Tag Archives: SPCA

Kira The Gentle

Kira came to be part of our family in a funny way. I had been volunteering my time at the Chemung County SPCA to photograph the dogs and cats there that are available for adoption. I love just about all the dogs that I have worked with there. But when I photographed Kira there was just a connection. I went home and posted her photos online and I half-jokingly commented with the photos that someone better go adopt her before I do. We were not looking for a dog at the time and despite the connection I felt with her I was not seriously thinking about adopting her. At this time my wife, Debby, was working at the Chemung County SPCA and shortly after I photographed Kira she said she thought she really liked Kira and maybe we should adopt her. And that was all it took. I was fully on board and Kira went home with us.

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Kira at the Chemung County SPCA

Kira might have been the perfect adoption for our family. She was just the right dog for us. We have always had multiple dogs in our home and adding another dog to the mix can be complicated. Kira was the perfect fit. She got along fine with all our other dogs. She didn’t need to be crated. She didn’t cause any problems when left alone in the house. She might have even been too well behaved for us. We love to sit with our dogs all snuggled up on the couch and we had to teach Kira that it was OK to get on the furniture at our house. One thing I did learn quickly is that Kira was not a dog to let off leash. One day shortly after she came home I unhooked her from her leash thinking we’d just walk the few steps to the door and into the house. Wrong. She bolted across the yard and down the road. Luckily she was a big dog and I caught her pretty quickly. And that is how our lives together began.

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It’s really tough when you adopt an older dog. There is this ever present feeling of uncertainty. You never know what to expect. While nothing in life is certain, when you commit to an older dog you know that there is a god chance that their best days may be behind them and the life you experience with them might be short and limited. It is something that you try not to focus on but it is a consideration. We tried to make the best of things with Kira and for the most part she was healthy and loved to do all the things that any other dog would love to do and we tried to get her out there doing as much as possible.

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She enjoyed walks, and hikes, and going to events with us. She loved us and loved being with us. We tried to give her the best life we could and she ave us everything she had until her last day. It’s hard not to feel like it was unfair that we had such a short time to spend with her. She was such a loving and comforting dog. She didn’t want to do anything but sit with you. The only thing on Kira’s agenda was sit with my humans. Be with my humans.

Kira at Seneca Lake
Kira at Seneca Lake

It’s funny now thinking back on our time with her, that there aren’t many crazy stories to tell about her because she was just that kind of dog that didn’t require much. She didn’t do crazy things. She was just mellow and melted into the background of the home. She was the calm one. The one that waited her turn and when all the other dogs were done she would approach to get her turn with you and be petted and loved on. When you lose a dog like that you have lost something special. A dog that didn’t require any extra work. A dog that was just there for you and accepted whatever you had to give. I think that my favorite memory of her is after finishing my first half marathon Debby and Kira were waiting for me at the finish line. She was there to cheer me on and support me just like family does.

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It’s odd how much an impact it is or a void that can be left by the quiet and calm presence of one dog when they are no longer there. There isn’t this huge dog who quietly saunters down the all to my office and nudges my hand while I work so I will pet her and then lies down quietly on the floor while I work. I won’t have that warm heart just a few feet away as I type or edit photos anymore. There is more room in my office now, but I would give anything to be crowded again and have to type one handed.

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I spent the last week we had with Kira wanting to get some photographs of her. But as a photographer I have this need for the photos to be perfect. Even if they are just personal photos that I might be the only person to see them. I still want them to be nice. I want the photos to be as good as they can be and I want my dogs to look good in the photos. So I kept putting off taking photos until I had time to get out my cameras and lashes and take some nice indoor portraits of Kira so that I would have really nice photos to remember her by. Then one night I decided to lie on the floor with her and just snuggle her. It was then I decided I needed to just take photos now and capture the moments as they were. The real moments that we had together. Because we never knew how much more we would have. I am so glad I made that decision. I took photos of her with my cell phone two nights in a row and then she was gone. If I hadn’t taken those photos I would not had any images to remember her in her last days by. So don’t wait for it to be perfect. Don’t wait for the best possible circumstances. If you have an opportunity to create memories do it now while you have the chance. You never know if you will have the opportunity again.

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Coming home from work to find that Kira had passed was not how we wanted it to go and it might have been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced. But, Thankfully we have amazing family and friends that when we shared the news of Kira’s passing were so supportive and loving. There really are no words to express how grateful I am to have all these people in my life. I don’t know how we would get through the times like this without them. So many people shared words of compassion with us and told us exactly the right things that any dog lover needs to hear in these tough times. We also have the most amazing vet who took the time to talk to us and share her thoughts and kind words with us. Knowing that she didn’t believe that Kira suffered meant so much to us.

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In the end Kira died at home the way she lived. Without fanfare and without drawing attention to herself. She died peacefully and in a way that we didn’t have to make that most terrible decision that any dog owner has to make. In hindsight I believe Kira was hanging on those last few days for us. She still got up and followed me to my office even though it was obvious she was laboring. And that was when we knew it was time. But she had other plans. For the last few nights once we knew the time was close, before I went to bed I got down on the floor with her and whispered in her ear. I told her I loved her and if it was time for her to go tonight that it was OK and that she didn’t have to hang on for us. And that is what she did. Once we were gone for the day and she didn’t have to be with us anymore she could leave us for the last time. The hardest part is just not being able to be there in the last moments and say goodbye.

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Woof and Wine Fest

For me there is not a whole lot better than an event with dogs. The only thing that can make that better is if it is an environment where I can take photographs of all the dogs. Last year we went to this event for rescue and shelter organizations at a local winery. It is so much fun to see all the shelter/rescue dogs out int he public getting attention.

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The event is not designed for photography so it takes some creativity to capture the nice images that these shelter dogs deserve. Shelter dogs are such amazing animals. They deserve to get the best I can offer them. So I really strive to capture great images of them. It makes me so sad that I didn’t get around to sharing these photos until now.

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I am sure that by now all these fine dogs have found warm loving forever homes. They were all at the event with great organizations that were taking great care of them. Getting to play with dogs and photograph them is pretty much a day in my own personal heaven. The only downside is when you meat adorable friendly dogs but you already have so many dogs at home that you can’t take one of these adorable shelter dogs home with you.

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That is one reason I try to photograph the dogs and share their photographs. I would love to take them all home but we have already done our fair share of rescuing and adopting dogs so there is no room with us despite what our hearts might want. So I need to share their photos and help them find great new homes. This is something I have collaborated in with our local shelter and the more I think about it the more I need to find a way to get back to the shelter and photograph more dogs and share their stories so they can find a way home. If you want to help support me in that mission you can support me on Patreon so that I can spend more time working with the shelter pets. https://www.patreon.com/KRNaturalPhoto

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If you are anything like me just seeing cute and friendly dogs out and about melts your heart and I just love the opportunity to capture nice images of dogs in general. But then there is a chance to help a shelter/rescue dog find a home it might not otherwise find I think my heart grows three sizes like the Grinch and I strive even harder to capture images that really capture the personality of these dogs and presents the best they have to offer so that potential adopters will get the best look at them that they can and maybe be persuaded in part by my photography to look into one of these dogs and maybe go meet them. And sometimes just one meeting with a shelter dogs is all it takes for them to steal your heart. Then off they go to a new home. I love the idea that I could be a part of making that happen in any small way. But it is really about the dedicated staff at the rescues and shelters. They make it happen.

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I really need to focus on this part of my photography more and post photos in a timely manner so that they can have the most impact. If nothing else I hope that my photos help to give shelter/rescue dogs a better reputation. They are too often portrayed as broken scared dogs. Anyone who has been loved by a shelter dog knows that in most cases this is the furthest thing from the truth and if one person sees my photos and decides to check out their local shelter and falls in love with any dog then I have played my small part.

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But also, cute puppies. I mean come on. How do you not love that. Look at that face. That tiny nose and those cute eyes. That is all it takes to get my attention.

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After a long day at an event it is time for a puppy nap.

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Even the older dogs need their beauty sleep. So if you ever hear that there is a rescue event going on nearby do check it out. You might just meet your next best friend.

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A Dog Day Afternoon

Today was a day for the dogs. Up in Ithaca the Ithaca Dog Fest was going on. That means that the Reynolds clan is headed to Ithaca to enjoy some 4 legged companionship. The event did not disappoint.

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We took Josie and Little Kira with us on this outing. We had such a good time. There were many dog related vendors there. There were also many different Shelters and Rescue groups there which is always great to see.

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Best of all was all the dogs. So many dogs. And there were tons of people who wanted to love on Josie and Little Kira. They did not have any problem getting all of the loving they desired. Crowds of people just waiting to pet them. It is a dogs dream come true. After walking through he event we just went and sat in the shade under a tree. People continued to stop by and share their time with Josie and Kira. They can never get enough. There is always more love to go around.They are such good dogs. The make it easy.

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Then after the Dog Fest broke up we headed over to the Ithaca Dog Park to get some off leash time. Dog park for Josie and Kira means time to lounge around. They are so funny. They rarely go much more than 10 feet from us. They just wanted to sprawl out and relax. They aren’t phased by the other dogs. They did actually try to play once, but couldn’t really seem to figure out how that worked. They did love the pools. And apparently they also love picnic tables.

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There were also many other cute dogs there. No question about it it was a good day.

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Randomly selected photo from Ossian

I’ve been wanting to share more, but I have been so busy trying to get a bunch of different projects done. So, here is one randomly selected photo from the Ossian Mountain Run at Swain Ski Resort. Many more to share in the future.

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Ossian Mountain Run. Swain Ski Resort.

Today’s Running Partner

The more I develop myself over the years the more I learn that things I love and that are important to me fit together. I have been a long time dog lover. And over the last few years I have become an increasingly avid runner. I have been making more time to run than to do most other things in my life these days. I never thought I would say that. As I have been getting more into running I have really been wanting to be able to run with one of my dogs. I have tried in the past to run with one of our dogs but it didn’t really work out well for either of us. But I am thinking that I may try to get more dedicated to this idea. So today I set out with my new running partner today.

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Running together will require a lot of learning and training on both our parts. Brynn will need to work on walking and running on my left so we can stay on the proper side of traffic when running and stay away from cars (something I should have been teaching her all along, my bad.) Brynn will also need to learn to stay by my side and not get too far out ahead. She will also need to learn to stay constant and not stop to sniff or investigate interesting things while we are running.

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I will need to learn to modify my running plans to suit Brynn’s needs. Now I have to think about both of us instead of just me. That means extra water for her as well as for me if we are out for long runs as well as extra night lights if we run before or after the sun is out. More planning will be required on my part.

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The best thing is that on what was basically our first run together it went pretty smoothly. Brynn didn’t get too distracted to stop and smell things or try to rip my arm off to run and chase things like squirrels and other dogs. I owe this to the hard work with training my wife and I put in when we first got her, although we need to be more consistent with it. “Leave it.” is a magic phrase that will make your life with your dog much easier if you teach them that cue. Trust me.

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Brynn can dust me in a sprint or in repeated sprints over and over. She seems to have limitless energy playing n the back yard and fetching her Chuck It ball. or even just ramming around the house playing with her infinite number of toys. It was kind of nice to see that even though she can wear me out in short bursts of energy I can outlast her in distance running thanks to my training. We went out for what is a short run for me these days, just a 5k. Brynn started off strong, perhaps too strong. An error that I am sure many of my runner friends can relate to. I started off relatively slow for me.  Brynn started off out in front of me at the end of her leash. She still looked like she was just trotting along out in front, and not really exerting herself. However, by the time we were inside of a mile left to be done she had slowed considerably. She was either beside me or just behind me most of that last mile.

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She didn’t seem to be working too hard nor panting much, but she was definitively slowing down and getting tired from the sustained exertion. It’s nothing like the heavy panting and raged breathing and rapidly expanding chest she exhibits during her sprints across our yard to fetch her ball. She is definitely a sprinter and not a distance runner at this point. Something I definitely would have said for myself at one point, even though I really never was even a sprinter.

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So, Brynn and I will continue to work together. Hopefully frequently to work on her running with me on leash in hopes that I can run with her at events that welcome dogs some day. The sad part is I like that she is currently tired out and sleeping under my desk as I write this after our run. I am not sure if I really want to keep taking her out regularly and build up her stamina so that she will have even more energy and be able to run longer and longer and then require longer and longer runs to tire her out so she comes home and is peacefully sleeping at my feet. I like tired Brynn. I like that it only took 3 miles to tire her out. Here’s to the future of a new running-mate.

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Now I just have to work on incorporating photography into my actual runs. But I have a few ideas about that too. Stay tuned.

Jethro and his toy.

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Jethro

Jethro carried around this toy almost the entire time I photographed him back in April of 2014. He was such a fun and loving dog. I really enjoyed creating great images with him.

I am currently working on a project to help bring more awareness to the amazing work the Chemung County SPCA does. The project will consist of an art exhibit, on display at the Chemung County Historical Society, featuring photographs of dogs that have been at the shelter. Learn more about this project ans support hit here: Shelter Dogs at the Museum: Part 2. The exhibit will begin June.