for Christmas - shhhh!  13. The Art of Racing in the Rain is a favorite for sure.  14. I've always said that dogs are people too!  15. Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are - a sweet and stylish daily reminder.  16. Custom felted dog - I want one of these something fierce!  17. Possibly the coolest return address stamper around (different breeds are available).  18. Because Santa Paws needs a place to put fido's pressies too!  19. Be sure to gift with a box of tissues!  20. I use my Hydroflask every day and it's great to keep Kiki's water nice and cool whenever we're away from home in the warmer months.

 

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Dogs and Cats

It's always great hearing rave reviews from friends and clients about their favorite pet products.  There are no paid promotions or affiliate links, it's mostly just Kiki's favorite dog products that she regularly uses, loves and we want to share them with you!  Click the images below to visit their website.

1. The Great White North Dog Coat by Chilly Dogs - my Canadian friends absolutely rave about this coat and I figure if they're good enough for harsh Canadian winters then they are good enough for Northern Virginia winters too.  They are worth EVERY penny - we love them!  2. This Ruffwear Harness is the best of the best when it comes to harnesses!  3. Kiki has had her custom dog tag for over 6 years now and it has held up beautifully!  4. Have a dog who can't see out the window or who gets car sick? Consider your problemo solved!  Bonus: my dogs loved to lounge in them inside the house too!  5. My little Tot loved these durable squeaky fleece bones and I love that they're made in the USA with safe materials.  6. Safety first!  We feel so much more comfortable walking Kiki at night with her little Night Ize light on - we are constantly asked about it and where to find it.  7. These bowls are handmade and I have a slight obsession with Bauer Pottery - it's a truly beautiful and modern water/food bowl.  8. Kiki is a blanket connoisseur and this one is pretty snuggly.  9.  This is Kiki's favorite warm and ultra cozy blankie.  10. I want this and I don't even have a cat (yet!)!  11.  As a California girl I miss In N Out something fierce but your dogs can get it to go and enjoy it anywhere, anytime!  12. Jax and Bones has the best, most comfortable and stylish dog beds around.  The customer service I experienced left much to be desired but the benefits of the bed are by far worth it.  13. Whistle recently upgraded their device and it now includes GPS tracking!  Yes!  When I was traveling and away from my dogs, I loved that I could check in to see what their activity had been like during the day and that their dog sitter was sticking to their routine.  14. Dog bone Christmas advent calendar - because why not?!?  15. My little Tot would have LOVED this machine!  16. Stylish toy bin - need I say more?  17. These Lands End Dog Squall jackets are great for those soggy days when it's rainy and/or cold but not cold enough to get the Chilly Dogs coat out!  18.  I've heard from a few friends that this Clever Pet Hub is pretty awesome!  There are 10 different levels of puzzles that your dog has to work through - what a great idea for dogs that get bored or need a little extra mental stimulation!  19. You can now send letters with your dog's very own custom paw stamp!  This is SERIOUSLY cool!  20. How cute are these cozy cat coves?  

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northern virginia senior photography - kendall

As a pet and people photographer it's rare when I take on sessions without animals. I've photographed several senior sessions in the past that included pets but this is the first one without pets and I think it's safe to say that the gorgeous Kendall totally ROCKED it!  This star volleyball player has a heart of gold and I had so much fun getting to know her and her adorable mom at her session.

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Saying Goodbye

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Saying Goodbye

Thursday was the worst and hardest day of my life.  We had to say goodbye to our baby and I'll never be the same.  Tot was larger than life in so many ways.  She was filled to the brim with unbridled happiness, pure joy, spunk, attitude and personality 24/7, always making us laugh and smile with her free spirited ways.  She was our sunshine.  Tot always had so much to say and the quietness that has fallen over our home is deafening.  She taught me so much about unconditional love and life.  I feel infinitely grateful to have been her mama and the recipient of so much of her love.  

Her little body failed her.  It just couldn't keep up with her big vivacious spirit and house all the love she had to give - she fought with all of her might until the end.  My entire life has revolved around her and Kiki for almost 11 years.  She has left a gaping hole in our hearts and I feel nothing but dead inside and emptiness without my best friend and my shadow here by my side - she was always by side.  The pain is unbearable, I don't want to live in a world without her in it.  I feel so lost without her.  She was more than a heart dog, she was a soulmate in every sense of the word.  I have never in my life experienced a love as pure, wild, selfless and unconditional as hers.

Several minutes after she passed away in my arms, I saw a very bright ball of intense white light float across the room.  I believe it was my baby letting me know that she's okay - what an incredible gift that was.

Looking at photographs of my Tot is the only thing that brings any ounce of solace.  Photos are the only thing that help me still feel close to her.  Even though I have many tens of thousands of photographs of her it will never be enough.  It all happened so quickly.  My baby was gone in less than 2 days.  I have never been so grateful to have big photos of her on my walls.  If you don't have professional photos of your pets do not wait, it's a gift that you will be giving to yourself in your darkest days.

She was by and far the most photogenic dog a photographer could hope for.  As my muse she inspired an entire business.  Without a doubt, there would be no Photography by Sara Riddle with out my Tater Tot who was always more than willing to ham it up for me on queue.

Thank you Big T for every moment, every kiss, every snuggle, every squeal of joy, every tail wag, every knowing look, every conversation, every kindness, every heart to heart, every photograph you let me take, every ounce of inspiration and encouragement, every laugh.  Thank you for everything - I will forever cherish it all for the rest of my days.  I wish there was something more I could have done.  You know I would have done anything - paid any price.  We fought for so many years to prolong your life as much as humanly possible.  I will miss you so deeply my entire life and I cannot wait to be reunited with you again one day.  There aren't words to express how much I love and miss you.  I've met a lot of dogs in my life and you are truly one in a million.  You've touched and changed my life in so many wonderful countless ways.  I will never be able to thank you enough, I will love you forever and will try to honor you every single day with the way I choose to live my life.  You will always be my baby and I will carry you and everything you've taught me in my heart.  Until we meet again.

In memory of Hanalei Riddle (aka: Tater Tot)  12/24/04  -  7/9/15

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Washington DC Pet Photographer - Annie

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Washington DC Pet Photographer - Annie

When I meet a new dog for the first time I like to get a feel for how comfortable they are in front of the camera.  Annie was quite at home in front of my lens, hamming it up left and right.  She seemed very well trained but when I kindly asked her to sit, she inquisitively starred up at me.  It turned out that all of Annie's training was actually in Vietnamese!  How cool is that?  

I got out a new toy for her to play with and she was so excited about it that she would put her paw over it, claiming it as hers (see the 2nd image) - she cracks me up! Annie is like a ray of warm sunshine on a gloomy day - she has such a big effervescent heart that is chock full of unconditional love for everyone and everything.  She's basically the epitome of a dog.  Honestly it was tough to find images of her without a smile on her beautiful face - that's how much of a sweetheart she is!  

It's hard to believe that Annie was found starving in the woods of West Virginia as a pup with barely any fur.  Her parents started out fostering her but they fell head over heels and made the decision to adopt Annie themselves (I'd have done the same thing!).  Annie has been battling cancer the past several months and had just finished a chemo treatment just days prior to her session and so far so good.  Send this furry angel some healing thoughts and good mojo if you can.  xo

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Canine Companions for Independence - Luna

When I met Luna, she was a CCI puppy in training who as getting ready to go into an intense training program.  Her mom (volunteer puppy raiser) really wanted to capture Luna, Kastner (their other CCI puppy in training) and Tex, their family pet, together before Luna’s big departure.

It’s not every day that I get to photograph a service dog in training - let alone two of them, and I loved every minute of it.  The more I learned about CCI and the volunteer puppy raising program the more I was taken aback by the level of dedication and complete selflessness of their volunteers.  Could you imagine raising a puppy as part of your family and then giving them up for the greater good, so they can help someone who needs them?  It would be a flood of emotions - simultaneous joy, sadness, beaming with pride, heart wrenching...

Luna’s puppy raiser mom recently shared that she has flown through her intense training program and will be heading to Santa Rosa, California next week to begin advanced training to become a service dog for someone who is hearing impaired!!  How incredible is that?  Luna was actually on the news recently - you can see her showing off some of her new skills here.

I feel so blessed to have been able to meet Luna and her family and have such deep respect for these puppy raisers and the service dogs they raise!  They are all angels in my eyes.  Wishing Luna nothing but the very best on the next leg of her journey!  Someone out there is going to be SO lucky to get to share their life with Luna.  xo


The Canine Companions for Independence 2015 service dog calendar is now available for purchase and I had the honor of capturing the image of the gorgeous black lab June calendar girl, Luna V!  CCI is a truly amazing non-profit organization that places highly trained service dogs completely free of charge .  All proceeds from the calendar sales will go directly to help pair their service dogs with some pretty wonderful people.  You can purchase your 2015 calendar here!

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dog photography nova - holiday announcement

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dog photography nova - holiday announcement

If you're like me your jaw just hit the ground after looking at the image below (and your pets are running around dancing a jig knowing that santa paws is comin' to town). Tater Tot has been counting down the days with high anticipation of both Christmas Eve (her birthday) and then Christmas - which basically equals dog toy mania in our house.  And let me tell you, this dog LOVES her toys.  So much so that we always joke around the holidays that the annual Toys for Tot's campaign is actually collecting toys across the nation JUST for her.  :)

My little elves (Kiki and Tot) and myself go into serious overtime during the autumn months trying to get the massive influx of beautiful custom art pieces out the door in time for the holidays.  For those of you who've been thinking about ordering custom artwork as holiday gifts or using images for holiday cards, Tater Tot *highly* recommends scheduling your session for a date on or before November 15th.  There aren't many available dates left so don't wait to schedule your session!

- Your friendly PBSR holiday HQ

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Maryland Pet Photographer - Milo and Butter

Butter and Milo made the trip for their pet photography session out from Annapolis, Maryland.  Oh my goodness I loved these two rescue boys and they had a blast at their session.  Butter was hilariously OCD about his toys - so much so that he kept trying to fit all 3 of them in his mouth at once!  Milo is a little more quiet and laid back, it's so sweet how much he looks up to his big brother.  Milo has been battling lymphoma and the latest update I've heard is that he's doing well and they're optimistic- which is fantastic news!  Keep fighting Milo!!

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northern virginia pet and people photographer - madison and snowball

I met Madison the Great Dane Puppy and Snowball (formerly Snowflake until they found out 'she' was a 'he'!) on a beautiful summer day.  Madison's mom wanted me to capture her before she turned 3 months old because she was growing SO quickly - 5 pounds per week.  That's a lot of puppy kibble!  Madison was as sweet as could be and it was great to watch Snowball chill without a care in the world and chase birdies outside.  These are two very loved babies.  :)

I went back about a month and a half later to capture Madison and Snowball's big sister Gabriella with them because she was on vacation during the first half of our session.  If Madison the Great Dane puppy looks substantially larger in a few of these images that just her showing off her 5 lb a week growth spurt over a month and a half!

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hawai'i pet photographer - 2015 travel dates

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hawai'i pet photographer - 2015 travel dates

I'm super excited to announce my 2015 travel dates!  In February I'll be heading back to the aloha state - Oahu, Hawai'i and will be available for island hopping.  After living on that gorgeous island for many years and attending The University of Hawai'i, I can't wait to get back!  The thought of combining my most favorite things in the world - dogs, hawaiian beaches and my camera are thrilling to say the least.  This has been a long time dream of mine!

In the summer of 2015 I'll be heading to some of my favorite stomping grounds of my youth to shoot - Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Monterey, Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

A limited amount of session will be available at each location so please get in touch asap if you're interested in a pet photography session.

Also, I'm frequently asked about travel to different areas around the globe - if you want me to come to you be sure to let me know so I can add it to my potential travel list.  If I can get at least 3-4 clients in a certain area then I'm always happy to travel.

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Lauren + Raesynette | Pet Photographer DC

Rae's mom Lauren is a cutting edge Neurology Veterinarian at South Paws Veterinary Specialists in Fairfax, Virginia.  Lauren contacted me shortly after her darling girl Raesynette was diagnosed with lung cancer. They came to find out about Rae's lung cancer in the craziest way...  Rae gets to go to work with her mama every day and at South Paws they got a brand new, state of the art scanner.  The staff was super excited to test it out and Rae (being the sweetheart she is) volunteered to be guinea pig.  Thank goodness Rae did - the excitement quickly turned to shock when the scan results revealed that Rae was in the very early stages of lung cancer - so early that it's extremely rare to catch lung cancer at that stage.  It was a miracle that they found it when they did.  After looking at all the options, Lauren and her colleagues decided to remove Rae's entire left lung.  They met up with me for a session two weeks later (just a day after one of Rae's chemo treatments) to capture and document their relationship.

I had so much fun with these two and I'm pretty sure that you can plainly see in the images below just how much these adore each other.  The photographs of Rae running below were her first time running since her lung removal.  You can't look at Rae's happy go lucky, sweet, smiling face and tell me that you're NOT in complete awe.  That girl is a champ!

I'm THRILLED to report that Rae finished her chemo about a month ago (HOORAY!!!!), is cancer free (YES!!!) and doing really well!

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Westminster Show Dog - Molly

Molly's parents contacted me in the middle of winter wanting to set up a commercial photography session because they needed some great photos for a promotional advertisement of their beloved dog in preparation for an upcoming dog show that Molly was going to compete in, you may have heard of it - it's called Westminster.  Oh yes, I am talking about the dog show of all dog shows - that one!  Molly's parents needed mainly conformation shots, sporting shots, portraits as well as action shots, and I was definitely up for the challenge.

Before our session, Molly's mom told me that she was quite the wild child!  I didn't know this before but she said that generally show dogs are actually encouraged to jump up and they aren't taught basic commands (like sit and down) because in the show ring the handlers want them to appear as energetic and lively as possible.  If you train a show dog to sit still and not to jump up then you might not get the lively response in the ring that you want.  Pretty interesting stuff.  And Molly didn't disappoint, she is a seriously hardcore girl and had all kinds of crazy energizer bunny energy, I seriously loved every minute of it!  It was amazing to watch her go, go, go!

We met on a freezing February day, there were still patches of snow on the ground (I ended up editing out the small bits of snow because it was distracting) and we were layered in all of our winter gear to keep warm.   I had just started photographing Molly and was kind of bewildered when she showed zero interest in my treats, that literally had never happened to me before!  It turned out that Molly's parents went to a steakhouse the night before and saved a large portion of their steak to give her as treats - they had cut the steak up into bite sized pieces and were giving them to her.  No wonder she wasn't interested in my treats -  steak always trumps dog treats!  It was pretty funny, she was ravenous about that steak!

Molly is currently the #1 ranking Brittany Spaniel in the US (WOW!!!), it's not hard to see why though - she is an amazing, gorgeous, intelligent and determined girl who is deeply loved and cherished by her parents!  I wish her all the success in the world, it was such an honor to capture her lively, bold and beautiful spirit!

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An afternoon with Giovanni in Georgetown, DC

Giovanni's mom originally contacted me to photograph her son and their Golden Retriever, Topher together - they were the very best of friends.  Several days after contacting me, Topher became very ill and they found out that his entire body was riddled with cancer, they were absolutely devastated and sadly had to let their beloved Topher go. 

A while later, Gio's mom wanted to go ahead with a photo session and we met up in Georgetown, Washington DC at their favorite park that they go to almost every single day together. We had a great time and it was fun to watch him so focused and determined whether he was playing in the sandbox, blowing bubbles or swinging on the swings. 

Gio believes that his time at the park is serious business but between Gio's mom and his Godmother, he was definitely feeling the love.

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Northern Virginia Pet Photographers - Niles and Lily

I was so excited when Bev Hollis contacted me about taking some lifestyle photographs of her with her dogs, Lily and Niles!  I eagerly accepted and then realized I had just agreed to photograph an amazing pet photographer with her dogs.  The pressure slooooowly started to sink in. 

Lily and Niles, and they couldn't have been more wonderful!  They had me laughing the entire time - Lily was full of sweet kisses and Niles kept striking poses like a professional model, I suppose that is what happens when your mom is a professional photographer!  Mother Nature blessed us with the most perfect, west coast-esque, non-humid weather - we were ecstatic!

Thanks again Bev - you, Niles and Lily rocked it!

Northern Virginia Pet Photographer, Leesburg, Sara Riddle
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