Heartfelt Doggie Portraits

I love it when people connect with me because of this blog.  Thank you to everyone who reads a post here and decides to follow me.  What an honor.

So now I need to slip into past tense.  A couple of weeks ago, someone from Littleton decided to follow this blog.  I went to Shaina Zimmerman’s Rescued Rover blog to find out a little more about her. What a wonderful surprise!  Shaina takes pet portraits as a sideline to her work as a veterinary assistant and student at Red Rocks.  Her blog is filled with beautiful work.  I knew I had to find out more about this woman, so I contacted her and she agreed to talk with me by phone.

Rescued Rover-Versailles at Coyote Song Trail

Shaina’s 3-year old shepherd, Versailles at Coyote Song Trail, Littleton

Shaina started loving pets at an early age and said, “I was the kid who would find a stray and catch it and bring it home. My parents didn’t seem to mind.  They always had four or five dogs at a time around.”

At seventeen, Shaina got a dog of her own, not shared with the rest of the family, and she was hooked for life.

“I can read them (dogs) easily,” said Shaina, “and I really enjoy them.  I volunteered at some shelters, and then worked at pet care places and doggie day camps.  I like to work with aggressive dogs particularly.  I like to rehabilitate them, giving them lots of love and treats.  If I can socialize them, it gives them a second chance in life.”

An old boss of Shaina’s introduced her to photography and a new love took off.  She is mostly self-taught in her skills, but you wouldn’t know it. She said she fell head over heels in love with the different lenses she now uses to snap her beautiful pet portraits ($100 per session, $25 of which is donated to her favorite charity, Outpaws Animal Rescue).

Rescued Rover - Bailey the Lab

Shaina’s Lab, Bailey, 5, keeps her smiling.

Some of Shaina’s photography time is spent taking portraits of the dogs and cats at Outpaws. This organization is a completely foster-based center, which means they try to keep dogs until a good home can be found. Their mission statement reads, in part:

“OutPaws places companion animals in foster homes until they can be matched with loving forever homes, educates the community about responsible pet ownership, advocates tirelessly for the best alternatives for both homeless animals and beloved pets and remains committed to fighting pet homelessness until every adoptable dog and cat has a home.”

One of the challenges for this not-for-profit organization, is getting adoptions up.  Many of the photos taken of the dogs in the past were dark, blurry, or taken spur of the moment, without great lighting or time.  Shaina said she’s trying to help here, too.

“All they have to promote their adoptions is their website, so taking good pictures of available dogs and cats is huge for them,” said Shaina.

I congratulated this young person for all the energy and love she gives to the pet community, and she replied, “I only wish I could do more.”


Wishing you a day full of good doggie stories, great friendship, and the positive energy that Shaina brings to our world.

Sneak Previews of Spring

sunrise pines

Spring is coming–under all the snow.

When I was young, nothing could have been more boring than discussions of the weather. That was for old folks and farmers as far as I was concerned.  Then along came Al Gore and the debate over climate change. I remembered discussions of pollution way back in the 1960’s before grown-up life, bills, and children got in the way.  Suddenly, the repercussions of all my undone “earth science” homework bubbled to the surface of my brain and weather became very interesting indeed.

“What an unusual winter we’ve had,” friends have been saying for the last five years or so. “Our summer is too hot.  Do you think it’s climate change?”

Of course, there are some who, by the very fact that a democrat brought the subject to center stage, deny that climate change is real at all. “In the millions of years that the earth has been spinning, mankind has only been here a few thousand.  We couldn’t possibly know that climate change is occurring because it happens over hundreds, if not thousands of years.” (Interesting how several of these good folks pound on bibles and claim that the earth began only about six days before mankind started).

But whether or not our earth is heating up, our greenhouse gases are building, or our ozone is gone, weather is becoming more interesting all the time.  Particularly here in Littleton.  On Sunday, a day I was inside all day for a dance program, the temperatures hit seventy and yesterday, we had snow. I stayed inside voluntarily.

snowbound crocus

Had to brush the snow away to find these tiny friends

My crocuses, the miniatures at least, have been creeping out of the earth in cheery tones of yellow and purple.  Today, I had to brush the snow aside to see the tiny darlings hovered over in the cold.

I’m not sure why this year particularly I’m so anxious for spring.  Perhaps it’s that so many people have had bad flu bugs (don’t they every winter?), or maybe it’s because the cold weather has been very cold this year.  A third, and probably more realistic cause for this anxiety is that I love getting outside, if only for lunchtime, and truly enjoy the sun.  It lifts my spirits and provides wonderful daydreaming opportunity.  I always feel more upbeat when the warmer weather hits.

Spring in Littleton begins just about this time every year and lasts through Mother’s Day, when the last frosts are expected, and we can go officially dig in the garden without worry that our veggies and other delicate plants will catch their death of cold.  I was going to meet a friend for coffee this morning.  He would have been talking about baseball, no doubt.  He’s a big fan.  Unfortunately, he caught a winter bug.  Looks like spring ballgames are on hold for him.

spring sunrise

Day promises to be bright–I’ll be at my desk looking out for it.

Back at my desk, I’m behind on that short story project of mine. Did I ever tell you that one of my nicknames is Last-Minute-Liesa?

Even with the sun shining, and temperatures rising enough to melt the dusting of snow we had yesterday, I have to stay inside to do my work.  Something absolutely must happen to Joy today, and I’m the bad guy who has to make that so.  I have to make Joy’s reader understand why ghosts haunt her in particular.  Very dark stuff on such a glorious day as I see out my window.  But this is the life of a fiction writer.  And luckily for me, spring in Littleton provides enough cold and hot, light and dark, winter and summer-like feelings to give me plenty of opportunity to develop a good story.

How about you?  Does weather affect how you work and play? Do you feel more creative with sunny days or do “dark and stormy nights” provide your inspiration?

Here’s hoping we can all take our winter sweaters to the cleaners soon for packaging up until the fall. Have a great spring day, no matter the weather.