Last Sunday, as I have on most Sundays since last autumn, I went to the public shelter at Orange County, Florida, and photographed a list of some of the stray, impounded, abandoned and surrendered dogs that had accumulated at the shelter in the preceding three days. Following the shoot and a detour to Home Depot for some unscheduled repairs to our photographic backdrop, I went home to process my photos and post them on this website in time to allow the shelter staff to upload the photos on Monday morning. All routine, time-consuming and emotionally exhausting, as usual.
Fast forward several days and my wife, Joan, received a call from her sister in Pennsylvania. The pictures of two dogs had touched her and she was calling to offer to help them. This is the sort of feedback we hope for, though we also hope it comes from persons beyond family and friends. But whenever it occurs, it is fulfilling because it validates the soundness of the concept behind our efforts. But, as we all know, no good deed goes unpunished.
What followed consumed four full days with details, setbacks, complications, more setbacks and a confluence of events, both international and local. Even the G-8 summit of nations going on in Washington DC managed to be a factor in our efforts to adopt two dogs and transport them to Pennsylvania. One dog my sister-in-law selected is this one:
This dog, which I renamed Braxton, after the great new music composer and musician, Anthony Braxton, was to be flown out by a rescue service, but the flight had to be rescheduled to an ungodly hour to avoid air space restrictions caused by the G-8 summit. This schedule dictated how and when we picked him up and handled him in the days prior to the flight. To make matters more interesting, we discovered he is panicked by being crated. Still, he is a wonderful dog whom I miss already.
The other dog Joan renamed Bella. This is her picture:
After we picked-up Braxton we dropped him at our regular vet for an examination, as he needed a health certificate for his rescue flight. We returned to the shelter for Bella, to take her to an orthopedic surgeon. We knew going in that Bella had a broken leg. However, as we departed we noted that she was making little noises, which the shelter staff indicated was a newly diagnosed case of kennel cough. The surgeon was not hopeful that the surgery would help her significantly, estimating the break to be at least two weeks old. He indicated it was likely that she would remain lame and suffer from arthritis later in life. But that was for later. Surgery could not be considered if she had respiratory issues. So Bella returned with us to our regular vet, where she was examined, X-rayed and diagnosed with fully involved pneumonia. She is now on an IV to rehydrate her and three antibiotics to try to combat her pneumonia. If she survives, she faces leg surgery and eight weeks of recovery and rehabilitation. We face the bills and the tasks associated with caring for this little dog. I slept on the kitchen floor with Braxton and doubtless there will be other nights with Bella spent in places other than my bed.
Recently, someone with a degree after her name - indicating that she should know better - wrote to me for the purpose of insulting me after I flagged her ad on Craigslist. The ad offered a fostered dog for "rehoming" at a price. Among the insults she heaped on me was that I am "just a picture taker." There is a saying that goes, "The camera looks both ways." If I do it right, then, the pictures I take illustrate the souls of the dogs I shoot, and my own as well. For flagging her ad I offer no apologies, nor do I apologize for being "just a picture taker," with all that it entails.