That’s a wrap, folks.
The book is closed on the Paws of the Panhandle, a fundraiser dedicated to dogs loving their Idaho adventures.
I asked dog lovers around the Inland Northwest to sign up for a limited number of dog photography sessions, with a portion of their session fee going to the Better Together Animal Alliance in Sandpoint.
Five lucky signups got Adventure Day sessions, which were sponsored by the incredible Sandpoint-based company EzyDog. John Hatcher equipped each of the dogs with the most amazing, high-quality adventure gear, including leashes, collars, backpacks and life jackets.
Even Bella got fully suited up with a backpack she’ll use on all of our Spokane hiking trips and Idaho adventures.
She gets to carry her own waters, poop bags and snacks now!
I digress …
John also matched the donation from each Adventure Day session fee — $200 — for a total of $1,000.
Add that to the $75 from each regular session and, folks, we raised $5,000 so that rescue dogs can find homes and have their own Idaho adventures!
The book we all created together is full of stories about how dog lovers met their best fur friends and how their lives have changed with every paw step of the way.
Within the page of Paws of the Panhandle, you’ll learn about:
- Notorious, the corgi who hikes in a wheelchair
- Tippy, the street urchin whose humans find her too dear for words
- Badger, Jonathan’s ride or die
- Raiden, the championship Akita
- Beth and Lucy, the wonderful volunteers who give shelter dogs their own Idaho adventures
You’ll even learn why everything around me — from my brand colors to Bella’s leash and collars — is orange.
One special dog on Idaho adventures
As I handed a copy of the book over to one dog lover, she flipped through it, a smile on her face growing wider with each turn of a page.
She looked up and said, “Which one is your favorite?”
Oh shit. Don’t ask me that.
How could I pick just one? I mean, Bella is naturally my choice for bestest girl in the whole wide world but to pick a favorite among the others?
Each one of the dogs and humans brought me moments of joy and gave me some of the most amazing memories and Idaho adventures.
I traipsed all over the Panhandle, getting to know the area so much better, and getting slobbered on, kissed, splashed, excitedly nipped and loved by dogs.
I went home and spent some time thinking about it and, you know, I think there is one story that stands out above the rest.
Chester is a beefy, black Rottweiler-Labrador mix. He’s a big boy but there’s a softness to his eyes that belies his tortured past.
His muscular body is covered with scars, reminders that when he was younger he was abused by humans and used as bait for fighting dogs.
As a young puppy, he was allowed to be attacked by other dogs.
Alyse found Chester at a Spokane shelter and now he spends his days on Idaho adventures, hiking and splashing in the water at Riley Creek Recreation Arena. It’s one of his favorite things to do and that’s where we met for their portrait session.
They’re traveled across the country, hiked the Inland Northwest and settled on a home in Sandpoint.
“Chester’s been my partner in crime since I got him,” Alyse says. “He’s a part of all of my adventures.”
Dogs are so incredibly resilient.
Chester reminds me that the deepest wounds and the most visible scars don’t stop us from finding true happiness.
All around the circle
Incredible story, no?
I’m so fortunate to be able to tell these stories and to have spent my summer collecting them. I spent long, dusty days away from Bella and my husband but, dangit, it was worth it.
Now you get to launch into the worldwide pet photographers’ blog circle and see how my friends spent their summer. We’re wrapping the hazy days with that old back-to-school essay that made us groan and roll our eyes.
Thing is, these women got to spend their time with dogs, too, and how can you say no to reading about that?
Let’s start by heading over to the West Side of Washington to visit Seattle Dog Photographer, Holly Cook, who shares the details of how she spent her summer … and she wasn’t on vacation!
When you get to the bottom of her post, click the next link in the circle and then keep going until you find yourself back here to Paws of the Panhandle and Idaho adventures. That’s when you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.