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I couldn’t be happier to share this gorgeous session by Photo Lab Pet Photography with you today.
The tale of a senior dog, rescued from a terrible situation normally can be so upsetting, but the heart and soul of Finn’s story shines a light on all the good people in the world, and just how much they DO care.
I hope Finn’s story will leave you all warm and fuzzy inside as it did me!
From Nat of Photo Lab Pet Photography:
On January 21, 2014, Sonoma Humane Society was called upon to rescue 63 Finnish Lapphunds of all ages and in very poor health from a breeder who had fallen on hard times.
61 of the dogs had been confined in squalor, their thick fur matted with lice, fleas, urine and faeces. Many had broken teeth and from what the SHS team saw, little exposure to human contact. Two more pups were born once safe at the shelter, turning 61 into 63.
This rescue effort really showed the best in people, bringing a tight community even closer together. Donations and support poured in from all over, including other countries like Canada, the UK, Finland and Sweden!
The team of staff and volunteers worked around the clock to get these dogs physically and emotionally healthy. Little by little, they began to shed their former life. Their illnesses were treated, their coats began to grow back and through gentle and positive interactions, the “Lappies” began to trust people.
I volunteer at SHS’s Behavior and Training Department, and I was there to photograph the Lappies the first day they got to come out and play in the grass. It was such a humbling and emotional experience. Their resilience awed me to no end. The shelter received hundreds of adoption applications for the Lappies. Eager to make sure the dogs succeeded in their new homes, they carefully matched each dog to a new family.
Finn is one of the senior Lappies. It is difficult to imagine he probably had 9 years of a less than ideal or healthy life.
He was very fearful when he first came to SHS. He showed an interest in people but would startle easily. His sweet nature shone through all the fear however, and SHS knew he would thrive in the right home with a caring and patient person.
Enter his new mom, Frances and dog sibling Tish. When I saw Finn again in his new home, after only seeing him at the SHS hospital when he first came in and was just getting treated, my eyes welled up with emotion. There was little to no trace of that past. All I saw, was a sweet and youthful 9 year old dog who loved his new home, and basked in the sunshine, exploring his backyard and loved to come over for cuddles.
SHS asked us to come photograph Finn in his new home for their local publication. Because they wanted Finn for the cover, most of the photos had to be vertical in orientation with enough room for the masthead and text around it. You always have to account for that when shooting for magazines. Busy backgrounds and harsh lighting can be tough to work with when overlaying text.
Finn was a delight to photograph. Because I knew his background, we took it slow (as we always do, for any dog or cat) and spent some time just getting to know each other. I gradually and gently introduced the sound and sight of the camera, paired with yummy treats and in no time, Finn was ready for his close up. The backyard was small and cozy and full of sunshine to Finn’s delight. For our shooting purposes however, we sought the shade and found some fantastic texture to set him up against. The end result is a happy dog enjoying his home with his new family, and that is all I could ever ask for.
Finn’s fantastic head tilts were definitely an added bonus!
Bill took a photo of Finn and I mid-cuddle session when the shoot was over and we were just enjoying listening to Frances talk about his progress. It is to this day, a favorite photograph of mine, I must confess.
His smile and foxy features are so endearing, it warms my heart to see him thrive while also sending a shiver down my spine to think of the life he and the others led before.
I find no comfort in asking “who would do such a thing” to such gentle animals, but I do find a better course of action to think not of what others do wrong, but what we can do right.
SHS did right by Finn.
We have photographic proof.
Bill Parsons and Natalia Martinez are the team behind Northern California-based Photo Lab Pet Photography and Design Lab Creative Studio. With a shared passion for animals, their work is an uncomplicated blend of fine art and lifestyle photography and centers around photographing companion animals in a natural environment letting their individuality shine. They work with private and commercial clients and volunteer services to shelters and rescue organizations. Living in the California countryside, with two dogs and two cats; Bill and Nat work with their hands, they still shoot film and truly love what they do.