Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. – Desmond Tutu
The day that we met Long Shot Lucy, we actually came to the shelter to pull a different dog. My husband and I by that point had successfully fostered and adopted out about six dogs, and we were ready for a challenge. Lucy was not on our radar because she was considered a lost cause. The shelter did not think she would survive the stray hold at the shelter, and our vet would later agree that she was likely a matter of hours to days away from her organs shutting down from starvation.
The is the scene we saw as we walked by her run:
It was hard to resist her sweet little face, and looking at her broke your heart. She was the most emaciated dog I had ever seen in the shelter. We decided to take her outside, and her condition was even more apparent in the sunlight:
We debated for quite some time, but ultimately decided that we couldn’t leave her there, and she came home with us, with the hope of her being able to live a normal life. It was February, and we put a jacket on her to keep her warm. We researched online for best practices for dogs in her condition, and found that large endless meals can actually cause her harm, and so we began feeding her very small meals several times a day until we could get her to our vet on Monday. She was so excited for food that she would try to eat from the bowl while you were carrying it, but it was hard to blame her.
The next several days it froze over and snowed. Had she still been on the street she definitely would not have made it.
The vet was actually surprised that she was able to walk on her own. All of the vets at the clinic that day gathered in the back to examine her, and they agreed that she was in the worst possible body condition and scored her a 1 out of 9 on the body condition scale for dogs and she weighed 17 pounds. It was then that we discovered she had eaten off the end of her own tail, and about an inch of bone protruded from the end of it.
She had blood taken for an extensive blood panel to check her organ functions. It was possible that her organs were shutting down already and we were too late. A few days later we heard the good news that a few numbers were off, likely due to the amount of food she was given at the shelter, but that she appeared to be in good shape internally.
Within a few weeks her blood work numbers returned completely to normal and she started to rapidly gain weight. She was given puppy food, the theory being that she was essentially growing as a puppy would.
She surprised everyone and bounced back fairly quickly, returning to a normal weight within only a few months. Here she is about halfway between her starting point and her normal weight, 12 pounds more than she was in the shelter:
In this process we learned a lot about the recovery of emaciated dogs. For example:
- Her hair and nails had stopped growing, and her skin was not shedding like normal. Once she started to gain weight, it was as if her body flipped a switch and it all happened at once. She started to shed chunks of hair and skin as a completely new coat grew in.
- Her body was overdue to go into heat, and once she started to gain weight she went into heat. We took her to be spayed shortly after. I had actually never experienced a dog in heat since I have always had spayed dogs, so it was a new thing for me.
Once Lucy was close to a normal weight of about 35 pounds, she was adopted! This was great news for us. However, it wasn’t meant to be and she was returned within 24 hours. Lucy is very cautious of strangers, and she is especially cautious of men. She needed someone who was going to be patient with her. At this point our criteria for adopters went up significantly, because we did not want to adopt her out and have her returned again, for her own sake.
She was looking good, though!
We knew her home was out there somewhere, so we waited some more. She was the very first dog featured in the NewsFix special “Ruff Life”: http://cw33.com/2014/05/27/ruff-life-longshot-lucy/
Four more months went by and Lucy was still waiting for her home. She had started to gain muscle back now, and was starting to look like a proper dog. We posed with the Dallas BIG sign:
In October, we were contacted by a woman in Fort Worth looking for a dog just like Lucy. We took Lucy to meet her and her current dog at the dog park, and it looked promising! They were having renovations done to their house, so we had some time to wait.
The adoption day came, and it was a match! Lucy has finally found her forever home, with a loving mom, dad, and fur sister.
The experience with Lucy was at times exhausting, but there is no other experience like taking a dog from death’s door and fostering her back to health and into a loving forever family.
Happy tails, Long Shot Lucy.
Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness? — Jonathan Safran Foer
Dog photography is one of the most fun yet challenging endeavors one can take part in as a dog lover. While I wouldn’t call myself an expert or a professional, I’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way that may help you in your dog photography endeavors, regardless of whether you’re looking to just take some snapshots with your phone, or you’re trying to learn how to take more professional looking photos with your DSLR camera.
Tip #1: Have Patience
I list this one first because I think it is the most important. You can’t tell a dog to pose or smile, and even if the dog is trained well, their behavior is not always controllable or predictable. Sometimes you just need to set up the shot and wait. And wait. And wait. Sometimes they’ll never do anything photogenic no matter how hard you try or how long you wait and you may have to try again later. Other times they’ll suddenly do something cute, and if you play your cards right, you’ll already be lined up and ready to take the picture.
Tip #2: Take Lots of Photos
This goes along with tip #1. Because their behavior is not predictable, and more often than not they don’t understand the concept of posing, one of the best ways you can increase your odds of getting a great photo is by taking a ton of pictures. At an adoption event 3-4 hours long, I will often take 250-300 photos. My memory card can hold about 830 raw format photos, and at an all day event it’s not unheard of for me to fill it up completely. I typically narrow the ones I like down to about 5% of what I take. Memory and battery power is cheap nowadays. Use that to your advantage.
Tip #3: Use a Fast Shutter Speed
Dogs tend to be wiggle worms, especially young ones. If you want to catch anything other than a blur, you’re going to want to use a fast shutter speed. You can put your DSLR in shutter priority mode if you need to. You may need to find brighter lighting for your photos if you’re having a hard time getting a decent shutter speed.
Tip #4: Use a Fast Lens
I recently invested in the f/1.8 50 mm II lens from Canon and I am regretting not doing this earlier. It is less than $200 and is one of the cheapest DSLR fast lenses you can buy. With this lens I can set my camera to aperture priority as high as f/1.8 and capture great photos with a fast speed even in relatively low lighting. I rarely even use my main lens anymore. Being able to capture shallow depth of field even in sunlight is a ton of fun.
Tip #5: Shoot at Eye Level
While it may feel weird at first, getting at eye level with the dog will produce much better photos. This means you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting or even laying on the ground. Sometimes when I take photos of my basset hound in the backyard, my camera is literally in the grass. You can also experiment with looking up at the dog. Top-down photos can also be great, but I think you’ll find that eye-level photos in general will give you better results.
I hope that these tips help someone out. Go forth and capture some great puppy photos 😉
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars. – Og Mandino
I am very excited to get my portfolio and blog website up and running. It is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. I hope to use this blog to share some of my thoughts about my professional work as well as my personal interests, especially in dog rescue.
I hope that some of my posts can be useful for individuals in similar paths as myself.
Please feel free to visit my contact page if you wish to contact me, for whatever reason! I’m always up for a discussion on whatever topics I have mentioned anywhere on this site.