Posted on May 9, 2013
I’m in the final process of unleashing the Senior Dog Project…”Silver Hearts”. I am super excited about it! I’ve been busy photographing senior dogs all over Southern California. It’s been an amazing journey so far. Next step…travel, travel, travel! I’ve already got sessions booked in the Pacific Northwest and several over on the Eastcoast. I’ve found a book publisher, started the design and I’m getting ready to launch the next exciting step.
Posted on March 31, 2013
Some gorgeous pups looking for their forever family. Located in San Diego. Contact Rachel email@example.com
Posted on December 8, 2012
What a day! What a month! I can’t believe that 40 of the desert dogs have been whisked away by Wings Of Rescue on their 2012 Holiday Transport….to a new life and a chance at a forever home. When Lola asked me to photograph these dogs I had no idea how incredible this experience would be. The caring people I have met…Wow. It’s truly inspiring and gets me all teary-eyed. Today was a big day for about 400 dogs and cats from all over LA. I saw many familiar faces including Rene from Rock and Rescue.
I met Sassy and Corndog’s pilot. Two of the most wonderful folks I’ve ever met…Megan and Steve. And guess what? Sassy and Corndog had the plane all to themselves. LOL First class all the way. They were met at the airport by another pair of special people…Jill and Joanne. You may remember them from a few months ago when they adopted the senior boy, Blue. (also from LA and transported north) They took these lucky pups to their brand new home with my friend Donna. I’ll let her do the big welcome announcement.
I am still blown away that so many strangers came together to help a few hundred homeless animals…many who were on death row. Not anymore. Here’s to brand new beginngings! Turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy the big day.
Posted on November 18, 2012
Another great event to raise money for the dogs! Rock and Rescue sure knows how to put on a great fundraiser! Don’t miss out on the next one.
Posted on October 4, 2012
So today is the day Jacinda leaves Los Angeles for good. Sweet mama girl is headed for greener pastures…quite literally. She is off to find her new family in the gorgeous state of Oregon with Born Again Pit Bull Rescue. The amazing Angela Adams is waiting on her end with arms wide open.
Jacinda is the dog I saw on one of my trips to the Carson Shelter. I don’t know her history, but she has had a very hard life. She has lost much of her fur. She has patches of raw sores. Her skin is covered in mange. (Mange is a treatable skin affliction caused my mites. It’s itchy. It makes the skin thick and if left untreated, turns into a condition that looks much like Jacinda) She has been overbred. The vet said she was probably bred every single time she went into heat. She looks like a granny, but in reality she is just about two.
But that is all in the past. Today she is on the way to her new home…and I am driving her there.
I pick her up at the vet that has been treating and boarding her since she was sprung from the shelter. Sweet girl is happy to get out for a walk. The vet techs and staff say goodbye. Jacinda is a little apprehensive as I bring her to my car. She’s probably only been in one a few times…and never ending up in a happy place. She goes right in, though, like a good little girl.
We’re off. I have a long drive ahead of me. The drop-off point is over the hill…in the Valley. Yes, the destination is only about 20 miles from where I live, but in Los Angeles, those miles could take hours to drive. I have made sure I have plenty of time. Famous last words.
Jacinda absolutely loves having her nose out the window. I don’t know how she will be in the car, so I have her leashed safely and the windows cracked just enough for her to sniff the wind.
We drive along the neighborhood streets. I call Angela to let her know we are on our way. Next up, the freeway entrance. I take a peek while waiting for the light…Woo Hoo..No traffic! I breathe a sigh of relief.
Jacinda and I are listening to 80′s pop and enjoying the smells and smooth ride. And then I get to The Getty Center…otherwise known as the Sepulveda Pass or the Gates To Hell. Traffic is at a dead stop. Dead. Stop. No worries though. I planned for this. I still have an hour to make it to the drop off location. Twenty minutes later, I have moved roughly a block.
It’s about this time that I smell something familiar. Dog farts. Yes Miss Jacinda can fire them off, although they are silent, they are deadly. Very deadly. The odor is enough to make me gag. And then I realize Jacinda doesn’t have gas. She crapped in the backseat. A huge pile of steaming, hot poop. Poor girl! I don’t know if it was nerves or the car motion, but let me tell you, it was one of the biggest craps I have ever seen. Only second to the one she took before we got into the car.
I am still on the freeway and there is no place for me to pull off. Besides, now I am running behind because of traffic. So poor mama girl has to stay in the backseat next to her ginormous poop. And of course she is oblivious to it and decides to sniff out the other window. Yep, walking right through the crap. Can you guess what happened next?
She decided she needed to pee. Again. I watched from the rear view mirror as she squatted. The pee mixed with the poop and got all over her feet. Gotta love the smell of semi-new car, hot fresh pee and a steaming pile of poop. Of course I had to get it on camera. There I was, almost late, stuck in slow-moving traffic, filming mama girl and her mess.
Earlier I had taken a spin class and so I had my dirty clothes and towel handy. I threw that in the backseat to cover up the mess as best I could without actually seeing where to put the towels and t-shirts. I did not want Jacinda to lay in it and not be able to have a bath before she boarded the bus. That would have been way too uncomfortable.
But, Jacinda had other ideas. She wanted to be as far away from the stink as possible. First she tried to get up front with me. Sorry, baby girl, no can do. She settled for the floor and curled up for a nap.
That’s when my phone started to ring. The bus was fully loaded and ready to go. Sandy wanted to know how much longer I had to go. Yes. I am officially late. I look at my Garmin. I have 6 miles to go. I look at the traffic. I’m guessing it will take me 25 minutes to get there…if I am lucky. Sandy tells me they cannot wait. They are on a schedule and if they aren’t driving, that means no air condition for the dogs. She said to give her a few minutes, she would see what she could do and would call me back.
Of course I am thinking I am the worst transport person ever. I am totally bummed out that I misjudged my time. I am freaking out that I will have to tell Angela I failed and missed the bus. I look at Jacinda and am so sad she will have to go back to the kennel for a few more weeks. And then I push the gas pedal as far down as I can and jet off as fast as my Kia will take me. I think I was channeling Mario Andretti.
Sandy calls back and confirms my worst fear. They have waited as long as they can. I curse the Los Angeles traffic. Then Sandy says I can drive further and meet up with them at their first stop. Yes! I don’t have to think twice.
The only problem…I suck at directions. I have no sense of north or east, left or right. The freeways are a mystery to me. I’m not in my home neighborhood. I sometimes turn left when I am told to turn right. Sandy tells me where to go.
“Stay on the 405. Then get on the 118, then on the 5 going north. Then get off on the Rexford exit. Go a little way and we’ll be at the Denny’s. You can’t miss it.”
I laugh. She apparently doesn’t know the depths of my directional handicap. I silently pray.
Hurray! All goes well. I find the 118. Then Sandy calls. The exit is actually called Roxford. I say OK. Then (thank God) I ask her how long I should drive on the 118 before the 5 comes up. She doesn’t know exactly, but says something about going east. Holy crap. I am going west! At this point I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or run away because I am sure Sandy is about to kill me.
I get off the freeway, turn around and get back on…going east. I see signs for the 5. Hallelujah! I pull onto the ramp and am met with…wait for it…wait for it…TRAFFIC! Bumper to bumper. Kill me now.
Jacinda senses we have stopped and comes out of her cubbyhole. She sniffs the air. Wags her tail. And then like Moses himself has parted the Red Sea the traffic starts moving. It was really crazy. For about 5 minutes all I could see were red taillights. And then, all of a sudden the cars start speeding up…to the normal 65 mph.
Jacinda did not appreciate the shift of the car. She threw up.
Poor Jacinda agrees with me that this is the car ride from hell. But she’s a trouper and decides she likes her cubbyhole much better. She disappears onto the floor.
Finally I reach my exit. I see the Denny’s. I call Sandy to let her know I’m RIGHT HERE! She tells me that they had to go to another location because there were no parking spaces in the lot. She gives me directions. I laugh…manically.
And finally…for real this time…I see the bus. I see Sandy. I park. Praise the Lord. We made it. I grab Jacinda’s medical records. I grab some Wet Ones I have in the trunk. Wipe off mama girl. (And she was very careful! She hardly got any gruesomeness on her!)
Jacinda looked around. Peed again. Sandy took care of the paperwork. I said my goodbyes to mama girl. Picked her up and loaded her on the bus. Her bus to true freedom. Her journey to love. Goodbye LA and hello Oregon.
I sat in my car for a few minutes and watched as the bus drove away. I couldn’t help but smile. What an amazing feeling…to be a part of something so life changing…something so momentous…I was so full of happiness for Jacinda. I was filled with gratitude for Angela. And Neda. And Sandy. And Steve. So many people pulling for a once lost soul that had no hope. Giving her a chance. Giving her a brand new life. And through my happy thoughts, I smelled poop. And I laughed. Alone in my car…Like a crazy person.
Posted on September 23, 2012
Another visit to Carson. And sadly another dog caught my eye. I don’t know what to think of the people out there who can let a living creature endure such suffering. Well, that’s not entirely true. Believe me, I do know what I think and none of it’s good. But at this point it’s wasted energy. Now, this poor mama dog needs my help.
This girl, with the smiling face, was sitting with her person, waiting to be turned into the shelter. It was amazing that I saw her. I was photographing dogs in the very back of the shelter. I was so busy that I never left the area, except one time.
About 3 hours into shooting, I realized I was dying of thirst, but had left my water bottle in the car. And so I made a mad dash to my car to retrieve it. That’s when I saw her.
Her smiling face caught my attention first. She was so calm and happy. And then I saw her stomach. She had been breed so many times, her teats almost touched the ground. My heart broke for this sweet girl. A lifetime of “working” for her owners and now she was being discarded like garbage. And then I saw the condition of her skin—one of the worst cases of mange I’ve seen. Half of her body was hairless and she had open sores and scabs everywhere.The skin on parts of her so thick and worn, it’s amazing she can bend her legs.
I asked the man if I could pet his dog. Her ears were swollen and filled with scabs. I’m not sure what the scabs were from, but I’m surprised she could hear, the thick skin almost closed them up.
She drank in my affection. My heart ached with the familiar sadness I feel whenever I am at the shelter. I knew I couldn’t bring her home. I knew all my rescue friends were full. I knew that she was headed for a very long medical recovery. I knew her chances were slim.
Yet I couldn’t just let her get turned in and not do something. And so I did the only thing I could do in that moment. I took a photo.
The next turn of events were more than miraculous. I posted her photo on Facebook, edited the shelter photos and turned in for the night.
When I got back to the computer, I found that the photo had been shared across FB. And this dog had found an angel wanting to save her. The woman’s name was Angela. I’m finding she lives up to her name. She worked some magic and found someone to pull this girl from the shelter. She found a vet. She found transport. Did I mention she did all of this from 1,000 miles away. No? Turns out she lives in Oregon. Baby girl is in Los Angeles.
And now this mama’s real journey begins. Angela has named her Jacinda and will be taking her under her wing. The long road ahead will include medical care for her mange and boarding at the vet until she is healthy to travel. She also needs to be spayed and have the extra skin from her stomach fixed. And then transport to Oregon. And if we find any other medical conditions those will need to be addressed.
Jacinda is safe. She will be loved. She will be taken care of like never before. And eventually, she will find a real home—one where she will be treasured and spoiled and treated like a princess.
If you’d like to contribute to Jacinda’s medical fund, there is a a Chip in account.
Posted on September 13, 2012
(Scroll down for the video at the end)
This modern world of Facebook and the internet is a very interesting time. Some of my very best friends, I’ve never even met in person. Hard to believe.
As many of you know, I am an avid animal lover. I always have been. It has only been in recent years—actually the last 10—that I have made the decision to be an animal rescuer as well. Who would have thought that the computer would play such an important role in what I do today.
When I decided to take the plunge into the rescue world, I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to help. Or what I would be good at. But I knew I loved animals and that I was able to take pretty decent photos of them.
While searching the internet for inspiration I found a photographer that I fell in love with—Printz Photography. The images jumped out at me from the screen. I admired the photographs and hoped to one day be as good.
I’d visit the blog weekly and followed the photographer for years—all the while working in my corner of the world photographing animals, volunteering at rescues and eventually fostering dogs.
Fast forward a few years later. I stumbled on a new group of artists that were trying to help shelter pets with their art. I knew immediately I had found kindred spirits. I immediately joined HeARTs Speak.
Imagine my utter surprise when I found out the founder was none other than Lisa Fishler, of Printz Photography! The photographs I had been admiring for years. She started HeARTs Speak for many of the reasons I found myself drawn to animal photography and rescue.
Through my work with HeARTs Speak I have been able to meet and work with some amazing animal advocates. Rock and Rescue is one of those unbelievable groups. Much like HeARTs Speak, they are passionate artists who want to use their music and talents to help the animals.
Through mutual Facebook friends I was asked to photograph Rock and Rescue’s big event—a concert to raise money for homeless pets. One of the groups playing that night, was Elvis Monroe. I fell in love with their song ‘Comin’ Around’.
Fast forward a few months —I’m on Facebook and see that Elvis Monroe has released their first album. Immediately I buy a copy and on a whim decide to ask the lead singer if I could use my favorite song for a video I was working on to showcase pets that are up for adoption.
Bryan said yes.
This video is the result of people working together for the benefit of dogs and cats without homes. Using their talents to help change the world. Trusting people who are virtual strangers, but with the same passion and coming together in an amazing way.
When I look back at the last few years and think about how I got from point A to point B, I am truly amazed.
Yep, some of my very best friends I’ve never even met. The friendship we share stemmed from a computer screen mixed with artistic passion, the love of animals and the need to do something for the greater good.
Posted on July 9, 2012
Sunny is such a funny girl. Her personality continues to grow and flourish.
At night she sleeps in the living room…on the couch…or the chair…or her bed. She likes to mix it up. I’m lucky that I am able to close the front half of my house off from the back part. I found out that she loves cats. But not in the way Gabby does! I’d bet a million bucks in her younger days, Sunny loved to eat cats!
I am extra cautious with the boys because they have no fear of dogs. They will investigate them, sniff them and walk right up to them. Enzo especially. So with any new dog I keep them separted and slowly introduce them.
Sunny stays on the leash when the cats have full access to the house (usually at night when I’m on the couch watching TV, so I can keep a hold on the leash.) So during the first week the cats came out to meet this new dog they’d been smelling for days. Francis made his way over to sofa and jumped up on the back portion and slowly walked over to where Sunny was. (I kept tight hold and careful watch) Sunny was asleep. Then all of a sudden her nose started working. CATS! She sniffed the air with gusto. Because she can’t hear and can’t see well, she didn’t know exactly where the CAT was…She started “biting” the air. (It was adorable, but also made me realize I was right to be so cautious.)
Then Enzo came close. Sunny saw him and just stared. Then she looked at me. Then back at Enzo. Then Sunny looked at Gabby. Then back to the cat. You could see her brain working. “Why aren’t you chasing those things?”She didn’t try to go after him and her hackles stayed put, but she was way too interested in the boys.
Slowly her interest has lessened, but she still is very curious about them and I will never feel comfortable leaving them alone together, but now she will look and then go back to sleep. I’m grateful I am able to keep them seperated in a way that gives them both a nice amount of space.
Gabby loves Sunny. She seems to know that she needs extra attention and company. Gabby always sleeps with us in the bed. When I get up to go to sleep, she will immediately get up and follow. That has changed since Sunny came home. Gabby will stay on the couch with her on most nights.
Sunny also loves Gabby. She will give her kisses. She will sleep next to Gabby, getting as close as she possible can, someetimes squeezing herself in a tiny little spot. It’s adorable.
Sunny has also become quite a talker. She will lay at my feet when I’m editing and do her little whine/bark until I give her attention or pet her. At first I thought it was because she was in pain. Nope. As soon as I get on the floor with her, she will roll on the back, bark, paw at me and nibble the rug.
Every morning when I wake up, I feed the dogs. Sunny loves to eat! (In fact, she’s found the garbage can and once or twice I’ve come into the kitchen to find her giant head immersed in it!)
After they eat, I let them in the backyard to pee and so I can feed the cats. Well, Sunny has decided she would rather not be in the backyard in the morning. She refuses to go out. She looks at me with such a funny face and will turn and run (as fast as her arthritic legs will carry her). She preferes the yard when the sun is out.
Sunny is pretty mobile and can get up on the couch and jump up in the car too. Sometimes it takes her a little longer, but it’s so cute watching her climb up there.
She also loves tennis balls! She’ll even chase them. And she’s still got some power in the jaw. She’s destroyed 5 of them!
Bones are also another favorite treat. She loves them.
Sunny absolutely loves going on walks. She sniffs everything and tries her best to keep up with Gabby. I take the dogs for car rides and walks to downtown Culver City. I’ve written about her in the newspaper and several times people have recognized her. She loves the attention and greets everyone with a tail wag. She also loves the neighborhood dogs.Especially the boys. She’s a female Hugh Hefner. haha
Sometimes when she’s in a deep sleep she’ll wake up with a start and look around. As soon as she sees me or Gabby she relaxes and then falls right back to sleep.
Sunny also does this thing that makes me so, so, so happy. She will stop, look around intently, and then bark, roll on her back and smile. To me it seems like she is wondering if this home is real, maybe she’s dreaming…and then when she realizes, yes, it’s real, she can’t contain her joy.
Posted on July 4, 2012
If I close my eyes I can still see him clearly. Huge smile. Gorgeous face. Giant blockhead. Painted like a cow with beautiful blue gray spots. His name was Rocky and he was such a happy pup. Full of life. Bouncing around his kennel, taking treats gently out of volunteer Ryoko Matsui’s hand. I fell in love the minute I saw his photo. He even liked cats and other dogs. He was a stray that ended up at the shelter. Everything was in place to bring him home except one thing. We really weren’t ready for a second dog. We already had Gabby plus 3 cats. No room at the Fusaro Inn.
I put him out of my mind- for a while anyway- but I found myself going back to his adoption page. Finally I couldn’t stand it and begged the husband to just let me meet him. And let’s face it, meeting him meant I was going to bring him home. The husband reluctantly agreed and I made the call to the shelter. I was put on hold for what seemed like forever. Finally, the shelter volunteer came back on the line. “I’m sorry,” she said, Rocky is no longer here. He was put down yesterday.” I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Tears welled in my eyes and a lump immediately formed in my throat. Devastated, I hung up the phone.
I still feel guilty about Rocky. If only I had made my decision one day earlier. Twenty-four hours too late. A single day. I cried as I watched his video one last time. Since Rocky, there have been others. It’s one of the horrible realities of working with rescues. I try not to think about the ones who never made it. And when they do pop into my head, the sadness overwhelms me.
There was beautiful Sky, a husky that was so malnourished and covered with mange she didn’t even look like a dog. The scabs were thick and she had almost no hair. Danielle Rollibard, founder of I.C.A.R.E Rescue saved her from her from the shelter.
“Sky was the sweetest thing ever – every part of her body had scabs and sores on it,” remembers Danielle. “The shirt I wore to pick her up from the shelter was covered in blood from her poor little body.”
Sky had never known love and all she wanted to do was be held in Danielle’s arms. I had made plans to photograph her for the I.C.A.R.E website. Just like Rocky, I never got to meet her. Danielle tried her best to save Sky. At least she died knowing she was loved.
There are so many others that don’t. They die alone in shelters. In backyards. In trash cans. Yes, there are people out there that do unspeakable things to animals and when they are done with them, throw them away like garbage. No dignity. No respect. Never having been loved. Never feeling safe. It’s these lost ones that I want to remember.
Paula Hsien volunteers at a local shelter and makes it her business to valiantly work to save as many dogs as she can. She remembers each and every one.
“During their stay at the shelter, they brightened our days with their beautiful smiles and unconditional love. They made us laugh with their silliness and playfulness. Even though they are no longer with us, they will be remembered, for they have left their paw prints on our hearts forever.”
“Vixen was quite a social butterfly. When we’d go out for walks she would greet everybody. She’d follow me around or would just sit next to me.
Manouka was a happy girl and a big ball of love. My heart was torn into pieces when I found out that she was euthanized because the shelter lacked space.
Mali came in as a stray. She gave me little kisses on the hand. The fact that she was willing to give me a chance tells me that she still had lots of love in her heart.
Honey was a sweet girl who won the hearts of many volunteers. She was super playful and full of energy.
Rayna was such a good girl. She’d sit and wait for me patiently when I passed out treats. She loved to give kisses.
Dolly was dumped at the shelter because she was too old. A lifetime of giving love and she died alone in a shelter without her family.
Brittle loved to be around people and was just a sweet boy with kind, soulful eyes.” The list could go on forever.
Without people like Hsien, Rollibard and Matsui these dogs would never know human kindness. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m glad they do. And so it’s time I remember Rocky and Georgie and Jazz- three dogs that touched my life and left way too soon. And I thank the selfless men and women that can’t turn their backs on their plight. Memories like these need to be remembered. These loving creatures that were here for just a moment, but made a lasting impression- their short lives do matter.
Posted on June 10, 2012
S.T.A.R.T. SHELTER TRANSPORT ANIMAL RESCUE TEAM (A 501c3 non-profit) was formed in May 2011 by Steve Spiro, Suzanna Urszuly, Rene Ruston and Adam Tarshsis.
They began raising money and transporting dogs from high kill shelters here in LA and sending them via van or plane to Oregon, Washington (WA) and Canada where they go to reputable no kill shelters or foster homes.
To date they have transported 1468 doomed death row dogs who are placed into loving homes.
Each transport costs between $2500-$3500 depending on the destination of the receiving group.
THE GOAL – to raise enough money to fund at least 8 transports a month.
They are also are teaming up with a pilot who can fly 30 dogs at a time and made the local news.
Happy one year anniversary guys! You are awesome.