Updated: Jun 7
On February fourth, 2022, Dalia and I drove to our usual astrophotography spot in the desert to do some imaging and record two videos. When we left home, we had no idea we would come back with a dog!
We shared a lot of what happened on our Instagram stories, but we thought we would make this post to tell you all about Stella (the name we picked for the dog) in case you do not have Instagram OR have Instagram but decide not to follow us because you're mean.
We hate asking for donations but we are determined to keep Stella and give her the best possible life, sadly the timing couldn't be worse. Antoine just underwent surgery for his heart, and the medical bills are hitting us hard, making a huge hole in our finances. Also, Dalia is highly allergic to dogs so getting her professionally groomed with sensitive-skin shampoo at least once a month will be crucial.
First Encounter with Stella
The moment we found Stella, and why we canceled our imaging session
Bringing Stella Home
Our attempts at getting her into the car, and her first night at the house
First Day in the House: Getting to know her past
Everything we learned about Stella, and trying to make her feel better
Second Day: Some Improvements!
A well needed bath, and some fun!
Life with Stella so far
Our life with Stella in the days and weeks since finding her
First Encounter With Stella
Our imaging spot is about 50 minutes away from our home using the freeway. We then turn on a small dirt road that leads us deep into the desert, away from the road. It is on that road that we spotted Stella in the distance. She was running towards us very fast and ended up sitting in front of the car and crying. We were a bit shocked and had no idea what to do, we also were a bit scared because she looked like some type of Pitbull and we weren't sure if she would bite us or not.
We stayed there for a few minutes without moving the car... until she decided to run again, past the car and towards the road. The highway was still very far, but we wanted to be sure that she didn't get hit or cause an accident if she eventually reached it, so I stepped out of the car and called her. I couldn't see her because her fur is the same color as the ground so she blended perfectly in the desert! I didn't really expect her to come back so I went back into the car and started driving again... And that's when we saw her chasing the car in the mirror!
It was just so sad to see her running after the car desperately, not knowing where else to go. This is the moment when I felt heartbroken for her and decided we would take care of her for the night.
We found a clear spot to park and gave her some water. Luckily, we also had some salami, madeleines, and two ham sandwiches. Those were supposed to be Dalia and I's dinner for the night, but desperate times call for desperate measures 😅
We came here for a reason though, to record two important videos before the end of Winter because we needed the nebulae to still be high enough in the sky! So we set up our equipment and started recording. We quickly realized that this would be challenging as the dog was constantly crying and trying to run toward the highway. She looked like she got waves of hope whenever she saw a car on the road as if she was hoping it was her owner...
We gave up on imaging and recording after about 45 minutes. There was simply no way to pay attention to both the equipment and the dog. We decided it was best to just pack it all up and take the dog home with us before she freaked out too much out there. Also, it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit and was slowly dropping over time...
Since we were unable to record these videos, here are what we were going to cover:
Astronetics V2 - An improved version of the Astronetics mount for Rokinon/Samyang 135mm f/2 lens owners. This attaches around your lens and allows you to easily mount a dovetail, a guide scope, an ASIAir (or another device) as well as the ZWO EAF. It's really handy for people who often do astrophotography with this great lens!
Trying an Astro-modified mirrorless camera. We were going to try an affordable Canon 200M that was modified by Astrogear and compare it with our unmodified DSLR camera. Luckily, we were able to gather footage from another night to make a video and a full review of it. If you would like to modify your camera for astrophotography or purchase a pre-modded camera, click the banner below!
Bringing Stella Home
Getting the dog into the car was a challenge! It took us a good 20-30 minutes to carry her inside, and we are glad we had the ham sandwich to help us!
The ride home was quiet, she cried a few times but quickly fell asleep on Dalia's lap, who was sitting in the back seat with the dog. Before getting to the house, we stopped at a pet shop to buy dog food, a collar, and a leash.
When we got home, she met the queen of the house, our cat Gilbert, and gave her a little kiss. We expected Gilbert to hiss or even hit the dog as soon as she saw her, but things turned out much smoother than expected!
We gave Stella one bowl of dog food and she ate it all! She was definitely hungry.
We then placed a blanket on the living room floor so that she could go to sleep for the night. We spent a good hour petting her as she slowly fell asleep.
She looked very sad overall, which also made us sad, but we hope to turn her depressed face into a super happy one over time 😀
First Day in the House - Getting to Know her Past
Our first full day with Stella! 🥳
When we woke up, we went downstairs and found out that our slippers and some shoes were on Stella's bed! She seems to have grabbed the shoes overnight to sleep with them... Luckily, she didn't chew on any. I grabbed one of the slippers so I could put it back where it belongs, and I called her so I could pet her and say hello.
As soon as Stella saw me with a slipper in my hands, she started crying and shaking, and ran back to her bed... She would not approach me for a good 20 minutes after that, despite putting the slipper away and calling her with open arms and a huge smile... It is pretty obvious to me that she was beaten in her past.
We went on a walk, which she absolutely loved (we've been going on 4 walks each day after that 😅). It's very strange because she is totally different dog when we walk her, and she seems to discover life like she's never seen the outdoors before...
We went to the vet, and learned that she was not chipped, and not spayed... probably not vaccinated either. We were also told that she was about 1.5 years old, and is a mix between a Pitbull and either a Shepherd dog or a Labrador. While there, we got her all her vaccines.
We went back to the pet store and bought some treats and toys for her. Sadly, no matter how much we tried to play with her, she simply has no interest in any of the toys.
She also does not know any commands, and we tried in both English and Spanish!
She went to bed again at night and still seemed sad... But don't worry! The next day was much happier!
What we learned about Stella:
She is likely a Pitador (or a Labrabull) which is a mix between a Pitbull and a Labrador
She is about 1.5 years old
She was never taught any commands...
... although she does respond to "NO" and is very frightened by it
She shakes and cries if you call her with a slipper in your hands
She was afraid to eat in front of us, and only ate when we were sleeping for a few days
She probably was almost never walked before due to how she reacts when we walk her (yes, all dogs are happy when they go on a walk, we both grew up with dogs, but this case is different)
Second Day - Some Improvements!
In the morning, we were surprised to see that Stella sneaked into our bedroom during the night and was sleeping right by our bed... carefully watched by Gilbert.
I woke up and went to take care of the telescope as usual, and was very happy to see Stella following me, I didn’t really think about it until it happened, it’s a great feeling. She seemed curious about what I was doing dismantling the astrophotography setup, and was just chilling on the grass watching me. 😃
We realized that she had some issues eating in front of us. She would only go near the bowl when we were sleeping or away from her which was strange. We took some time to convince her it was ok to eat while we were around. We fed her some food from our hands, and slowly convinced her it was okay to eat from her bowl when we were here.
Stella was very dirty and stinky. We don't know how long she was by herself in the desert, or if she has ever been cleaned by her previous owner, but she was due for a bath!
The hose water outside was warm so we decided to use that along with dog shampoo to wash her fur. Although we managed to clean her pretty well, we still decided to go get her groomed by a professional the next day, including brushing her teeth! She came out super clean and happy!
Want to learn all aspects of astrophotography in the most efficient way possible?
The Galactic Course includes a LIFETIME membership that gives you unlimited access to all current and upcoming astrophotography content. Step into an ever-growing realm of knowledge and learn at your own pace. Make life-long friends and connections with other members, and get tips from instructors that truly care about your journey and progress under the night sky.
Life With Stella So Far
Since the time of writing this post, Stella has been getting more and more comfortable with us, and even a little bit sassy sometimes! She now (rarely) finally plays with some of her toys, knows her name, is starting to understand a couple of commands ("Sit" and "Stay"), and is overall a pleasure to be around! She also absolutely loves splooting! If you don't know what splooting means, look at the third picture below. 😅
We love Stella so much, and are so happy to have found her.
We plan on going back to the vet soon to get some blood work done and have a more in-depth look at her health.
Be prepared to see Stella appear in many of our upcoming videos, as she officially is an Astro dog now 😎🐕🌌
GALACTIC HUNTER BOOKS