Thanks all. You are right John, I do need to work on my lighting techniques. I really can't wait to take the class on it. So far I have been using mostly natural light conditions with reflectors and umbrellas to control shadow. Eventually I will have my basement to set up a small 'studio'.
I find with animals that I don't like using the flash. Animals are so much more sensitive and some of them learn when the flash is coming and close their eyes. I had to move up to using work halogen lights +umbrellas with the animals to get enough light in-doors since they move around so fast.
I really want to approach our local photographer (I live in a small town). He is very good and I would love to be a free assistance once a week to learn more, but I think I need to put together a portfolio before doing that. Unfortunately photography is a very competative field and people don't really want to create more competition for themselves.
So far, my only real hurdle is light. I find at times that I would like a camera that can do better in low light (better ISO capability). The 300 really doesn't do that great past 400; 600 in certain conditions. Though I could play with some noise reducing programs or plug-ins for PS4.
Eventually when I go pro I will want to look into a couple really good lenses. I guess one of the reasons I was looking into another camera body is that it is suggested to have 2 of everything in-case of equipment failure.
This is quite a journey and steep learning curve.
I hesitate to put up my photos, though if anyone is interested they are at flickr.com/photos/bymaggie There are so many good photographers here, but I have to remind myself that I only started with a dslr this past year.
Thanks so much for these forums !!