In 2004 I became involved with animal rescue by becoming a volunteer relay transport driver. To photograph these dogs, knowing that they are leaving a death sentence behind and starting a new chapter in their life is unbelievably heartwarming. I began photographing at special rescue events, such as Echo Dogs Northeast Reunions, that brought adoptive families and volunteers together to enjoy listening to stories and games for the kids and dogs. Photographing these events was very special for me. I was able to see some of the dogs I transported and to see the transformation from a dog that may have been afraid to one that is now confident, happy and loved. The photos I truly enjoyed taking were close ups of dog and owner. There is no hiding the bond and love between human and animal. I felt truly lucky to share the lives of so many families, even if only briefly and through a lens.
Two of my furkids came to me through these transports and now I was at the receiving end. Indy, from Indiana, and Tucker, from Kentucky, hence their names as a reminder of their pasts. Indy, an Australian Cattle Dog mix, is now with me in spirit only though he will always be in my heart. His final adventure to the rainbow bridge happened a few days before Christmas of 2015. Tucker, a purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgi, is an old style Corgi that weighs in at 25 lbs. His head and paws are the size of a Labís with a deep chest so when he barks he sounds like a Lab too. He was rescued from a hellish puppy mill (are there any other kind?) where he spent the first three years of his life. My home is also shared with 2 cats; Salem, a black DSH, and Jimmy, a Snowshoe/Siamese mix. Taz, an orange and white DSH, now lives with me in spirit only. I still miss him to this day. Taz and Jimmy are what are lovingly known as foster failures. In other words, I loved my fosters so much I couldnít bare to let them go. It's an occupational hazard that will eventually happen to any foster home. All my furkids are my pride and joy.
The natural progression of my photography then turned to helping out rescues and their foster animals. I wanted to help find homes as quickly as possible and it all starts with a photo. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and itís the right photo that will draw people in. An animalís eyes have the most power, the window to the soul. And having a close up to that window and seeing into their eyes is hard to resist. But thatís just the first step. Then you must show their true personality and nothing says it more than action photos. You get to see how goofy or playful or how much of a cuddler they are with the right photos.
And the final step in my journey from transporting to photographing transport dogs to photographing foster animals was to become a foster home. I started by fostering for Siamese Cat Rescue Center and continue to foster for Broken Tail Rescue and just recently, Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association (ACDRA). I missed having a cattle dog in the house and this way I have a little bit of my Indy back. Fostering is an extremely rewarding experience and just one of many ways to help animals in need. The best paycheck is getting updates from the new family and seeing how your foster is blossoming in their new home.
I have met so many warm and dedicated rescue people as well as adoptive families. It has been a wonderful experience and one that will hopefully continue for many years to come.