We are back with another personal project feature; one I am really excited to share with you!
As our 2014 photography season got busier, our personal projects had to be put on hold. It was hard to sit on this story, but the cool thing about the project I was focusing on last year is that these stories are always timely!
If you missed any of my previous features, check them out here. We covered a lot of great animal rescue stories, all with happy endings!
Animal Rescue is still such a meaningful thing to Ed and I. If you've read the stories I've shared already, then you know we have three amazing dogs of our own and have rescued a few cats since our journey together began. We've even fostered a handful of dogs, one which became a full time member of our family! Because of our already big pack and busy schedules, we agreed to take a break from fostering, but still help by visiting shelters and rescues in our free time to photograph dogs who need homes.
Starting this personal project series was another way for us to shed some light on the animal rescue industry and all the things the people involved do. The stories we have been sharing have impacted me in so many different ways. Sometimes, as I am writing a blog, I have tears of sadness well up in my eyes. Other times, I'm wiping away tears of happiness.
While many of the stories we featured during this series started off heartbreaking, they've all had great endings. I've been so honored to capture these moments, freezing in time a story that needs to be told, something that helps to creates awareness, and although some it's a story that begins with hearbreak, it's also a story that can sometimes be turned into a great rescue success!
So let's get to this one... This feature tells the story of two wonderful dogs who were a part of the Regional Animal Shelter.
First, I want to introduce you to Sweetie Pie, now known as Sami. Here's some details about her story: Sami was part of a dog seizure that happened in January 2013 when over 50 dogs were seized by police as the result of an investigation on a breeder in Fort Plain. Several local rescues stepped up to help these dogs. You can read a full article about the raid here. These dogs were kept in poor conditions, terribly cared for, used for breeding, and many other things. The photos released showing the conditions these dogs were in were just terrible. It was a horrific story that ended well for many dogs, although some, not so well. If you want to know more about this story, please Google it. And do us all a favor, keep an eye out for backyard breeders in your own home town - they exist everywhere, and the louder the mouths are that report these, the more of them that can be stopped!
Sami spent time in foster care and at Regional Animal Shelter for a year before she was finally adopted out. You would never know from the smile on her face the past struggles she went through. One thing I've always loved about dogs - their undying love and forgiveness despite what happens to them. Sami was adopted out by a wonderful couple - Nicole and Jon, who just recently tied the knot at the top of the Empire State Building in NYC (congrats again guys!!). Here are some of the first photos I capture of Sami back in August of 2013.
The photo to the right is Sami with her foster Mom Lorrie (and Regional Animal Shelter volunteer) as well as her gorgeous foster sister Lil. Up next is Prancer - now known as Petey. Prancer originally came to the shelter as a stray and was adopted out to what seemed like a wonderful family. Sadly, and to no fault of her own, she eventually made her way back to the shelter, and while it was for the best, the path that led her back was a rocky one.
Regional Animal Shelter has told us that Petey's family made the decision that they could no longer keep him because they were expecting a baby. Since this is my blog, I'm going to insert my opinion here and just say "Really?!" Animals are not disposable creatures, and sadly, so many people treat them as such. It is heartbreaking. Not only is there a huge value to a child who grows up with pets but the dog's unconditional love is always going to be there. The story we were told is that the current family had posted an add to find a new home and and claimed to have one. Unfortunately, by doing so, they violated their contract with the shelter, Regional tells us. Per a signed adoption agreement, if a dog cannot be kept by the adoptive family, they are to return the dog to the shelter, so that the shelter can find a proper home. Unfortunately, to the detriment of Petey, this didn't happen.
Petey was eventually found on the side of the road by a good samaritan after he had been hit by a car. He was brought to a local shelter and eventually back to Reginal Animal Shelter, underweight, bruised and battered. It is believed he was probably abandoned by either the pervious owners or the people they gave Petey to. We made a trip to Regional Animal Shelter to meet up with Petey and our good friend and instrumental volunteer Renee shortly after Petey was brought back to them. His wounds were already healing, but you can see in the next couple of images where he was injured as well as how underweight he came back to them.
You wouldn't know it by looking at this Pittie/Italian Greyhound Mix the havoc he went through. Still happy and smiling...
"Experts say that dogs don't hold onto the the past, they live in the moment. Maybe that's why they love so deeply and unconditionally, and maybe that's why they are so forgiving. I hope that someday I am able to think like a dog, love like a dog and forgive like a dog," Renee of Regional Animal Shelter tells me.
He seems happy to be back in the hands of loving rescue volunteers!
It didn't take our friends Jon and Nicole long to make the decision they wanted to also add Petey to their pack. They brought Sami back to the shelter to meet Petey, and Nicole tells us it was love at first sight. They knew Petey had to be a part of their family! Everyone was thrilled!
Two months after we first photographed Petey and he was all settled into his new home, we decided head to Sami and Petey's new home for a visit - we just had to see how these two were doing together. Wow, it was quite the reunion! I think I had tears in my eyes watching the excitement of these two dogs seeing Renee and Lorrie, the wonderful women who had played a huge part in their rescues and had helped to give them the lives they deserved. Check out these images:
Love this shot. It's like Sami is looking back at his parents and saying: "Hey, mom and dad, did you see who's here?!?!"
I think they are happy. :)
Renee tells me: "Having the responsibility of adopting dogs into homes is immense. It is a constant internal battle, hoping and wondering if I made the right decision. Making a mistake, allowing the wrong family to adopt one of my babies, is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. What happened to Prancer (Petey) never should have happened, but if there can be a silver lining in this horrible mess, it is that he made his way back to our shelter and that he now has the most amazing family- one that he should have had from the beginning."
After some more sloppy kisses, Sami and Petey got a little time to play and show off...
This was the face Petey gave me when I asked him how happy he was in his new home. :)
About adopting Sami and Petey, Nicole tells us: "...it definitely filled a void in our lives that makes it worth it. Sami and Petey met at the shelter and they did great. When we brought Petey home that day you would have thought they had been best friends their whole lives. They are total BFF's and compliment each other's personalities perfectly. They are exactly the kind of dogs we were looking for and we're honored to be able to fight for their breed and show people how amazing they are even after they've been through so much."
Love this family shot. Some thoughts Renee shared with me, that I felt were important to share with all of you: "I've been blessed to have met some of the most amazing dogs. Each one teaches me something, each one takes a piece of my heart. I've also been blessed to have met some of the most amazing people as well. When faced with having to witness the worst humanity has to offer on a daily basis, its those people that renew my faith that good does prevail over evil, that also teach me something and also take a piece of my heart. Jon and Nicole are two of those people."
About this time Sami was done and ready for her treat!
I'll end with this wonderful group shot. My hat is off to all four of these people and the amazing job they did for these two beautiful dogs. This type of success story is why the rescue world just doesn't give up. And I can see why! Consider doing your part too - instead of visiting that pet shop for your dog, why not visit your local shelter. There are so many dogs who need a story just like this one, and are desparate to be a part of your family!Support your shelters in other ways too - share their photos on Facebook, donate, volunteer - the options are endless. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog!