When I met Gem it was the first time that I had a one-on-one interaction with a shelter dog. A dog that didn’t have the best of lives before the shelter. We don’t know exactly what happened in her previous life, other than she was a puppy farm breeder, but I could see from her hesitation and lack of confidence that her trust in the world was broken.
I couldn’t understand how she could be so unsure of me. Me: someone that loves dogs, who has grown up with dogs, someone that spends a lot of time with other people’s dogs, a self-acclaimed ‘dog lover.’ I certainly didn’t consider myself scary in the least, but my being loving (pats, puppy talk or even getting up too quickly) was too much for her. I had to be content with simply sharing her space and was rewarded with her trust in time.
Now, I’m the kind of person that overthinks things. (who am I kidding) I’m a little too emotional. So, I spent the next 6 hours with her wondering what on earth she endured for the last 4 (-ish) years.
My sister is what I would call the good kind of ‘crazy dog lady.’ Passionate, loving, and all about what is best for dogs; not one of those hoarder types. She decided to rescue Gem knowing only part of what she had endured, knowing it wasn’t going to be easy, knowing she had a rough start to life, but wanting to change her future and understanding the long journey ahead. She said, ‘As soon as I saw her, I knew. This is my girl.’
These images needed a different kind of approach compared to what I usually see in my shoots. Miss Gem was very unsure, lacking confidence, not understanding what comfort was. Her new Mum worked quietly with her, sat on the floor; let her check everything out. We introduced the super soft, furry dog bed. It was clearly something she had never seen before. With positive reinforcement: some encouragement, praise from her new mum, and yummy treats on the bed – we managed the shots you see now.
I was lucky enough to capture the moment of Gem’s new beginning. A life where people just want to be around her and ask for nothing more of her than to snuggle up on a super comfy dog bed. How I think it should be for all dogs.