I had my first real and true Galgo at the studio today. Her name is Lili and she's a recent transplant from Spain after having ended up as a discarded hunting dog at a shelter.
I've been following the plight of the Galgo (Spanish hunting dog) for a few years now. They remind me of my sleddie friends... used and then discarded. Those who survive the hunting season but are no longer wanted can find themselves set loose to fend for themselves, dumped at shelters or tortured and killed. Those that make it into a rescue and eventually a home then have to learn to navigate our random domestic world. But they can do it with bells on and become beloved family members.
With rescues in Spain overwhelmed with the volume of dogs in need, they are doing all they can to fit them into their past-capacity shelters and keep them safe, fed and cared for. Sometimes they can adopt directly, but they often need the help of other rescues like Extraordinary Galgos & Podencos (EGP) and Extraordinary Galgos & Podencos of Western Canada (EGPWC) to help them find loving homes.
Which is how lovely Lili made it to Victoria. Although this young girl was pretty nervous of being in a new space and me moving around with my camera, when it came to treats she had no issue! And I discovered she liked the sound of a cat meow! She was super gentle... and calm through it all. The cutest thing is that she's apparently quite a lap dog at her foster home and is quite connected with her foster human, looking to her often for reassurance and ear and face rubs. Together they're working on her confidence and in the month she's been in Canada, she's come a long way... though she's apparently still not a fan of this west coast winter!
I'm thankful EGPWC reached out for a photographed with love advocacy photo session and look forward to the partnership and meeting more of their rescues. They may be a small group, but they're a committed one!
Here's what Lili's adoption profile says:
"Lili is a 4yr old galga from Fundación Benjamín Mehnert (FBM) in Spain. She arrived in Montreal on December 17th and travelled to Vancouver Island as a foster while we search for the right home for her.
Lili is very shy but once she gets to know her people, she’s a very sweet girl that loves affection. We believe she would do best in a quiet detached home with another calm dog and patient people to help her feel safe in this new world of hers.
If you feel that your home would be a good fit for Lili or you’re interested in learning more about her, please get in touch!"
And also like the sleddie community, there's a great sighthound support group locally who meets regularly for walks. It's adorable.
For adoption info on this LOVELY LILI: https://www.facebook.com/egpwesterncanada
Three bulldogs in my studio at once? Sure! What's the worst that could happen?!
We die from combined cuteness overload?
ok, I'm in.
Well, no humans died, but Lemon, Ruby and Tito worked their cute magic that's for sure.
This intrepid trio is currently in the care of the Victoria Bulldog Society.
Photographing adoptable dogs for me isn't just about an adoption profile photo. To be honest, I'm not sure how much weight they carry because I've known dogs to be adopted from some pretty sketchy photos. Whatever floats your boat and gets the dog adopted, I say. But as the person behind the camera who's thinking about how photography can help adoptable pets, I want these photos to work for the dog... for the rescue... for advocacy, for fundraising, or to just celebrate the dog.
So, to end 2022, I went out with a big, bundle of bulldogs who are loved and getting the care they need and deserve.
Thank you to all the people I've met who are loving their animals and helping to make this world a safe and loving place for everyone.
For more on the Victoria Bulldog Society:
Jackson and Luna stopped by the studio just before Christmas for a little session together. These two sweethearts are in care with the Victoria Bulldog Society, though neither are adoptable at the time of writing this. Sweet Luna is in palliative care due to an inoperable cancer and charming Jackson is on medical hold. Shortly after Jackson's arrival he required extensive dental surgery which took some time to heal from. Well, he got that sorted out, but now he has an ulcer in his eye that is being treated and monitored with the with help of their vet.
As Jackson and Luna are in foster at the same home, I was asked to try and get one of them together.
One thing I've learned about bulldogs (and pretty much any dog!)... if they don't want to do it, they won't. So with the help of a VBS volunteer, we managed to use our charm and wit... hahah! I kid!... it was patience and treats and patience and treats and a break outside, then more patience and treats. And it worked! I got a few more captures of these two together, but those are being held back to keep private, just for the family.
I hadn't spent much time with bulldogs prior to volunteering with VBS, so these recent sessions have been quite immersive. Mel, the director of VBS has been a wealth of info on the breed and the laundry list of medical issues that now seem more like common "features", than just one-offs, easily treatable issues.
I even wrote and photographed a piece on Mel and her penchant for bulldogs for Issue #5 of Wunderdog Magazine: https://www.wendynesbitt.com/blog/squishy-faced-wunderdogs
If you want to learn more about VBS:
All appropriate nicknames for this sweet frenchie who's currently in the care of the Victoria Bulldog Society where he's taking applications for his new family.
Bruce is a bundle of frenchie energy. At only about 1.5 years young, he loves to play and run and he can hop like a bunny too (see video at end of photo gallery)!
He had a slow start with some basics, however, he's a little sponge and ready to learn... especially for a treat!
He showed me his high-fives, his curiosity and bravery (with the tunnel), the little 'face' on his back end, his love of squeakys (which he'll destroy in mere moments). his beautiful ripples and folds, and how he blows bubbles!
This little guy will need a dog buddy in his new home... one that can handle is playfulness, because he plays and plays and plays. Though he apparently also naps hard.
Bruce is also a water lover I'm told and should he get the chance, he may just hop in the shower with you!
On his way out Bruce got to meet neighbour Baz, the rescue greyhound and Nina, a rescue from Korea. (see video at end of photo gallery)
I love Bruce.
Thanks VBS for helping this little dude along his journey. Sometimes it takes some not great things to happen for our dog friends to end up with the great things.
And this little guy has more great things to come!
If you're interested in adopting, fostering or just donating to the Victoria Bulldog Society, please visit them here.
Have you ever been to a bulldog parade?
Yeah, me neither.
But when I heard there was one happening this morning I just had to go and check it out!
The Victoria Bulldog Society set it up as a chance to take a little walkie and celebrate the hallowe'en season.
It was also a chance to introduce Lemon, their newest addition to the VBS crew. Lemon is the sweetest little being! From the moment I arrived, she came over to investigate and stayed for loves. She LOVES LOVES! And when all was done I lifted her into Mel's car (she's a wee bit heavier than a flower) and she fell asleep with her chin resting awkwardly on the console as Mel and I chatted afterwards. GAH!
Some squishies showed up in costume, some not, but they all showed up and it was so cute I thought I could just lay down on the grass and die happy. Even honourary squishy Hudson showed up!
My volunteer photography usually leans more towards shy or fearful dogs, so being amongst a bunch of social butterflies is a different experience. They all wanted attention and as soon as I would crouch down to try for a low-angle shot, someone would inevitably trundle over to check me out for treats or some bum scritches.
This made for lots of photo bombs and a few smudges on my lens.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Yes, there was lots of drool, a symphony of squishy noises, and a couple even tried to join in on the soccer games with the kids. Those that wanted to play, did. And others just sat and observed, did some stealth-sniffing or looked to whoever had treats on offer.
We even tried a group photo... bless them all for their patience!
I tried my best to get photos of them all and I hope I did... and I wish I'd gotten everyone's name - I like to make sure I get names - but that fell by the wayside. So until I can put names to faces, please just enjoy the photos for what they are... a bunch of cute dogs on a nice fall day who are all very much loved by their humans.
And every dog got to take home a stuffy!
If you know my style, you know, I share a lot of photos from sessions to help give a better sense of the personalities of our dog friends. Today was no exception.
So here are 100 photos.
Thanks to everyone for coming out and sharing your squishy with me!
p.s. Don't forget... if you're looking to adopt, Lemon is the sweetest little lemondrop you'll ever meet!
'Twas a big day yesterday.
I had the privilege to be a pinch hitter for my sister Jill -- who's a very talented photog up in Tofino, BC -- and help out with a palliative session for her friend. One of her two beautiful rescue doggos isn't well and has been going through tests and treatments at a local vet clinic, but there's not much more medicine can do so it's now about enjoying what's left.
Of course I accepted... how could I not?
It was very last minute, but that's how these are sometimes. So much unknown can make planning hard, but when it needs to work out, it does. We met at a local beach, but with strong winds and pouring rain, it just wasn't going to work. So we took a little drive to find some shelter and hoped that the weather would give us a break... and it did. Two dogs, two humans and one photog (me) found a window of space and time amidst a rain and windstorm where sun shone through the trees onto a magical rock covered with moss under trees covered with lichen.
Thank you L, P, K + J.
UPDATE: December 14/21: I just found out lovely, little Lily passed away. Much love to her humans for rescuing her and giving her a life of unconditional love.
A few hours later I was off to photograph 3 dogs. These would be former sled dogs coming into care of a local rescue. Three more dogs who were now going to be covered until animal protection laws. Bamboo, Meso and Saturn are #s 206, 207 + 208 in my decade-long project advocating for the adoption of former sled dogs. But numbers aside, they were beautiful beings, understandably nervous of all the newness in one day, but whose lives are going to change for the better with the love, care and support of a huge community.
I'm no stranger to photographing dogs who aren't feeling well - both mentally and physically. I think most of my work follows that commonality. I try to branch out, but I'm always drawn back to them. "Them" being those who've been discarded, left behind... utterly in need of help. And this year, well I just realized that the bookends of my work this year have been palliative pup sessions - as well as one in the middle too. So when I think back over the year, along with the last 10+ too, it becomes more clear, that this is me. My place. I want to be that person who can be there with a camera, capturing moments that may be otherwise unseen. Being a part of that sadness while being able to see some joy in the memories that are created. To take that pause and hold that space in time. It may take a bit to understand it all, but having lost one of our dogs this summer - not unexpected, but more quickly than expected - I wished I'd had someone there near the end, capturing our little Bella Boo surrounded by us and our love for her.
It was almost a year ago when I reached out to Mel and the Victoria Bulldog Society (VBS) to see if they'd be interested in participating in a piece for Wunderdog Magazine. They said yes, so we met up a couple times (in December 2020 & January 2021) for some photos and chats. I've known Mel for years, but this gave me the chance to really hear what her day-to-days are like running a rescue from her home. The piece made it into Issue #5 and is keeping company with the likes of Nowzad Rescue, Wuhan Rescue and sooooo many other like-minded people around the world who are doing their best to help dogs.
Thanks to Tonic for being the star of the piece and to Gerty and Tanker (RIP) for letting me photograph them for this piece.
VBS going global!
You can get a copy of the magazine through Wunderdog Magazine's website as well as Barnes & Noble stores (in the US only).
Since this piece, VBS has taken in so many more bulldogs and they could really use your help! To see what they're up to and to donate, visit them on social media (their website is under construction):
Here are some photos that didn't make it into the piece.
Daphne is the companion of my friend Maggie. Recently adopted after a being part of a cruelty investigation, Daphne has finally put on some weight and is building up muscle through lots of activity and hikes.
Daphne, like all Great Danes, is a gaggle of legs. She's also silly and funny and sensitive. She can be a bit shy, but she's learning to trust herself and others and the bond these two have formed is magical. I just love that they've found each other and will get to share some fun years together.
For the photo session, we met at a local park that Daphne knew and was comfortable at. Plus, it had tall grass. The kind of tall grass that a Great Dane can hide in. It would also obscure parts of her, just like she hides some of her personality.
It'd been a hot day, but the magic hour found us so I was able to create images like I'd imagined. I'm a sucker for back-lit grasses, so Daphne got to play, meet some dog friends and show off some skills, but also just toodle along for a summer evening walk.
I've included a few photos from a recent session along with some words Maggie agreed to share about how she and Daphne met.
Thanks for visiting,
Moro + Saru on film
Thetis Lake, 2014.
After many years, I’ve finally confirmed who this dog is and who his human is (thanks M!) and sent it to them outta the blue because I know I’d wanna see other people’s of my dogs. Moro’s mom said it made her day, so yay!
So just to clarify, if anyone has of my dogs, I wanna see them!
More from this outing HERE!
A few weeks ago I got to meet Pow Pow.
The opportunity came from an old friend, who wanted to gift his humans with something to celebrate him, as Pow Pow wasn't well.
For dogs like Pow Pow that have been through the shelter system, re-homed, given away, discarded - I want to make sure they get to take up space in this world. I want to share their stories, their names and some photographs that give a glimpse into a moment of their life. If they were forgotten about at one time, I want to do my part to make sure they won't be again. And part of that storytelling is providing the photos in a digital monograph format so families can scroll through images in a way that helps tell the story of their pet, as I saw them.
For Pow Pow, this was him on April 15, 2021. Whatever health issues he was fighting, he had this evening to show me a part of him. He shared with me his silly, fun, inquisitive side. How he loves rolling on his back in the grass - sometimes with his frisbee in his mouth. Sniffing the ocean air. Chasing sticks into the water - and not bringing them back. Barking for treats. And moments of quiet and rest in the shade from the sun of the warm spring day.
Here are some of those moments... of how I saw Pow Pow and his family.
Thanks to his friends (M+L) for providing me with the chance to meet this special guy, and to his family (L + P) for taking such amazing care, catering to all his whims and fancies and showing him true love, during this difficult time.