Shared Hearts

My memory of the day is quite clear.  It was a bright, sunny February day and my spirit was lifted because I could actually feel the warmth of the sun again, even though my body was covered head to toe with ‘Nanook from the North’ clothing.  It’s the kind of day that the sun and leafless trees create strong shadows against the white snow.  What a time of year for new beginnings!  

We’d lost 2 dogs in 3 months at the end of the previous year and we were looking forward to hearing paws on the floor again.  The fact that it was around Valentine’s Day was icing on the cake!

I’d first met her briefly at her foster family’s home but it was the photos posted on her Facebook page that showed her athletic gait and strong carriage that caught my eye.  Besides being energetic, focused, and muscular, Hellie showed she was good with children and new adventures.  So the new adventure began – for all of us!

In a few days we celebrate the one year anniversary that Helen Jane came home with to live with Kathy and I and become our Hellie.  Since it’s around Valentine’s Day I asked her to model a favorite necklace that’s really an exterior symbol for the big, common heart we share.  

Never mind that she seems less than enthusiastic about the camera pointed at her.  A year ago she wouldn’t even look us in the eye, even with a treat at the ready!  Seems as though we had to wait until we measured up to her expectations.  Three walks/runs a day – check.  Comfy doggy beds – check.  Good things to chew on – check.  A dog sitter that gives me massages – double check!

                                                       Image

As we celebrate a year together, I encourage others considering a dog or cat to check out the adoptable pets a local Humane Society or a breed-specific rescue.   From puppies to seniors, there’s a heart out there that’s more than ready to let you in.  It’s a gift that keeps on giving all year round!

                                                  

 

The People Behind Rescue Dogs

While peeling through Facebook the other day, I noticed an article posted by a friend about the old vs. new ways that dog rescues/shelters can best market their dogs and services to those that are searching for a future family member(s).   It started with getting rid of the “poor dog”stories and not dwelling on the past life of the dog.  You’ve probably seen those heart wrenching photos like these below, of our new dog, Helen Jane, when she initially came into a shelter in Indiana.  (These were from a 2 year series of photos from her initial rescue to adoption.  I’m just using these for illustrative purposes.)

Be Delicate with Me!

Be Delicate with Me!

Too Thin

Too Thin

Now fast-forward 2 years!  She’s made a spectacular recovery and was nursed back to good health with the help of Illinois Bird Dog Rescue and their system of dedicated foster homes and volunteers.  (Kudos to all of you because you saw her through the tough days and we benefited from that!)  The gist of the article was rather than dwell on the rescued dog‘s past and pull at the heartstrings with sob stories, it’s better to highlight the dog’s best behaviors, personality traits, and why the dog would be a good companion and family member.  In other words, show them in their best light!  Well here you go . . .

Catchiing Air!

Catchiing Air!

On the Scent

On the Scent

Cool Down Time!

Cool Down Time!

While we know nothing about her life before rescue (nor do we need to know), we celebrate the joy, companionship, humor and energy she brings to our everyday lives!  She’s also become my “never too cold, hot or rainy” exercise partner and has me running again, after a multi-year ‘resting period.’  Now, if I could only keep up with her!

Shortly after adopting her, I signed up for a dog obedience training class (1 & 2) with Holly Lewis (Cold Nose Canine) at the east side Zoom Room and in spite of her being an adult, 4-6 yrs old, our “bonding through obedience training” has blossomed.  Yes, you can teach older dogs (and humans) new tricks!   This skilled network of positive reinforcement dog trainers is vital in completing the circle of successful adoptions.

As I read the brief FB post from Beyond Breed, I thought of all the people that work tirelessly to rescue, shelter,transport, foster, treat and ready dogs for adoptions.  From executive directors to volunteers, there’s an army of people to celebrate and acknowledge.  Like Lisa, below, with her own dog, Buckwheat, who’s been rescuing English Pointers and English Setters for 12 years.

He's the best and he's all mine!

He’s the best and he’s all mine!

With that understanding, it’s time to start another personal photography project!  Spread the word because I need to photograph and blog about the people that are behind the scenes of every big and little dog adoption.   From home based rescues to large shelters, help me share the stories of their everyday successes and joys of working in the emotionally charged area of dog rescue/adoption.   It’s the successes that keep this “army” going and that’s what I intend to highlight.  To start things off, I’d like to travel to northwest Indiana, with Hellie, and photograph the people there that helped get her to me.  I think they’d love to see what’s become of her and I expect the joyful memory of our meeting would fuel them forward during some tougher times.

This project would also include the adopters and their new canine family members.  Then I can help supply the rescues with images such as the one below that illustrate that rescued/adopted dogs can be wonderful companions to children and families!  If you’d like to be part of this yet to be named project or know of someone, or a shelter/rescue that might be interested in participating, please contact me at peggy@peggymorsch.com or 414.550.5340.  Sites in the Midwest are encouraged but I’ll also consider other states if they line up with travel plans such as Alaska, western New York, or the driving route to Florida.  Thanks for helping this project move forward!

"I've got your eeaarr!"

“I’ve got your eeaarr!”