Don’t go volunteer at the dog shelter. It will break your heart. You’ll want to take them ALL home. The conditions in which the dogs live are horrid. They’re all going to be put down anyway.You’ll leave crying. This is what I was told. Oh, sure, I wanted to volunteer, but there’s no way I was going to subject my soul to all that. So, I didn’t.
But then, I met some people who knew some people. They actually go to the shelter and beautifully photograph the dogs so they can be broadcast all over the internet. Let’s face it, the intake mugshots aren’t very good and most of the time, don’t even look like the actual dog. They asked me to join them. They always needed help and it was difficult to make sure each and every dog had a nice image to help him or her get looked at on the internet, and get adopted. Dogs just came in too rapidly.
I figured what the heck. I could do this. Sure, most of my photographs of people have half or all of their heads out of the field of vision, but how hard could it be? I found out just how hard it could be. It took me several days, but I became one with my camera (and a bottle of Jack), and got comfortable representing the beautiful dogs, who through no fault of their own, ended up at the shelter.
I started photographing the dogs for several weeks. I met my fellow photographers and helpers before the shelter opened. Dog people are funny – really funny. Well, we just are. Trust me. I found out a lot of things – about the shelter, the dogs, and even myself. No, it didn’t break my heart seeing the dogs in kennels. If anything, it hardened my heart – to work even harder and quicker to get these beautiful animal’s images out to the public. And much to my surprise, the condition of the kennels – for the most part: spotless. Each dog even gets their very own bed, play toys, blankets, food, and treats. Not ideal, but not half bad. Yes, I would like to take them ALL home. If I wasn’t married, I would probably attempt it. Can you say #Hoarder? And no, they aren’t all going to be put down. In fact, the latest numbers show an 80% adoption rate. While not perfect, it’s pretty darn good. The people working at the shelter? A #1! And I didn’t cry, I smiled.
One day, after I finished photographing, I decided to stay for the opening. I’m not really a people person, but when it comes to dogs I found myself transformed into a used dog sales guru. “Hello,” I exclaimed to potential adopters, with a big Texas smile on my face. And it worked. Oh, did it ever! I already knew most of the dogs from when I photographed them. “Would you like to see the best dog in the shelter,” I always asked. Of course they said yes. “This dog here has low mileage, the coat is in great shape, and comes with a maintenance (dog training) agreement,” was my stock line. I was good! It normally only took me 5 minutes to be waving goodbye to my favorite canines and their new families. The longest it ever took me was twenty minutes, and she was a hard sell. But not for this used dog salesman. The older dogs need us. They are harder to get adopted out. I don’t know why.
So, now I’m in sales. This actually helped me in my day job. I may still not be a people person, but you know what? I’m a used car…er…dog salesman! And darn proud of it
Come down and see us. You won’t leave empty handed. I can talk a leopard out of his spots. Just try me.