Listen to this post:
She’s going home for the holidays.
Lucky caught my eye on one of my first visits to the Companions Animal Center in Hayden, Idaho, and she stole my heart.
A 3-year-old Dogo Argentino, she took one look at me, dropped to the ground and rolled over for belly rubs.
She must have known I would be a willing scritcher … well practiced too.
A desire to give back
I first became associated with the Companions Animal Center, a no-kill shelter, last spring when I approached their development director, Vicky Nelson, about a possible fundraiser.
She loved the idea … and the help.
The Coolest Dog of the Inland Northwest photo contest was born. Dog lovers from around Spokane and North Idaho entered photos of their dogs and then coerced, cajoled and convinced friends and family to vote for them.
The top 12 vote-getters won portrait sessions with me and one image from each shoot created a 2004 wall calendar.
The contest raised $3,200 and the calendar continues to bring a little much-needed cash into the CAC’s bank account. Eight dollars from the sale of each calendar becomes a donation to the shelter!
I continue to volunteer with the shelter, a fully donation-funded nonprofit, to ensure they have great images of their adoptable dogs. I’ve even taken a few pictures of cats.
The work is foundational to my mission at Big White Dog Photography to do only good, or D.O.G.
Finding them homes for the holidays
It’s so hard to not fall in love with every dog that crosses in front of my lens and, if I could, I would bring them all home.
That, of course, isn’t possible, so I do what I can to help them find the homes they need.
My friend Anita Parisot is the volunteer and events coordinator at the CAC. Anita and Communications Director Hillary Darty came up with the idea of a pets Advent calendar in the leadup to Christmas.
Each day, they would reveal a different adoptable dog or cat in the hope they could find them homes for their holidays. The adoption fee for each featured future pet is half off.
Would I help with photos?
Hell’s yes, I would.
We braved pouring rain, some challenging light conditions, that in-between cold that isn’t frigid, isn’t mild but still gets into your bones, and migraines (me) and over the course of three weeks, we got photos of 25 different animals for the calendar.
As of today, four dogs, including Lucky, and five cats have found their new homes.
On a sad note, Sam, this gorgeous husky, has been adopted twice … and returned twice.
Folks, before you decide to adopt a certain breed, please educate yourselves on those breed traits and have a home that’s prepared to house that breed.
And don’t lie to your shelter or rescue representatives. I understand now why some private rescues have home inspections before finalizing an adoption.
A bittersweet farewell
Tim is one of the volunteer dog walkers at the Companion Animals Center.
Last January, his wife left our physical realm and he needed that supportive, comforting space that only a dog can provide.
He too attached to Lucky as soon as he set eyes on her.
He fell so in love with this beautiful girl that Anita had me drop over to the shelter for a quick photo shoot with Tim and Lucky, on their last day together.
Christmas at Chez Bella
We’ll be hunkering down in our jammies for the weekend, a cup of warm cider in one hand and the other kept free for scritches and belly rubs.
And if you have some free time, a willing heart and a need for your own scritches and belly rubs, give Anita a jingle at Companions Animal Center. They can always use more volunteers.
In the meantime, Bella and I wish you all a very happy holidays. We’re looking forward to a kickass 2024.