Except for the one year I was away at college, I've always lived with a dog or two or four in our house. Almost all were rescues... a Boxer MIX, Lab MIX, Terrier MIX, Cocker MIX... the secret's in the MIX!
And because of my love for animals, about five years ago, our family became a "foster family" for two local animal rescue groups in Augusta. We fostered dogs for the first year volunteering, but then moved over to fostering cats. I still can't believe I actually say the words, "I have a cat". I was never the cat person growing up but our 2nd daughter needed a companion and we rescued a tiny kitten and that kitten filled that need for her.... and that tiny kitten changed me too. This is Cooper when we found him 5 years ago, and today.
Animal rescue groups save the abandoned, unloved, and injured animals in our area. Pets in foster homes need safe places to heal, rebuild trust in people, and learn to be loved again. Foster homes give extra time for new parents to be found to give them forever homes. It is hard on your heart to invest so much time into nursing a sick pet back to health and then hand him over to a new family but I'd rather have a sad heart than know I avoided the sadness and the pet was euthanized only because there was no more room at the shelter.
There is so much joy in owning a pet but along with those joys, there is the heartbreaking sadness of losing one.
Roxie passed away this past September. We had her for 8 years. I took this photo just a couple days before she died. We knew the end was coming. She wasn't in pain but she didn't want to get up, she stopped eating, didn't want to go outside, she just wanted to lay close by one of us. We miss her.
Sometimes pet parents have to make that hard decision to end a pet's suffering. Maybe a bad diagnosis from the vet or age has taken its toll. I've been in the vet's office the few times that we've had to make that heart wrenching decision and I held our dog for their last breath and covered them in tears and thank you's for so many wonderful years. That sadness engulfs you and you never forget how important they were to your family.
Almost a year ago, a friend and birth client called with sadness in her voice and asked if I could come that evening and photograph her English Bulldog, Georgia, and her Golden Retriever, Winston, along with her 2 boys. Her heart was breaking because it looked like they would have to put Georgia to sleep in the next couple days. Georgia, like our Layla, had lived a long life and now she was having a hard time walking, couldn't keep her feet under her when she did stand up, wasn't eating much, and slept most of the day. The vet confirmed a bad diagnosis and you could see Georgia was hurting. The "adulting" part of being a pet owner is balancing what your logical head tells you you NEED to do with the heartbreaking "NO" that your heart yells back at you.
I spent about 3 hours with my friend, her boys, Georgia, and Winston. We took some sweet photos of the boys giving them treats and hugs and playing as much as the dogs could. The boys didn't know the hard decision their parents were struggling with. The kids never knew a day in their lives without Georgia and Winston in it.
They had to put Georgia to sleep a few days later after our time together. The oldest son struggled with understanding and misses her terribly. And sadly, Winston passed away a few months later. It's so hard to lose 1 pet but to lose both of your dogs in under a year? Dogs that you have had since they were puppies. Georgia and Winston were the first babies. The dogs were there before they had kids. Losing them was losing family. The grief is deep, but hopefully the photos make them smile and remember happy times.
It doesn't take much for a pet lover to tell dozens of long stories about their loved 4-legged babies so now that you've read about mine, tell me about yours. I want to hear what you love most about your dog, cat, rabbit, llama, whatever!! Quirky? Fence jumper? Digger? Cattitude?? Into trouble? I can't wait to hear your stories in the comments below.
Pets are family and they will be included if you choose to do a storytelling session with your family at your home. I'd love to chat with you about the options.
If you have a spot in your heart for animals, I'd love for you to consider being a foster home. It's easy and I can answer your questions about it. But if fostering is not possible, I have some links below to a few local rescue groups that always need donations -- money, food, items. Some have an Amazon Wish List set up so you can order from Amazon and have food or litter sent directly to the group. Funds are always needed to cover vet bills, spays and neutering, vaccinations, food, and medicine. Setting up a monthly recurring donation of $10, $20, or whatever you can spare, would do AMAZING good. It makes my heart so happy!
SPECIAL GIFT FOR YOU!! For the month of March 2020, message me if you are willing to make a financial donation to one of these rescue groups and I will give you the same amount in credit toward a 2-hour storytelling session. Donate $100, I'll give you $100 credit. Donate $500, I'll give you $500 credit. BUT MESSAGE ME FIRST and I'll get you details.
DONATION links & needs lists for a few CSRA rescue groups. Thanks for your support!
I'm excited that you want to take better documentary photos of your family! Print the worksheet and start interviewing your family. Their answers might surprise you but their responses are the moments to photograph. I'd love for you to share an image on my FB page that you took because of the worksheet. It will be fun to see your life in photos! (www.facebook.com/documentingeveryday)
Here's to taking better photos! Jennifer Documenting Everyday: Family Storytelling Photography www.DocumentingEveryday.com