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November 1, 2004 – This week's DaDane features an older fawn named Don Pepe Segundo, aka "Pepe." Pepe visited me from North Carolina last week with Loye Merwin (his owner) and Lorraine Rainwater for a photographic portrait session. He is almost nine years old but he's in very good health, despite a little arthritis.

As soon as Pepe hopped down from the van, Merlin ran over to greet him. The two old boys, with their graying faces and wagging tails, sized each other up. Needless-to-say, they didn't shake hands. Rather, they had to sniff each other's butts. (A charming habit, don't you think?) After dancing around in circles a few times, off they went to explore the yard. Both dogs were about the same size, somewhat "broad in the beam" with natural ears and plenty of white whiskers. They made a cute pair as they cheerfully ambled off together like two old men who'd known each other since kindergarten.

We decided to eat lunch before beginning the shoot, so Pepe and Merlin were called back to the house before they could complete their inspection of the yard. During the entire meal Pepe moved from window to window, never taking his eyes off our white swan as she swam along the edge of the big pond in our front yard. Watching such attractive prey gliding by just beyond his reach eventually became too much for poor Pepe and he began to bark excitedly. Merlin happily joined in, although he had absolutely no idea what they were barking at.

An Easy Shoot?
As we ate lunch I was thinking how easy it was going to be to photograph Pepe. I was sure he would be a very animated subject due to the presence of the swan and scores of Canada geese that had flown in for the afternoon. What more could a good dog want? Surprisingly, just one thing – goose poop. When we went outside to begin the shoot, Pepe's nose dropped the ground and he raced around sniffing all the goose poop he could find. Unfortunately there was plenty of it. Pepe ignored the swan and refused to stand still for the camera. Before long he was panting from the exercise, which didn't help matters any.

Cindy Niske, who was also with us for the shoot, offered a good suggestion. "Let's take Pepe over to the orchard, away from all the good smells." So off we went. Things weren't much better over there. Pepe found other things to sniff and he wasn't the least bit interested in posing for the camera. He virtually ignored any and all baiting with squeaky toys, including the notorious Wiggly Giggly ball. (Show dogs are so much easier to shoot!) In desperation the four of us barked and meowed, howled and yowled, and squawked like distressed chickens. Still, Pepe paid us no mind. Then Cindy had another bright idea. She headed off into a wooded area and made a lot of noise thumping the brush and grunting like a pig. Pepe's nose left the ground; he quit panting and his ears popped up. As he tried to figure out what was going on, I was able to snap some decent shots – at least enough to please his momma. Mission accomplished, but not without a struggle. Still, we had a lot of fun!

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