Man's Best Friend

July 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Throughout my lifetime, I have had a dog as my best friend.  Growing up, there was the little Boston Terrier named Chummy and then later in life there was the one-eyed Boston named Mr. Willoughby.  Pugs have been my most recent best friends... POOH, Barnum, Ms. Bailey Bentwhiskers and now Mollie Sue and Digger.  What is it about a dog that I love so much?  Is it their kind gentle manner, their devotion, their inquisitive nature, their playful spirit, their intuitive knowledge of when something is not right?  Quite simply... I cannot imagine going through life without a dog at my side.
 

And what I find to be so sad is the fact that their lives are never long enough.  The heartbreak of losing a best friend is so painful and then I realize that without them, I would have missed out on some of the happiest times in my life.  Whether it is the riding in the car together, taking a walk by the lake or just hanging out together... all make for special memories.
 

It makes me particularly sad to see so many animals abused, homeless or unwanted.  The shelters are full of them.  There are far too many humans who are irresponsible pet owners and allow their animals to run loose and breed with no thought of what will happen to the offspring.  And then there are the dogs that are left to live outside in the extreme heat or bitter cold and those that are kept tied or chained.  This is cruel... and the animals deserve so much better.  Some are infected with heartworm, infested with fleas or have some medical issues. 
 

Another problem are the puppymills.  And that is a whole other story!  My sweet and loving Mollie Sue, the little black pug, was rescued from a puppy mill by DFW Pug Rescue (http://dfwpugs.com/). 
 

She spent the first two years of her life in a cage and was used for breeding.  When I adopted her, she did not know how to go up and down steps, did not understand what toys or treats were and was frightened of men.  I am thrilled to say she is now a well adjusted little girl with a good life.  I adopted her at a particularly difficult time in my life after losing my 7-year old black pug, Ms. Bailey Bentwhiskers, who had a cardiac arrest and died while having her nails clipped at the vet's.  Needless to say, I could not return to that vet.  I tell Mollie Sue that she saved my life and I saved hers!       
 

When the dogs come into a shelter, they are bathed, groomed, inoculated, chipped and neutered before being placed for adoption.  Some need to be socialized, they all need to be loved and some need to learn basic obedience training.  With the proper care, they can become loving members of your family.  There should be more humans locked up behind bars for what they do to these innocent animals, in my most humble opinion!
 

The beginning of June, Nicolette Work from the Rowlett Photography Club said that the Rockwall Animal Adoption Center (http://rockwalladoptions.com/) was in need of some photographers to take photos of the shelter animals.  I was so excited with the possibility of doing this.  When I arrived at the shelter I saw many little faces "behind bars" just waiting for a loving home. 
 

Some barked, some shied away, and some were just excited as I approached their cages.  They were clean and appeared well cared for.  I read their names, approximate age, their temperament, their history.  I wanted to take them all home, but of course that is not possible, but if I could take a cute photo of them, then maybe they would find a home sooner.
 

So the gal said... do you want to shoot inside or outside?  Inside is definitely preferable, especially in the Texas heat.  She led me into a room with a backdrop, flooring and a huge softbox to light the staged area.  This was so cool!  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  Was I up to this challenge?
 

One by one, they brought the dogs in on a leash.  Some were hyperactive and some were frightened.  None were aggressive towards me or the handler.  They would introduce the dog by name and many times would tell me something about the dog's story and how they came to end up at the shelter.  I started shooting trying to get a full body view, sitting, a close-up of the face or whatever the dog would allow.  Sometimes a treat was in order to encourage the dog's behavior.  And the little dogs looked so cute with a flower or kerchief around their neck.  I was ripping through the pixels as I wanted to be sure to get photos they could use.  I took way too many photos but pixels are cheap.
 

I was there shooting for about 3 hours and photographed 19 dogs... all sizes and breeds and many mixed breeds.  So many cute dogs!  I thanked them for the opportunity to photograph at the shelter and headed home to see what I got. 
 

Yes... there were lots of deletes but there were also a lot of keepers.  I culled the best and exported them to dropbox and it seemed that in no time they posted the photos of the dogs to their site.  It happened so fast and I was so thankful for that... to know that someone cared enough to expedite the process.
 

I frequently return to the adoption page on their website to see whose picture has been taken down as they are adopted.  I can only hope these animals find good homes and adapt to their new surroundings.  A thank you to the other photographers who also share in taking photos of the "homeless".  Hopefully we can do our small part in helping to turn these lives around!
 

Recently I featured a fella and his dog on my 100 Strangers Project on flickr.  His name is Robert and he was taking Morgan, the dog, out for a bike ride around the lake.  Morgan had terminal liver cancer and Robert was giving her some good days before the end of her life.
 

To read the rest of this touching story: https://www.flickr.com/photos/88326925@N08/18564935644/in/dateposted/
 

Sadly, just this past week, Morgan died.  I was thankful to have met Robert and Morgan and to have had the opportunity to photograph them.  A special thank you to Apollo Support and Rescue  ( http://apollosupportandrescue.org/ )  for their care of Morgan until a home could be found for her.  From what I understand, she was with them for two years!
 

Please... if you are looking for a friend... open your heart and go to your local shelter and adopt.
 

I love this quote on the Rockwall Animal Adoption Center's site:
 

    
 


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