Happy Tail Update *Mandy*

In April of 2014, I got the amazing opportunity to meet an amazing Arabian mare named Mandy.  Mandy arrived at the rescue with her herd-mate, Baby.  These stunning mares had been seized by the BCSPCA and come into the rescues care a little bit after the seizure.  While Baby still seemed curious at least about people in general, although slightly weary, Mandy was still visibly afraid of people.  It was difficult to halter her or groom her and she was afraid of almost everything she saw, be it a water bottle or even a person walking past her.  She was also visibly overweight and we all swore she was pregnant again with another foal.  Thankfully, she was not pregnant, but her previous life being a brood mare to many foals, had simply taken it’s toll on her belly.

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Mandy upon her arrival at Circle F Horse Rescue Society

As time passed however, and days turned into months and she even passed her one year mark in rescue, Mandy made great strides.  She learned to trust the volunteers, excelled at liberty play and loved being dressed up for photographs.  As time passed, we saw her blossom, learn and excel and we found out what a sweet & gentle mare she was.  She worked very well with little children, including my own nephews who loved to come brush her or walk her around the arena (with supervision of course!)  We all became quite attached to our sweet girl and all of us were simply flabbergasted as to why she was with us for so long.  Could no one see past her belly to her beautiful and shinning personality but us?  We waited along side her and promised soon we would find her a forever home and still, time passed along.

It was amazing and beautiful watching her transform into a more confident yet still sweet & gentle mare; constantly learning new things and befriending everyone from children to my own pup, Ozzy.

Finally, in January of 2016, all our wishes for her came true! We got the word that Mandy had indeed finally found her forever home!  Someone else had finally seen what we had – an amazing and beautiful mare with a large heart full of love to give!

I was fortunate enough to be there the day she left and met her amazing new family and got to watch and wave farewell to this amazing girl that had left such large hoof prints on all of our hearts.

But, as time does, it quickly passed and we all wondered how our old friend had been doing. Recently, we got an invitation from Mandy’s new family to come and visit her and we were overjoyed!

Mandy in her new home, running free and without any worries!

At first we were worried our old friend might not remember us as we pulled up to her simply stunning new home! But our worries were laid quickly to rest as she heard and saw us arrived and quickly came to meet us.  She not only greeted us but even nuzzled the camera letting us know she remembered not only us, but the camera and all the fun dress up times we had together.  While we were there, she got released into her pasture (after having just finished her morning feed & grooming) and she put on an amazing show for us to see!  She galloped with Rusty, her new forever companion into the field with freedom and joy that was beautiful to see!  She had also lost some of her belly fat, her top line was looking great and was looking fantastic!  We couldn’t have asked for more!

Mandy’s new forever companion, Rusty, a handsome Quarter Horse to roam, play and learn with.

We enjoyed a great visit with both these wonderful horses on the perfect spring day – not too hot and not too cold; and had an amazing time reuniting with our old friend and squealing with joy for her. While it was hard to say good-bye to her again, we did it this time with joy and knowing what great care our friend is now in forever.

Reunited with our old friend.  She not only remembered us, but nuzzled the camera and gave us some of her amazing hugs as well!

We cannot thank her new family enough, not only for inviting us to reunite with her but for also seeing past the belly and shyness to see the beautiful, sweet and gentle mare we all saw at the rescue.  We know Mandy is in the best of hands and wish her and her new family all the best now and always and look forward to having the opportunity visit with them again in the future!

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In Memory of Bre

Back when I first opened my studio – Paws & Tails Pet Photography – back in 2012,  I lived on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of BC.  One of the first things I did the spring after I arrived, was host a Mother’s Day Contest.  There were three wonderful winners in that contest all of which I remember with great fondness. All of them, were also senior pups. One of the winners was Bre and her momma Sue.  This was Sue’s entry “Hi, attached is a picture of my Bre with me. It’s not exactly a flattering picture … however she loves to climb onto my lap and get a scratch on her legs and butt!!”

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Of course this happy wiggle bottom was one of the happy winners and I was thrilled to photograph such a happy pup with such an awesome owner!  In fact, her session was one of my very first sessions when I arrived in Sechelt!

We arrived at the grassy field, soccer ball in hand and Miss Bre performed with great enthusiasm for her photo session.  Her images are still some of my favorites that I’ve ever taken, and I’ve shared them often, and with much fondness.

Over the past few years since their session, Sue and I have kept in touch and I’ve enjoyed watching their amazing adventures together on the Sunshine Coast.

Sadly, I recently found out that this happy go lucky girl, passed away.  Bre was an amazing pup and I will never forget her big smile and happy go lucky and loving attitude and her chasing the ball with such glee across the field that sunny afternoon.   My heart aches for her pawsome family who loved her greatly and have too many fond memories to count of their great adventures together.  I know she was loved beyond words, and that she left many giant paw prints on the hearts of everyone she met and have no doubt that she will be waiting one day at the rainbow bridge, tail wagging and ball in mouth to greet her momma.

To her amazing family I offer my most heartfelt sympathy, I know how very difficult the loss of a pet is and I hope that all of you readers out there will also keep this family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

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Thank You Lowepro!

Hearts Speak Artists, like myself, do what we do for rescue pets because we believe greatly in what we do and have a great passion for helping rescue animals.  We do what we do because it makes our hearts happy, even when it tears our hearts apart. We do it because we know it helps.  We do it not for thanks or recognition, but for the love of the rescue animals that we know greatly need our help and we are very happy to lend helping paws.  There are 550 Hearts Speak Artists like myself, that can be found in  almost every country around the world.  On average, we help to provide 31,500 pet portraits for rescues each month and we help approximately 13,600 shelters in the US alone.

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Just before Christmas however, all of us received a special and surprise gift from our amazing friends at Lowepro. For those who don’t know, Lowepro makes some of the most amazing camera bags and gear for photographers.  In fact, I also own a Lowepro Sling bag that I purchased when I first started photographing 5 years ago – and its still in amazing shape! Lowepro surprised us and generously donated some of their amazing brand new ECHELON camera bags to Hearts Speak Photographers world wide (you can read more about the arrival of these bags to other hearts speak artists and how much it meant to all of us HERE).  These bags are not a simple nor run of the mill camera bag.  These bags are PHENOMENAL and a total game changer for someone like me.

It is a bag that feels simply luxurious to use and is lightweight and moves smoothly on most surfaces. This helps someone like me, who has physical limitations due to health issues be able to take all my gear with me in the easiest (and most fashionable) way possible.  Some of its other awesome features of these great bags include:  High impact resistant molded interior that helps keep our gear safe and sound, a special edition – MaxFit system that also has laminated construction and allows every photographer to customize the slots to their own needs and use as well as an amazing all weather AW cover (awesome for the rainy weather we get here in the pacific NW!).

I recently got to take my brand new Lowepro Roller out for my special Celebration of Life Session with Koda and I have to confess – it made the entire shoot a lot easier for me to be able to bring as many props, backdrops and more to this special session!  I was able to place my backdrop stand on top of the bag and wheel it, plus with all the great storage options, I was able to fit 2 long lenses, my camera body, a backdrop, treats, props and so much more!  It truly made a great difference in the ease of doing a larger session!  I look incredibly forward to taking it with me to the 10th Annual Arthritis Society Gala at the end of next month and to all the amazing events, sessions and rescues I attend and help throughout the year.  However this bag is not just good for helping transport gear for events or even regular sessions — it is also an incredible help taking it to rescue shoots in local shelters as well where it will enable me to keep helping these amazing organizations and pets to the best of my ability!

I know I not only speak for myself, but for all the Hearts Speak Artists and all the rescue animals that will be benefiting from this too when I say THANK YOU LOWEPRO! Truly, thank you is not nearly enough to show how very much this gift means to all of us!

YOU SIMPLY ROCK! and the many rescue pets we photograph – they send extra large high 5’s filled with much gratitude too! Oh yes, and before I forget, my pup Ozzy also gives this bag and you, 4 Shih Tzu sized paws up as well to you!

A Celebration of Life

This past weekend, I received an email from not one but two of my clients wanting to purchase a special end of life photo session for their friend who’s pup had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.  This was her 3rd round with Cancer and the prognosis was grim.

End of Life Sessions are a special session that has been on my mind often lately as my own rescue cat is turning 10 and I also lost my first cat, Precious, and my one regret is – I have no photos of her; and I was happy to be a part of giving this gift to such an amazing couple. I told them to bring anything special to them or her and that we would take as long as needed to help get as many images as possible.

Like myself, this special pup is their fur-child which made this session even more special. Much like my own feline children, Koda is their world and their love for her shines through bright and unwavering.  So needless to say, we rapidly put things together and the following morning – we got together at Mill Lake Park to celebrate an amazing pup named Koda.

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For these sessions there is no time limit set as the entire purpose is to capture amazing memories.  And we did just that for her wonderful paw-rents to treasure and truly capture her unique persona. In the end we spent about 90 minutes at the park in the spring sunshine celebrating this lovely pup.

I admit I was expecting a much more somber session given the circumstances, but Koda, thankfully was still feeling exuberant for our special session and had her own message for us that day.  To celebrate her and her life with joy and love not with sorrow.

She bounced around and explored with joy and even tried to sniff out some treats from my camera bag. It was difficult to know just how sick she was, unless you looked closely and saw the little signs like the shaved leg from the last visit to the vets office.   When I went to take a somber photo for them – the hardest image of the set to take – I held Koda while they posed for the image fighting back tears….however Koda had something to say about these tears.  She pushed me over and raced over to her paw-rents, tail wagging and gave her a lot of love, as if to say – please don’t be sad, I love you so much. We tried to take another more somber image of them walking a little pathway, and instead of being somber, Koda leapt and bounded down the path with the joy of a puppy as if to say – please remember me this way! I will always be running beside you with joy!

Every end of life session is different because each family, each pup and circumstance is different.  Every pup is at different stages and so are their families.  Everyone says good bye in different ways and every pet has their own message to give and story to tell.

Despite it all – during this very special session, Koda kept smiling and instead of being a more somber session – she kept reminding us all to not be sad and to smile and celebrate her life with love and joy….so we did just that.

 

I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to this special family for entrusting me to capture these special keepsakes of their amazing, joyful and loving pup and to my amazing clients for gifting their wonderful friends with this special gift.

Koda has left giant paw prints on everyone she met, myself included and my heart goes out to her wonderful family during this incredibly difficult and heartbreaking time. Saying goodbye is always very difficult to do and it is hard to make that final decision.  As a wise person once said – “Dogs lives are too short.  Its their only fault really”.

Thank you Koda for teaching us all an amazing lesson about life, love and saying good-bye.  You are an amazing pup and I know one day, you’ll be greeting us all with your joyful tail wagging and tongue lolling at the rainbow bridge.

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Now everyone go and hug your fur-kids and give them some love and joy in honor of this special little lady and maybe if you could, say a little prayer for this family too. I know I will be hugging my fur kids extra close tonight and will be sending many heartfelt wishes, thoughts and prayers to this special family during this difficult and heartbreaking time.

Fun in the Sun – Pooches, Parks & Pictures Fundraising Event

I love giving back to my community and most especially to those in need.  So, to celebrate this year, on Sunday July 26th 2015 (the day after my birthday) I joined forces with West Coast Cocker Rescue & LEASH Animal Welfare Society for a fundraising pup filled bonanza to celebrate my birthday!  I took photos for a $10 donation with all money raised going to the Starfish Backpack Program! We also encouraged eveyrone who came out to donate an item for the Abbotsford Food Bank too!

Sadly, we got rained out, although we cannot complain as BC desperately needs the rain!  Despite the rain, we did get to hold the event for 2 hours where we got to photograph rescue pups before the rain flooded us out and it started to storm.  We did try to wait it out and had some fun photographing wet & muddy rescue pups playing in the field until it was clear that the torrent of rain was not going to stop.

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In that time, we raised $120 for the Starfish Backpack Program as well as over 2 boxes of food for the Abbotsford Food Bank!  With the food bank being at an all time low, the staff were thrilled to recieve this gift that we made sure included their top 3 needs:  Rice, Baby Food (both pablem and jarred baby food) and Canned Meat.

I can’t thank the great ladies from West Coast Cocker Rescue & LEASH Animal Welfare and EVERYONE who braved the stormy weather to help those in need and celebrate some amazing rescue pups too!  Thank you everyone for helping make my birthday wish of helping the Starfish Backpack Program & The Abbotsford Food Bank come true!  You are all spectacular!

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We also found out post shoot, that this handsome boy, Badger is also in need of a helping paw! Badger was thrilled to lend us a helping paw – so I’d like to return the favor and share how he needs our help!  So here is the blurb that West Coast Cocker Rescue shared – and if you can, please pass this along and help if you can by clicking this link HERE

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“Badger is one adorable boy!! He is 10 years old , when we brought him and his daughter Pebbles into rescue earlier this year, we had our work cut out for us , getting their allergy riddled skin cleared up , weight down , and the majority of their vetting done. We had full geriatric blood panels , ears flushed , teeth cleaned and extractions done ( mostly for Pebbles) Badgers teeth were suprisingly in good shape. Their overall recovery has been quite a bit of work, but they were so worth it. We brought both in to foster for Second Chance Cocker Rescue in Santa Barbara, and after spending a very short time with them, decided we would take on the liabilty for all their medical needs. We have not done any fundraising for them so far, and no funds or donations that may have been allocated for them via SCCR was passed on to us. We did ask. Anyhow.. we are almost there… Badger recently had glaucoma affect his rt eye particularly, and thankfully he was here at my house and I noticed the change right away and got him to Dr Anderson for treatment within hours of it happening. We have been successful keeping his pressures under control ( and checked regularly by Dr Anderson.. all good so far). His eye meds ( now reduced to 2 from 3 ) are costing roughly $ 100 every $10 days for refills , and we will continue this course ( as well as his regular testing ) as long as we can save his eyes.. we have no idea how long that may be. The cost of these meds are coming directly from our “monthly preauthorized donations”.. so if you are donating ( and seeing that we are not taking in any new dogs at this time ).. that is where your money is going) I also pay for a lot of the rescue dogs medical needs out of my own pocket.. we do not get large donations I try my very best to fundraise via auctions or raffles etc so that there is “value added” for you . After a scare last week with one of my own dogs having some tumors removed… I want to move forward and have Badger’s skin growths also removed. This is not so much cosmetic as it is medical… if he scratches and gets them bleeding which he does… it’s not good. Also when I groom him I have to pull out the little “map” I made of all his tumors to ensure I am careful not to nick them with clippers. I TRULY hate asking for help, and if I could I would pay for this myself. I am still working at paying off a large vet debt for their and Artie’s vetting… if you would like to help Badger get his little tumors removed sooner than later.. any donations will help us get that done. He is a precious soul and he is looking and feeling great right now… this is his last little obstacle ( until time comes for a change with his current eye situation). You can donate via pay pal at www.westcoastcockerrescue.com or mail a small donation if that is better for you.West Coast Cocker Rescue 1763 West 62 Ave, Vancouver BC V6P 2G1 ( mark it for “Badger”) I love this guy and want the very best for him. Any amount helps.. all those $2, $3, $4, $5 donations do add up.. no amount is ever to small to show you care”

A huge thank you again to everyone who came out, shared and showed their support for this event to help make my birthday wish come true! You all truly superstars and my gratitude is beyond words! THANK YOU!

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A Very Special Photo Session

Last Sunday, I got to photograph an amazing couple and their furkids, Yoshi & Elvis at Mill Lake Park here in Abbotsford BC.  This special family wanted to capture a few special moments to share some fantastic news with their family, friends & fans too. After hearing their very special news and after sharing some ideas for it – I was very excited and couldn’t wait to help them capture this special moment and share this wonderful news ❤

Meet Yoshi!!! He was very curious about the special news they were getting ready to share!

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And this is Elvis! He was also very curious about the news his family was getting ready to share!

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When the secret was revealed to him – he was VERY excited and could hardly contain his excitement!

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This is Elvis and Yoshi’s pawsome paw-rents and they were also very excited about the wonderful news they were about to share!

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So just what was this supercalafragalistic news they had to share you ask?

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This is their very very special news…..

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CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW ADDITION COMING TO YOUR FAMILY IN NOVEMBER COOKE FAMILY!

Elvis and Yoshi are very excited to start baby guard duty in November!

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Elvis can’t wait to become the official baby toy tester!

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And Yoshi can’t wait to become the official Baby snuggler!

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Thank you so much Cooke Family for letting me be a part of your special news and helping you to capture this very special moment for you all ❤ XO I look very forward to meeting the new addition in November 2015!!!

Shaw Go! West Coast Interview – Part 1

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A few weeks ago I got an email that excited me to the core.  It was an email from a reporter for Shaw GO! West Coast.  She wanted to do a piece about Animal Rescue Photography for their show and I couldn’t wait to send her a reply saying YES!

Why was I so excited?  I love what I do, for many reasons, but I always get extra excited at the chance to raise awareness about rescues – and this gave me the puurrfect opportunity to do just that.  They wanted to film me doing what I love – photographing rescues – and share my passion and my story.  To do so, they wanted to accompany me on a shoot and I had the purrrfect place in mind!

I immediately contacted Circle F Horse Rescue Society, where I volunteer my time about once a week photographing their horses and helping raise awareness about these wonderful and graceful animals, to see if it would be okay to have the film crew come down and film me there photographing their horses.  When they said yes! I was over the moon!  I let the reporter know and she asked if I would also be able to arrange photographing a rescue dog as well, to showcase that I photograph a mixed bag of animals.  So I reached into my virtual rolodex and made a few inquiries and it was decided that LEASH Animal Welfare Society had the perfect pup to photograph.  Finally I let the reporter know we had our subjects ready to go – all we needed was a date…..and some nice weather.

My hopes for the day were that we would be able to raise awareness about two great rescue organizations, some really great adoptables and of course, Hearts Speak.  I wanted to encourage people to adopt and let them know that these animals are not BROKEN because they are in a rescue and that they are truly amazing.  I wanted to let people know that every one of them leaves a special hoof, wing, or paw print on my heart and they all teach me so very much.  They give me far more than I could ever give them.

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To learn more about the great work that hearts speak does and even find an artist near you to help a local rescue in your area – please be sure to go to: www.heartsspeak.org

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To learn more about L.E.A.S.H Animal Welfare Society and the great work they do, how you can help them or to learn more about Elmo please go to: www.leashsavinglives.com

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To learn more about Circle F Horse Rescue Society and the great work they do, how to help them or inquire about any of the horses seen in the video – be sure to go to: www.circlef.ca

Living in the pacific northwest is wonderful, but because I do outdoor photography and the rescue had no indoor arena – we all did many sun dances in high hopes that we would have the nicest weather possible to showcase these rescues! As the day drew near however, the rain gods got angry and it was touch and go as to whether or not we’d end up with good weather.  I watched radar images of the weather front coming in intensely praying for a small miracle that we may end up with even a very small clear path to film in.  In fact, it downpoured right up until the reporter showed up – and then, like magic – the sun appeared.

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Watching the weather front roll in the morning of the interview

We photographed the interviews first and all of us being interviewed were incredibly nervous and the additional morning caffeine didn’t help much.  We were excited and nervous but pulled up our boot laces to help the animals!  I did my interview and not long after I was finished, LEASH arrived and I wandered down to greet and meet the new arrival I’d soon be photographing.  While I met Elmo, the reporter interviewed Sandy from Circle F Horse Rescue and we met back up with them, Elmo in tow, just as they finished up the interview.

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Our great reporter, Tiffany from Shaw Go! West Coast

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Tiffany interviewing me, while Circle F Volunteers, Sandy & Natalie watch in the background.

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Apparently I talk with my hands….ALOT lol

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Being interviewed by Tiffany

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I started out nervous, but Tiffany made it really easy to feel both comfortable and relaxed and like I was talking to an old friend instead of being interviewed.

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Tiffany as she interviewed Shelby

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Shelby being interviewed

Our new arrival was ELMO.  Elmo is a min-chi and he has been with LEASH since October without much luck in the love department 😦  My hope was that between new photos and air time, that maybe Elmo’s wish for a forever home would be granted.  So, my assistant and I went up after the second interview finished and we photographed ELMO.  Elmo was a superstar but a bit shy to start.  Normally I would take much longer to ensure the pup feel even more secure before filming, but we were on a bit of a time crunch due to the circumstances and he was a superstar!

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Elmo was a superstar! I mean seriously, HOW CUTE IS THAT FACE?! 

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My assistant Shelby comforting Elmo and making sure he felt safe & secure at all times

After Elmo’s debut, we went back down to the horses and wrapped up the third and final interview and they filmed me as I photographed two wonderful horses being exercised in the round pen by Sandy, one of the wonderful volunteers from Circle F.   After they were exercised we let them free roam and they filmed me as I interacted with the herd taking more candid shots of each of them.

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Photographing Sable (she’s the girl who tries to eat my camera in the video lol)

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Photographing Tally & Tao in the round pen

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Tiffany filming me photographing handsome Tao & lovely Tally

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Sable had to let Tiffany know that it is ALWAYS ALL about SABLE 😉

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Tiffany following me and filming as I photographed the herd as they free roamed.  The horses loved her and enjoyed sneaking up on her and giving her a nudge so they could have some air time too 😉

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My assistant Shelby taking some fun behind the scenes photos

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Lovely Mandy – available for adoption! http://www.circlef.ca

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Dashing Tao – available for adoption! http://www.circlef.ca

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Beautiful Tally – available for adoption! http://www.circlef.ca

Before the reporter left, I showed her a book that I had put together for the rescue as a fundraiser – and she agreed it was a great book and we filmed it as well so hopefully more copies would sell and more money be raised for the horses. If you like the book please know you CAN still order copies! They are available for purchase on AMAZON.COM HERE and profits from the sales of this book do go back to helping the horses at Circle F Horse Rescue.  So be sure to check it out, buy a copy & spread the word!

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The Circle F Horse Rescue Book – 2013-2014 an accumulation of 2 years volunteer work photographing Circle F Horses! Inside this lovely book are happy tails, current adoptables (at the time of publication), volunteers (the heart of the rescue), herd and group horse photos and even some event photos as well!  

Once the filming ended – we all celebrated the end of the anxiety and waited excitedly & impatiently for the episode to air.   Tonight the episode aired and while I would of course change a few things – which would make it far too long, I think Tiffany, our reporter, did a fantastic job and we all cannot thank her enough for coming out and sharing my story and my passion with the lower mainland!

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A final product – here is Mandy’s ADOPT ME card – it is a 5×7 card that can be used digitally on social media or even printed out for events!

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Elmo’s final product – an ADOPT ME card & flier.  The flier prints out to an 8×11 size or can also be used digitally for social media. A special thank you to SQUIJOO for the wonderful ADOPTION templates they created that are featured here!

I also want to give special thanks to my PAWSOME assistant Shelby for all her hard work, Sandy from Circle F Horse Rescue, Circle F Horse Rescue, Cassi from LEASH, our amazing reporter Tiffany who made us all feel at ease and of course all of YOU for helping make all THIS possible!

In the end, I can only do what I do because I have amazing support from fans, clients, family and friends like YOU!  So THANK YOU!

Oh and of course – a special thank you to my own rescue cats – the MEW-ses (muses) who started it all 😉

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Poly-Ana’s rescue photo on top – and one of my first photos of her below

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Sweet Lisa-Lee ❤

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Now…. Who wants to see the episode Tiffany put together?!

You can check it out on Youtube HERE

Be sure to comment below and let me know what you think!

Adopt A Rescued Bird Month – Guest Blog Post by Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary

January is Adopt a Rescued Bird Month, so to help celebrate and spread the word about these amazing animals – my friends at Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary wrote a special guest blog post with some fun facts about these great birds and ways you can help them too!  Please be sure to check them out online at: http://greyhaven.bc.ca/   and don’t forget to say hello to them at the Pet Lover Show February 27, 28 & March 1 too! 

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Adopt a Rescued Bird Month 

By Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary

Birds are the third most popular pet in North America but before you bring home a new feathered friend, make sure you do your research. Birds can be wonderful companions but with the intelligence of a three year old toddler, long life span and special environmental needs they can be challenging for the uneducated guardian.

10 things to Know about living with a bird

1. Parrots live a very long time. Caring for a bird is a lifelong responsibility and you must plan for your parrot’s future in the event that it outlives you.

2. Parrots can be messy! In the wild, a parrot would spend much of it’s day foraging for food and dropping bits of food to the ground and this is something they do even when living in captivity.

3. Parrots can be loud! Social communication is a very important part of a flock. Chirping, whistling, calling and sometimes outright screaming are a normal part of parrot vocalization

4. Parrots are very social, intelligent creatures having the learning ability of a 3 year old child. They need plenty of toys and mental stimulation to enrich their lives in captivity. Failure to provide them with stimulation can result in plucking, screaming and other destructive behaviors.

5. Parrots are active, energetic creatures and should not be confined to a cage every day, all day. Safe areas like parrot play gyms and cage tops with supervised play time are important to both the physical and mental well-being of any bird.

6. Parrots need to have time with you. In the wild, they would live with a mate or a flock, in captivity, humans must fulfill that role. Spending time with your bird whether watching TV or folding laundry is important to the well-being and happiness of your bird.

7. Parrots need a varied diet that includes pellets, fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. Seed should only be fed very sparingly as an occasional treat.

8. Air quality can be life or death to a parrot. Parrots should not be exposed to smoke, strong scented cleaning products, scented candles, nail polish and many hair products. Teflon and other non-stick products are known to be deadly to parrots

9. Birds need their own vet! With their special anatomy, an avian vet will provide the best healthcare to your feathered friend.

10. Birds need 10 – 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night

Can’t adopt? Here are 10 things you can do to help a parrot rescue

1. Volunteer your time. There are many volunteer opportunities. Cleaning cages, community events, photography, web design and accounting are just a few of the volunteer roles available.

2. Foster a bird

3. Cash donations are always needed to help cover the cost of food and medical care.

4. Donate gift cards for bird supply or grocery stores

5. Donate new, unused toys or food. Ask the rescue if they have a wish list of needed items

6. Donate towels or sheets

7. Host a toy making party. All parrot rescues use hundreds of toys each year

8. Host a fundraiser! Car washes, bottle drives and pub nights are easy to organize and can raise hundreds of dollars in just a few hours

9. Follow your favorite rescues on Facebook or Twitter and share their stories. Social media is one of the strongest tools a rescue has for getting the word out about birds available for adoption

10. Be an advocate! If you see a parrot in trouble, tell someone! Contact your local SPCA or Humane Society.

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Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Rescue

1. So many parrots need a home! When you buy a bird from a pet store or a breeder you are simply adding to the pool of birds out there who may eventually need to be re-homed. Despite all your efforts, good intentions, doing your homework, etc. your bird may need a new home some day. You’re going to be hoping that there is someone out there for him at that point.

2. A parrot in a sanctuary may be an unknown quantity in many respects, since often the bird’s history is unknown. But he will have been observed by the volunteers, had an opportunity to interact with them, and have been seen by an avian veterinarian if necessary. So you will have some idea of how he is before you bring him home.

3. Adoption is just another word for falling in love! When you are planning to adopt a parrot you probably have an idea of what type of bird you want, or even the particular bird if you have checked out the rescue’s website. But the birds at the sanctuary might have other ideas! You head over to the sanctuary to meet your intended and another bird decides that you are the best thing in the world. Who can argue with that?

4. Despite bans on the importation of parrots they continue to be bought and sold on the black market. For every parrot who survives this horror story there are about 90 others who die en route. By adopting a bird who is already here you are contributing to cutting off the demand for these poor creatures.

5. Parrots are incredible. But the joy of having one in your life is magnified when you know you are giving your friend a second – or third, or fourth, or fifth, or sixth, etc. – chance at having a special life. Nothing can compare to this sense of satisfaction, and joy.

6. You can bring a parrot into your life who “fits.” For example, if you are a senior citizen getting a young parrot is not the best plan, unless you can guarantee that you have someone in the wings who also loves your bird and will be able and willing to care for her after you are gone. But if you choose the rescue route you can specifically look for an older bird who just needs someone to love her, cuddle her, and perhaps care for her special geriatric needs. That’s you!

7. If you have young people in your life adopting a rescue teaches them a valuable lesson in compassion and caring. Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote that “’Men have forgotten this truth’ said the fox. ‘But you must not forget it. You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.’” Too many DO forget this truth; you can honour it.

8. While many rescued birds have “issues” – poor health, behaviour problems – most are in their position through absolutely no fault of their own. Guardians pass away, develop allergies, move, and in many cases they acquire a feathered companion without doing their homework first. The bird is the loser. So if you’re up to the challenge of a parrot with issues, that should be possible, but the majority of these little guys are simply missing the love and stability of a forever home. 9. Why adopt? Just check out Greyhaven’s website, at http://www.greyhaven.bc.ca. There are many, many little feathered reasons!

10. You will instantly become a ROCK STAR! Seriously! Anyone who adopts is special.

A huge thank you to  my wonderful friends at Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary for this wonderful guest blog post and for all the great work they do to help these wonderful birds!  

Featured in the photographs is Cicero whom I photographed during the OWL Spring Open House in 2013 – be sure to check out his happy tail here:

http://greyhaven.bc.ca/portfolio/cicero 

The Case of the Peanut Butter Bandit: The Ability Kids and K-9 Agency

While I normally post about Pet Photography and animal rescues, today we wanted to share a really paw-riffic book for all the kids on your howliday shopping list!  It is written by a good friend of mine and it is AMAZING!

It is called the Case of the Peanut Butter Bandit:  The Ability Kids & K9 Agency by LD Cullen and if you haven’t heard of her yet, please be sure to check out her website HERE!

Lisa is an incredible storyteller and she has written an amazing series of kids books of which this is the first, which helps inspire and encourage kids with disabilities and those who are different.  It helps to remind them embrace what they CAN do instead of focusing on what they CANNOT do, to embrace their own uniqueness and realize that all barriers can be overcome with just a little “stick to it ness” and by believing in yourself.

Weather its a child in a wheelchair, a child with two moms, a child who’s adopted or a child with a learning disability her book helps children to embrace diversity as well as their own unique abilities.

Please be sure to check out her amazing book and be sure to share it and (hopefully) also purchase a copy for the children in your life as well! You can purchase a copy of her wonderful book on Amazon at this LINK.

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In Loving Memory of Jessie

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Last November, while working at Circle F Horse Rescue, I got to meet two very special arrivals, and little did I know they would have such a big impact on me when we all first met.

Jessie and Mollie were a bonded pair that had been together for a very long time and had even pulled wagons together in their day.  I remember being simply mesmerized by them as they unknowingly walked together and even bent down to graze together in total unison.  It reminded me for all the world of how amazed I felt watching Doug Mills’ demo with his two horses at the Mane Event in Chilliwack that also were so bonded and moved in total unison together, not long before their arrival at the rescue.  I secretly dreamed that maybe someone amazing like Doug would adopt them together so they could stay together always, but it would seem that that was not meant to be.

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Jessie, from day one, had a few things against her.  She had a pulled tendon and because of it, had to be in an isolation pen with Miss Mollie while it healed.  Whenever I was out photographing I would say hello to Miss Jessie and would help Shelby ice pack or cold hose her leg and while that was done, Jessie would simply lean her head into my chest and let out a tired sigh and we would share a special bonding moment eye to eye while the painful parts passed.

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 Looking back on things, I believe that’s why her and I clicked so much and so quickly.  Having suffered from 6 types of rheumatic diseases since age 9, I am no stranger to having chronic pain and could deeply empathize with sweet Jessie. As the winter passed, I loved watching both Mollie & Jessie grow and would cheer when Jessie’s leg seemed to get better.  Being a greenhorn of sorts around horses, Jessie was often times my guinea pig due to her patience as I learned how to halter and groom a horse or how to move them.  If I messed up, she would simply look at me (I swear if she could have she would have rolled her eyes at me) and let out a sigh.  She would follow me around her pen and nicker at me and come to greet me every time I came out.

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In March, Mollie was due to be adopted and we were all thrilled for her to start her new journey, and yet were sad for Jessie and how she would take her best friend of so many years leaving her.  Sadly, as fates would have it, Mollie sadly passed away unexpectedly the day she was due to be adopted.  It was a dark day for all of us and we were worried about how Jessie would take the passing of her best friend.  All of us doted on her for the next few days to make sure she was okay.

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At first we were relieved that Jessie didn’t seem to be greatly depressed, it was like she knew her friend had gone to the rainbow bridge.  She kept eating without an issue and still greeted us warmly and so we thought the worst was behind us.  Soon it was time to put miss Jessie up for adoption and we all rooted for her to finally get the amazing home she so greatly deserved.  I enjoyed getting to come out each time and saying hello to my very special friend and helping her through he pain as her leg flared up again and again.

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Sadly last week I got the sad news about Jessie that the incredibly difficult decision had to be made to humanely euthanize her.  Her leg had gotten progressively worse and there was no way to help her any longer, she was slowly deteriorating and was in incredible pain.  Added to that, she had started to stop eating and had lost weight, and it was with an incredibly sad and sinking heart, I knew that it was indeed time to say goodbye to my very special friend who had so quickly stolen my heart.  I believe in her own way too, she missed her best friend even more than she had ever let on and that her heart had broken when Mollie died.

Last weekend I went out to say my own goodbye to her and take my last photos of her, knowing that they would be used in my own special tribute to my sweet girl and give her a few last pets and a lot of love before I left and tell her how much she meant to me and of course, the hardest part….to say goodbye.  I like to think she knew that it was our final goodbye and final photo session and visit together and gave me her best to remember her by. Yesterday, they euthanized Miss Jessie girl and I even though I’m typing this through a flood tears that seem to never stop, I know without a doubt, that she’s with Mollie at the Rainbow Bridge and will be there waiting to say hello to us all again one day.  I know she is with Mollie running and playing and that she is happy and enjoying finally being free of all her pain.  And I know one day I’ll see her again where both of us will be pain free and we will get to run and play together again and ride into our own special sunsets.

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I know that her and Mollie both, if they could, would give much thanks and love to all the amazing volunteers at Circle F Horse Rescue who tended to them, cared for, gave everything they had for them and loved them as much as I did while they were here.  I know they left their hoof prints on all our hearts and that all of us are grieving right now for these two very special horses that had we had to say goodbye to too soon.

Rest in peace my sweet and beautiful girl, you are forever loved and will forever be greatly missed.  You left big hoof prints on my heart and taught me so very much.  You will never be forgotten and I can’t wait to see you again some day. I’m so happy that you are no longer in pain and that you are finally safe, pain free and happy with your Mollie.

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