We were delighted to welcome back Sarah Ernhart of SarahBeth Photography, of the Twin Cities this summer for her 3rd year of photographing the Home for Life animals for our sponsorship program. Home for Life's sponsors receive regular photos of the animal(s) they help support at our sanctuary. It is wonderful to have the continuity of having the photographers return to Home for Life annually to visit us for the photo sessions. It's like seeing an old friend again where you don't have to be awkward- you just resume the friendship where you left off. Sarah's work has been featured on the cover of the Minnesota Monthly annual pet issue, and she has a fresh and heartfelt approach to pet photography which really allows you to see the animals in a whole new way. She is an incredible talent with a rare gift.
We are blessed to have talented artists like Sarah who support our sponsor program by donating their time and talent to take photos of each sponsored animal. Many of our sponsors report that they treasure these portraits they receive and actually have more photos of the Home for Life cat or dog they sponsor than they do of their own pets!
Here are some of my favorite photos from her shoot this year.
This series above shows Andre the miniture poodle cross,followed by Bitsy, a toy poodle cross followed by Harry the maltese. I love the unbridled energy and hapiness expressed,with their ears blowing back, in the pictures as the dogs run down the meadow to greet Sarah. The dogs look like smiling clouds. People always underestimate how much exercise even small dogs need, and how much they love to run. Bitsy and Andre were given up to Home for Life by a rescue group in Wisconsin for nipping in the foster home. They were scheduled to be euthanized when we accepted them. Harry came from the Animal Welfare League in Chicago and was born with a liver shunt. He was not expected to survive when surrendered to us,and underwent very risky surgery to repair the congenital condition which is usually fatal if left untreated. Harry is now a therapy dog who works in our Sit*Stay*Heal program with hospice patients and also the soldiers at the VA Medical Center Polytrauma Unit in Minneapolis.
On the left is standard poodle Channing,age 12.She can still move! She was surrendered from her second home and had separation anxiety and some incontinence issues which made her unadoptable. After the 2nd owner's husband died, the woman moved to a townhome and did not thinnk she could manage Channing's care because she had to be at work most of the day. Channing's roommate on the right is rat terrier Jake. He was surrendered by All Breed Dog Rescue of Minnesota after he bit a jogger ( who had kicked him!) while at the dog park. The jogger made it his life mission to see Jake executed. Jake had so many great qualities: intelligence, energy, and he had mastered obedience and knew many tricks. The foster begged for his life, and since we didn't like the jogger's vindictive attitude towards this small dog, we decided that Jake needed a second chance where he would be safe and not kicked for getting in the way when he was minding his own business at the dog park. Jake has demonstrated exemplary behavior at Home for Life, and has never attempted to bite anyone,but still dislikes men as a result of the incident with the mean spirited jogger which nearly cost his life.
This fun loving group is some of our small dogs enjoying the summer day in one of the meadows.The one with his ears flying back and the big smile, on the left, is Malcolm, a wirehair dauchund. Very shy with people, Malcolm has found his true family with his fellow small dog companions at Home for Life. On the right is Sammy, who came from the Animal Humane Society of Minneapolis. Sammy is a cockapoo and another of our therapy dogs who works with hospice patients. Surrendered because he was intolerant of children, Sammy was slated for euthanasia. What a loss of a great dog his untimely death would have been: Sammy is a remarkable therapy dog who has a special affinity for the elderly, and loves to be held by the patients he visits.
Left is Diego.Once again this year Sarah caught him in mid leap. ( see our blog entry "A Black Dog Finds a Home for Life" for Sarah's iconic photo of Diego, taken last year).
Miss Pepper, on the right is an elderly pitbull mix with one blue eye and one brown eye. She has lived at Home for Life nearly all her life. She was born to a starving pitbull we rescued who had been abandonned, with nine newborn puppies,Pepper among them. Miss Pepper, unlike her angelic pitbull mother Maxine, was a hellion in her day.She did find a home as a puppy,but was given back to us because she was killing farm animals,especially the geese and ducks. At Home for Life,she was an escape artist who would get out of her run and seek out trouble any way she could. She liked to wrestle and even fight with other dogs,and could be seen tumbling down the hills with her 100 lb brothers,Spanky and Alfalfa,unfazed by the roughhousing which she loved to instigate. Even her two huge brothers ( who are blond unlike their sister) were apalled by their sister's rowdy behavior. Thankfully Miss Pepper has mellowed nicely as she has matured and is not the incorrigible she used to be. In fact, Pepper's feisty spirit served her well in the last few months.She had been diagnosed with adrenal gland cancer. This winter she underwent surgery to remove a large tumor from the adrenal gland,then developed a terrible infection at the incision, plus a urinary tract infection. She had to stay in the hospital for over two weeks, and then had many weeks of recuperation. At the time this photo was taken, Pepper had finally turned the corner and, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel: she was going to make it. She looks like a new dog, her fur growing in its original sleek black color once again, and she has regained the weight she lost. Most of all,she is smiling again.
This happy guy is Frosty, a samoyed/ american eskimo mix who is paraplegic. He was rescued by the Near HeartBandits group whose focus is helping american eskimo dogs who have become homeless. Frosty is a wonderful dog who had probably been hit by a car and left paraplegic,then ditched by his owners at an animal control facility in Nebraska, certain to be killed. Thankfully Near Hearts reached him in time before his scheduled euthanasia date,but they pulled him without any place to take him. No adoptive homes or fosters were interested in Frosty due to his paraplegia and incontinence. The director of the rescue recognized Frosty's special spirit and begged us,relentlessly, to help. We are so glad we decided to accept Frosty, who is beautiful, loving and always seems to have a smile on his face. He was the grateful recipient of a new cart that we bought for him shortly after he arrived at Home for Life,which makes it easy for him to run around in our meadows. In the background with her back to the camera is basset hound Moppet, another of our paraplegic dogs and Frosty's roommate.
Yuri is one of our international rescues who came to Home for Life via the Northshore Animal League in New York. Yuri is a Taiwanese Mountain Cur who was born in Taiwan. He was rescued as a puppy by a foster group in Taiwan,who then surrendered him to North Shore with the hope that he would be able to find a home in the United States.
Posie is a lab/chowchow mix from North Carolina. She has the short black fur of a labrador and the boxy head and blue tongue of the chowchow. She was surrendered by her family when she was age 8.The story we got was that they had a foreign exchange student living with them,whom Posie despised. There was a young child in the family whom Posie was very protective of. We suggested that Posie might have a reason for not liking the student,but the family still felt she could not stay in the home any longer.We felt this was unfair to Posie who, as a dog, could not explain or defend her reaction .Now age 11, Posie has never been anything but gracious and affectionate since joining us at Home for Life. She is a true southern belle, and makes me think of that description often used for southern ladies: a steel magnolia. Her rommates are two problem dogs we have who had issues getting along before joining Posie in her gazebo townhouse:Beetlejuice the doberman/collie cross,who seems to exemplify the most challenging traits of both breeds, and Jacques a nearly blind, high spirited parti colored standard poodle who wanted to fight with the other male dogs in his original dog group. With both boys, Posie put down her ladylike paw and demanded good behavior. There have been no fights and harmony has reigned among the three dogs, for which I give total credit to Posie.
I love my southern steel magnolia Posie.
The story of Yuri is continued here. On the left is his brother Pluto. Both brothers,Taiwanese Mountain Curs, born in Taiwan were rescued and sent to North Shore to try their luck finding adoptive homes in the United States. Both boys were very shy, and almost feral. However it was hoped that since they were young,they would come around and learn to bond with people. Pluto was more bold, and so the brothers were separated when he was tried in a foster home. But he did not thrive and really never responded to the overtures of his foster. Meanwhile, poor Yuri was lost without his more confident older brother. North Shore realized that these dogs would not be happy in a typical home and asked if they might come to Home for Life as permanent sanctuary residents. In January two years ago, representatives from North Shore drove the dogs out:they were just eleven months old, and skinny gawky adolecents ( the dogs not the North Shore reps!). The North Shore trainer demonstrated how he would put the leash on the dogs by commanding : "Dress".To take the leash off the dogs, he would say " Undress!". The dogs have done well at Home for Life. I wouldn't say they have warmed up to us but they are happy: they are together which is very important to them, and they have the friendship of the other dogs in their group. It is interesting to me that their dog friends are much more receptive of contact from people,yet Pluto and Yuri are still not convinced that people are all that. However,we can handle them, and they enjoy taking treats from us and treat time each evening. They have gained confidence from being able to rely on the routine and schedule we maintain at Home for Life and understand our expectations of them: ( "Dress!" "Undress!"). For them, a good life does not include a relationship with people,and because they are at a sanctuary, they are cherished for who they are, notwithstanding. They repreent our philosophy that animals have worth, in and of themselves as living creatures, apart from their utility to humans. Below is Pluto,with a big smile on his face, trotting and enjoying the summer day in our big field.
I saved the best for last: our beautiful cats. On the left is one of my favorites, Shoshi, now age 14,which means "trouble " in Yiddish. She is the last of her siblings from a litter of five. Her three brothers Brian,Photon and Pixel and her sister Licorice all died in the last year of cancer and kidney failure. We rescued the siblings as kittens from a pet store which was closed down because of their deplorable care of the animals. The kittens were starving and sick when we took them in. Shoshi,the runt, was the worst off and would not eat on her own. The others were famished and insatiable and would devour anything put in front of them but little Shoshi had to be hand fed for over two weeks before she was out of the woods. Now she is the only one still alive. Ironical. I think she misses her sister and brothers;she was especially close to her sister Licorice. Here she is looking contemplative and wistful, as if she is remembering them. Behind her is a view the North Cattery. I love the light in this photo from the skylights and big windows. Another view of the North Cattery is on the right. Natural light is so important for the well being of animals but especially cats, who, to me, have always seemed like flowers: light, fresh air,water and food are what they need to thrive.
Sarah posted additional photos of our animals and wrote of her recent visit to Home for Life on her blog which you can read at this link: Home for Life May Rescue of the Month. Here is also another earlier post where we featured Sarah's work : Sarahbeth Photography at Home for Life