Why I Love This Shot – Into the Water

“Why I love this shot”  with a little bit of a difference for you today.

This is my border collie Abby venturing out into the waves. I love this image for so many reasons. The abstract style from my lensbaby spark. The light and bokeh. The blur and liquid feel. The fact it reminds me of how brave my once very fearful collie became before she left us. Her love of water wasn’t something she was born with but instead, something she realised as her confidence grew over the years. Images like this make me smile.

Why I Love This Shot – The Eyes of Skye

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged in this series but I’m back! And here’s my latest “Why I Love This Shot” for you.

This is Skye, from a much more recent shoot than my other images so far. He’s a rescue border collie who I had the privilege of photographing earlier this month.  Skye really spoke to me not only because of my love of all things canine, but because of his story.

A rescue from a pitiful life chained to the back of a van, Skye arrived with his new family shut down and robotic. His previous life had taught him that the best way to survive was to block out the world. Shut down. Empty eyed. So thin you could wrap your hands around his waist and then some.

When I met him, Skye had been at his new home with owner Lorraine for just under a year. If I didn’t know his story, I wouldn’t have guessed. He is fit, healthy and his beautiful eyes sparkled. His connection with his new guardian was clear. She was constantly in his sight and she was his protector when anything made him feel unsure.

Rescues always speak to me. I have so much room in my heart for people who look after these animals and give them a second chance. Skye’s beautiful eyes are hypnotic. Look at how they sparkle! Just as they should…

Adopt Don’t Shop: Helping Friends

Cheeky Chinchilla

Cheeky Chinchilla

You may have followed my other two blogs about our the many foster animals who have been in our care since the start of 2016.  If not, you can read about them here and here.

Once the puppies left I didn’t have the opportunity to volunteer for fostering again for a month or so. This was because of my tendency to travel for work. Foster animals tend to need more stability than I could offer with the exception of some emergency cases.

However, much like buses, fostering opportunities seem to arrive all at once.

Next to join the Latifoo Foster care were a couple of chinchillas, Dusty & Rocky. These little balls of fuzz were incredibly hard to photograph as they took a bit of time to warm to us.

They came from a friend who was fostering them and needed someone to take them for a week while they had visitors. It felt more like pet-sitting than fostering, especially now that my friend has had another “foster fail” and adopted them both! It was the first time I’d looked after chinchillas. These funny wee creatures were a lot of fun despite their love of throwing their poo out their cage… I had grand ideas of clicker training them but I quickly learned that chinchillas have exceptionally delicate digestive systems and finding suitable edible rewards was no easy task. Plus, these guys were nervous and it took time to help them settle.  But settle they did and we soon had them running around the hall, using us as part of their parkour route as they bounced off of the walls enjoying the freedom to run.

dusty & ziggy

Dusty & Ziggy

At the same time, another friend was looking after two pups she and her fiance were thinking about adopting. To be able to spend that time with them, they needed an extra pair of hands for a couple of the nights. So I helped out again and we had a fun with two lovely little pups as well as the chinchillas.

Trust is a big thing for pet photographers. You have to understand your subject’s behaviour and be able to predict it fairly accurately.  You can’t explain to them why you want them to sit a certain way to get the shot. To get the shots I’m looking for, they need to be comfortable and relaxed.

When working with foster animals, I’ve learned quickly that taking a camera out in the early days of getting to know them doesn’t always work. Some of the animals are nervous and anxious after being abandoned or passed from pillar to post. We only had a very short time with these guys and so, I only have a couple of phone snaps.

Luckily though, they all found their forever-homes with two of my favourite people here in Madrid, so there will be more photos to follow! x

Adopt Don’t Shop: Puppies!

The other day I posted about my first foster experience… here’s what happened next…

I waited until life was a little more stable before volunteering again. I was due to travel a bit in January and February so the opportunity didn’t arise again until March. That’s when the Rugrats arrived.  My friend had been helping with a litter of puppies who had been thrown in a bin. They needed round-the-clock care and feeding every few hours. It was a demanding role and so it was split between a group of us over the course of a few weeks. I volunteered to take them on for a week and it just so happened, their arrival fell on my birthday. Happy birthday to me!

Puppies in a box

Puppies in a box

The box contained Chucky, Phil, Suzy and Tommy, named after the cartoon characters in the Rugrats. By the time they got to me they were on solid food but still needed a lot of care. And so the routine began, feed-pee-poop-run around like nutters-learn something new-sleep for an hour aaaannnnndddd repeat. With four of them running around we lived with puppy pads and a permanent mop bucket in the corner.

They chewed things, peed everywhere, barked during the night, pooped in annoying places, stood in their food/pee/poop and trailed it everywhere and I hardly slept.

But they also entertained us as they learned new things. We watched them get bolder and work out puzzles in their environment. Their different personalities developed and we got to know them as individuals. Plus they made excellent photography subjects, at least in the moments they sat still or fell asleep.

I loved it.

Tommy

Tommy

Suzy

Suzy

Chucky

Chucky

Phil

Phil

These guys were with us for a week before heading to stay with a lovely friend of mine. I was sad again, there were tears but I knew they were in safe hands before they went to their forever homes the following week. My other half had also planned a weekend away so our empty apartment was less of an issue. I visited them again before they left for their new homes. It was incredibly hard to part with them but it was a job well done by a dedicated team of foster carers. We did a good thing. x

Tommy

Tommy

Chucky

Chucky

The Boys

The Boys

Phil

Phil

Blue Eyes

Blue Eyes

Adopt Don’t Shop: Photos of our First Foster

As you may have read in yesterday’s blog post, 16 foster animals have been in our care since the start of 2016 and as you might well imagine, I took a few photos of the journey. I thought you’d like to see them.

Mishka arrived

Mishka arrived

It started with the lovely Mishka who needed emergency foster care. I’d been toying with the idea of volunteering for a couple of months and one day, without really knowing what I was getting myself into, I offered my support.  Mishka was dropped off a day or two later.

An excitable ball of stress flew into our lives, growling, running around and literally climbing the walls and bookshelves. We were slightly stunned at first. I quickly identified the source of her excitement was a mini tennis ball. Some dogs are “ball obsessed” and the sight or even smell of a ball causes them to go into a hyper focused state. It may seem cute but it’s actually very stressful for them. We managed to get the ball from her and hid it in our spare room. She lay outside the room whining for about an hour before giving up and settling on the couch.

She was in need of a good sleep and slept almost solidly for the next couple of days.

Mishka just needed some sleep.

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She slept a lot

2016-01-04-018-Mei-Photography-365 WR Yawn! 2016-01-04-024-Mei-Photography-365 WR

She only stayed a week and then she had a couple of weeks at her next home before finding her forever home. In that short spell she taught me a lot about trust. As far as we knew she had been left on the streets and had to fend for herself. She had a scar on her back and side where someone had burned her but she had no issues with people. She loved meeting everyone and would greet them like long lost friends, never tiring of cuddles and attention.

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Mishka Waiting

Mishka Waiting

I spent a few nights for a few weeks in tears about letting her go. Feeling terrible for not finding her a certain home before she left here, knowing she’d taken a piece of my heart with her. I’m not lying when I say I get attached easily. I’ve always been this way when it comes to animals. Somehow, I’d forgotten that about myself.

Luckily, I have plenty of photos to remember her by. Her cheeky wee face will always remind me that there are many animals who really need our help.

If you are considering getting a pet, please check out rescue centres before going to breeders. If you do go to a breeder, please do your research and make sure you’re giving your money to a reputable one who really cares for their animals. They do exist! You will have to do the work to find them and because they invest in their animals, you’ll need to pay more for one of them. It’s worth it.

Please never buy from a pet shop. Nine times out of ten, the animals there have been raised in terrible conditions and treated like objects instead of living beings. Sadly, there are so many places who are motivated by money and greed and not at all concerned with animal welfare.

It’s our job to make a difference. Every time you spend your money you’re casting a vote for the world you want to live in. Spend it wisely.