Dewey and Allison

In honor of “Best Friends” day on June 8, I wanted to celebrate the bond we share with our pets. So here’s a story about a special friendship between a woman and her dog.

I first met Allison when she contacted me about scheduling a “Paws to Remember” session for her dog, Dewey. Dewey had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and she wanted to schedule a session right away so she would have special photos to remember him, happy and full of life.

In her own words, Allison shared her story of Dewey:

“I came across Dewey as I was working at the local animal shelter. I had wanted a dog for a really long time but none of them were the right fit for our home – but the day I walked in and saw Dewey sitting in his kennel, calm as could be next to his crazy kennel-mate, my heart melted. There was some kind of click that can’t really be described, other than that my heart felt like it was 5 times too big for my chest.

“Our connection was strong, even in the beginning. He liked to collect my shoes and other possessions while I was away and gather them on his dog beg to snuggle with and refused to take treats from people other than me in the beginning. He trusted me enough that I could hand him medication without anything on it and he would eat it like a treat (although with a look that said “Mom sucks at picking out treats, but I don’t want to disappoint her”).

“I don’t know much about Dewey’s life before me, and since he came into my life when he was around 8 years old it was a long one. He was terrified of car rides initially and I would have to carry all 65lbs of him to it, while he was peeing, and place him inside. Within a month, however, he would get into it on his own, and a few months after that he would race to the car before me and hop excitedly from foot to foot because he knew that the car meant another visit to a place with treats, people to pet him or a mountain to climb.

“He fit so seamlessly into my life that it’s hard to describe the growth of the bond we had. It was a match made in heaven – he loved getting outside and hiking or adventuring, but also was okay cuddling on the couch to watch a movie. He was such a gentle soul who poured all of his love to me with every look that he gave me, and I can only hope that I conveyed the exact same thing to him.”

Allison’s hope for the photo session was to have images of him at home, happy, where they spent most of their time. She also wanted photos of the two of them enjoying time together. We did all the photos in their yard and inside their home.

One particular photo she was really hoping for was an image of Dewey holding one of her shoes in his mouth, since he loved to carry her shoes around on a daily basis. We didn’t have any luck outside, but inside did the trick…

Surgery bought Dewey and Allison some extra time filled with love and life, but the cancer returned and Dewey passed away a few months after our session. When I asked Allison for her thoughts about Dewey for this blog, she wrote the beautiful words I’ve already quoted, and ended with this –  “I could honestly still talk about him for hours. He was so special and taught me so much about myself and unconditional love. Just thinking about him still brings back that feeling of my heart swelling. Thank you again for the beautiful photos…they are images that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

My heart goes out to Allison for the loss of her wonderful friend. I’m glad I got to spend some time with them and witness their obvious love for each other. All of us who have lost best friends can relate to her words and the emotions behind them.

If you’d like to read another blog on the topic of best friends, Stephanie Romero of Chase & Snap Pet Photography is a pet photographer based in Northern Vermont that specializes in modern, candid, on location photography of pets in their natural environments. Check out her post of some adorable furry best friends at https://chaseandsnap.com/2019/06/08/best-friends/

Check out her post of some adorable furry best friends at https://chaseandsnap.com/2019/06/08/best-friends/

– https://chaseandsnap.com/2019/06/08/best-friends/

Rolling Dog Farm

Sophie, one of the blind dogs at Rolling Dog Farm

I’m participating in a blog ring with a small group of other pet photographers, where once a month we write about a chosen topic. (It does get me to write one blog a month, at least…) So when you get to the end of this post, be sure to follow the link to read another great story.

This month’s topic is “Specially-Abled Pets”, in honor of Specially-Abled Pets Day on May 3rd. When I heard what the topic was, the first thing that came to mind was Rolling Dog Farm. Rolling Dog Farm is a dream-come-true for “specially-abled” animals. Located in Lancaster, New Hampshire, the farm is a 501(c)(3) started in 2000 by Steve Smith and Alayne Marker. They left corporate jobs in Seattle to pursue a dream of saving disabled animals, since they were the most likely to be euthanized in shelters. Their original location was in Montana, but in 2010 they packed up all the animals and made the move to the New Hampshire farm.

part of Rolling Dog Farm

The name “Rolling Dog Farm” might make you think of dogs in wheelchairs, but the name actually came from them seeing their happy dogs rolling around on their backs in the meadows in Montana. Rolling Dog Farm now primarily focuses on dogs who are blind, deaf, blind and deaf, or missing a limb, as well as some neurological and orthopedic cases. They come from all over the country. The dogs at RDF live in a home setting – this is Alayne and Steve’s home – and they get the best veterinary care available. If you read their blog posts (which you can do here), you’ll often read about them taking a dog to specialists in Vermont. Some of the dogs have been candidates for surgery and have had their sight restored. These special dogs who were once unwanted and discarded have truly hit the jackpot when they come to the farm, where they will be loved and cared for as family for the rest of their days.

a few of the blind dogs at Rolling Dog Farm

The peaceful country setting offers plenty of space to be a dog. With large indoor and outdoor spaces that have been adapted to the dogs’ special needs, the dogs here take full advantage. They don’t feel sorry for themselves or dwell in the past. They don’t consider themselves handicapped. They just want what most dogs want – to be part of a family and to do the stuff that brings them enjoyment. They live all their days to the fullest, surrounded by love and companionship. 

Rolling Dog Farm does not have public hours (there’s just too much work to be done on a daily basis) but I was excited to take a tour and meet the dogs (and do some photos, of course) at a Visitor’s Day.

Clockwise from top left: 3-legged Tanner, Tanner again, blind Zach (since adopted) Sunny (deformed front leg), blind Stella, Sunny again
Zach, Tanner, Bugsy

Rolling Dog Farm relies entirely on donations, and all donations support their mission of saving “specially-abled” dogs.

Please visit their website at Rolling Dog Farm to read more about the great work they do. I guarantee you’ll leave their website feeling better about the world.

And be sure to check out the next post in this blog ring. Next up we travel across the country for a post from Angela Schneider where you’ll learn all about Cheyeanne and her specially abled dogs that have super abilities.  
Angela Schneider of Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, Washington puts your pet in focus for your family portraits. View her post Specially Abled Dogs Have Super Abilities.