While many people get a puppy and then have that same dog through all the seasons of their life from puppyhood to teenager to young adult to middle aged and all the way through the senior and end of life stages over the period of a years, rescue condenses it. I rarely have the opportunity to see more than one season from these dogs. Our puppies to adults move on into forever families after a few weeks or months. We’re lucky that many of seniors move into forever foster homes, and while I still get to see photos and hear updates, I’m not living it with them anymore. And yes, our hospice dogs move on too.
Seeing all the stages of life so quickly, has made me appreciate them so much more. I realize just how short and precious each stage is and how quickly they change. It’s easiest to see with puppies from birth to 14 days. They are practically unrecognizable going from little lumpy milk seeking eyeless earless wiggling potatoes to actual puppies with open ears, voices, and toddling personalities in days. By the time a newborn puppy leaves for her forever home at 10 to 12 weeks, like Pinocchio, she’s transformed into a real dog.
That metamorphosis is clear. It’s a little hazier when the switch happens from puppy to teenage puppy. Is it the first time your puppy ignores your call to “come”? What about when they pick up your shoe that you KNOW they know is not a chew toy? Or is it when you first notice they are losing their “puppy” face and they start to look like a weird gangly puppy with a dog’s face? You’ll need to draw the line again and again. “What do you mean, a senior?” you’ll ask when your vet talks about a senior blood panel for the first time.
Rescuing dogs truly takes a village of caregivers, volunteers, vets, donors, adopters, fosters, transporters and we do it all for the dogs. Images of the dog’s journey through rescue allows us to connect all the dots. We connect with supporters and donors to fund the veterinary bills because they saw a photo. We connect with foster homes and transporters who take the dog from place to place and give temporary sanctuary because they saw an image. Finally, we connect with the adopter who opens their heart and home because they fell in love with a photograph.
Beyond the power of a photograph to still the sands of time, it also gives me the unique ability to tell stories, and dogs always have a story. The images I have shared in this post are of Addie Jo, a four year old French Bulldog rescued by the Rescue Ranch in Rutledge, GA (that’s the Boston Terrier & other smushy faced breed dog rescue I co-founded with my wife on our farm 5 years ago). The Rescue Ranch has a soft spot for brachycephalic (short nosed) special needs dogs, and I tell their stories through photography.
The Stories They Tell
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
—Patrick Rothfuss, author
Dogs cannot build their own story through words. We cannot ask our dogs to tell us about that time they had a favorite toy that was really your grandmama’s brassiere. We can’t relive with them through spoken word puppy breath. They don’t tell stories of their teenage “I know everything” moments. We can’t reminisce the best friend stage of an adult dog.
But, we can keep those stories, those times and stages and revisit them anytime through photographs.
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