One year ago today, I adopted my little Gracey.
As you might know, I began doing pet photography after the loss of my beloved dog Basil to cancer in February of 2016. One of my only comforts after he passed was that I had so many great photos of him, and I wanted to be able to give that to other families in my community. I knew I eventually wanted to adopt and save another dog, but for a very long time, I couldn’t face the prospect of loving another dog when I was still so heartbroken over Basil.
But then in August of 2017, I dogsat my friend’s two dogs while she was on a trip and I realized how much I missed having a dog in the house, how much joy they bring just by being there. So when my sister suggested we go to a Clear the Shelters event at Little Shelter called Pet-a-Palooza, I was hesitant but I agreed to go.
A volunteer led us around the facility and outdoors to a ring of cages that had been set up for the event. Every single dog was adorable, but not all met the criteria I was looking for. I also hadn’t had that moment. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never adopted a dog, but it’s a feeling of instant connection. I had been to Kent Animal Shelter a few weeks before and had met a great dog that checked all my boxes, but I just didn’t have that feeling.
When I first saw Gracey, she wasn’t even facing in my direction. I saw a skinny, copper-colored little dog with crazy long legs. The name on her cage was “Sarah”. I told my sister, “That dog looks like a spider monkey with those long legs”.
I told the shelter worker, “Tell me about Sarah”.
He filled me in on her history. She was rescued from a high kill shelter in Dallas, Texas. When they got her to Little Shelter, she was underweight, she wasn’t spayed, her nails were very long and she needed surgery for a hernia. They thought she was about 2 and their best guess is she's predominantly Chihuahua, but mixed with something else because she's bigger than a typical Chihuahua. When he got her out of the cage to meet me, she leaned on my legs and looked up at me and I had that moment. I put in an application right then.
The next day, the shelter called me to let me know my application was approved. The day after that, on the day of the solar eclipse, she got her forever home.
Gracey’s former life is a mystery to me, but her trainer tells me her behavior shows signs that she suffered some abuse in the past. Because of that, she has fear issues. If someone startles her, she sometimes tries to nip. At times, Gracey forgets that she’s safe, but I’m trying hard to remind her that she has nothing to fear anymore.
I still miss and love Basil so much. He was the first dog I ever adopted as an adult, and who was mine alone. He was an angel and I think about him every day. I made the decision to not let my sadness over Basil prevent me from ever adopting a dog again, and it was the right move. I love Gracey just as much as I loved Basil, but in a completely different way, because every dog has a unique personality and heart. I'm so glad I adopted her, because she makes every day a little happier, just by being there and being her silly, weird, loving little self.
Here are some of my favorite photos I've taken of Gracey throughout our first year together.
In a year, Gracey has put on 6 pounds to reach a normal weight, she's learned all her basic commands (except lay down, she just can't get it), and she frequently takes part in doggy social hours hosted by her trainer to help her learn how to socialize with other dogs. She loves to ride in the car, take walks and incessantly squeak her vast collection of toys. She finds the mushrooms in our back yard delectable, so I have to go out there every few days and pull them out of the ground to make sure she doesn't eat them and get sick. She's so good at finding them, I feel like I could get her a job as a truffle pig. She's incredibly cuddly and loves to burrow under blankets. She loves to be in the studio with me so much, I started to call her the "Chief Canine Officer" of Laura Pea Photography. I can't tell you how much I love her. I hope we get to celebrate many many more adoptaversaries together.
Do you have a furry friend that makes every day happier? Schedule a pet portrait session for them today. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (631)256-7476.