Monday, April 11, 2011

Hope - Forever Home

This is the second installment of my little project, which I have titled "Forever Home". I am following up on some of the animals that I have photographed in the shelter, going to their new homes to show how their lives have changed since they have been adopted. I have had three of these sessions so far, a fourth one on Wednesday, and several more tentatively scheduled. I am so excited about this project... I don't even care if it is a total bust. Just seeing these animals living happy new lives is worth more than anything I could have ever imagined.

If you follow the Sac County Facebook page, you may recall a dog named Hope. She came to the shelter last fall as a thin, young dog with a wire wrapped around her left hind leg. It was badly infected, and the most humane treatment was amputation. She recovered well from her surgery and was appropriately named "Hope".

Although everything was looking good for Hope medically, she was displaying behavior that had some people worried. Hope was quite food aggressive... to the point where it was thought she may not be adoptable. Fortunately, several staff and volunteers at the shelter put their time and love into Hope and the food aggression improved.

As you can imagine, Hope's story was one filled with, well, hope. While everyone fell in love with her, she remained at the shelter. People pledged money towards her adoption, yet she was not being adopted. It seemed as though Hope's luck was running out.

Until she met Emily and Mark. They were Hope's hope. Having already adopted a dog from the shelter a few years before, Emily and Mark were ready to open their home to another dog. And it didn't matter to them that she only had 3 legs. They brought Hope home and she immediately blended right in. Hope found an instant companion in her buddy Guido. In fact, the two are virtually inseparable. According to Emily and Mark, they spend their days runing together in the backyard. All. Day. Long. You may think that a 3 legged pointer/hound cross may have a hard time keeping up with a long and leggy Lab cross... but you'd be wrong.

Chasing a squirrel up a tree.
(No squirrels were hurt during the taking of these pictures)

Hope in full gallop.
Impressive, isn't she?

Mark says that this is classic Hope.
Running from one end of the yard to the other, lips flapping in the wind.

When Hope and Guido aren't running, they are playing tug-of-war. Again, you might think that the 3-legged Hope would be the underdog. Think again.

Oh, sweet Hope...

... you show Guido who's boss.

I don't know about you, but I's scared of Hope!
Okay, she's not really mean. And I'm not really scared of her.
Shhhhh.... don't tell her I told you that!

As you can imagine, all this running and chasing and playing can wear a girl out:

Emily says that Hope will lay like this when she takes a break... lip splayed out on the concrete. And when Hope gets up, she'll have dirt and leaves stuck to the inside of her mouth. But she doesn't seem to mind.

It was actually quite tricky, trying to photograph Hope in quiet mode. Any time I moved, she got up to run. And when the sun happened to catch my lens and create a circular reflection on the ground... Hope was transfixed.

Seriously, she could not take her eyes off the ground...

Well, until daddy showed up with some treats.

And we can't forget snuggle time with mommy:

After an hour or two, we went inside to give the dogs a break. I think Hope was happy about that. This is her little spot next to the kitchen... her mom and dad put a blanket on the floor because she likes to lay here.

Emily and Mark told me about Hope's favorite place to snooze - a plush recliner. I tried to get Hope to demonstrate her mad napping skills, but Guido wanted to be in the spotlight, too. Guido was banished to the outdoors so we could get some shots of Hope in all her glory. That was a bust as Guido found a way to be with his sister:

Apparently, these two are always together. I couldn't resist getting a shot of Hope from the outside of the window, so I ran around the house and got this:

a sad little Hope, pining for her Guido.
And then, I got this:

Do you think Hope is mad at me?
After seeing this, I felt really bad and let Guido back in.

And Hope closed her eyes for a quick moment. I'm a little bummed that I wasn't able to see Hope snoozing in her recliner (where she is covered with a blanket before going to bed for the night). But I can live with that. Because I got to see something waaaaaaaaaay cooler than that. I got to see a happy, healthy, active dog (who just happens to have 3 legs) - a complete 180 from the dog I met at the shelter. All it took was some time, some love and the right people. Emily and Mark, two wonderful people who have given me faith that there are kind souls out there. Guido, the awesome, most bestest big brother. There is also Brooke, the cat... she is Hope's secret friend. And if it weren't for the staff and volunteers at Sacramento County Animal Control and Regulation, this story would have had a much different ending.

For Hope, there is nothing but blue skies, a big back yard and all the hugs and kisses she could ever want. And I would say that is nothing short of awesome.

Rock on, sister.
Rock on.


  1. Love reading the story of Hope & seeing how great her life is now.

  2. Beautiful story and beautiful pictures!

  3. Love, love, love! You have mad photography and storytelling skills!

  4. Awww, this is so wonderful to see. Thanks Nicole for following the adopted critters. It makes volunteering worth it!