Walking in Old Town with Jj

From the moment I met Jj back when he came to me as a tiny, malnourished puppy with a congenital life-threatening birth defect known as a liver shunt, he has had a Presence about him that is what I call "other worldly."  If he were human, he would likely be described as "deep."  If I had to sum up his personality in one sentence it would be to say that "He LOVES people!"  He literally LIVES for meeting new people and interacting with them (a personality trait that I have been struggling for most of my own life to cultivate.) 

The technique for achieving his goal is flawless;  nothing short of mastery since our very first trek around Old Town, even as a tiny puppy.  From as far away as 100 feet, he locks eyes on his target and literally will not stop staring at them until they return his gaze....

Once gazes are locked, they are pretty much putty in his presence.

Next comes the long floppy ears flattening, flying back in the wind as he runs to meet them, accompanied by an ENTIRE-back-end, side-to-side wiggle of pure, uncontainable love.  I have seen it happen time and time again, with even the "most serious" falling prey to what I call "Jj's Special Love Treatment."  No one can resist it.

Once the connection is made, he gently places his paws on their shoulders and begins licking their neck and ear.   Typically, at first, they are taken aback by the exuberance of this special form of Love Treatment, but once they understand what is happening, they begin to relax and let it unfold.

Which brings me to TODAY ... and what happened....

As we approached the red traffic signal light, we saw a group of people also waiting to cross.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jj start up with his routine and I thought to myself, "Oh no, come on, Jj, they are obviously 'gang bangers.'"  

(Yes ... me with my shallow, preconceived, completely misguided judgments... mentally throwing cold water onto Jj's next project.)

So I decided to throw caution to the wind and let Jj do his thing.

What happened next still makes me tear up.  The guy who Jj had been zeroing in on was SO EXCITED to see Jj approaching him and immediately knelt down to be greeted. Jj proceeded to do what he does and this huge hunk of a man was suddenly reduced to tears and started telling me, "OMG you have NO IDEA how much I NEEDED THIS TODAY."  

I am still in awe of my Easter Walk with Jj.  The way Love flows and in ways that we least expect it.... and WHEN WE ALLOW IT.   Had this amazing moment been left up to ME, it would have never happened...so thank you, Jj, for showing me the high road.

 

The Charlotte "I Have Claimed You As Mine" Series

Charlotte has one of the most expressive faces I have ever had the privilege of looking at, much less photographed. It is ALL about her mouth, her eyes and the myriad combinations of interaction between the two.  

On this day, she was fresh from the groomer and the quiet overcast day begged us to come play, so I stuck this little "Be Mine" heart on her and she was happy to be the center of attention.

If I could read her mind, here is what I think she was trying to tell me in these pictures:

CHAR:  "You told me at the beginning, 'You are my FOSTER DOG! I will not fall in love with you! I cannot have THREE DOGS!'"

CHAR:  "You told me at the beginning, 'You are my FOSTER DOG! I will not fall in love with you! I cannot have THREE DOGS!'"

CHAR:  "I told you -- (to myself, under my breath) -- 'Well, I will make sure you change your mind about THAT!'"

CHAR:  "I told you -- (to myself, under my breath) -- 'Well, I will make sure you change your mind about THAT!'"

CHAR:  "It's a good thing that I am not the type to say, 'I told you so!'" (Because I pretty much did! LOL!)    

CHAR:  "It's a good thing that I am not the type to say, 'I told you so!'" (Because I pretty much did! LOL!)

 

And finally the Moment I Have Been Waiting For...those eyes...that mouth!  OMG...no words, Char. You are Perfection and Love and Sweetness.  Thank you for coming into my life!

And finally the Moment I Have Been Waiting For...those eyes...that mouth!  OMG...no words, Char. You are Perfection and Love and Sweetness.  Thank you for coming into my life!


The Transformation of Charlotte

This past June, 2015, I took on the challenge of fostering a Cocker Spaniel named Charlotte.  She had been rescued by Camp Cocker Rescue, located in Los Angeles, California. Morbidly obese and weighing 50 pounds (twice what she should weigh), she had been dumped by her owners at a high-kill shelter. As if her weight was not big enough sign of neglect, in her estimated 6 years of life, she had clearly never been to a groomer and she was urinating bloody urine (X-rays revealed a bladder full of OLIVE-SIZED bladder stones)..  Obviously also an "outdoor-only" dog, her fur was filthy and severely matted, having taken shelter workers over 2 hours to shave off.

Here are some pictures of Charlotte at the beginning of her journey to health.

The day we met on the way home in the car. She is enormous :-(

The day we met on the way home in the car. She is enormous :-(

After her first walk. Three blocks and she was exhausted!  So we broke her walks up into 3 short walks per day.

After her first walk. Three blocks and she was exhausted!  So we broke her walks up into 3 short walks per day.

                   She gets tired so easily.  (But she ALWAYS WANTS to WALK!)

                  She gets tired so easily.  (But she ALWAYS WANTS to WALK!)

Despite being so obese, from the very beginning, Charlotte has always been ready for the next adventure, car ride or walk.  She also, surprisingly, has always been able to leap from the ground up into the back of my Prius with the seats folded down, as well as jumping up on furniture.

She has made it clear from day 1 that she wants to be a very big part of this household and her favorite place to hang out is next to me on the couch.

On the couch. I call her the "Tongue Slipper" because she is always trying to slip me the tongue!

On the couch. I call her the "Tongue Slipper" because she is always trying to slip me the tongue!

The strategy for Charlotte's weight loss is pretty simple.  After a visit to Dr. Dody Tyneway, a holistic, integrative veterinarian, she is placed on a high-quality, raw, human-grade diet of fresh meat and vegetables, 500 calories per day.  I can't speak highly enough of Darwin's Pet Food.  My own dogs are on it as well, and there is nothing like feeding pets a species-appropriate diet to regulate their weight and keep them healthy.  The slightly higher cost by FAR offsets the frequent vet visits that I used to experience when I fed my dogs commercial kibble and even so called "prescription" diets.

Charlotte's other issue is the fact that she has a bladder full of giant, olive-sized bladder stones and her urine has blood in it.  My heart breaks for her because God only knows how long she has suffered like this. For the stones to be this size, she has undoubtedly been living with urinary urgency and pain for at least a year, if not longer.  

Despite the anesthesia risk due to her weight, we decide surgery for the bladder stones needs to happen sooner than later.  She sails through surgery and as soon as she recovers is when her transformation really begins to unfold.  With her body now able to eliminate properly, plus the fact that she just feels better, Charlotte begins losing her weight at a healthy rate of about 1 pound per week.  Here is a progress picture after about 3 months:

Fast-forward from June to today, December 27, and Charlotte has lost a whopping 20 pounds! More than one-third of her original body weight. She is full of excitement for life and now she has the body from which to experience it.  Here are some recent pictures that we took:

Happy Girl!

Happy Girl!

And now this!  After much back and forth, should I, shouldn't I, about the obvious question "Do I keep her," I have decided to trust the Universe to provide me with all resources necessary to care for and adopt this precious, happy girl.  She fits in perfectly with my pack (Samantha and Jj) and most of all she loves it here and we love having her.  Here are a couple of "Merry Christmas, welcome to your new home, Char" pics.

Welcome home, Char!

Welcome home, Char!

Home Sweet Home....with her pack.




Labor Day San Francisco Road Trip

Labor Day weekend, I took my two dogs, Jj and Samantha, and Camp Cocker Rescue foster dog, Charlotte, on a road trip to visit another Camp Cocker volunteer, Monica, at her home in South San Francisco.  

One of the main objectives was to take a nice picture of her two dogs, Stuart and Piccolo, with their "Monkey Business" t-shirts on with the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop to be used on the "Monkey Business with Stuart and Piccolo" annual fund-raising calendar.

Stuart and Piccolo are a couple of characters, to say the least, and if you haven't seen their official Facebook page, you can check it out on Facebook here.

Here is the photo we ended up with for the calendar.

The Monkey Boys take on San Francisco

The Monkey Boys take on San Francisco

Everywhere we went, people would stop and want to watch the Boys in action. A few tourists even stopped to ask us to photograph them. This adorable man couldn't seem to get enough camera time!

Yes, they are pretty irresistible...

Yes, they are pretty irresistible...

It is not easy being a calendar pinup model!  Stuart is chill after his long photo shoot.

Stu chillin'

Stu chillin'





Keeping Up With Liberty and Cissy

This little puppy is growing exponentially.  It was interesting to see the changes in her personality between this photo shoot (taken at 4 months of age) and the last (taken at 8 weeks of age).  As a carefree, eight-week-old puppy, she did not question anything that was going on around her. Our most-recent interaction this past weekend was an entirely different experience!  The previously easy-to-photograph puppy has suddenly decided she is camera shy and would have nothing to do with me or my camera!  

In the end, we negotiated a compromise:  I used my 70-200mm zoom lens allowing me to sit a respectable distance away so as not to spook her, and she, in turn, agreed to be cute and silly from afar.

Shoot with Liberty Belle

Liberty Belle is an 8-week old Doberman Pinscher puppy who I had the pleasure of photographing one Friday evening at her home in Eagle Rock, California.