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Published and awarded pet photographer serving the Charleston SC area with seasonal appointments in Northern Virginia.

 

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September 2021 | Monthly Selections

I’ll probably load up October’s mailout with some of September’s beautiful clients, but this post needs to be special and all its own.

On September 7, my local shelter - Berkeley Animal Center - posted a 15-second video of a feral puppy brought in by animal control (click here - SOUND ON) and they were looking for a foster. It was heartbreaking to watch and somehow it made me know it was time to have the discussion about fostering. I didn’t tell Jack right away, and went to the shelter to meet him first, to see if I felt like it was manageable with Roux and Gracie – especially Gracie. This puppy – this baby in the world – was so shut down he wouldn’t look up, wouldn't eat (see my intro cell phone pic below) and just rounded himself into a corner. But they needed him to eat so he could ingest a Capstar dose (he was covered with fleas on intake).

We sat quietly for a few minutes and when he ate for me it felt like a personal victory. He pulled at me in an indescribable way. Well, as luck would have it, a family stepped up and off he went to their house. Unfortunately, their senior dog wasn’t “in the mood” for an interloper so I took that as a sign and two days later, after securing areas here with baby gates and setting up crates for him, I went to retrieve newly named “Chip” from his first foster.

It’s amazing how small a puppy can seem – even moreso when they don’t have any familiarity at all with what we know as everyday life. Guesstimated only on the early side of three months old, for however long he was on his own he had to fend for himself, likely eating roadside garbage or even roadkill, drinking from puddles – and down here, extremely lucky to have not found his way to a gator pond – and finding a safe place to rest his head when he was tired. What I soon came to realize is how incredibly smart he is! He had to be to survive!

We spent the first couple of days acclimating him to a harness and leash and just building trust. We spoke gently, picked him up A LOT, snuggled with him at night (even sang "Baby Mine" to him before bed) and he relaxed into it all quickly. We were so impressed with his curiosity and his fast progress with EVERYTHING. He started to leash walk like a champ. He learned sit, down and touch within the first few days and not in a halfway sort of learning – I mean he MASTERED them! Everyone he met was a friend – adults, kids, other dogs, ducks. He started to really play with toys and chews. Chip only would wake us once during the night to go out and never had an accident in the crate. And he housetrained so fast with zero accidents for the first nine days and then maybe just two in what would be 19 days – truly remarkable for ANY puppy, much less a feral one!

Lordy, the puppy teething though!  But as we all bonded, his confidence continued to grow. He loved car rides and everything was interesting. We took him to a restaurant for patio dining. We took him to a community event to see how he would handle the crowd and stimulation. He adapted so quickly to all situations – even bathtime and nail trims were A-OK for him! The ferals (or even somewhat ferals) I have known previously had some kind of life before – maybe they were abandoned and left to fend for themselves, or skittish, but they were adult dogs when I knew them. I never realized how truly bright and intuitive ferals were until I met Chip.

At a point, I also realized I was probably the first person to ever tell Chip I loved him, and I meant it - and that hit me so very hard. He is just a baby who DESERVES to be loved – and he deserves to know it.

My cell phone became all about Chip, full of photos and videos to document his journey. But he also mastered the fine art of posing so I tried him in my studio. While we knew he would be with us for at least a couple of weeks until his neuter was scheduled, he certainly made it very easy for me to promote him for pre-adoption applications too.

He gained a loyal following on socials and pre-applications started to appear! He had a meet-n-greet that went well with a strong candidate home, but then he met another applicant family and he took to them immediately. I felt good about it – and he sure seemed to as well. As we talked about how brilliant he is (and I went with a policy of full disclosure on the puppy shark teeth!) I looked over at him laying on their feet, and I just knew.

On his last night with us, we took him to the beach to see what he thought of it - and his new people met us there too! That sandy nose should tell you all you need to know about his opinion of the beach. (5/5 recommend!)

Well, you guys, he went home with his new people last night and although I woke up missing his beautiful brown eyes, his soft puppy fur and hearing his sweet little yawn noises, I know HE woke up in his forever home and for that my heart is happy.

Gracie's dog-aversion had long-been my impediment to fostering, but she was amazing through Chip’s 19 days here. By Day 3, she sought to lay near him (supervised, of course) and we knew as long as we kept things monitored, we could do this safely and comfortably. At night they would snuggle near each other, separated only by my legs. While my work schedule through 2021 won’t allow us to do this again this year, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring in another feral foster in 2022.

It’s true fostering does save lives. It’s definitely a win-win – we gave him the tools to become a family member and he taught us that we can do it.

If you can foster, please do. Every shelter and rescue needs the support for everything from puppies and kittens to seniors and fospice pets and everything in between, truly.

Thanks to everyone who was in Chip's corner and became so invested in his story <3 His story matters and we feel so privileged to have played a small part in it.

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We are in the homestretch now - 4th quarter always means several events for pet photos with a fundraising component so please be sure to check out the links below and follow for updates on socials or subscribe – I only send one email per month and you can certainly unsubscribe any time!

Lastly, the voting is open for the Best of Mount Pleasant - I have been honored to receive this the last four years, which is unprecedented in this category so I'm certainly grateful. If you'd like to cast a vote for this year, please do - no pressure! They do ask that you vote in 15 categories to make it count. 

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UPCOMING EVENTS & SCHEDULING NOTES

Ongoing: Adoptable Animal Photo Sessions. 

October 6, 2021 | Yappy Hour @ Marina Variety Store, CHS.

October 10, 2021 | Woofstock 2021 at Hanahan Amphitheatre. (use code BAC to save $10!)

October 30, 2021 | Mount Pleasant Towne Centre Fall Festival.

November 3, 2021 | Private pet holiday photo event, K9 Resorts Mount Pleasant.

November 7, 2021 | Photo fundraiser for Berkeley Animal Center at Pet Supplies Plus, Goose Creek. (PDF)

November 11, 2021 | Private pet holiday photo event, In the Doghouse, Daniel Island.

November 13, 2021 | Daniel Island Bark in the Park.

November 20, 2021 | Star Wars Event at Cypress Gardens for Berkeley Animal Center (1-4pm).

December 4 and December 5, 2021 | Santa Pet Photos at Woof Gang Bakery, Mount Pleasant (our 5th year together!).

 

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