I want to first and foremost thank Clay and Elizabeth for allowing me to come into their home and document this very emotional time for them. I realize that being a dog owner will bless you with some of the happiest days of our life and also one of our worst.
It is something that all dog owners eventually will experience sooner or later and it never gets easy.. NEVER!
Champ was diagnosed with cancer recently and these guys are still trying to cope with his diagnosis as well as appreciate the time that they do have left with him .. It could be days, weeks or months.. but I do know that no matter how much time we do have with our furry companions, it is never long enough.
I broke all rules of being a 'professional' and found myself crying off and on throughout the session.. so my apologies.
The purpose of documenting this time was not to pretend that everything is pretty and perfect.. but to honor and remember Champ while he is here with them and that he is loved always and forever.
Sometimes people want to avoid any grief or sadness but I think more individuals should face these emotions head on. It connects you to humanity and it is what makes us human.
During Champs session we reminisced a little on his life journey. He was part of so much with these guys. From his early puppy years to the beginning of their relationship, their ventures in college, graduation, their wedding day, moving into their first home, starting their careers.
That is when they proceeded to show me a photo from their wedding day that I had forgotten that I took. Champ sat proudly between Elizabeth and Clay with a big smile.. Mouth open, tongue hanging out and the look that they all could conquer the world as they embraced one another.
I again, proceeded to cry. By now it was probably my 3rd or 4th time to tear up.. I again apologized as we took a small moment to regain composure.
I am going to keep all these guys in my thoughts and prayers as they try to embrace, comfort and appreciate the final days of their beloved. I know that this was not an easy session to face but I do hope that they will remember this time as a time for reflecting and also as a reminder that life is short, it is precious and most importantly.. it is fleeting.
'Until one has loved an animal, a part of ones soul remains unawakened. - Anatole France
Oh how it kills me to write this post. We have lost another beloved pet to a very close friend of ours. The hardest part about being so connected to these amazing animals is that we often, more times than not.. outlive them. It doesn't matter how long they are here, it's never quite long enough.
Twelve years is a very good life and I knew time was on her side as her health began to fade over the past few months but it is something that no one can ever prepare for.
Mabel became a fixture to many of those who would frequent the loft. She never failed to greet guest at the door with a wagging butt and a welcoming dance. She was a part of so many chapters for all that came to know her over the years.
Losing Mabel in the 'band' family can be compared to that of losing a part of the glue that holds things together.. or a key note to a song.. Without her presence, I feel that there is a missing piece to the puzzle.
This is why I find it so important to take a moment and reflect on her life.. on the laughter she brought to many.. the way she would talk to guest with her howl and agree to wear anything from hats to sunglasses. Her eyes were always full of expression and with one look, she knew how to melt the heart of many.
If love could have saved her.. she would have lived forever! Rest easy sweet girl.. you will forever be in my heart, and my memory.
Date: Thursday July 20, 2017
Hi! I called earlier this week and was asking about a Found dog.. Her ID# is 187971 .
They said she had not been claimed and are waiting for further evaluation of her disposition and also her health.
Would you be kind enough to keep me updated if she will be available for adoption in the near future? I volunteer once a week on Monday and would love to meet her if able.
Thank you in advance,
That was the email I had sent to the GBHS the day I first laid eyes on Millie. Her picture was so sad and it appeared she had no confidence or any feeling of self-worth. She was all skin and bones with big, sad droopy eyes. Weighing in at 31 lbs, Her head looked too heavy for her to lift compared to that of her frail, weak body.. so she hung it down low as if it were dragging the ground.. and her tail was tucked tightly between her hind legs.
She looked as though she was just waiting on someone to be her voice.. speak up for her and give her a chance.. I wasn't looking to get another dog.. The extra expense, the time needed, how would Lola react.. would they get along? It really wasn't in my plan.. but then again.. how many people actually feel that caring for a dying dog is part of a plan.. NO.. it's not.. It's a moral obligation.. and I felt because I saw her photo and I felt convicted over this image that it was my duty to act..
So I did.
This past year seemed to fly by all too fast as Millie transitioned into our family. I often wondered this past year if she will ever be a normal, fearless and carefree pup and after our full year together my conclusion is.. she is as close to it as she will ever be.
Millie still has tremendous fear of people and will often stop mid-stance or slow to a dead stop until any unknown individuals pass us by. I wait alongside with her until she is ready to start walking again.
I find that she is very loyal to those who she has learned to love and trust. She never leaves my side when at home and when in public locations. I am able to take her off lead at many of the hiking trails we frequent as she is always a step behind me. She is too fearful to stray too far from me and I feel that she finds most of her confidence when she is with me or our other pup, Lola.
Lola and Millie seriously have become inseparable. I feel that Lola has started to rely on Millie as much as Millie has to Lola. They will spend all evening on the couch taking turns licking one another's eyes and face.. and often play a nice game of tug with one another and the long rope toy they share.
Not having a plan to get Millie has been one of the BEST PLANS I've ever had.
I would love to wish a Happy One Year to Millie as this is when I truly feel her life began.
Last week our family lost one of our beloved fur babies. Elizabeth belonged to my sister. I wanted to spend a moment or two remembering this sweet face because my belief is, if we don't speak about our lost loved ones.. it muddies that memory of them.. and I want to remember Lizzie for who she was and keep her energy alive for as long as I am able.
She fell ill suddenly and we all did not know why.. but it turned out she was born with an enlarged heart. Her breathing became rapid one morning and her heart gave out on her. She lived to be 10.
I know she lived a full life. She never had to wonder where her next meal would come from. Lizzie never doubted that she was loved and she always had a nice soft bed to sleep in.
There wasn't a time that I can remember when she didn't beg for a belly rub. She felt safest being held in her mommy's arms and she was often considered the 'guard' dog of the home. She never missed a stranger coming into the house as she was always the first to bark and alert.
Yes, the house seems to be quieter than ever now.. The bed has a little more room in it and there is one less begging face looking up as dinner is served.
Sometimes the chaos that our pups bring is the one thing that we miss the most once they are gone. Don't ever take for granted a chewed up shoe, a begging pup or the sound of your dog's bark. Although these things may be nuisances they soon become the first thing we look for once our companion crosses over the rainbow bridge.
What used to feel like forever actually was only a blink of an eye.
Cherish those moments.. the good and bad. The mishaps and mischief our pups can often bring as well as the unconditional love they show us.
Smiles for days for these pups!! These furry pals were loved on all day long at the Magnolia Festival where I was honored to take some snap shots for The Greater Birmingham Humane Society this past weekend. They participated in Gardendale's annual Magnolia Festival and were able to show some adorable and lovable pups who were up for adoption.
There were big pups, small pups, old pups and young ones too.. Furry and friendly, shy and reserved.. something for everyone!
Out of the twelve dogs out at the event, eight of them found homes!!!
I was very excited to hear about the ones that were adopted and hopefully the ones that were not selected that day will be able to find their forever home soon.
The staff and other volunteers are so amazing and I truly always have an awesome time being involved with others who hope to make a difference.
It is literally 4 months to the day since Millie has joined into her forever home with us. As many of you are already familiar with what a hot mess she was and untrusting of everyone earlier on. We have since then set a lot of goals over the past couple months.. where as with the majority of 'normal' dogs, these goals may seem like a walk in the park.. but to Millie, these goals are huge milestones.
Not only is she preparing for her first 5k in April for the annual Mutt Strut ( where as she use to not be able to complete one mile )but she is also working on her social skills at the Homewood Library.. as before she would pee out of fear and collapse when approached by strangers.
Millie met so many sweet, caring children who would come up to read their favorite books to her. She didn't quite know what to think of these little humans who she's never encountered before. She stood quietly as they practiced reading. Her head was held low and her tail was tucked beneath her.
I sensed she was a little scared but was still trusting of these children as she stood on. I was proud of her! I realize that there are still going to be new situations that will make her feel uncomfortable and unsure of her surroundings but the most important thing is SHE DID IT!
You can't grow without being a little uncomfortable from time to time, so I still feel that it doesn't matter how much time goes by, I am still wanting to continue to seek out new challenges for her.
I don't think she has ever in her life experienced so much love and attention at one time. She didn't know what to do with herself..
The GBHS hopes to have these weekly reading sessions after school every Monday at the Homewood Public Library. I do hope that Millie can continue going to meet with the children and let this be a learning experience for her as well.
I don't know which one to use.. 217 days since Millie's arrival into our home or three months since her adoption into her forever home with us.. Regardless, time sure has flown by and we have enjoyed her company soo much..
She has been a busy little lady and it seems that she doesn't have a care in the world now days. If you were to pass us on the street you would have never known that she was once emaciated, abused and neglected. She is almost as normal as they come now!
We had a videographer come to our home to shoot a short film about her story for the GBHS'S Jazz Cat Ball and they also did a write up about her in their holiday newsletter. She has not only touched my life but so it seems, the lives of many others.
Millie has become extremely playful and active that if she isn't walked daily, she becomes anxious and loves to chew.. so I have put her on an exercise regime with daily walks which have now gradually turned into a slow jog/trot.. and there isn't many places that she won't follow my lead.
I can say it's safe to say that she trust me with all of her heart which just melts mine! We are like two peas in a pod and where I go, she usually isn't too far behind.
This morning I awoke to a house that was a little bit cleaner, calmer.. quieter and it lacked the zest and energy that once lingered for the past few weeks. The foster pups time had come for me to take them back to the shelter as they prepare to go on transport in a few days.
For the past three weeks I have put my energy, time, emotions and efforts into making sure these babies hopefully get off on the right foot. The day I went to drop them off, I didn't realize my throat would tighten and my eyes would burn as I held back tears.
I talked to them through the crate door as they looked at me intently. I know they had questions for me. They were brave, no tears and no whining. It is as though they knew they have a whole new life waiting for them... As soon as they came into my life, they left it. I kissed them both goodbye and let them go.
These puppies have grown so much and I would be lying if I said we didn't bond over these weeks. They grew to trust me, understand me when I would praise them and when I would correct them. They looked up at me as though they needed me, my guidance and acceptance.
Moose and Jug both grew into might fine little young men and I often wonder how they will look in just a few more months. I know they will be handsome and they have personalities that could charm anyone.
I know that the chances of me ever seeing them again are next to none.. but that doesn't mean I won't be looking for them in the years to come. I will remember them as they were my own.
Good Speed my baby boys! It was an honor to say that I loved you first.
This was such a special session for me! I got to meet Bruni for the first time last week.. She had her doggie head shots done just shy of her 9th birthday! She looks fabolous don't you think?!?
You could say these photos were to commemorate her 9th Birthday as well as a nice surprise gift to her fur momma..
I was contacted in secret to sneak over and grab a few head shots of this pretty gal for a fun birthday surprise.. and needless to say, I think we were all able to pull it off without Bruni's fur momma ever finding out.
A big thank you for choosing to not only capture sweet Bruni in a photo but also to help contribute and make a difference in another shelter dog and cat's life.
All good things do not go unnoticed. Thank you for making a difference!!
Sometimes I just walk past their pen while they sleep and just look at them and smile. I find myself counting down the days that we have left together.. Sixteen days to be of fact.
I have never experienced loving and nurturing a puppy that I knew that they would not be mine to keep. It's tough as I see them bonding to me, trusting me, following me around, taking to my command, using the bathroom where they should be, running and playing and having not a care in the world. They play so carefree as though life is so grande and wonderful!
If I had one wish for these two pups it would be that they are adopted to someone that makes their life fun.. That they wouldn't have to worry about where their next meal will come from and that they will experience unconditional love from someone who is committed to see them through.
Will I foster again?
Absolutely.. It is hard work, it is also hard to let them go and always wonder what happens to them. I will always want to look for them years to come and I guarantee when I see a dog that looks somewhat familiar as how I think they would look later on.. I will think about them.
I don't believe in limiting my ability to open my home to others. My heart has grown as it needs more room to love more... so the more I help, the more I love and the more I grow from this experience.