As I write this, my eyes fill with tears knowing I’m saying goodbye to one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. I love dogs, no doubt. Anyone who knows me knows I fall in love in about two seconds flat with most canines. But Charlotte was special. Maybe it was the way she looked at me with eyes that said, “I trust you’ll be good to me and love me.” Maybe it was watching her feel comfortable enough to sleep with her head in my lap, knowing I would protect her. Maybe it was seeing her be a puppy for the first time in her entire life. I don’t know. What I do know is she has a part of my heart and when I say goodbye to her tomorrow, it will go with her.
See, Charlotte was one of 25 dogs saved from a gassing facility in Altus, OK. She came here neglected and pregnant. A few days later, she had the pups, her second litter that we know of, and no telling how many before that. All Charlotte knew before coming here was neglect and an owner who cared so little for her, he left her at a pound to die a horrible death.
When she got here, I cleared out my newly painted photography studio and turned it into Charlotte and the pups room. Throughout the day, I brought Charlotte out to spend time with me on the couch, play in the backyard, and learn what it is to be a carefree, beloved companion. First time I asked her if she wanted a treat, she just looked at me. Took her all of five seconds to figure out the word “treat” meant she got to eat something really tasty!
Eventually, she met my Motley Crew and found out having sisters is a big pain in the neck, but it’s also fun to have others to play with. Jazzy the Amazing Wiener was the first one she met. As Jazzy put it, “She sniffed my butt, I licked her hed, we be friendz now!” Please forgive Jazzy; she doesn’t spell very well. 🙂
I’ve spent a great deal of time saying, “No, Charlotte, that’s not a toy!” and “Don’t pull the blankie off Jazz!” Charlotte has discovered the joys of being an adult puppy and learning all the “no-no’s” that go along with it. And each time, she just wags her tail, smiles at me, and goes on her happy way. Charlotte makes me smile with her sweet innocence.
In just a short time, I’ve been given wonderful memories: Charlotte getting on the bed for the first time and falling asleep in my arms; watching her get the zoomies and flying from couch to love seat and back again; seeing the look on her face after eating peanut butter for the first time, then coming back for seconds! I am blessed to have met this special girl and hope I’ve given her a smidgen of the love and joy she’s given me.
Now it’s time for Charlotte to begin the next chapter of her life. She’s going to a rescue in Illinois called Foster 2 Home. These wonderful people are taking Charlotte and her two remaining puppies, where they will immediately go into a foster home while awaiting a permanent, forever home. If you want an absolutely beautiful, wonderful dog who is more than content to just sit by your side, gazing at you in total adoration, Charlotte is your girl.
Sweet Charlotte, I love you and I will miss you something awful. Have a wonderful life, old girl. I’ll never forget you.
Another day, another dog
Monday, we had a quick photo shoot for Friends of Bartlesville Paws and Okie New Hope Animal Rescue Foundation. Charles Ely with KTUL-TV Channel 8 in Tulsa came up to do a television piece on our charitable work, so we had a couple rescues we’ve helped before bring some dogs to photograph.
As we got ready to film, I did my usual meet-and-greet: get down on the ground and receive my daily dose of kisses from one of the dogs. This time it was Wilbur. He’s one of Charlotte’s older pups from a previous litter (also saved from gassing) and absolutely goofy! I love Wilbur! He is, however, a very enthusiastic kisser and gave me a big, fat lip that seemed to bleed forever! Nothing like a little blood, sweat, and tears while getting ready for my close-up! 🙂
One thing Mr. Ely asked me is why I do it; why donate my time and talent for free to take photos of shelter dogs and cats. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I’m crazy, driving around the state on my own dime, helping any shelter or rescue that asks. I’ve been told it’s too much, I shouldn’t do it. And my answer to those people and to Mr. Ely is: I know I can’t save them all. But if I can save one, then that’s all that matters. Knowing I’ve helped save a dog or cat from certain death with my photography makes my heart happy. Truly, that’s what matters to me: knowing I’ve made a difference.
Recently, I had a medical scare and nothing can make you think about your own mortality more than that. In the quiet darkness of the night, my mind would worry over things. “Who would take care of my girls if something happened?” “Have I made a difference in this world?” “Am I doing enough?” I don’t want to be one of those people who are born and then they die. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire someone. I want to know my presence on this earth is not a waste of space and use of oxygen. I want to make a difference! God gave me a talent and I believe if you’re given something, you should give back, you should make a difference. And for me, this is how I try and do it.
Gandhi said it best: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to change it. Get up and do it yourself. I can’t save them all, but I know I am saving lives, one photo at a time.