Lately, I’ve shared a few sessions that are making me want to visit (or move to) the Southwest, including this gorgeous dog-friendly engagement session in Mesa, Arizona from Kali M. Photos. Sage, the mixed breed, and Levi, the Labrador, joined their humans Ashley and Sheri Ann for some of their engagement photos.
From Kali: “Ashley and Sheri wanted something a little different for their engagement session. They brought along their pups and set up the cutest little picnic in the back of their truck at sunset.”
From Ashley: “Sage, the smartest dog we’ve ever known, was adopted on August 4th, 2018 from Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. We are unsure of her age but think she’s about three years old. We obtained a DNA test on her, and she is 37% German Shepherd, 25% American Staffordshire Terrier, 12% American Bulldog, 12% Treeing Walker Coonhound and 12% Dogue de Bordeaux-really??? She was very timid and shy, a bit on the scrawny side, but once she opened up, she was a firecracker.
She seemed as if she had never interacted with toys before because she didn’t know how to catch or fetch. Now, she could play all day long! She also knows the names of every single toy she owns-literally. Sage was the first dog I had ever adopted, so it was a HUGE learning experience for me. As I said, she was very timid and still has her fears to this day. In the beginning, she was terrified of garbage cans, walking past people, cars- you name it.
Today, she has overcome many of her fears. However, she still does not like being around or near too many people, but she has learned to stay beside her Momma 90% of the time when in these scary situations, whereas before, she would try to run away and into the streets, which was obviously horrifically terrifying. Despite Sage’s apprehension towards new, unfamiliar people, she LOVES other dogs. She is also VERY protective of her home and her Mommas, which is good because we are 2 deaf women, so we need that! When people come over, she may still be timid at first but will shortly warm up to them. She loves to run outside and bark at the birds or try to catch the lizards on the house. Sage is not one of those restful kinds-she has 2 duties: protect & play.
Several months after adopting Sage, we knew she needed a doggie sibling. The perfect opportunity arose where a friend of a friend was having Labrador puppies! I grew up with labs, so this was my dream opportunity! When I told my fiance, Sheri Ann, she was terrified of the idea as she was not ready for a second one-she had never grown up with dogs and was still getting accustomed to life with Sage even though she loved her dearly. Well, I didn’t listen and told Sheri Ann, ‘too bad, but one day you will thank me.’ Sure enough, Sheri and Levi have become best buds, and Sheri thanks me every day for changing her life. She is saddened that she missed out on doggie love all these years.
Now, onto Levi… Levi is a HUGE baby-literally. He is a black lab, 1 of 10 from a Chocolate Momma and a Yellow Daddy. He is now 1 and a half years of age and is literally a giant. Most people ask if he’s a Great Dane. I always respond by saying, “No, I saw his Mom and Dad every weekend when I would visit Levi as a baby. However, despite being a giant, he cries, whines, and just wants his belly rubbed all day long. He even carries his blankie around! Levi, like most labradors, loves everyone he meets! Therefore, we believe he’s helped Sage open up to meeting new people and has helped relieve her anxiety. Sage is our guard dog, and Levi, well, he mostly just lets Sage do her job. He loves to swim, as does Sage. Levi learned at about 4 months and was a pro by the 3rd day! He loves to play tug-of-war with Sage, but humans can’t play tug-of-war with her. For whatever reason, he seems to become very protective when anyone tugs with Sage. They also love to chase each other around in the backyard, go to the park, catch and play fetch.
Though Sage always outruns Levi, Levi proves to have some serious jumping skills. When not playing, about 80% of the day, he just wants to sleep on his royal bed (our King-sized bed). Around 5/5:30 every night, and around 7:30 pm, Levi knows when it’s dinner and treat time. He will start jumping on you, bugging you until he is served. His favorite treats (and Sage’s) are bully sticks, peanut butter, apples, carrots, pumpkin, jerky, and just about everything! Levi loves to nibble on people when he gets really excited- he’ll grab your whole arm or bite your clothing and walk with you. He also loves to steal hats off of people’s heads, steal shoes, or steal Mommy’s socks…. however, he doesn’t chew them. In fact, both of our doggies are good in that respect and never destroy anything, other than their own toys, of course.
We’re not sure why he steals the things he does, but we believe it’s his way of getting our attention or trying to tell us he wants something. Or, maybe it’s because he knows Sage won’t steal those items because if it were a toy, then Sage would surely try to snatch it from him–poor guy. However, despite the toy stealing, he’s a trooper about it and usually just lets it be, but he can also be very vocal and will bark loudly at Sage to get the toy bone/antler back. Either way, they love each other dearly.
A few more fun facts about the both of them: they both heal, stay, wait; they know tricks in sign language such as ‘sit,’ ‘lay down,’ ‘bang’ (play dead), ‘shake,’ and ‘high five’; and they love to catch treats from their noses! They also love to play hide and seek, but Sage usually always dominates, and Levi just follows her around excitedly.”
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About Kali M Photography: Based in Chandler, Arizona, Kali specializes in destination wedding and elopement photography.
Amber Myers says
This is such a fantastic session. I especially love the area where it’s at!
Ashley Darting says
Thanks!! We had a blast!! We were nervous but Kali had such a calm demeanor she made us feel so comfortable ❤️
Beautiful pictures and beautiful soon-to-be new family! Congrats!
Nile Flores says
I don’t have a dog, but a lot of my friends who do have dogs, they always are looking for pet friendly trails. I think it’s great to see people sharing their findings, as some places I’ve seen, aren’t widely spread around as pet friendly.
Nikki Wayne says
Wow,your surely are a “great momma” for her to learn new things so fast.
Ashley Darting says
Well she was very eager to learn and still is!!
Anosa Malanga says
Oh wow! I love the photos! You can really feel the love in the photos as you look at them. The dogs shot were captured naturally too.
What a good love story. I bet you had fun shooting these. The location is stunning too.
Ashley Darting says
Thank you! We had a blast getting photographed!!
I love these photos. They are so beautiful. The dogs did a wonderful job too. Everyone looks great.
Mama Maggie's Kitchen says
I am so loving these photos! They were captured amazingly! And your dogs are wonderful. I am so happy to know their stories.
Ashley Darting says
Thank you!! Our dogs are pretty amazing!
Star Traci says
This manages to be both romantic and sweet, the dogs were included genuinely but not intrusively. They are just lovely.
Alice G Patterson says
Gorgeous couple and lucky pups! Makes me want to visit Arizona again!
Alita Pacio says
I love looking at your dog photos. This is one of my favorites