I had a first at the shelter during my weekly photo session last Friday. I sat down on the rocks in the middle of one of the outdoor enclosures with a dog in my lap and cried. I mentioned in my post about Kay last week that while I enjoy photographing these dogs because I know my photos are making a difference in finding them homes, there is also a bit of heart-break involved. Little did I know then that just a few days later, I'd get my heart completely shattered.
This is Honey. She and her friend Tuga were the last two dogs I photographed this past Friday. I had already been working for more than three hours when I got to Honey and Tuga and had to search for them as they had been moved since the length of stay list I had had been printed. When I found Honey, I greeted her as I do all my charges and opened her kennel door to take her out. But she wouldn't come to me. She wouldn't even stand up. She just crouched down on the floor cowering. I could tell it was out of fear not out of aggression that she crouched, so I decided to just pick her up and carry her outside. She's about the size of my Molly, but a lot thinner.
Once I got her outside, I put her down on the ground and she immediately just cowered down, shaking with fear. I put my camera in my gear bag and sat down on the ground with her. She crawled over and put her head in my lap, shaking the whole time. In that moment, she completely broke my heart. I knew she was an owner confiscation, so that meant there was neglect and/or abuse involved. It appeared as if her tail had been cut off half way up and what was remaining had been broken in three places. What had happened to this poor girl? Just imagining that brought me to tears. Here she was, this sweet, gentle, beautiful dog, and she had lived through something so terrible that she had to be taken from her owner, neglected, abused, starved....and yet she layed her head in my lap just wanting to be loved. It's amazing to me an animal's capacity to love and want to be loved, despite what she may have been through.
We sat there like that, Honey and I, for about 30 minutes, her head in my lap, me petting her and talking to her with tears running down my cheeks. After a while, I got up to see if I could get her to walk a bit and go potty. She got up but would only walk wherever I went, very close to my legs, so we just walked around a bit. Once I got her leash on her to take her back inside, I was able to catch a couple shots of her sweet face, and then I picked her back up and carried her back inside.
Update, May 23: Honey and Tuga were taken in by the Jacksonville Humane Society today! They are safe until the right family comes along to adopt them! (That right family might still be this one if they are still available when we get back from Boca Grande....)