Our First Week in Photos

Johnnie here! My new foster mama says that pictures speak one thousand words, so here are some pictures of our first week together. We did a LOT! I have been adjusting to home life like the star student I am, but mama will update you all that next week. For now, enjoy pictures of how cute I am what we did all week!

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Pretty much sums up what we do. . . started the day sleeping, do a bunch of fun stuff, then end the day sleeping. I have a feeling that’s what we’ll do all weekend! Stay tuned to next week to see what fun adventures we get into!

If you’re interested in adopting Johnnie Cash, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Why I <3 Instagram

I love social media. Ask my boyfriend (who happens to absolutely hate it) how much I Facebook, Tweet and Instagram, and he will say way too much. Having a smart phone means we are instantly connected to all these social media platforms and between my job and this blog, I have real reasons to be on each of them. Sure, I probably use them in excess like most other twenty-somethings who grew up with all of these sites, but I also know that they can hold serious value for helping the missions of non-profits and advocacy groups (and even for-profits).

My latest and possibly favorite social media find – and by latest I mean about a year ago – is Instagram (follow me! @julianajean). Instagram is similar to Twitter, except in photo form. You upload photos and can use filters to enhance them, and then you share them with whoever follows you. Most of my photos are of my fosters, and you see a lot of them because they end up on this blog. Similar to Twitter, you use a “hashtag” to tag your photos using different subjects. My most often used hashtags are probably #fosterdog, #pitbull, #socute, #silly, #adoptable, and #lovebug. If you click on a photo’s hashtag, it brings you to all the other photos on Instagram that have been tagged with the same phrase. My favorite is clicking on the #pitbull tag – talk about examples of every day dogs and every day people! I love it! (More gushing about that on a later post.)

As an amateur photographer, it’s pretty clear why Instagram and I are a good fit. Instagram can instantly make photos taken on your phone into something better, something more creative. One of my favorite parts of photography is composition (even though it might not seem that way on this blog, ha), and I’ve learned to love that all of Instagram’s photos require a clean, square crop. I also love post-processing, and Instagram gives you a quick and easy option to apply image enhancing filters.

Working at a shelter, I often need a quick photo of an animal for a variety of reasons, including to put on our social media sites, to send out to rescue groups or to document for future marketing. Instagram makes it so that the photos I take of shelter animals on my phone are actually presentable, and much more eye catching. Here are a few “before and after” shots of different animals that I’ve done through Instagram (the afters are the square cropped ones).

Pictured below is Pooh Bear. She was given up at fifteen years old (don’t get me started). As you can imagine, a fifteen year old dog can be very difficult to locate a foster or forever home for. Often times an adopter is found after rescuers share a dog in need’s photo far and wide, so the photos needed to be attention grabbing. I am happy to report that Pooh Bear is heading to her forever home this weekend thanks to LOTS of networking!

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Cropping, an element of composition, is something I try to be very aware of and use to my advantage. I do my best to cut out as many unnecessary background images as possible without chopping off key parts of an animal. In the photos of Pooh Bear I cropped out my coworkers legs and made sure to still keep Pooh’s paws in the frame.

My next before and after subject is an adorable Miniature Pinscher that was given up to us (ding ding ding, purebred alert!). My coworker wanted to send her out to rescue groups, and needed a decent photo. I again used cropping and filters to make the photo a little nicer than just an out-of-camera shot. She’s pretty adorable to begin with, so it wasn’t too difficult.

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Last but not least is this cutie patootie named Priscilla who has the best underbite I’ve ever seen. She’s got some pretty serious skin issues that we’re in the process of clearing up, and that unfortunately prevent her from photographing well. Nothing a little backdrop improvising can’t help! This is another tip for low-quality photos, especially of adoptable animals: try to control your background. Instagram helps with this because you can blur out the background, but choosing a solid backdrop over a cage or cluttered background can really make a difference. For Priscilla we grabbed a few towels and a Santa pillow, and voila – an adorable makeshift photo session!

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All three of these dogs have been spoken for by rescue groups for either a foster or forever home (yay!). I’m definitely not saying it’s because of the pictures, but we all know what a difference a good photo can make. Because I can’t bring my big camera in every day and take the time editing camera-quality photos, Instagram is the perfect solution. And even when I’m not photographing shelter animals, my Instagram feed is a really fun peek into the lives of some of my blog friends!


Week With Joanie in Review

Joanie has settled a LOT in the short week we’ve had her, and now it’s like she fits right in. It didn’t start off so easy – in fact it was kind of rocky, but we’ve both adjusted accordingly and have found a really great place. Joanie now just hangs out at home with my Dad all day while he works and she sleeps. When I get home from work we play and go for a nice long walk, then have a relaxing evening on the couch.  She’s showing her true self: the perfect house dog!

We’ve crammed a lot of fun into this week. After learning that exercise was the key to success, Joanie and I enjoyed many long walks together – both in the early mornings and in the evenings.  Yesterday morning we ventured out into the woods for the first time. Joanie, as you can imagine, loved all the sniffs – although she wasn’t too pleased about the extra obstacles.

When we go out at night I am always sure to deck her out in her safety vest, especially since she is a dark colored dog. Night time walks are always our most relaxing and enjoyable because there is no pressure to get home in time for work. . . again, lots of opportunities for sniff breaks!

Joanie totally won over my parents who are thrilled to have such a sweet dog in the house again. Bax and Otis were cordial and friendly, but it hasn’t really been since Zabora that we had a dog who ran to greet them at the door with an overly-wiggly butt. Joanie’s got an awesome tail wag, which she promptly turns around and sticks in your face for a good scratch. Looks pretty much like this:

Joanie never ceases to stop making us smile. Especially when she gets her bursts of energy and wants to play. She will barge into our liriope bushes and pounce around like she is deathing a bunch of jumping beans. Cutest. Thing. Ever.  She also enjoys bouncing around the living room while playing with her favorite monkey toy.  Today, the monkey finally met his demise. . .

Last but not least, Joanie continually surprises us with her uncanny ability to resemble a pig. Not only does she look like one, she sounds almost identical to one.  Here is a video of some serious piggy snorting. Listen closely: pig or Joanie?

I know I keep gushing about this dog, but I just can’t help it. She’s so happy-go-lucky and up for anything. We get to enjoy the weekend together, then she is back to her long term foster.  I don’t want to think about her leaving just yet, so you better believe we’ll find some serious trouble fun to get into this weekend!

If you’re interested in learning more about adopting Joanie, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


A Visit With Otis!

I have been missing Otis a lot the past three weeks. His new dad stays in touch with happy updates, questions, silly pictures, etc. – which I absolutely love. One day in between pictures of Otis stealing pillows and stories of his other silly antics, R brought up that I should come visit.

Of course I wanted to visit Otis. I’ve been wanting to see him since ten minutes after he got adopted. But I know he’s in a sensitive transition time, and I don’t want to confuse him or mess up his progress. R continually assured me that he thought Otis would be fine because he had adjusted so well and seemed pretty settled in. I agreed to stop by exactly three weeks after Otis went to this new home.

I was still torn on how I wanted the visit to go. Selfishly, I wanted Otis to be as excited to see me as he always has been – but a more sensible side of me wanted the opposite. You see, when Otis was with me last summer I watched him interact with his previous owner after I’d had him for about two weeks. He acted like he had never met that person in his life; he was totally indifferent towards him. I took this to mean that Otis could only be attached to one person at a time. Therefore, if he was very happy to see me when I visited him, I was worried it would mean he wasn’t attached to R yet. So I was ready for anything.

When I stopped by, R and Otie were in the garage working on cars. As I walked up, Otis started to act like he would if I was a stranger: backing up, some barking – I’d seen it all before. I crouched down and said, “Hi you big scary guard dog,” and that is when he recognized me – and totally lost it. He went ballistic and was so excited to see me, just like before. In that moment, I was the happiest foster mom of all time. Here was my foster dog, who I have been missing so much, acting like he’s missed me just the same. It was amazing. Then, my fears about Otie’s adjustment were extinguished as Otis ran up to R as if he were saying, “Look who came to visit!” It was the cutest thing of all time.

The reunion explosion continued for about five minutes and ended with Otis running back and forth between me and R in excitement. We took the party into R’s place and posted up on the couch. Otis immediately plopped himself in between us, doing his usual overbearing face-kissing routine alternatively to me and R. R and I caught up and talked about all things Otis, while Otie finally settled down and snuggled up between us.

If I could have written up the best outcome for a post-adoption visit with Otis, this would have been it. I got to see for myself just how happy he is with R. They are such a great pair, going everywhere and doing everything together. R seems to have become just as attached as I was (yay! yay! yay!).

They’ve got their routine down, and Otis is right at home. So much of Otie’s quirks and personality that I came to know also show up in the things him and R do together.

In fact, there were a few things that stood out, showing just how secure Otis now feels around R. He’s doing zoomies and he’s being brave enough to meet (and play with!) the shy little dog next door.

One of the best indications of progress is how much obedience training he and R have been working on together – and they haven’t even gone to a class yet. R has gotten Otis very good at focusing on him, and they’re mastering many of the basics. R has even taught Otis how to catch treats in his mouth. This may seem like a no brainer for a dog, but let me tell you – Otis really struggled with this when he was with me. It just didn’t occur to him to catch the treat, and would let it hit him in the head every single time. Look at how well he and R work together (disclaimer: the usual squealing occurs in this video):

I’m beyond glad that I listened to R and went to visit Otis. I got to experience the best of both worlds: Otis recognized me, and yet he very clearly loves his new life.

Reason #7038334 to foster!