Rusty on the Meadows.

14 May



I felt that it was time for a Rusty update…….. He has had a momentous couple of months, and has come out of it all splendidly – looking healthy, happy and extremely handsome – as you can see from the above image !

He has certainly become my beloved pet, and probably the most ‘snapped’ dog in the UK….

I thought I would tell you how he has settled into his new life, and show you a few photos from our trip to the ‘Sudbury Meadows’ – a fantastic expanse of countryside that lies right beside the old market town of Sudbury in Suffolk. It is a dog’s paradise; with grass galore –  and a wonderful stretch of river to play in…..



When I cast my mind back to those first few weeks when Rusty was very poorly,  it is extremely difficult to believe that he is the same dog that now bounds around in water chasing his beloved squeaky tennis ball.  The happy fact that I am a blogger and a photographer means that his true story has been recorded, and proof – if anyone needs it – exists.

This remarkable dog has gone from ignoring balls  to running tirelessly to and fro after them. He chew sticks – and tries that very ‘cute dog’ habit of picking up the biggest stick he can find and proudly trotting down the lane pretending he can manage to carry it, despite the fact that he is really dragging it and looking irresistibly ridiculous !

The ‘water’ transformation has been the most amazing one though….this dog avoided mud and puddles to the extremes that I had to coax him with treats to follow me, and he would only do so if he could find the tiniest slither of dry land for safe passage. Now take a look at him…..


As far as Rusty’s health is concerned, he has made a full recovery from the Mange parasite, and now boasts a wonderful fox-red coat and the silkiest soft ears. There are luckily no scars to tell tale of his illness, and his face is the most handsome Labrador face that I have ever seen ( but then I am biased !)

He has also had his ‘Big Op’ ( castration) and coped with it all in his trademark carefree style – in fact I’m convinced he doesn’t realise that anything has happened to him at all…… but at the end of the day I guess nothing would amount to the level of discomfort he endured when he skin was so sore and itchy.

The vet has helped me to get his weight up to the correct level, and he is looking fit, strong and in excellent shape. I am so determined that he will never become a ‘Labrador Barrel’, despite his enormous appetite for anything he can muster !


He has some very amusing traits to his character that I never expected -:

He spends a lot of his time grazing like a sheep…….he obviously loves it as part of his diet, and will chomp huge mouthfuls of it whenever we are out walking.

He can be extremely gormless when his ball is thrown for him….mainly I believe because he has been too busy eating grass to concentrate !



The above is a typical pose that we see from Rusty, closely followed by this one ……


The photo below shows one of his ‘goofy’ expressions, of which I am very fond…..



By far his most amusing trait is his clumsiness, which I cannot capture on the screen for you….I have never met such a clumsy dog, and cannot believe the silly things he manages to do – from the simple knack of being able to knock over, or stand in  his water bowl on a daily basis – to his greatest mishaps of falling off numerous footbridges into the streams below….. It is a combination of his exuberance, and lack of concentration on the task in hand that gets him into trouble. He fell off the same plank footbridge twice last week because he didn’t focus on the fact that he would have to fit his back legs on it as well as his front ones !!  We are left laughing heartily whilst he picks himself up, shakes himself down and dashes off again as if nothing untoward had happened – perhaps he’s hoping that no-one had noticed  ?!!

My dream to capture the happy, carefree images of other people’s pets too is gathering momentum.  I want to be able to produce photos which will show off the individual characteristics and traits that their owners love so much.  I am practising as often as I can – so will no doubt be back soon with more images of my wonderful Rusty Dog………

Walk along the River Stour – Nayland to Wiston Church

27 Apr


Rusty and I took a lazy late afternoon walk along the River Stour this week – setting off from our neighbouring village of Nayland, just over the border in Suffolk. Although the village is a well-known beauty spot within the Dedham Vale AONB,  the walk along the river here is relatively unknown. We met only birds and animals on our travels, and the tranquility of the unspoilt countryside basking in the late afternoon sun was a pure joy….


Wissington is colloquially known as Wiston;  in fact is pronounced by the older locals as “Wisson”.  The river and meadows form the main scenery of this walk, which is punctuated by the highlights of the old mill and church.

The land bordering the river was mostly pastoral, and views like this one reminded me of rural France.  Rusty had great fun exploring and decided to do some hunting poses for the camera…..


         I was delighted by the simple rural vistas along our way, and the warm light gave an ethereal quality to the landscape.


           The blossoming trees dotted the path, this apple blossom adding a pink hue to the main palette of yellows and greens……


        Our first landmark along the way was Wissington Mill – an impressive wooden – clad building, that was a working mill from the 14th to the early 20th centuries.


The farm; to which it now seems to belong, was stocked with gorgeous spring lambs and their mothers. Surprisingly, they were very inquisitive, and several came right to the boundary fence to sniff at Rusty.

The mothers came too – and allowed me some wonderful opportunities to capture their young……..




          My favourite shots were those of lambs doing what they do best – being playful……



The house attached to the mill had its entrance gate open, as if to invite us in to explore….


…..but Rusty was waiting for me to continue the walk.


We came to a choice of routes at this point, where a wide wooden footbridge crossed the Stour. I knew that we had to continue along our existing path, as I had caught a glimpse of a church spire up ahead, but we diverted to the bridge to admire the late sun illuminate the tree-lined river.


I could not quite believe how I had lived so close to this stretch of my local river for 20 years without finding this wonderfully unspoilt place before. I was so excited as I approached the church – which was set in an idyllic spot adjacent to tumble-down farm buildings and Wiston Manor.


It seemed to inhabit a world that time had forgotten, with its old wooden gate and abandoned farm machinery. It was not so much unkempt, as beautifully wild and natural. The church is one of the few Norman churches in Suffolk, and has fantastic medieval wall paintings within. I will need revisit to see those, as I was quite late and the church had been closed up for the evening.


I loved the colours the sun created on the old bricks and barns…….


Rusty was keen to get moving, as it was getting near his teatime, and I didn’t know how long we had been walking – such was my feeling of relaxation !


We walked steadily on our return journey, past Wiston Manor.


This front part of the Hall ( 1791) was built by John Soane; architect of the Bank of England, for the then Govern0r – Samuel Beachcroft.

As we returned towards Nayland our path took us closer to expanses of ploughed field, which I photographed for its abstract qualities…


 Although the return journey was not as picturesque as my amble alongside the river bank, I was lucky to capture this welcoming vista of Nayland church . It heralded our destination, and conveyed a real sense of rural serenity. It was the perfect end to a delightful walk…..


Rusty’s Birthday Trip to the Beach

20 Apr


It was Rusty’s 2nd Birthday yesterday, and he had never seen the sea – so we decided to take him to Walton on the Naze for a special treat……


At the Naze itself, situated away from the ‘seaside’ area of Walton, is a fantastic area of crumbling iron-stained cliffs – made up of sand deposits teeming with fossilised shells. Geologically it is known as Red Crag, and  was deposited 2.6 million years ago over an extensive bed of London Clay – dating from an amazing 50 million years ago !  Fossils abound in the London Clay too – and the Red Crag at the Naze is a designated SSSI due to the many amazing  fossil finds that have been made there since the 18th Century.

There were numerous amateur fossil hunters on the beach, searching along the shoreline, including an enthusiast who had been looking there for the past 6 years in search of  a particular pre-historic sharks tooth fossil. He was elated to have finally found it just 30 minutes earlier – it looked amazing…..

Rusty had a great time investigating everything and everybody. The area closest to the sea was exposed clay, so he kept on the sandy beach and near the foot of the cliffs. There has been a great deal of cliff erosion since our childhood visits there, and certain parts were crumbling as we walked along.


Once we had a clear expanse of sand ahead, we decided to throw the ball for Rusty – and the following are my favourite action shots of the day. It was great to have all the warm colours of the sand around him, and my 70 – 200 lens did a wonderful job of capturing him having a fabulous Birthday romp !

















After Charlie managed to throw one of Rusty’s tennis ball right up onto the cliff top….we decided to walk back along that way and find a sheltered sunny spot for our picnic lunch. We sat up on an old pillbox and ate our ham sandwiches with Rusty down below. He had his own chew to eat but was more interested in our ham……



We had a super time and Rusty loved every moment of his birthday treat…..He didn’t venture into the sea this time but we all loved it so much we will definitely be going back soon……





Clover, Merlin & Rusty in the Orchards

18 Apr

Yesterday, in the glorious Boxted sunshine, Rusty and I went for our long-awaited walk in the Orchards with my friend Lisa – and her dogs Clover and Merlin.  I was so excited about the prospect of Rusty being able to mix with other dogs properly, rather than just meeting one or two as we passed them by on our normal walks.

This was a perfect opportunity for him to really play and have fun, although of course I wasn’t sure whether the dogs would get on well together – I needn’t have worried…….


Clover is a Greyhound / Saluki cross who can run extremely fast, even though she is now an old lady…She was definitely  intent on having fun,  and started out by finding a muddy puddle to wade through giving her black thigh-high boots. Unfortunately she rolled about in the grass before I could capture a good picture of her new colour scheme !


Her next game was to tempt Rusty into chasing her,  just so that she could prove that she was by far the faster dog, and also the most agile. Both Greyhounds and Salukis were originally bred as desert dogs to chase and catch Gazelles – so there was no way my clumsy Rusty was going to get the better of her. He thoroughly enjoyed trying, although I am not so sure he liked the parts when Clover chased him.  It was fantastic to see him having such a great time – and it made me proud of how well Rusty has recovered and settled into his new life with me.

The shot below shows Clover teasing Rusty before she darts off on yet another run..




Merlin, by the way, was happy doing his own thing whilst the other two were showing off…..




He is a gorgeous, cuddly shaggy Lurcher with a gentle temperament. He did go off for a few runs on his own, but perhaps felt a bit like a  gooseberry ?!




I  was mainly interested in taking photos of Lisa’s dogs rather than Rusty – as I thought that it would be rather like a ‘Pet Photography’ assignment, but I thought that I should include a portrait of him for completeness.



The following image  is probably my favourite one of Clover from the shoot.  She has a very dominant character and loves to be the centre of attention. Her poses always seem to have a very graceful, almost regal look to them…




Lisa’s photographic aim of the day was to take a picture of each dog amongst the bluebells.  The fabulous shots of Rusty appear on her blog. The shadows cast by the trees gave us a few issues – so I ended up with only good shots of Clover and Merlin. My ones of Rusty were too dark.





It was a wonderful walk on several levels: the companionship of a good friend in beautiful surroundings, with 3 gorgeous dogs, a fun opportunity to practise my Pet Photography, but perhaps most of all – the opportunity to see Rusty living and breathing the type of  ‘Dog’s Life’ that he has always deserved ……..


ps    I follow Lisa’s blog because her photography always impresses and inspires me.  Take a look at “Quiet Dear, I’m Blooming Within” for some superb images of  flora and fauna……




Rusty’s Springtime Walk – Spouses Vale Circuit.

15 Apr


We took Rusty to Spouses Vale on Sunday, amongst a glorious carpet of bluebells. The woodland was breathtakingly beautiful and I took numerous photographs of the flowers. Interestingly, this image of Rusty surrounded by the bluebells was my most successful shot of the woods, as it brought the springtime scene to life for me….

I have been very pleased with my action shots of Rusty so far – so tried to capture a few portraits of him for this post. The following photo was one of my favourites….


Rusty is a marvellous dog to go on a long walk with, as he loves a mixture of exploring and keeping us company. He is very well-behaved when off his lead, almost too much at times. He will always make his way towards me when I attempt to capture a close up shot of him – just as soon as I try to attract his attention for a handsome pose.
I will have to become more adept at ‘ stealth photography’!
I managed to catch the shot below whilst he was busy playing with his ball. He rarely stays still for long, so I have to be quick with my preparation. The f2.8 70-200 lens is great for these situations, because there is plenty of light getting in through the large aperture – so no worries regarding camera shake…..


I am now really looking forward to the Easter break, the prospect of sunny weather and lots more photo opportunities to capture springtime in the Essex and Suffolk countryside. No doubt a few more Rusty shots too !!

Rusty and the Boxted Walnut Orchards……

4 Apr


Boxted Walnut Orchards is one of my favourite places on this huge planet…. It is as tranquil as it is stunningly beautiful. It is rural England at its very best – unspoilt, natural – and yet enjoyed by our small community as a place to meet up, relax, walk our dogs, and enjoy the wide variety of flora and fauna. Deer, a multitude of local birds, grass snakes and slow worms all live here – amongst the majestic Walnut trees, damsons and cobnuts. I first started to run around the orchards – but now visit them at a much slower pace, soaking up all there is to offer throughout the changing seasons. At the moment the damson blossom is in abundance – providing vistas suitable for a fairy queen’s wedding bower….

Rusty loves it here as well – as there is a wonderful area of open space for him to explore and run, without needing to be kept on a leash. He plays games with his tennis ball – running tirelessly to and fro. He follows trails of scents to his heart’s content, and chews sticks and empty walnut cases galore.

I took the opportunity this week to capture some action shots of him playing with his ball – by taking my 70-200 2.8 lens along with me, so that I could really practise my ‘pet photography’. Rusty was a fantastic model for me, and I captured some of my favourite shots so far.


I love the way the photos capture all his different expressions and leg positions – and I think that they really convey all the energy he puts into his playtime perfectly…..

The lens I used was the most expensive one from the kit I purchased – it is a phenomenal piece of kit, allowing for a super large aperture for such a big lens. This allowed me to capture the action shots at a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action clearly – and yet create a lovely ‘bokeh’ surrounding Rusty.

I am looking forward to Rusty being able to mix with other dogs from this weekend onwards, as I am very keen to start practising my pet photography on my friends’ dogs in order to see how good I can get. If I want to forge a career in this area then I need to practise, practise, practise – and there is no better backdrop than the beautiful Boxted Walnut Orchards……

Rusty – one month on…..

4 Apr


Rusty has been living with me for just over a month, and he is fast approaching his 2nd Birthday on the 19th April.
Time seems to have flown by since the day that I first introduced the poorly, wound-covered labrador into my home.

We have forged a friendship that is as precious as it is life-changing for both of us….Rusty now has a safe healthy environment, with an owner who thinks the world of him. I have a boisterous, happy dog – who is now in good health and is admired by everyone who meets him – both for his wonderful character and handsome appearance !

He has been given the all-clear by the vets and his fur is almost back to normal. He is enjoying the attention he gets from us all, and the wonderful walks that he is sharing with us. He loves playing with his tennis balls and chewing sticks – and helps me to bring his blanket to and from the car… In fact, it is difficult to believe that he is the same dog that I first showed you on my blog a few weeks ago. He has confidence and vitality and is learning to trust more each day. The vet is very pleased with his transformation, and his gradual weight gain has brought him up to the correct level for his age and size – no more ‘ribs’ on view !!

There is still much more work to do with regard to his obedience training – but his ingenious methods of finding extra food have convinced me that he has the necessary intelligence to achieve all that I ask of him !!

I am not quite sure which aspect of his lovely character I am fondest of…. The following gallery of pictures shows him in his quiet, lazy mode – when we are sitting in the sun together, feeling very relaxed and happy. I am so glad that I have been able to give him the chance to feel so safe and contented…….

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