Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  Allison@AllisonShamrell.com  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2016, by the San Diego A-List.

Archive: April, 2017



Photography Mini-Sessions, benefitting the Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of San Diego!

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

I have a special fundraising event to announce today! My “Portraits for Pooches” mini-sessions are back, and they’re perfect for a small taste of the custom pet photography experience. And I’m proud to support the Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of San Diego!

 

pet photography mini-sessions

$50 from every photo session is going straight to Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of San Diego! 

. . .

Please note, this is a one-day event – but if Saturday fills up, Sunday will be our overflow date!

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A few words from past mini-session attendees:

We had the BEST experience working with Allison. We originally signed up for the mini-sessions for a fundraiser, thinking we might get a good family shot out of it. We ended up having the best time and found quite a few photos that we loved! She was so well prepared with toys and treats to keep our puppy happy, and was extremely helpful and innovative when showing us her completed work. I can’t wait to bring my dog in to do another shoot someday, it was the best experience!” – Allie S.

“She gave us more than photos, she gave us an experience that we’ll always cherish. I highly recommend her; don’t use your cell phone for those special shots, use Allison! I have 1,000’s of photos of my dog on my phone, but Allison’s were like none I could capture. She really is talented!” – Thomas N.

“My sweet puppy is also a wiggle worm so I wasn’t sure how many good photographs we would get. The photo shoot went quickly and Allison made helpful recommendations to get good results. It was a great experience. We loved every photograph and were amazed by the quality. Each photograph makes us smile so it was worth the investment. We highly recommend Allison – she is extremely talented and easy to work with. It felt like working with a friend. The whole experience was wonderful.” – Jackie S.

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Included with the session fee is your favorite photo as a high-resolution digital, ready to be printed & shared to your heart’s content. But each session results in at least TEN frame-worthy portraits to choose from- so what if you end up with TWO favorite images? Or three, or four?

Here’s the info for any additional products you might pick out, which are completely optional but happily available:

pet photo mini-sessions

 

Registration opens on Monday, May 1st!

There are a limited number of time slots available, so call 619.357.6624 now to reserve yours!

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Thanks, and I hope to see you there! Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of San Diego relies on volunteer fundraising & support, and mini-sessions like these are a great way to help out the awesome dogs in their care!

Taking Your Dog to Mexico – Our Story

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

I love Mexico. The beaches, the food, the language, the marketplaces, the margaritas…  pretty much everything south of the border calls my name. (We even went to Cabo for our honeymoon!) And living in San Diego means that I don’t have to step on a plane to visit Mexico, which is pretty awesome – and as a result, my husband and I have driven there once or twice a year since moving to SD 4 years ago. Our favorite town to visit is Rosarito, a small village south of Tijuana that (with its next-door neighbor Puerto Nuevo) serves the region as a lobster fishing hub. We’ve never gone with our dog, though – until last weekend. And I know I’m not the only one who has considered taking my pup south of the border – so I wanted to share my experience, and hopefully this blog post contains the info (and reassurance) you need to feel confident about taking your dog to Mexico!  :)

 

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This was a real vacation – which means I didn’t bring my DSLR! (Gasp!) So you’re going to have to put up with iPhone photos in this post, even though I’m a professional photographer. Because after all, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

 

I had all the normal fears that a pet parent has when doing something for the first time, compounded with the fact that we’re dealing with international borders. Bailey is a good girl but her obedience isn’t perfect, and although she loves people she doesn’t always get along with certain kinds of dogs in certain situations… I knew that there was plenty that could potentially go wrong. But there was also the potential for so much to go right! So after chatting with a few people who said it was “no big deal” to bring their dogs to Mexico, we decided to get past our concerns and take the leap! I suppose we figured that I speak enough Spanish to deal with pretty much any crisis, and we would obviously stand up for our dog and her safety in any situation, so as long as she was with us, she’d be fine. It also really reassured us when we picked a resort that actually had a dedicated dog run; going to a place that’s unabashedly dog-friendly is a huge plus and I highly recommend it!

 

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How we prepared: we scheduled a vet appointment for a month before our trip. During that appointment, we asked the vet how she felt about us taking Bailey to Mexico, and what concerns (if any) she would share with us. Our vet was very unconcerned; Bailey has always been a very healthy dog (knock on wood) and there was nothing that our vet specifically warned us about. So we simply made sure she was updated on all her shots, especially rabies, and got a hard copy of her shot records to bring with us.

One quick note about the International Certificate of Good Health Form, # 77-043. We heard various reports about this – my husband thinks it’s for flying with your dog, not driving, and our vet clinic thinks it’s only for interstate travel, not international. We didn’t learn about it until after our appointment, otherwise we would have asked for a copy to take with us, just in case. (Spoiler alert: we wouldn’t have needed it anyway. But if it’s readily available from your vet, go for it!)

 

(Side note: apparently dogs can get passports, too. I haven’t looked into this for Bailey yet, and I’m not seriously considering getting her one at the moment, since A) it seems to be more important in the EU, which we don’t plan on taking her to anytime soon, and B) all the information I can find online comes from companies looking to make a profit from the idea, so I’m skeptical about how beneficial/necessary it would actually be.)

 

What we packed: her bed, toys, food, treats, bowls, 2 leashes of different length, and extra poop bags. (Don’t you love how low-maintenance dogs are?!) We didn’t bring a kennel, primarily because Bailey isn’t kennel-trained (so bad, I know!) and also because we weren’t flying, we were driving. So her seatbelt and our backseat cover were the only transportation-related items we brought, and they’re always in our car anyway!

 

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We booked a pet-friendly AirBNB in Rosarito, and about 45 minutes after crossing the border into Mexico (which is so easy it’s laughable) we arrived at the resort and found our room! It was a penthouse suite (#penthouselife) in a resort with a mix of towers and linked single-story houses. I’m pretty sure Bailey would have preferred once of the houses, since she has a deep mistrust of elevators, but she braved her fear and actually loved the penthouse that we stayed in. I could tell she was comfortable there when she started playing with her toys only about half an hour after we arrived! (Although we had 2 loads of stuff to bring up from the car, so she whined and cried when we left to get that second load and she was suddenly alone in a strange new place.Which I can understand. But Bailey is often over-dramatic so I knew she wasn’t actually freaking out, haha!)

Right after getting settled, Mr. Shamrell & I went to lunch at a nearby (walking-distance) hotel. We didn’t bring Bailey because we wanted to scope out the dog-friendly factor first – and to our delight we saw another dog lounging on the outdoor patio! No problemo!

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This is Bailey at that same restaurant, for dinner the next night. Oceanfront dining = relaxing and gorgeous for humans, more seagulls for dogs to watch.

 

At lunch, we asked our friendly waiter if he knew of a dog beach nearby, or at least a beach where we could bring our dog without getting hassled. He said that he brings his pit bull to a beach that was so close, he pointed it out down the coastline! So we ran back to our resort, grabbed Bailey, and off we went!

The beach that we visited in particular was a little tricky to get down to. A lot of Mexican beaches (especially public, unsupervised beaches) can include a hike down rocky, unstable terrain. But we saw a few families already on the beach, so we knew it was doable – and we carefully made our way down the steep “path” and set foot safely on the sand. We also walked past a chained-up pit bull that came out of his sheet metal den and barked at us as we went past, maybe 20-30 feet away. (Which didn’t bother Bailey, but bothered me for multiple reasons.) If your dog is especially nervous about uncertain situations, or can’t handle a quick but steep hike, I certainly wouldn’t recommend the beach we visited. And it might make it difficult to find a truly ideal public Mexican beach, honestly – but I can’t be sure, since we only ended up taking Bailey to this spot for beach time. But she was a total champ and didn’t let any of that faze her! And once we got to the sand, it was a little slice of heaven; plenty of room to run around & seaweed to sniff, while Mr. Shamrell & I relaxed in our beach chairs and took in the view! I can’t even begin to tell you what a great time we had once we got down there! Here are a few maps to our beach:

Rosarito dog beach Rosarito beach for dogs satellite dog beach map

 

And here’s what playtime looked like:

 

On our way back up the rocky path, we encountered a stray dog. He had no collar or leash, and seemed awfully sweet, but we kept him away from Bailey just in case. I would have loved to pack him up into our car and give him some love and a healthy meal, at the very least – he clearly needed both – but it simply wouldn’t have been safe. The poor thing clearly wanted to come with us… but once we waved him off the last time, he trotted toward a few nearby houses, so I’m guessing that’s where he lives. That moment was probably the saddest of our trip.

 

The next day, we decided to hang out by the pool at our resort. There weren’t many other people around, and we found a small grassy area next to two lounge chairs – so naturally Bailey came with us! We put her on a 20-foot leash and secured it to one of our chairs, so she wandered & sniffed everywhere as we read our books. Plus, it was an oceanfront pool, so Bailey had the chance to monitor the seagulls too. We probably wouldn’t have brought her if it was crowded with people, but it was a relatively secluded spot and not a big deal.

taking your dog to Mexico

 

dog in Mexico

Can you believe she never jumped in the pool? Bailey doesn’t really like swimming, so she was content to enjoy the view instead.

 

Because of our success in taking Bailey to the nearby restaurant, and our optimism, we drove to one of our favorite restaurants in Puerto Nuevo the next night with her. It’s called Poco Cielo, and since they also have an outdoor patio we figured she’d be allowed there – and she was! We had another great dinner together (and might have given her a few tortilla chips as well).

 

Last but certainly not least, I know you’re curious about the actual border crossing! I made this video so you could hear the play-by-play with all the details:

 

 

A few questions you might have:

  • How did we get our medical “fast pass”? Okay, don’t be miffed if you didn’t know this before, but guess what… you can get a medical pass at some Mexican spas after getting a massage! True story! There are several spas that have clearance to do this, and certain types of massages that will earn you a “fast pass” to get back across the border in the quicker line, as long as you use it in the following 48 hours after your massage. So we suffered through a massage to get that pass, haha! ;)
  • Why can’t we stop for a doggy potty break while we wait to get across the border? Because you’re constantly slowing moving forward. The line isn’t usually “stopped” for very long at a time, it’s just a long, painfully-slow crawl. So you certainly could leave your car to take your dog to a nearby patch of grass (if your lane happens to pass near one, which is not guaranteed) but someone else would have to keep driving, and then you could catch up with them again pretty easily by walking.
  • How do I find the medical lane? Tijuana is confusing. AGREED. We used directions from Baja Bound – a total godsend! We still ran into a roadblock that threw us off course, but with our T-Mobile plan we get free data in Mexico, and so Google Maps was essential to finding our way back on course.
  • Anything else I should know about driving around Mexico? Get Mexican car insurance. Most American companies will NOT cover theft or break-ins if they happen across the border. We usually go through Sanborn’s but you have several options out there. We paid $95 for 4 days of coverage, and the peace of mind is SO worth it.

 

Mexican dog park

My dog’s crazy-face as she runs around at the dog park at our resort. Pretty sure this is the best view from any dog park in the world!

 

Those are all the stories I have to share with you for now! I hope you found value in this blog post, and if you were considering taking your dog to Mexico, that you feel much more confident about doing it successfully! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below if there’s anything else you’re curious about. We had soooo much fun in Mexico, and I think Bailey had a great time as a perro. ;)

 

Merlin and Gwen, Mixed Breed Dogs with Engaged Parents!

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Step 1: Adopt two adorable dogs.

Step 2: Schedule a photo session for aforementioned dogs.

Step 3: Get engaged!

Step 4: Turn your photo session into a pet/engagement photo session!

 

Don’t worry, these aren’t required instructions for anyone – except Merlin & Gwen’s parents, haha! I’m so excited for this new family of four! :)

 

As you can probably imagine, this photo session was slightly different than one of my usual, all-about-the-pets sessions. We included mom & dad in many of the photos, which was a lot of fun! And Merlin & Gwen loved sharing the spotlight – they absolutely adore their parents. These mixed breed dogs have such fun personalities; Merlin is the older brother who will do anything for a treat, and Gwen is the younger (yet bigger) sister whose favorite activity is annoying her brother! Haha! (Isn’t that what younger siblings are for?) They were a lot of fun to work with, and I think they had a great time in front of the camera.

 

We started at their home in Rancho Bernardo, snuggling on the couch and relaxing.

mixed breed dogs at home

 

Merlin is a terrier/border collie mix, and I think there might be some spaniel in his heritage too!

mixed breed terrier dog

 

Gwen is a mini-husky! (Okay, I just made that up, that’s not a real breed. She’s a husky mix, but her parents don’t know what the other breed(s) might be, and she just looks like a slightly-smaller-than-normal husky!)

mixed breed husky dog

 

We ended up with so many adorable family photos… I really agonized over which one to post here! But this image immediately jumped out at me as an early favorite, since it’s a candid, natural moment. And I personally love the calm tone of this photo – especially with how crazy this little family’s life is going to get, as they’re about to plan a wedding! Eeek!

mixed breed dogs with parents

 

 

Angela & Ricky, I’m so happy for you two!! Can’t wait to get together again soon! :)

 

San Diego Boxers, Gunther & Sandy! (Photos)

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Some dogs that I work with are timid, fearful pups that need extra time & attention to feel truly comfortable… new situations make them nervous, and therefore it takes a few minutes to “warm up” to the camera. And that’s okay, since I’m pretty darn patient and I don’t mind coaxing a dog out of his or her shell.

But Gunther and Sandy are NOT that kind of dog!

These fearless San Diego boxers are confident, happy dogs with plenty of energy to spare! If they have a “shell” to break out of, they did it years ago and smashed the pieces everywhere! Haha! I met them at Mission Bay Park and they bounded out of their parents’ truck, ready to run around the grass and chase down the nearby football that a few people were playing with across the field… is it possible to be a little too outgoing? Haha! I should have known that these dogs would have no fear; they’ve been around construction sites their whole lives, surrounded by loud noises and changing environments. So we enjoyed a photo session in which I knew the dogs would be up for anything I suggested! (Anything except containing their excitement, that is!)

This is Gunther, a handsome gentleman with a penchant for purple frisbees.

boxer dog photo

 

And this is Sandy, a fun-loving girl with a sweet spirit. (Except when that frisbee is involved – then she’ll do her best to steal it from her brother!)

san diego boxer photo

 

See what I mean?

san diego boxers playing

 

I loved working with these pups… I know I’ll have fun with any session that includes a pair of San Diego boxers, but these two have such unique personalities and quirks that they kept me laughing (and on my toes!) all afternoon. They’re such great – and yet different – siblings.

san diego boxers in flowers

 

Adrienne & Clay, I’m so glad I met your awesome dogs! Can’t wait to see you both again soon! :)

 

Sundance the 7-Month-Old Shepherd Mix Puppy (Photos)

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

First of all: you should all be very proud of me for not stealing this dog.

I’m joking, of course – but I just love some of my clients’ dogs so much that I want to bring them home with me! And who wouldn’t want to bring home Sundance? This gorgeous German shepherd mix is an amazing dog. His parents rescued him from Helen Woodward Animal Center just a few months ago. Our photo session was actually the day before his seven-month birthday! (Fun fact: his (assumed) birthday is the day before my birthday!)  So although he’s young and hasn’t learned every trick in the book yet, his parents have done an amazing job with obedience training so far, and as a result Sundance was an absolute dream to work with. This well-behaved pup knows several commands, and in general is a happy, eager-to-please dog.  He was ready to sit (and begrudgingly stay) when we wanted him to stay, and excited to run around the park when it was time for some action photos! And when he laid down, let his head rest on his paws, and looked up at me with his big soulful eyes… I just about melted.  I’m so glad his parents came to me so early in Sundance’s life – he’ll never be this small again, and we had a great time capturing his puppyhood spirit!

 

 We started our photo session in the studio – because Sundance doesn’t need anything else in the photo to look this good.

shepherd mix dog

 

 Then we played fetch at Balboa Park…

shepherd mix dog running

 

…  and Sundance showed off his stellar sit-stay in front of the gorgeous scenery!

shepherd mix puppy

 

 You see why I wanted to keep him for myself??

shepherd mix photo

 

Elaine and Michael, I hope you both had as much fun as I did during our photo session! Can’t wait to see you again soon!

 

 

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