Monday, July 23, 2012

The Joy of Helping Rescue Dogs - Pet Portraits & Higher Adoption Rates

Today has been a special global event with my friends at "Be the Change for Animals" in which us pet bloggers all unite to talk about Dog Rescue, stressing the importance of saving the lives of dogs in need. Mommy and I are helping by using her photography skills.
Think about this for a moment...we've all seen the typical shelter dog photos, haven't we? The poor dog's head is down, you can hardly see their face; they are either chained or in a crate/cage/stall of some kind and it truly looks to be the very worst day of their lives and their spirits are broken. It is very clear that being a shelter dog is hard. Really hard. There are too many horrors to list of what kind of life a dog might have gone through before they end up at a shelter. Shelter dogs are scared, uncertain, lonely, depressed, and confused. Shelter dogs have often been abused, starved, neglected, isolated, ignored, or displaced.

How can any shelter dog get adopted and find a forever loving home if the only photos of them show a forlorn dog with a defeated soul or broken spirit?  Mommy and I have thought long and hard about what these dogs go through and how difficult is it for them.  So, we came up with a solution in our area and it is making a HUGE impact already in the lives of several local shelter dogs. 

When Mommy goes to a shelter, some of the dogs first start out very sad and shy, uncertain of what is going to happen...but you would be amazed at what a few treats, some squeaky toys, and some loving enthusiasm and encouragement will do for the hearts of these precious ones.
These two brothers, Clayton and Cory were very shy and timid, but felt more secure after a few snacks and lots of petting and reassurance from Mommy and the wonderful lady who works there. Cory (on the right) has been adopted, and things look promising for his brother to get adopted soon too.

A few of the dogs were just so scared and uncertain, like Daisy the Beagle here. When Mommy first met Daisy,  her ears were back and she looked like Mommy was about to hurt her...but Mommy did her very best to make Daisy feel special with love, patience, petting and some playtime, to try and get a good expression to help get good photos for Daisy. This is the end result...Daisy LOVED this little pink and blue stuffed toy and started romping and playing catch. Mommy said it was both wonderful to see her personality come out, and sad that little Daisy might have experienced trauma in her life.
Mommy says that what she is trying to do is capture dog portraits that show the heart and light of the sweet soul inside, yearning to be loved. Her purpose is to help people see the 'Happy Ending' potential for these shelter show the world what a wonderful pet these dogs will be.

Bryce here was so nervous when they came to get him for his photos, that they had to gently hold his mouth as they got him. It turns out he was one big cuddle bug that LOVES hugs, kisses, gentle petting, treats and toys. His story helps illustrate that dogs can sometimes appear to not be socialized, when in reality they are just scared and need extra patience, understanding and love to feel secure. Imagine if you were wrongfully imprisoned and lost your family and home, or never knew anything but suffering, hunger, pain, or abuse. None of us would bode well under those circumstances. 

Happily, Bryce got adopted within a week of his portrait being taken and put up on the adoption website.

Chopper here was a love bug from the moment he came out of his kennel. My GOODNESS he loved giving Mommy and the lady who works there kisses. He was a happy, excited big ole' puppy. Now, how can you look at this beautiful smile with the warm eyes and think that BSL, 'Breed Specific Legislation', is valid??
Chopper is a full grown Rottweiler who merely wanted a chance to give all the love in his big heart to someone. And thanks to good portraits of him, he got his chance. He got adopted within a few days of taking his portrait. 

Here Chopper is, so happy to be outside for a little while, ready to give Mommy his best side for the camera, BOL! He and Mommy played for a while before any photos even got taken. Take  that, BSL. 
It looks to me like Chopper was begging for a belly rub if you ask me.

This little girl refused to leave the arms of the dear shelter lady helping Mommy, so the lady 'ducked' while Mommy took as many photos as little Dixie here would allow. Mommy improvises where she can. 

Will here was adopted less than a week after his portrait was taken. His story is extra special, because it was 'past his time' at the shelter, but they wanted to go ahead and give him a chance with these portraits. That decision and good photos showing his happy smiling face and shining eyes helped a loving family find him and fall in love with him.  Now he's safe in the arms of love in a new forever home. Now THAT, my friends, is a miracle graced with human love. 

Mommy spent about 3 hours photographing at the shelter, and about 2-3 hours optimizing the photos. 
In just two weeks since this first set of portraits were taken,  6 dogs were adopted, and the shelter is ecstatic about it. 
6 LIVES SAVED! Mommy and I are so happy we've laughed, cried and shared the wonderful news with all our friends. The shelter can't wait to do more photo sessions, and we've already planned one for next weekend.

Here are some ideas of things you can do to volunteer and help the dogs and those that run the shelters:
1. Volunteer to help clean the kennels - it is a hard, thankless job and sometimes it takes the attendants away from being able to help find homes for the dogs.
2. Donate or make flat beds or small blankets that can easily be washed and sanitized for the dogs. It gives a small sense of home and comfort to them.
3. Volunteer to come and walk or play with the dogs. They are cooped up far to much inside and need exercise and time in the sun. Even just one hour a couple of times a month will make a huge difference in the life of a shelter dog.
4. Volunteer to bathe and/or groom the dogs in the shelter. Having a clean body and fresh haircut or shave can absolutely transform a dog, give the dog a new lease on life.
5. Offer to take portraits of the pets in need of adoption. A picture really does say a thousand words in helping show off these pets.
6.  Volunteer to transport the pets to a location if that is allowed by the shelter. Some shelters have limits on how far away a dog can be adopted to, so ask your local shelter first about any such limitations.
7. Share information, photos, and stories about local dogs lost/found or at your local shelter. Find your local shelters on Facebook or social media and connect with them. Places such as 'Lost and Found Dogs in Virginia' and places like that will have websites to share photos and information. A dog in a shelter might be a lost pet. 
8. If you have the means, foster a shelter pet and help teach them good things to know as they transition from being scared and alone to being a good pet that can enjoy a family atmosphere.
So my dear friends, I do hope that you will find ways in your own community to help the shelter dogs get adopted and find their forever loving home. Please leave a comment and let me know any other ideas you have on how to help, or let me know what you might be doing in your area.


  1. Great post! Good photos are so important.

    Reply Delete
    1. Thank you Sue! We agree whole heartedly and have seen an increase in adoptions for the one shelter already. Hoping to make a real difference in the lives of these shelter pets.
      Love, Pixel

  2. What a brilliant way to help! Such gorgeous dogs :)

    Reply Delete
  3. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes, reading this. What a wonderful thought to come and cheer these poor dogs up and make it easier for them to get adopted. I never thought of that. You are doing a wonderful, wonderful thing here, helping these dogs. Doesn't it break your heart for all those that can't be adopted? You must need to be both loving and strong to do this for shelter dogs.

    Reply Delete
    1. Dear Inger,
      What an incredibly wonderful message. You put tears in my eyes as well. It does break my heart for each of them. I think you are right. Mommy is able to be very loving and at the same time is very grateful to have the grace to be strong for them. Her focus is strictly to help save them and give these precious shelter pets lots of love, and maybe even hope, to help them through. It is a miracle that we are blessed to be a part of in helping save them. Thank you my friend for your kind words and loving heart.
      Love, Pixel

  4. That's so great that she was able to help get those dogs adopted! Especially for Will!

    Reply Delete
  5. Those are some absolutely wonderful photos, and so glad it is working to help animals like Bryce find new homes. Thanks not only for blogging the change for animals - but for BEING the change.

    Reply Delete
  6. What a wonderful post...... my mum is now thinking of making some flat beds for the local shelter.... we will check with them as to what they would like/need. Mum has been nervous of meeting dogs in shelters as she knows she will want to pack them all into the car and take them home.....

    Tail Wuggles, Rubie xxx

    Reply Delete
  7. I love love LOVE this post. I think photos make such a difference!

    Reply Delete
  8. What a wonderful and inspiring post!

    Reply Delete

I'd love to know what you think friends. Leave me a note & I'll send you a pumpkin kiss!