Last Saturday we visited the Fallen Timber shelter to walk the dogs as usual. There were a number of dogs that needed a profile picture, and the first on the list was a German Shepherd/Akita mix. Her name is Alice. She was such a gentle yet confident dog. Great on a leash, and made the sweetest face when we offered treats. Over the next two hours we kept switching dogs. Neither me nor Bradley said much about her. Not until we went out to eat later that night. We had both secretly wondered how it would be to have a dog like her. The shelter was closed until Wednesday, but when the clock turned 11AM, we called the shelter and told them that we would like to adopt her. Tomorrow, Friday, Bradley is going out to Elizabeth to pick her up. It is going to be a life-changing experience and it is exciting.
It all started one night when I couldn't sleep. I had met a really wonderful dog at the shelter, and she was an absolute breeze to walk. She even gave me a dog kiss and I was ok with it. I was asking myself; how does one know when one has found "The One"? I was worrying that I'd meet a wonderful pet, but be afraid to commit. I therefore turned to my friends who had adopted pets. How did they know that a particular cat or dog was the right one, even though they had only glanced at it through a cage door? One of them said; when she turned away from the wall of cages, one of the cats reached out his paw and tapped her on the shoulder. It was a done deal. Another friend said that the cat just showed up at her door, and she decided to keep it. I further discussed the topic with the manager at the animal shelter who suggested that they pick you. Not the other way around. She said; if you meet a pet and get the feeling that you couldn't stand the thought of not seeing him or her ever again... then you know it is the one. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How did you know? Leave a comment below.
Today I'd like to share the first part of a portrait session that I did with Kristen and her pets, Ricky and Georgie, in Frick Park a couple of weeks ago. The trees were blooming, and lots of people stopped to talk with us about how brave it was to bring a cat out to the park. They clearly hadn't met this badass cat, and if you've ever watched the Chappelle Show, you'll understand why his name, Rick James, fit so well.
The story of Rick James
Ricky, a gray American short-haired tabby with golden eyes, is not only a sassy cat with a lot of personality, he has been through some hard times. When I first got him from the Humane Society in Sept 2008, he was 7 months old and very sick. He had been rescued as a baby from a hoarder’s house where there were 40+ cats. Because of his condition, he had to be fostered and cared for around the clock. By the time I got him, he was still on lots of medications for his respiratory infection, but getting better. After a month or so, he was healthy and happy, and that’s when I started to realize this cat was very different than others. Not only was he the ever inquisitive kitty, but he played in the shower, repeatedly attacked my fishbowl, stole any kind of food that was sitting out, became best friends with my dwarf hamster, refused to cover his #2s in the litter box, and claimed his place as my little spoon every night.
In November 2008, I took him home to visit my family. I had him in an upstairs bedroom because my dad is allergic to cats. One day, I got a frantic call from my dad, asking where my cat was. I told him he was in the bedroom, and when my dad said he wasn’t, I simply said he is under the bed. When my dad said he wasn’t and that he had found a cat outside, I was really confused. Turns out, I had left a window cracked because it was warm outside, and Rick, being the crazy little man he is, shredded the screen and jumped from the second story into the front yard. My dad had to scramble to catch him and reminds me of it all the time. From the jump/fall, Ricky injured his knees and now walks with a slight waddle. The vet said it shouldn’t impede him, but that he’ll always have slightly bent legs.
In January 2009, I decided to get him declawed after he had torn through 3 sets of blinds. He had to stay overnight after his surgery; that didn’t go too well. They used surgical glue, so he decided to pull that all out and eat it. Then they had to stitch him up at 2am; he decided to pull all of those out too. This led to him having to wear a funnel collar for 6 weeks. He learned to scoop up his food with the funnel, and then lean back for it to fall in his mouth. (If I took the collar off for a minute, he would go right back to chewing on his paws!!)
Essentially, Ricky (full name Rick James) is a crazy cat with a ridiculous amount of personality. Now that we have a dog, they are best friends and can often be found racing at lightning speeds after each other in our living room. Rick has been through a lot, but has one of the sweetest, craziest, and most unique personalities I have ever seen.
A while back, Kristen contacted me and wanted to do a photography session with her pets Ricky and Georgie. While the Pittsburgh weather has been somewhat unreliable for the last month or so, we finally spent this past Saturday afternoon in Frick Park and had a blast. I can't wait to share more with you.
When my husband Dave and I decided it was time to get a dog, we searched for a while on petfinder.com for the perfect “young adult medium-sized spayed female.” One day, a dog popped up that had the cutest face I had ever seen, with wild, matted fur and eye boogers. Her name was Bootsie. I yelled downstairs to my husband, “I think I found our dog!” He yelled back up, “Is it Bootsie?”
The next day, we made a trip to the shelter. Bootise's cage was the first one as soon we opened the door. We took her into the play area, but to our surprise, she didn’t want to play....She. Wanted. To. Sniff. She sniffed her little heart out, with amazing intensity, all the way around the perimeter and back again. We just sat and watched in disbelief. Dave finally broke the silence and said, “I’m sorry, but we can’t take her if this is all she does; she hasn't even come near us.” He barely got the words out before she jumped up on the bench and cozied right up next to him.
We brought her home and changed her name to Betsy (Dave had a childhood dog named Bootsie), and she's been our best friend ever since. Sure, she’s gotten herself into a few kerfuffles, like turning the stove on when we weren’t home and eating a shower curtain. At any given moment, she'll act as if she hasn’t eaten for weeks. She doesn’t like nervous dogs and she hates humpers. She likes to chase yard intruders (especially groundhogs) but she is not very good at it. When she finally catches them she tries to sniff them to death.
People always ask us what kind of dog Betsy is, and we always answer “no one knows—not even the vet.” But I sort of like it that way, it adds to her mystique.