I love photographing amazing fur-kids to help them find forever homes. I have had the beautiful opportunity to meet so many amazing fur-kids and help be a part of helping them find their happy tails over the years. Since I opened my doors in 2012, I have donated my time and skill to these special projects and in 2015 became an Artist Member of Hearts Speak, joining other like-minded photographers with the same mission. Help these amazing furkids find their happy tails. Today, I'm sharing 3 of such happy tails that left big hoof, and paw prints on my heart. I hope they also make you smile and encourage you to adopt and help out your local shelter and rescue groups near you too!
I met Jessie in November of 2013 while working with a local horse rescue. Jessie came in with her soul sister, Molly. I thought they were the most amazing horses I'd ever seen. They walked in unison, bowed their heads to eat simultaneously, they were in perfect synch. Until Jessie, the only thing I did at the rescue was taking photos as I had zero experience handling or caring for horses at the time but a passion for photographing them to help them get adopted. Jessie came into the rescue with injured legs that needed to be iced and tended to regularly. At first, I started by just holding the lead rope so she could be tended and that's when it happened. As she leaned her head into my shoulder to sigh with relief, I became head over heels in love with this amazing horse. She was the first horse I put a halter onto and I'm pretty sure she laughed at me when I put it on upside down too. I learned to brush horses on her and how to pick hooves too. She pushed my passion for horses from just simply photographing them into actually learning to tend them. Learning how to brush, feed, halter, walk them, and of course photographing them. Jessie was and will always be my heart horse.
Sadly in the spring of 2014, just as Molly was finally able to be adopted, and had even found a home, she passed away from colic before she left the rescue. Poor Jessie was there as her soul sister crossed the rainbow bridge and she was sadly, never the same. She stopped wanting to live and stopped eating, wouldn't get up to greet anyone and so, in May of 2014, we took Jessie out for a last stroll in the pasture and covered her in buttercups and took many last photos of this special girl who left such giant hoofprints on my heart. The following day, she crossed the rainbow bridge to be with her soul sister Miss Molly and my heart, admittedly, was shattered.
However, this amazing horse taught me so much and awakened my passion for working with these amazing creatures and re-ignited my passion for helping them find forever homes. While hers is not a happy tail in the usual sense, I know she is happy with Molly on the rainbow bridge and that they are both frolicking in a pasture there and I know I'll get to see them again one day.
I chose to share her story today not because it is a happy tail but because of the HUGE impact, this girl had on me and on my journey as an animal photographer.
I met Martin in the fall of 2013 during a photo session for Last Chance Animal Rescue working on photos for their calendar fundraiser. I had an amazing time working with the passionate volunteers and foster parents and hearing so many amazing happy tails! I also got to meet some of the 10 special pups they had just taken in from California. They were part of a group of 130 other dogs, rescued from an incredibly bad hoarding situation. Unfortunately, the group who had rescued the dogs ran out of foster homes for all these rescued pups so they sent out an SOS to other rescue groups across North America. The alternative was they would be euthanized due to a lack of places to foster them.
When I met Martin, he had been in foster care for 3 months and I adored him from the start. Martin is a big dog with huge loving eyes who thinks he’s a lap dog. Many were initially intimidated when first meeting him because he was deaf and because he had many visible scars still on his face. The scars were from trying to survive in the horrendous circumstances he had come from in California. Martin was a true survivor and he didn’t seem to notice them at all. One would think that given his circumstances, Martin would have issues with aggression and be mistrusting of people. In fact, many of the other dogs rescued were. Martin, however, chose to forget the past and let go of the mistrust and fear. He simply wanted to LOVE with his whole heart and with every fiber of his being and more than anything, he wanted to be loved forever in return. And it showed. During his photo session time with me, he spent much time curled up on my lap, or at least as much of it as he could crawl up onto. He stared at me with his huge loving brown eyes, tail wagging, and trying to give me puppy smooches.
Despite the photos we took that showed his true gentle and giving heart, 4 months passed and this handsome boy was still in foster care. As the months passed, my heart broke for this sweet and loving boy who had taught me much about living in the moment and letting go of fear and mistrust. I was over the moon with joy, however, in February 2014, as his wish of a happily forever after was finally granted. He was adopted at long last! He had found his forever family who would love him with their whole hearts too!
I always cry (happy tears) and do a special little happy dance with my own furkids whenever one of my special rescue clients gets adopted. This one made me cry even more special tears of joy. Even writing this now, I’m wiping away happy tears for this amazing boy. He reminded me, and all of us, that no matter our circumstances, no matter our past, no matter our looks, no matter our disabilities, none of that defines us. We can overcome it if we only choose to let it go. We can choose instead to simply love and be loved.
I still wish Martin and his amazing new family all the best. I can’t thank Martin enough for the wonderful life lesson. And most of all, I hope his Happy Tail touches and helps all of you as much as it did me.
Twinkle's story is the one I share whenever people ask, what can something as simple as a great photograph do to help a rescue pet find their happy tails. I met Twinkles in November 2013 while working with Daschaund Rescue Team. One afternoon I got an email from the president of the rescue team about this special girl and how no one had even clicked on her adoption photos since being posted. While she'd been in an amazing foster home for several months, this girl needed to be seen! So we set a date with the foster parents, whom I'd worked with before, and met up with them the following afternoon to take photos of her at a local park.
Let me tell you, this girl is such a lovebug! I couldn't understand why no one had seen her yet. We strolled around the lake taking our time and letting her get to know me and we took tons of amazing photos of this special girl. As soon as I got home, I went into my digital darkroom and got these images ready for them STAT! That evening I started sharing her images with the rescue and on my own pages too. Within 24 hours of sharing them, the rescue was INUNDATED with applications for a home for this amazing, beautiful and special girl. It didn't take long for her to get to her forever family - in fact, within 48 hours she met them and went home with them for a trial run...and it was love at first sight.
While it can be hard to believe or understand, a great adoption photo can help a rescue pet have a 60% better chance of finding their forever home. As humans, we connect with their eyes and personalities, and if a photo doesn't show that, its harder for them to be placed. Sadly, many rescues and shelters just don't have the time or skill to put into great photos - which is why I am passionate about being a member of Hearts Speak - where other artists and photographers like myself, dedicate and volunteer our time and even teach local rescues and shelters how to photograph or even how to write up the best biographies for these amazing pets so they can find their forever homes. If you're a local rescue who's interested in having photos done of your adoptable pets - be sure to give me a bark! And, if you don't live nearby - be sure to check out the Hearts Speak registry of photographers and artists WORLDWIDE who are just as passionate as I am about lending a helping paw! You can also donate to the programs they provide to help teach shelters and rescues how to lend these amazing pets a helping paw too!