Photos: Kerry Martin, Akemi Photography (akemiphotography.com.au)
DOGSLife: Tell me more about your snow dog retreats.
Kerry Martin: Holidaying with your dog in the snow is a magical experience. Dog lovers consider their dogs to be part of the family and are always looking for ways to include their best friends in their lives. Having your dog travel with you on holiday is a way to make them part of your life and their company makes it even more magical.
Taking your dog with you on a snow holiday had been a dream for many dog lovers, because most Australian snowfields are in national parks where you can’t take your dog. The adventure of a dog-inclusive getaway to the snow in Victoria’s Dinner Plain has now made snow holidays with your furry friend a possibility. Akemi Photography’s Aussie Snow Dog Retreats are the only retreats in the snow in Australia, so they really are unique experiences.
As a dog photographer, I’m always looking for exciting locations, incredible opportunities and ways of highlighting the different aspects of dog personality that new environments bring. I introduced Akemi Photography Aussie Snow Dog Retreats a few years ago, after I spent Christmas in the US and noticed the number of dogs that were out and about enjoying their playtime in the snow. This instantly made me want to take my dog, Keiko, to the snow in Australia. I researched and found the ideal location, visited later that year and we had the most amazing experience.
Keiko was overjoyed and amused as his world turned white. He chased snowflakes, rolled and played with puppy-like exuberance, which was infectious, and my husband and I found ourselves also sharing in his joy.
After visiting again with some friends and their dogs — and loving it — I introduced the Aussie Snow Dog Retreats and Photography Sessions. I approach my photography as a dog lover first, so being able to capture the variety of emotion, light and action that is inspired by fun in the snow was an activity that I knew many other dog lovers would enjoy. Following the fabulous experiences people have had there, I have now also started other seasonal destinations for sessions.
DL: Do you have any preparation suggestions for those taking their dogs into a colder climate?
KM: With any trip, dog owners have to make sure they are prepared for their snow adventure and I provide an all-inclusive guide — the Snowy Paws, Happy Tails eBook — to provide a checklist of what people will need to deal with in the colder climate. Some of my preparation suggestions include:
- Getting your dog a pre-travel health check to ensure it is fit to travel and for the snow conditions.
- Ensure your dog is well groomed before a trip to the snow because dirty, matted hair will not hold heat. If your dog is clipped, consider letting its hair grow out or a longer clip, as that will help it retain some warmth.
- Make sure you have a dog permit to visit the area.
- Encourage basic training and obedience in your dog before the trip to make sure it will be safe in the snow.
- Spend some time outdoors together while at home when it’s cold — this will help your dog adapt to cooler conditions. If you come from a warm climate or have a short-haired dog, investing in a good winter jacket will be essential.
- Make sure all your dog’s identifications and tags are up to date.
- Allow for breaks during the car trip to the snow.
DL: How do you find most dogs react to snow for the first time?
KM: It’s incredible to witness a dog’s first visit to the snow. Their expression as they first sink into the powder snow, the bewilderment and then determination to find a fallen snow ball as it explodes, and the abandoned freedom they show racing along a snow track. I have photographed dogs of all sizes, breeds and fur length in the snow and all have been happy to be out and about in the snow. Most canines can’t resist rolling in fresh snow or refereeing a good snowball fight.
Most dogs love the snow from the first moment, however some can be unsure about it initially. If the dog is a bit reserved about the new experience and environment, there are a few things we do to help ease their trepidation, such as showing excitement ourselves to create a positive atmosphere for the dog. Bringing along a favourite ball or other toy can also make it great fun or an adventure.
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