‘Tis the season to be overwhelmed with shelter dogs. F*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck f****ck, f*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck.
There are weird trends in shelter work, and one of them is that breeds of dogs – unrelated to one another – will come into the shelter in batches. We’ll never see, for example, an American Eskimo, and then in a space of a few months we’ll get three or four surrendered or as unclaimed strays. We had two greyhounds at the same time last month, never had greyhounds before. Last week we had two coonhounds come in a day apart.
The other trend is seasonal – at our shelter, we get oodles and oodles of strays in November, and they don’t get claimed. At the same time, dog adoptions decline sharply so the shelter gets really full. Then in December we’ll have a rush of adoptions; last month we adopted out one dog every 2.5 days. And then it slows waaaay down in January again for adoptions, but we still have lots of dogs.
Our shelter is probably the busiest in the lower mainland – we take in almost 200 animals a month. That may seem like chump change to those of you in the Southern States where 200 animals a day is the norm, but for here it’s big numbers. The last shelter I worked out we adopted out 17 dogs in 365 days one year, and 11 of them we had to transfer in from other shelters.
There are also really annoying trends, like we will have kennel after kennel of any small breed you could want, and people will come in and ask for Shepherd mixes and Lab mixes. As soon as I adopt out all my little dogs and fill up with big ones, the only people that come in are ones who complain that shelters never have little dogs. And then when we have a lot of smoochy pit bulls, we have to listen to people ask us why we don’t just kill all the pit bulls so we can have some “good” dogs for adoption, but that’s a hateful, venomous rant for adults 18+ only.
(Household interlude: SHUT UP TWEED, IT IS NOT DINNER TIME YET!!)
Knowing that our busy season was upon us, this Christmas I took the plunge and purchased a pretty darn expensive lighting system to help spruce up our available animal photos of profiles online. It’s difficult to get good shelter animal photos in the winter, when the weather is dismal and outdoor photos are not an option. And good photos are the key to drawing people in and making them want what I gots.
So this week, I ventured into the wonderful world of studio-style portraiture for canines.
Not bad, eh? Eh?
Emma, the 3 month old pit bull puppy, is too sexy for her ears.
10 month old Lab X Shepherd Zola gets overlooked all the time because she is all black. When I posted this photo online, even my manager said “Who is that pretty dog and where in the kennels is she?” (In the adoptable kennels, ready to find a home of her own!)
From big 4 month old Lab mix Lexie (look at her PAWS!):
To small(est of them all) Domino, a 3.5 lb chihuahua who tangled with a car:
We’ve got ’em all!
This should make the shepherd people happy – Prada, a “Shep-Pei”
Or if they prefer the real deal, 6 month old Sapphie is all GSD
Precious puppies (like 11 week old Cesar)
And finely aged dogs, like one of my favourites, 11 year old border collie mix Lacey
If you like ’em dancy and antsy, my little curly soulmate Philip will sweep you off your feet!
(Doesn’t he remind you of a curly Winter?)
Or if you prefer a dog that will make you sweep your floors 400 times a day, the very hairy Dizzy is probably more your speed.
And for the smushabull fans, we’ve got them in spades. In singles, like 5 year old Angel:
or in pairs, like sibling foot stools Shorty and Magnum, who want to go to a home together (and I am going to do my darnedest to make that happen!)
And you can’t tell, but Duke the Schanuzer has the kindest eyes. He’s a very happy dog.
So what do you think? I done good or what?
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. While I am thrilled with the photos, and know that the studio lighting was a brilliant purchase for the shelter dogs, it was also purchased at the worst possible time, because shortly (a week to the day) after I bought it, the engine on my truck died. I couldn’t use the truck as a trade in, because it’s DEAD, and I had no down payment, because I bought lights to take pictures of shelter dogs. Sometimes I really feel like my job is trying to sabotage me. It already pays me in what amounts to Monopoly money, and now I have to come up with $200 extra a month to pay for the truck’s replacement.
Would you be interested in studio style photos of your dogs? I have a studio space lined up, and if I could book just one client a month, I could afford my new (to me) van and still eat, like, food.
If you are interested, shoot me a message to book a session! I WANT TO SHOOT YOUR DOGS! And some of your photos could appear here, and on the walls of the shelter too.
Lucy (10 month old female pit bull) wants you to hire me.
If you were closer I’d totally go for studio photos! Unfortunetly central/upstate NY isn’t exactly close by to you!
I’m in Phoenix, unfortunately.
Your portraits are fabulous and I hope it finds them all homes. I wish I was there, you would make my all black dog look great. She just looks like a big black blob when I do it. Alas, I’m in Maryland.
I can’t help but wonder if somehow Cesar and Emma are related? Or do them just sleep on the same side of their heads? Their ears flop in exactly the same direction and style!
I wish you could load all your camera equipment and dogs into your new vehicle and roam North America doing photo shoots.
Barring that, I’d like to make a donation. But where’d that Paypal button go?
Dizzy! Zola! Shorty and Magnum! Awesome photos!
Shelter work can be maddening and saddening, and when it’s both at the same time, well f*ck. Our shelters and rescues import dogs from CA to the tune of thousands every year. But we still have our own very sad cases…
I hate to think about what happened to pretty Lucy’s ears, and the a$$e$ that did it.
Too far away for photo shoot. Shoot!
These are awesome pictures! Did you take down your Paypal button? I’m sure some of us would do that since we aren’t close enough for your awesome pictures.
Because… he has a fringe on top. Oh lordy, that was truly terrible. :-)
Might be time to visit the store option here on wootube and buy a mad teeth T shirt to support the food lady!
If you were closer, I’d sure be haunting you for a photo session with my cat Miss Boots … but, alas, Prince George is a bit far away, and Miss Boots objects to any sort of travel beyond our corner of the world! Your animal photography is truly amazing! Would happily adopt a dog too, but Miss Boots has a VERY strict no canine rule in her home. Wait a minute … I mean OUR home … no I don’t. I’m actually owned by a cat! LOL!
Oh, those sweet hopeful faces and floopy ears!
I am about two pages from done in my current journal, so it’s time to buy a logo journal from your store, I think.
oh how I’d love to bring Lucy home! Alas I am in southern CA and the hubs is not partial to pits. Don’t tell him but our rescue love bug is lab/pit for sure but the rescue group says she’s lab/gsd. Either way she’s been a dream for us and we wouldn’t trade her for the world. All the pits and pit/mixes in rescue break my heart. My close friend just rescued a pit that was used as a bait dog and he is the best dog considering the horrible life he had before. The kids climb all over him and he just lays there, such a sweetie.
I can’t remember if I wrote before about my experience when I I worked at a county animal shelter in Iowa from 1978 to 1982. If I did, forgive me. Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to compare what kind of dogs we got back then to what comes in nowadays.
The biggest difference is that Pitts were rare to nonexistent back then. Seems bizarre since they are so ubiquitous nowadays but it’s true. I remember reading a rather sensational article in either Time or Newsweek in the early 80s about the new Pit Bull menace and, thought about the dogs we saw at the shelter. I could only think of a handful of dogs that kind of, sort of matched the Pitt Bull look but I’m pretty sure they were Boxer mixes.
The most common breeds we saw back then (as purebreds or as part of mixes) were labs, GSDs, poodles, beagles, schnauzers. We also got upland bird hunting dogs (GSP, Brittanies, field bred English Setters), coonhounds (mostly treeing walker type),Boxers, Dobermans, St. Bernards (maybe 3 in the time I worked there), Siberian Huskies, Cocker Spaniels We’d often have some sort of generic farm collie type dogs that were likely rough collie x GSD crosses. Twice we had Irish Setters – one was more of a field bred type.
Of small dogs, other than the poodles, cock-a-poos and schnoodles, I recall a couple of yorkies, Dachshunds, one likely Maltese and every so often an old style Pomeranians (they were about twice as big as today’s Pom).
At that time Dobermans, St. Bernards, Brittanies, Cocker Spaniels were much more common than they are nowadays.
Hmmm…. when was the last time I went up to Vancouver from Seattle…
Aislinn, Glenn, Coop and Joon says
I am going to hire you right now, Food Lady.
Cause you are the best photographer of doghood ever and you are doing such important work with those shelter dogs.
I’ve wanted photos of the collies by you forever but didn’t have the moula. Now, luckily, I do.
THANKS for all your great work. I’ll e-mail you to set up a shoot.