April 3, 2012

All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers is contained in the dog. — Kafka

This image was taken last weekend (3/31) at the dog shelter in KCMO. I was there photographing the matches during the Mega Match-a-Thon. During the event 700 plus animals from three different participating KC area shelters found families and are (hopefully) sleeping comfortable in their new homes as I write this tonight.

The dog in the photo, named Beaumont, was not adopted. He is still at KC Pet Project.

Beaumont has three strikes against him in finding his family. First he’s a senior dog. His gray muzzle which to me embodies the quote I chose to go with this photo, works against him. So many people want a puppy or a young dog — and who can blame them (and there are so many that need homes). Second, he’s heartworm positive. That means a vet bill, vet visits and more intensive care than a dog without heartworms. Lastly, he’s a black dog. Black dogs routinely get overlooked in the dark environment of the kennel. This is the hard reality of Beaumont’s situation.

What Beaumont has in his favor, however, are a bunch of people who really care about dogs (and cats and all animals) in general and him specifically. He has already won over several volunteers and staff members at the shelter. He has worked his way into their hearts, and I know that this incredible network of animal lovers will do everything in their power to find him a place to live out his senior years — and the payoff to wherever he goes will be the enrichment he will give to those who spend those last few years enjoying his company (and learning all that knowledge that is contained within all that is his dogness).

If you’d like to adopt a dog, and live in the KC area (or heck, anywhere for that matter) visit: http://www.kcpetproject.org

Sunday Editorial: Shooting at Hope

I have recently begun shooting for a couple of animal rescues/shelters in Kansas City. The goal here is to produce an image that will hopefully inspire someone to make one of these homeless creatures a part of their family — or induce a rescue organization to provide a really hopeless case with a semi-permanent or permanent foster situation. My camera is a shot at hope for these animals.

This past week, I met several dogs from the KCMO Animal Shelter. This shelter, now under new management, is pushing hard to find homes for an unimaginable number of animals. Just a brief walk through their kennel in search of my volunteer helper gave me a glimpse at how daunting the problem of unwanted dogs truly has become in Kansas City.

The shelter kennel is typical of many kennels I’ve been in — loud and a bit smelly because no matter how much you clean you can’t keep up. For those of you who know me, you know I come from a family consumed with dogs. My sister as well as several cousins and friends breed, show and promote purebred dogs — and I’m blood related to a small throng of dog groomers. I am no stranger to kennels or to dogs. And I’m no stranger to dogs in quantity. But something about the number of dogs here set me on my heels a bit. It takes a truly amazing army of volunteers to get all that work done — and an act of God to get as many adopted out as they do.

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The dogs I met at KCMO were not like the dogs I have met through the smaller animal rescue organizations. A couple of these dogs were really in need of serious help because they were at the first desperate stage of the process. A Pit Bull bitch named Kimba is a perfect example of a dog in need. Small and thin, she brought to mind anything but the powerful image of a Pit. In her eyes, there was story so deep it haunts me. I have no idea of her exact circumstances, but I can tell you, when you look into those eyes, you know she has seen things and experienced things unspeakable. Yet, this little dog looked up into the eyes of the volunteer holding her leash with pure adoration and trust.

Also in this shoot was an American Bulldog named Tristan. I have noticed he is not on the Petfinder site, so I’m hoping he got adopted this weekend. His stature was one of a fairy tale prince in a dog’s body — loyal, noble but humble. He looked at the volunteer as though she were his long lost princess. It was so sweet.

Cooper was a little dog with a big personality. He is the smallish, smooth haired brown dog. It’s funny how his personality came right though in the photos — bright, perky, loving. He reminded me of the stereotypical kid in an orphanage asking everybody who walks by: “Will you be my mommy?”

Princess, O’Malley and Rhett rounded out the dogs I worked with on Thursday. Each I’m sure has a unique story on how and why they have come to the shelter. Hopefully each will find a home to call their own.

To find adoptable dogs in Kansas City, go to: http://www.adoptadogkansascity.com/ or visit the KCMO shelter on Petfinder http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/MO579.html

If you’re a professional photographer (or a really good amateur), please consider volunteering with an animal rescue. Good photos make a world of difference in finding help for these animals.