Pet Tales: Marshall photographer wins recognition for pet photos

For one week, the big brown eyes of golden retrievers Emmeh and Madison gazed into my eyes. Their mouths were open in that pose that dog lovers interpret as the canine version of a smile. I haven’t met these dogs, but I feel like I know them, for Nicole Begley has captured their personalities in a photograph.

I’m a big fan of Ms. Begley and eight other local professional photographers who provide color photographs for the desk calendar sold annually as a fundraiser for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. That’s how I met the dogs of Kevin and Karen Craig Brubaker. Emmeh and Madison were on the Aug. 11-17 page.

Now Ms. Begley is getting recognition from her professional peers. Four of the Marshall woman’s images have been accepted into the collections of Professional Photographers of America’s 2014 International Photographic Competition. Her work will be displayed at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville on Feb. 1-3.

There were 5,000 total submissions and 1,800 were picked for the general collection. Then 918 of those were singled out for the loan collection, which is “the best of the best,” according to the news release. She’ll also be receiving a platinum medal at the national Professional Photographers of America Imaging USA conference in February. 

So why does an award-winning artist end up in Pet Tales? Because three of those four images feature dogs -- two of them owned by her clients. The three pet images are in the “best of the best” loan collection.

A white dog in the photo “Half-Cocked” is named Chalky White, who has participated in the Food for Fido events that Ms. Begley sponsors. Pet owners get a discount on their photo sessions, and part of the fee is donated to a local shelter.

The brown dog in “The Hunt” is Baby Bear, posing for his close-up at a winter shoot in North Park.

The brown dog in “On the Catwalk” is Hershey, the model Ms. Begley used for a pet photography workshop she taught in Fort Lauderdale last winter.

Ms. Begley shoots a wide array of subjects, including children. It’s no accident that so many of her images feature animals. Her bachelor’s degree is in animal and veterinary science from West Virginia University. For 13 years, she was a zoological animal trainer and manager. She’s been a professional photographer for five years.

The winning photographs feature animals that are “simply someone’s everyday much-loved pet,” she explains. “One of my goals for every session is to capture expressive images that capture each animal’s personality.”

Her current personal pet is a rescued kitty named Emma.

Dogs helping cops

The fourth annual Paws for the Cause is today  from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kelly Park, 55 Steen Hollow Road, Oakdale (15071). It’s offered by the Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation, which supports injured police officers and their families.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., there’s a meet and greet with Shorty Rossi and his pit bull, Hercules, both stars of the Animal Planet show “Pit Boss.” There will also be demonstrations by working dogs, including those that detect explosives, do search and rescue, or support adults and children with autism. Vendors will have booths.

Between 8:30-9:30 a.m., paying a $15 registration enters your dog in the Paws Walk, scheduled for 9:45-10:30 a.m.

Dog fashion show

ArtDOG hasn’t really had much to do with canines — It’s just the acronym for the Oct. 2 Arts Day of Giving, sponsored by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the Pittsburgh Foundation. But to kick off the event that gives arts lovers the chance to donate online to their favorite non-profits, there IS an event next week with real dogs.

“Unleashed: Artist Party and Dog Fashion Show” will be held Wednesday at the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square E, Pittsburgh 15212. Dogs entered by members of GPAC and arts organizations will model handmade canine couture and compete for prizes while people enjoy free food, a cash bar and entertainment.

Local celebrities, including Jim Cunningham of WQED, will provide commentary for each dog that walks the runway. The ArtDOG mascot, an adoptable pooch from the Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township, will be introduced at the fashion show. Partiers can get their portrait taken with the ArtDOG mascot.

Dogs don’t get to go into the theater for the second half of the event, when there will be live performances of dance, music, acting and poetry.

Dog swim

The Crafton Doggie Paddle was a big hit last year, so it’s back by popular demand next Saturday , 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the pool in Crafton Park on West Steuben St. Admission is $10 per dog. Light refreshments will be available.

Bark For Life

Dogs can get a walk in a park while helping the American Cancer Society raise money. The Bark For Life of Greater Cranberry is next Saturday at Zelienople Community Park, 800 E. Beaver St., Zelienople (16063).

Registration at 9 a.m. is $25 per dog. A blessing of the dogs is set for 10:10 a.m., and the non-competitive walk starts at 10:15 a.m. There will be vendors, demonstrations, contests and games.

Further information is available at cranberry and the Facebook page of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Cranberry.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Contact Linda Wilson on her Facebook page, or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic