Posts Tagged Flagstaff Pet Photographer
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I remember making a phone call once in the early 90s to my dad. I was attending the University of Georgia, a Biology major, trying to get into Veterinary School.

I remember the day perfectly, it was a Friday, and had been raining. My windshield wipers needed replacing and I had been putting it off. I could barely see driving down the country highway.

I desperately wanted to talk to someone, and that someone was my dad. And this was pre-cell phone days, so I had to wait the 30-minute car drive to get to my landline to call him.

By the time he picked up the phone, despite my plan on holding my composure, I was sobbing. And I don’t mean the sniffling kind, I mean ugly-face, can’t-get-the-words-out sobbing.

My poor dad thought the worst. I remember him pleading “…was there an accident?…are you ok?…please say something I can understand…”

What came out of my mouth was probably not what he expected.

Why Valentails is important to me

I had spent the week volunteering at our local animal shelter. The first day, I had to help with the free clinic the shelter offered. No problems there, it was usually owners who came in for regular check-ups, vaccinations, ticks, etc.

The second day, I assisted a technician in surgery. This is where things started getting bad for me. They messed up and gave a cat too much anesthesia during a neuter procedure. He didn’t make it.

According to the tech, it was ‘no big deal’, because he had just been adopted and she was certain the new owners would adopt another one. They’d just tell her he had a bad reaction to the anesthesia.

No one in the surgery room disagreed.

I. Was. Horrified.

That night I didn’t sleep. I just kept hearing the sobs of the new owner in the lobby of when they told her the news. “We have other cats you can adopt…” said the tech to her. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

The third day, a man brought in his puppy who clearly had a broken leg. He wanted to surrender it. The puppy cried and yelped and screamed when the man left him. I stayed and tried to console the pup, and I’ll never forget looking into those deep pools of brown eyes as I told him his life would get better from now on.

The next morning, I found out the pup had been euthanized due to overcrowding and under-funding at the shelter. I honestly don’t remember that whole day as I tried to reconcile what had happened.

By the fifth day, I was a zombie. I remember a woman coming in with eight kittens who were so sick they couldn’t hold their heads up. She said she had thought about throwing them in the river, but didn’t have a bag.

I didn’t know what to say to her and after vomiting in the employee bathroom, I walked out. And one hour later, here I was trying to get all this out of my mouth to my poor father who, at this point, wasn’t sure if I was safe or not.

By the time I did regurgitate my story to my dad, all I heard was silence. “Dad…are you there…” I pleaded.

“I’m here.” he said. And then I heard him sigh. Dad had a softer heart than he ever wanted to admit. And, he knew mine was even more tender, and I know he was trying to find the words to help me.

Dad was usually a one-liner, cliche, kind of advise man. But, on this day, he really changed my life with some of the best advice, to this day, I’ve ever received.

“The world has problems Melissa. But, the good news is that you can do something about it.”

“But what Dad…what could I possibly do??” I fell onto my couch and felt so defeated.

“I’ll tell you…. And don’t ever forget this…

Do WHAT you can, HOW you can and WHEN you can”

Thomas Grimes, Jr.

Fundraising for my furry friends speaks to my heart

Dad had once again stopped me from feeling hopeless and distraught. He had given me hope and a ray of light when I needed it most.

I couldn’t save the world that day. But maybe, I could do small things over the course of my life that could change the lives of a few animals. Or maybe a hundred, or a thousand. I have dreams…stay tuned for them.

So, in following my dad’s words of advice, over the years I’ve been photographing animals in rescue groups and shelters who need homes.

There really is nothing more rewarding than seeing homeless animals find their beloved home via one of my photos.

Nothing.

When that happens, my heart doubles in size.

I started doing photo fundraisers for Paw Placement six years ago, and each year, they’ve grown and become one of my favorite events of the year.

When Paw Placement won the bid to become Coconino County’s Animal Shelter, I was ecstatic to be able to raise money for this new and beautiful shelter. I’ve always thought a city shelter should be a place where pets could come to find their own forever home, not a place that I witnessed in rural Georgia.

I named the event “Valentails” in honor of my favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day. I think our pets offer us the most unconditional love we’ll ever receive and think a celebration of that love is perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Thank you for being my Valentails!

I’m so happy to announce that we were able to raise $3,505! As my sweet husband would say, “That’s a lot of kibble.”

I was so humbled by all the people who came to support this organization and to share their sweet furry family members with me so I could create some memorable images that I know they’ll always cherish.

Thanks to everyone who supported this event.

Canyon Pet Hospital was our title sponsor and Purina donated goody bags for everyone who came.

Kingsmark Kennel supplied gift cards for services at their facility and a free dog bath from Ruff-n-Cuts too!

Flagstaff Sedona Dog magazine supported the event with a full page ad in their publication and WagStaff Dog Beds donated two custom dog beds to raffle off to help raise money for the shelter too.

It truly was a community effort to pull this event off and I’m honored to have these wonderful businesses support this great cause.


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September 30, 2018
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Meet Rio. Rio is an energetic, lovable and mild-tempered Portuguese water dog. Rio’s mom teaches at NAU and loves coming home to her best friend every day.

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People who know me often say that I appear more comfortable with animals than I am with people. They are not entirely wrong. Documenting the love between humans and their furry friends through pet photography may just be my favorite thing – ever.

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Because Rio has so much personality, I created this little slide show. It’s something I offer as part of pet photography sessions.

 

About Portuguese Water Dogs

Portuguese Water Dogs come from Algarve – a coastal region in the south of Portugal. Cão de água as the Portuguese Water Dog is known as in Portugal literally translates to “dog of water.”

The dogs are like shepherd dogs. But instead of herding farm animals, they herd fish. The dogs were trained to drive fish into the fishermen’s nets, retrieve broken nets, and act as a courier between ships.

Portuguese Water Dogs rode in fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the Atlantic waters of Portugal to the waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught cod.

Portuguese Water Dogs are known for their non-shedding quality and became famous when President and Mrs. Obama adopted two of the breed – Bo and Sunny.

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Why Portuguese Water Dog Makes Good Pets

Did you know dogs can have a sense of humor? I did. And this breed has a very good one. During their fish-herding days, Portuguese Water Dogs were part of the crew. They ate with the crew, were often paid for their services and spent their free time hanging out with their work families. They are prone to acting silly and will repeat behaviors when their audience laughs.

Of course, Rio embodied these traits which is why his pet photography session was so much fun. It’s also why he was captured so beautifully on the images.

Portuguese Water Dogs are fairly easy to train. Some can have an independent streak, so training early (like with any dog) is the best way to ensure success. They respond to praise and treats. Harsh discipline and voices should be kept to a minimum. Personally, I believe that is true for every animal.

This breed has a desire to please. Use that desire to train this well-tempered, well-behaved beauty.
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Behavioral traits of the Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water dogs are chewers, and while trainable curbing this behavior can be a challenge. They also get very excited when their owner comes home or visitors come to the house. This excitement often turns into jumping or presenting the visitor with a toy or some other object as a gift.

The breed is also known for its separation anxiety. The anxiety is easily addressed with a plethora of chew toys and plenty of exercise before being left alone. The chew toys may just save your furniture or favorite pair of shoes because chewing is how they express anxiety. Dog,Dunstan,Portugese,

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September 15, 2016
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Jennifer got the news that all of us with furry family members dread to hear…her beloved Oswald only has a few weeks to live.  Oswald has been with Jennifer all over the world, and even enjoyed living in Germany for a while with she and her husband.  He was there when they found his doggie siblings, Macy and Panda Bear, and there when they adopted their adorable little human child, Ava.  For a soul that has shared so much, it’s hard to even think of saying goodbye.  But therein lies the only fault with our animal friends, they have such short lives.   But their time with us brings us so much happiness, so much unconditional love, so it’s the price we pay to have them by our side, if only briefly.

I was so happy that Jennifer reached out to get these photos of Oswald.  I know that in the future, these images will provide some tears and loving memories of the spirit who first captured her heart.

I hope your final days are filled with love, belly rubs and all the bacon you can eat sweet boy.  After spending only a couple of hours with you, I can see why your family adores you so much.  Truly, when you do go to heaven, you will add one of the brightest stars in the sky.  Much love ~ Melissa

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We’ve all had animal friends in our life that fill up our heart and bring us so much joy that we feel like we want to burst.  This sweet girl, Stella, is one of those dogs.  Now that Stella’s face is turning grey, her family wanted to capture this amazing soul, so when the time comes, they’ll always have these precious images to remember her and her smile.  We loved spending the afternoon with her, her mom and dad, and siblings, Grayfus and Vespa.  Modeling is hard work Stella! We hope you got extra belly rubs and bacon snacks after!

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August 14, 2013
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We first met Kaitlin at Pets in the Pines, a event put on by Second Chance Animal Shelter to create awareness about pet overpopulation and encourage the adoption of companion animals. Kaitlin said she had to get her sweet 16 year old Shih tzu, Daffney,  photographed.  Melissa and I met Kaitlin, Kyle, Daffney and her brother Jackson on a beautiful part of the Flagstaff Urban Trail System.   Jackson and Daffney are such sweet puppies, they were the best models!

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April 09, 2013
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John called us a couple of weeks ago for a pet photography session with his dog Charlie in the beautiful location of the ponderosa pines of Flagstaff, Arizona.  John and his family rescued Charlie 13 years ago at the Kingman Humane Society.  At the time, they guessed Charlie’s age to be at least two.  It was hard for Kristen and I to believe that this energetic dog was at least 15 years old!  John’s family has definitely done a great job at helping him stay healthy with daily walks and runs in the forest.   However, John knows that Charlie won’t be here forever.  I think the only fault of our pets is that they don’t live as long as us.  John wanted to schedule this session so that when the time comes for Charlie to cross the Rainbow Bridge, he’d have some great photographs of those big brown eyes staring back at him.    We were so lucky to have been able to capture this special relationship between John and his best friend Charlie.    ~ Melissa

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.   It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
― John GroganMarley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog

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