Silver Hearts The Book

Posted on June 13, 2013

RosieFBI am completely blown away by the support for this project! In just a few short days together we have raised almost 20% of the total needed to fully fund this project. Wow. Thank you! The dogs thank you too.

Kickstarter is an all or nothing crowdrise platform, so if we don’t hit our goal, all the pledges go back to where they came from. So keep spreading the word and sharing. And remember that no amount is too small. Together we WILL make a difference for these old souls.

I set a lofty goal. $35,000. I want to do it right. :-)

The book printing will be a big chunk. But if I raise all the money through Kickstarter for the printing then ALL the proceeds from the sale of the books will go to the rescues and the dogs.

I also want to have extra copies to give to rescues to use for their own fundraising efforts through auctions and such. I am gathering together a list of reputable rescues that work with seniors. If you volunteer for one, please let me know.

The remaining funds raised via kickstarter will allow me to print posters to give to pet stores, shelters, rescues…(whoever wants them) to put in towns all over the country. I want to help spread the message that ‘love doesn’t keep track of years’ and senior dogs are valuable family members.

I am also going to see if bus stops around the country will donate space for the posters. And many places now have those electronic billboards. I’m talking to Clear Channel to donate space to run the public service announcements there too.

My other hope for the excess funds is to rescue one older dog per month for a year. I have already made connections with rescues all over that will take the dogs I pull (if space is availabe at that time). I want to be able to pay for their medical bills too. (At least a big chunk of it…and some dogs will need less and others more.)

And of course I want to help others who see a senior dog in need.

I have big dreams. haha

So if you love old animals pledge, share and let’s get this project funded!





Silver Hearts

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.

Stay tuned!

smallcover





Under Dogs Always Pull At My Heartstrings

Posted on September 24, 2012

jacinda
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’re inclided to contribute to Jacinda’s medical I’ve created a Chipin account. Please feel free to share her story. And if you’re the praying type, send a few out for this sweet pup.





Some days are harder than others

Posted on June 9, 2012

Some days I’m filled with hope and purpose when I walk into the shelter. Others I go through the motions, trudging along as if I’m wading through quicksand.

As I walked in the shelter I could physically feel my heart close. It slammed shut without warning. I’m not sure why, but the noise, the smells, the dogs were just too much for me today. Maybe because I was there to photograph the U-Haul dogs. Maybe because I knew that placing some of them would be near impossible. Maybe because even with all my efforts the dogs and cats just keeping coming. It feels so futile.

Love. Warmth. Understanding. A friendly touch. A place to belong. Feeling like you matter. Isn’t that what we all want? Canine, human, feline—our needs are much the same. Is it too much to ask? Apparently it is.

As I walked the rows and rows of kennels, the walls felt like they were closing in on me, the air getting thinner. I imagine it’s what the animals might feel at times. Maybe all the time. The feeling is horrible. I just wanted to run out of there and never look back.

But I didn’t. I stayed. I photographed. I gave treats. I scratched ears.

The dogs cried. Whined. Barked. Some wagged. Others licked. Some turned and fled. Others cowered. Some never even lifted their heads.

My heart stayed firmly locked down. It bothered me that I felt nothing as I walked the halls. I don’t know what it means, if anything. Feeling helpless is not something I’m used to. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just been given a taste of what it feels like to be a discared animal. Alone. Scared. Shut down.

It’s bleak. It’s dark. It’s overwhelming. No living creature should ever have to endure such things. For me I know it will pass. For the animals…I can’t even think about it.





Little Red

Posted on May 22, 2012

I am late for work. Today it seems I am late for many things. Late. The word bounces around in my head. I am numb.

I climb into my car, roll down the window and start my music. The Pet Shop Boys song Miracles fills my ears. No miracles for me today. I am on automatic pilot. I drive without seeing. I make my way through the familiar streets. I am numb.

The next song is The Promise by Tracy Chapman. One of my favorites. As I listen I am overcome with emotion. A single tear escapes my eye. Before I can wipe it away the floodgates open.

———–

Little Red. That’s what I call him. A tiny little pup, so scared in the shelter. I met him three times. Each time he was in the same position—curled up in a ball, head pressed against his paws. He never moves.

I cannot get him out of my mind. I send his photo to my rescue contacts. I talk to my friend Yaiza to see if she has room. Everyone working together trying to find a place for this sweet boy who, for the moment has known nothing but sadness and fear in his young life.

His face fills my thoughts. His sad eyes. His tiny shaking body. In a split second I make a decision. I do not care that there is no rescue to back him. I do not care that there is no place for him to go yet. I decide that I will take him anyway. Almost as soon as I decide to go for it, Yaiza calls me. She cannot get him out of her mind either.

I email my contact at the shelter to start the ball moving. I am filled with purpose. I am excited to see Little Red take his first sniff of freedom. He does not know it yet, but his life will be one of joy and love.

My phone rings. I answer. It is the shelter. He wants to talk to me voice to voice. Impound number 4426472. Little Red. The boy who never knew love is gone. I am too late. Fifteen hours too late. My early indecision has cost him his life. I have failed him. Late. Numb. Failed. The words fill my head.

My heart is open and the sadness I feel cannot be ignored anymore. I have not let it touch me since I started going to the shelter. I knew if I started there was a huge possibility I would not be able to stop. Turns out I was right.

———–

I am late for work. Silent tears roll down my face. My vision is blurred. Tracy continues to sing of the promise she made to someone special. The words I hear make me think of Little Red. I play it again. And again.

“If you wait for me, then I’ll come for you. I’ll return and fill that space in your heart. I’ll find my way back to you. If you’ll be waiting. If you dream of me, like I dream of you. In a place that’s warm and dark. In a place where I can feel the beating of your heart. To see your face, your smile. To be with you where ever you are. Remembering…You can make a promise. If it’s one that you can keep.”

I didn’t keep my promise. Little Red waited and I never came. I was too late. If only. If only. Those words will haunt me forever, I think.

The only thing I can do is let the tears run their course. They do. Eventually. I am left with a hole in my heart—a hole that may not ever be filled. But, one thing is certain, Little Red will never be forgotten. He will be in my heart when I go back to the shelter. His death will not be in vain. And next time, I hope that all my promises can be kept.





Shelter Visit

Posted on May 13, 2012

websiteI am a fly on the wall. I am mute yet want to say so many things. I am blind and yet I see all. My hearing is accute. Every detail is magnified. I am in the lobby, number in hand, waiting patiently for my turn. Every word I hear is like a dagger to my soul. To my right is a man.

“We took her to the vet. There’s nothing they can do. She’s old. Can’t see. Can’t hear.”

The questions in my mind are swirling around. All of them answered eventually. Except one. Why? How can a person live with a cat since she’s a kitten and then when she is dying bring her to the shelter to do it alone?

He signs the paperwork. A shelter worker is paged on the loudspeaker.

“Intake in the parking lot. Senior cat. Owner surrender.”

In the next breath, the older gentleman tells the front desk attentendant they have a new kitten. I close my eyes. Regain my composure. I can’t let the saddess inside me turn to rage. It takes every ounce of my will.

To my left two women and a child.

“I got him here last year sometime. I don’t want him anymore. He sheds. I want one that doesn’t. Do I have to pay the fee again?”

Behind me just voices. The words are the same. Over and over until they all just blur together. It’s saturday. The same as the last three I’ve been here. Still my question remains unanswered. Why?

I walk through the kennels like I have so many times before. I am bombarded with the sounds of dogs. Barking. Crying. Whining. Screaming for attention. Guarding their space. Making their presence known.

I stop at each cage. Offer a treat. Talk to them quietly. Offer my hand for a sniff. Some don’t take even a second to bound up to the gate. To drink in my attention. They are starved. I prepare to move on. I pull my hand away. They whine. They scratch at the bars. They paw at the cement floor. I close my heart. I have to.

I go to the next kennel. This one is so terrified he won’t even look at me. I throw a treat his way. His nose starts to twitch. He lifts his head and starts to get up. We make eye contact. He cowers. Curls tighter in a ball. I speak to him in a whisper. He starts to shake. I stand there another second, trying to find a way to connect, to make him feel safe. There is nothing I can do. I have failed.

Row after row. Cage after cage. The next a little harder than the last. With each cage I close my heart a little more. I have to.

I see Rosey again. It’s not her name. She has none. But it’s what I call her. She is gorgeous. And so young. I know I can’t take her out of the cage. She is a pit bull. I can’t say hello. I pass her by.  I have to.

I make my way through all the buildings. I look carefully at each dog. I have to chose who I will take out on a meeting pass. I have learned the rules. I don’t like them. But I play by them. I have to.

I write down the numbers. Walk back to the lobby. Take a number. I wait again. More words from people I don’t know. This time I try and shut them out. But I can’t. I absorb it all.

Three of the dogs I want to meet have been placed on hold by a rescue. My heart is filled with happiness. They have found a way out. They don’t need me. I am grateful.

I am meeting the big Great Dane mix. The stir crazy doberman mix. And the baby boy I met yesterday. The lady behind the desk looks at her screen.

“You saw him yesterday?”

I feel put on the spot. Did I break an unknown rule? I answer the only way I can.

“Yes.”

“Why?” she asks.

“Because I love him.”

This made her laugh.

But I do. I love them all.

She is a very nice woman. I’ve met her many times. She told me a little about herself on my last visit. She said that working there has made her appreciate all God’s creatures.

When she started at the shelter she didn’t really like animals. On her first day she got a call from a man that was crying.  She thought he was crazy. She couldn’t understand him through his tears. When she found out his dog had been hit by a car she was dumbfounded.

She said to him, “It’s just a dog. We got a bunch down here. Come get another.”

I guess things like that helped to change her mind over the years. And seeing the dogs and cats that come into the shelter. We are so different. But she has been changed a little bit. It’s a big step, however small it may seem. I like her. And she seems to like me.

The Dane is a sad, sad soul. He came in a stray. He’s so terrified he flattens himself to the ground when the worker enters the kennel. She tries to coax him with hot dogs. He inches his way out. It’s as far as he will go. His fear won’t allow him. I can still see his face. It breaks my heart.

Next is the Doberman and the shepherd pup . They love their time out of the cage. So do I.

As I’m getting ready to leave, I think of all the dogs that can’t be taken out of their cages. The ones that I come here for most. I make one more round and dole out treats and some love. My last stop is to see Rosey. She reminds me of the white pit I met on my very first day. He never made it out of the shelter.

I spend about twenty minutes with her. She craves love. She is sometimes unsure about me. But she can’t resist my hand. I can only put it through the bars a little bit. She presses her face against it. She licks my fingers. My face. I lay down on the floor and talk to her. She rolls over for a belly run. I can’t reach her. She scratches at my hand trying to bring more of my arm close to her. The cage is in the way. I stay as long as I can. When I get up to leave she follows me with her eyes. I close my heart and turn away. I have to.