For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a heart for taking snapshots of animals. As a child on my parents’ farm, one of my cherished possessions was my collection of our pet’ portraits, all taken by yours truly with “old-school” film cameras.

Almost 3 years after graduating college, I created MoOseTip STUDIO because models of the four-legged genre are far and away my favorite subjects. Like people, each pet has his/her own personality; working with and capturing their individuality is both challenging ("Stay. No. Sit. Good. Now stay... I said stay.") and rewarding!

If you’re curious about the name and haven't figured out the connection, it’s an amalgamation of my two wildebeest (as I endearingly refer to them): Tipper + Moose.

TIPPER | Tipper's my 2-year-old, 90-pound Goldendoodle. Specifically, he's 75% Standard Poodle and 25% Golden Retriever, which explains the kinky, tight curls and why his fur feels more like sheep's wool. He came to me as an early Christmas present in November 2008. Bless her heart, my aunt picked him up from a breeder in Kentucky and drove him to Georgia while he yelped ear-piercing cries most of the way home. Exhausted from the journey, my first impression of him was that he was uber-mellow. The next year and half proved just how deceiving first impressions can be. He's been a fabulous, smart, overly gregarious companion. And as a puppy, mellow was never an accurate adjective. He kept me very busy during his adolescence. I remember one day he pottied in the house, had moss from a potted plant strewn across the floor, and threw up right before we went to bed. "Tipper," I said, "I have spent all day cleaning up after you." Outside, he loved gnawing pine cones (he still like sticks) and wallowing like a hippo in mud pits (again, he still likes this activity). And forget having a bed for this guy. Until recently, he humped and destroyed every bed I got him, so I stopped buying beds and gave him cheap towels. Only now does he appreciate a quality dog bed. But these days, he's (a little) more mature and settled and can actually be found content on the couch... until Mavic (my parents' Giant Schnauzer you see in the photos) arrives or Moose rouses him to play. Then it's game on! And Tipper loves a good game, mostly if he's at the center of it. He'll pick up toys and squeak them in the others' faces, holding the toy there just long enough for them to want it--then he'll turn away, begging them to chase. He's a bit of a tease. He loves going places and doing things and has accompanied me running, swimming, kayaking, and on countless car trips (his fuzzies touch the roof).

MOOSE | Not unlike Tip, Moose is also a Goldendoodle, though she's a 50/50 ratio. I call her my rescue because she came from a home that had no business having dogs. Her dad + sibling got hit by cars, and the owner shot her mom in the side. (She survived and is in a good home now!) This month, Moose will be a year old this June. She only weighs around 50lbs., but what she lacks in size, she makes up for in personality. And she's a boy's dream sister: a tenacious Tomboy. Where Tipper is often cautious (he gingerly tests the depth of ponds before he gets in), Moose plunges right in. Her bold spirit comes in handy since Tipper + Mavic are both big, rough players. Nine times out of 10, they team up against her for the chase, and she enjoys every minute of the tactical darting + evasion games that ensue. Her defense strategy once she's caught has won her the nickname "Great White," and it's because she rolls her lip up to expose razor teeth and an usual amount of gums (need a visual?) before snapping wildly in every which direction. She does this hoping if she snaps quickly enough and moves around like a banshee, she'll eventually catch the beard or an ear of Tipper or Mavic. But she also thinks biting is a form of affection, so that's how she greets people: biting, but a less-gummy version. And because of this, my dad starting calling her "Snapping Turtle." To top it off, my boyfriend thinks she resembles a bear. Clearly a moose wasn't the right animal to name her after. (Either way, she came along after the studio, so there was really no other option.) For all her boisterous roughhousing with the boys, she can melt your heart with sweetness. She likes to cuddle and gets so excited when she finds you (if you've disappeared into another room, for instance) that her whole body wiggles.

So that's Tipper + Moose. Neither has a personal bubble, and neither have any concept of yours. They're very front-and-center dogs, and that's exactly their position in my life (competing only with a few humans I know and love). I couldn't imagine life without them. Well... actually... it would be quieter, slightly cleaner and definitely less expensive... But why would I trade those things for what I've got now?! :)