My heart… it is overflowing right now. Seriously, you guys. Don’t tell Bella and Tavish, but I love this dog.
The EPA has noted that the best way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. One way to create less waste is to reuse what we already have. When I was thinking about things I could reuse, it hit me. I have a dog. (Two, in fact.) Obviously, my dogs provide me with love, companionship, entertainment, and blog fodder. But… can they do more? I bet they can – and I bet your dogs can too.
Without further ado, here are five alternate uses for your dog:
For this round of Blog the Change for Animals, I wanted to highlight an organization that has been helping animals since before I was a twinkle in my parents’ eyes.
Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) in northern Virginia has been serving the DC area since 1973. Last year, FOHA gave me a wonderful place to volunteer and a new pup in the form of Tavish. This year, FOHA celebrates its 40th anniversary. Continue reading
Three local rescue groups in the northern Virginia area (including HART and FOHA, who you may remember from such awesome dogs as Bella and Tavish) participated in a massive Pilots ‘N Paws event on Saturday. The event was called the “Dog is My Copilot” Rescue Flyaway, and it helped save over 300 dogs.
As part of this flyaway event, more than one hundred dogs were brought from high-kill shelters in North Carolina to groups in northern Virginia. The dogs have now been placed in foster homes and shelters with no-kill pledges. Pretty cool, huh?
I have a special video to share with you today – it’s from the Asheville Humane Society, one of the groups in North Carolina helping to send these lucky pups on their way to northern Virginia and other destinations. (Insert obligatory tissue warning here.)
Is it raining on your face too? It just so happens to be a pretty soggy day here, so perhaps everyone will just think I was outside too long.
I just came across this great set of ads from the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. The ads are part of the Fix at Four campaign, which is designed to educate people about the proper age for spaying and neutering your pets. (Well done, Best Friends. Bob Barker would be proud.)
Did you know that a kitten can become a mother at four months of age and a puppy at six months? Kind of crazy, when you think about it. (Take it from me, I adopted an unwed teen puppy mother off the streets. After Bella had her puppies, some cruel person kept the puppies and dropped her off at the shelter – and she was barely a year old at the time, maybe less.)
These ads are extremely clever, funny and effective. I think this one is my favorite (based on the Creek connection, of course).
Check out two more ads, after the jump…
Lately, it seems that I’m constantly running behind. Today’s post is no exception. Writing a post for Blog the Change for Animals has been on my to do list for over a week, yet I’m still barely getting it up before the day is done. Luckily, a topic has been percolating in my brain for a while now, so here we go…
Have you ever thought about volunteering for a rescue group? I’ll admit – it took me a while to turn my intentions into actions. I would occasionally send an email to a rescue group for information, but somehow it never really clicked.
For today’s Blog the Change event, I decided to share a little bit about my experience and encourage you not to give up if you’re interested in working with a rescue group. I had my own form of Goldilocks syndrome – it took me a while to find a group and volunteer opportunities that were a good fit. With a little persistence and patience, you can find your fit as well.
For me, things finally changed once I read an article about Second Chance Photos. I’d never considered offering my services as a volunteer photographer before, and reading about the organization gave me the push I needed to seriously pursue volunteering with a local rescue group. I emailed several local organizations, and one took me up on my offer. (I later had the opportunity to attend a Second Chance Photos workshop, and it was fantastic.)
My experience taking photos of some of the animals at Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) led to other opportunities. In order to make the logistics of photo shoots easier, one of the other volunteers suggested I sign up for dog walker training. (Before taking the training, I had to have another volunteer get the dogs out of their runs and bring them to me for photos. Now I can get dogs out myself. I’ll be candid – I haven’t done any formal photo shoots since taking the training, but I’m going to revisit this option soon. I wanted to get comfortable with the shelter and its routines before trying again)
After taking the training, I began to receive FOHA’s weekly newsletter, which is full of volunteer opportunities. I started to volunteer for dog adoption events, and I now help out with FOHA’s Twitter account as well. The adoption events are very rewarding – it’s a fun way to spend a day, and it’s nice for the dogs to get out of the shelter for a few hours. Two of the dogs I’ve brought to events (Willis and Janai) have since been adopted – when I read their names in the weekly email of dogs who were going home, my smile couldn’t have been bigger.
|My most recent adoptable buddy – the lovely Smilin’ Sally.|
So, if you want to volunteer but don’t know where to start, this post is for you. Your fit is out there. If the first group you try isn’t a great match, try another one.
Try out different opportunities. If you’re a people person, you might enjoy working an adoption event. If you enjoy being outdoors, you might like being a dog walker. If your time is limited or you prefer working from home, you could volunteer to help with the organization’s social media accounts. If you’re a writer, perhaps you can help pen bios of adoptable animals for the website. Do you have experience planning events? Perhaps you can help plan a fundraiser or organize other events for the group. Are you a cat person? Consider becoming a volunteer cat snuggler. (Best job title ever.) Help collect food, blankets or other supplies for the shelter. Every little bit helps, whether you can volunteer once a week or once a month.
Many rescue groups have weekly newsletters – sign up for those and take a a look to see what kinds of help the group needs. There’s an opportunity out there for everyone. Sometimes, you just have to try a few on for size until you find the one that’s just right. If you haven’t found your fit yet, don’t give up. I’m glad I finally took the leap, and I hope you will too.
I also hope you’ll check out all of the great blogs participating in today’s Blog the Change event… there are some truly wonderful posts this round.
I don’t know how I missed this ad during the holiday season (after all, I am mildly obsessed with the life and times of the Travelers Insurance dog). I realize it’s a bit late to be sharing a Christmas ad… however, it made me smile, so I’m posting it anyway. You know you don’t mind…
Anyway, I was a bit curious about these ads and the canine thespian therein. The dog who stars in these commercials is named Chopper. This former shelter dog makes my day every time I see one of the ads.
I’m so excited to bring you the second installment of my interview with Seth Casteel, the founder of Second Chance Photos. Through this nonprofit, Seth aims to help shelter pets find homes through photography. In today’s installment, Seth talks about lighting, his favorite moment as a pet photographer, and how you can save lives using your camera.
If you haven’t read Part I yet, I recommend you click here and check it out before diving into Part II. Read on for the rest of Part II…
It’s amazing what a difference the right photo can make – you can see it for yourself in the before and after photos on the Second Chance Photos website. When a potential adopter sees a photo of a shelter pet, we want them to start visualizing the relationship that they could have. As Pamela from Something Wagging astutely pointed out in the (very thoughtful) comments last week, it’s all about emotion. Don’t be intimidated by the technical side of photography – as Seth points out, you don’t have to be a professional to donate your time and skills to help shelter pets this way.
Let’s talk about lighting. What lighting is best? How do you deal with situations where the lighting is not ideal?
A very simple question with a complicated answer. My best advice about lighting is to experiment by shooting many photos in many different lighting scenarios. For classic portraits, I prefer cloudy days or the shade though.
Some of my readers asked about videos vs. photos. Do you think videos of shelter pets are useful?
Absolutely. Any positive images, either photo or video, help increase the chances of adoption.
What was your all-time favorite shoot?
Not a fair question!! I have enjoyed every single photo shoot I have done for different reasons. If I have to pick at this very second, I would say an Afghan Hound I met in New York City by chance while waiting for another client. I met this dog for only 3 minutes and did a quick series of photos of him. One of these resulting photos has become one of my favorites because it showcases an expression that I can’t seem to figure out. This is what I love about dogs. They have such an amazing range of emotions and expressions, and in a lot of ways, are just like people. This is why we relate to them and this is why I have dedicated my life to them.
What has been your most rewarding or most memorable experience photographing shelter pets?
To know the work is making a difference. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to help. Not only are photos saving lives, but they are helping to change the image of “shelter pets”, revealing to people that they are wonderful pets and make loving additions to your family.
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone who would like to start volunteering as a shelter pet photographer, what would it be?
The work you do will save lives. It may not always be easy, but shelter pets need your help. Be patient. Be dedicated. Shelter pets do not have a voice, but you can give them one.
A bit off topic, but I always like to end with a pop culture question. What’s your favorite TV show?
I don’t watch much TV, but I would say DEAL or NO DEAL! It’s just so exciting!! No deal!!!!
Thanks again to Seth for answering my questions!
If you have any additional questions for Seth, please share them in the comments. I’ll pass them along and see if he is available to answer them. Has Seth inspired you to get involved?
As you may remember, last month I attended a fantastic workshop by Seth Casteel, the founder of Second Chance Photos. Second Chance Photos is a non-profit that is dedicated to helping shelter pets find homes through photography. A good photograph can make the difference in the life of a homeless animal – better photos help animals find homes.
After the workshop, I emailed Seth to see if he’d be willing to do an interview for my blog. He graciously agreed.
Below, you’ll find Part I of our email interview, which included a few questions from me as well as some from you. Today, learn about how Seth got started as a photographer, how he started working with shelter pets, and some practical tips. I’ll be sharing Part II of the interview next week.
How did you get started as a pet photographer?
I’ve always loved animals and photography, but two things in my life launched this new career path. I adopted a dog from the local shelter and started taking snapshots of her for fun. I really enjoyed the unique challenge of working with dogs as well as the rewards of capturing a special moment – a glimpse of her personality. About the same time, I heard about some kittens that were found on the movie studio lot where I worked. The kittens needed to find forever homes so I volunteered to photograph them to help catch the attention of potential adopters. All of the kittens found homes. From there, I began volunteering at the local shelter. Then landed a private client. Landed a magazine cover from that first private client shoot. And then wheeeeeeeeeeeee.
How did that work lead you to taking photos of shelter pets?
Shelter pets started it all. When I first started volunteering, I didn’t realize pet photography would become my career though. It was a nice surprise!
What is the biggest difference you find between shooting rescue and non-rescue dogs? Have you found that certain types of dogs are easier to photograph?
Zero difference. I’ve worked with thousands of dogs – a wide range of breeds, ages, backgrounds and personality-types. Some of the most photogenic and cooperative dogs have been shelter dogs and some of the most challenging “models” have been pets with homes. You just never know.
What do you think makes a dog more photogenic?
There is a great picture for every dog – you just have to find a way to figure out what that picture is.
Do you have any tips for taking photos of “ugly” dogs or dogs that may not be quite as cute on the surface? (I admit, this one’s not from me – I have puppy blindness and think all dogs are cute.)
Both photography and the appearance of dogs are subjective – so it really depends on who is viewing the photos. The key to any good dog photograph is emotion. If you can capture emotion in a photo, no matter what the subject looks like, you’ve got a winning shot that people can relate to.
Do you have any tips for handling a photo shoot with a fearful dog?
Patience. If you try to force a photo shoot on a fearful dog, the photos are going to be negative. Try to understand what the fear is – the camera? you? the world? At some point, you may just have to put on a long lens and hide in the bushes.
It’s both refreshing and inspiring to talk to Seth… I can’t wait to share Part II of the interview with you next week! Stay tuned (and if you have any additional questions for Seth, please feel free to share them in the comments).
Oh, and don’t mind Bella… she thinks she’s some sort of hotshot reporter now that we’ve scored this interview.