They say the camera does not lie. And yet, I look at this photo of Lady Jane taken just yesterday, and I am stunned by how good she looks. She was always a pretty kitty and even at 17 years old, Lady Jane was a beautiful old girl. But, what this image doesn’t show is the sadness that surrounds it. For, it was taken during the brief space of 5 minutes yesterday when she had stopped vomiting, we had already contacted the emergency vet to say we were coming and were about to place her in her carrier for her final car ride. I got her to relax on our bed (truly one of her favourite places) and took a few final pictures. Within 10 minutes of this image, we were on our way.
Lady Jane was a wonderful girl and such a trooper. Cats often are. She had been diagnosed in early October with Chronic Renal Failure and her vet had warned us not to expect more than a couple of months. We were understandably shocked and it took us some time to process the information. We knew she had been losing weight, but I don’t think either my husband, Dean, or I were prepared for the severity of the issue. But our vet kindly answered all of our questions, sent us home with lots of information and medication to stabilize her, and we determined to simply cherish the time we had left.
And you know, we got into a rhythm with giving her her medication and ensuring that she ate properly. It was at that point that we realized that Lady Jane had probably been feeling unwell for some time, because the medication helped her to rally. In the 6 months since her diagnosis, Lady Jane has done things and explored area she had never done before. She learned how to climb onto the desk in my husband’s office so that she could sit on the windowsill and watch the world go by. She no longer used the stool beside our bed which had been placed there to help her old bones get up more easily – she bounded from the floor and back off again. And then sometimes, she leaped from the bed onto the dresser. Her greatest success was when she propelled herself from the couch onto our dining table. Most of these things would certainly would have been unacceptable in our house (no getting up on the dining table!), but the fact that she had the desire and the ability to do it astounded us. For a cat who had lived most of her life on one level (she had been a little portly in her younger years), it was a joy to see her enjoy herself.
And then there was her personality. When we adopted her brother Baxter 18 months ago as a companion to Lady Jane, we could not have picked a better boy. Baxter has confidence, without a hint of aggressiveness. His patient encouragement combined with her feeling much better, and Lady Jane had come out of her shell. She travelled easily and adapted to new environments. She greeted visitors when they came into our home. She stepped outside onto the balcony and felt the sun on her face. It was like she had a bucket list of things to do and we had the joy of seeing her cross things off the list.
We almost convinced ourselves that she would be with us a long time. Our friends would ask how she was doing and we would answer that she was doing remarkably well. Deep down, we knew the disease would eventually get the better of her, but given her newfound love of life and adventure, it seemed a long way off. And, we were not prepared for how quickly it would happen. It seems like on Friday the medication stopped working which translated into Lady Jane being extremely picky over her food. We had been very fortunate that throughout everything she was a great drinker – bowls and bowls of water helped flush her ailing kidneys and kept her happy. But, by yesterday morning, she had stopped drinking, stopped eating and begun almost non-stop vomiting. She also found it very difficult to use the litter box. I gave her her medication to help with the vomiting and offered her her favourite ‘treats’ – chicken and lactose-free milk. She refused the chicken, but lapped up the milk. Only to bring it all up within 10 minutes. It was as if her digestive system was shutting down.
Seeing her suffer this way helped us making a heart-wrenching decision. Of course, not only was it a Sunday but it was a holiday and therefore her regular vet was closed. Which led us to the wonderful people at Vaughn-Richmond Hill VEC who helped her pass, surrounded by the people who loved her most. I got to hold her and I hope that she felt me stroking her and that the last thing she heard was me telling her how much I loved her.
Seventeen years is a long time. A small furry kitten originally from Brampton Animal Shelter left her mark on our lives and on our hearts. She made us smile. She made us laugh. There is now only a gaping hole that she used to inhabit.
Lady Jane, our little furry face. You were loved. Please know, we love you still.
“You’re the one that I love, and I’m saying good-bye…” ~A Great Big World (Say Something)
This week’s theme was to show the look of “Feed me!”
Well, I took these early on Sunday morning. About 6:30 a.m., which is when normal people (those without pets or kids) get a day or rest and sleep in. Unfortunately, Baxter has not yet learned to use a calendar, nor does he understand the word “weekend”. So, he is sure to get us up every morning, rain or shine!
Lady Jane has lived with us for 16 years now, so she is pretty convinced that breakfast and dinner arrive at prescribed times every day. In between, there is ample amounts of dry kibble and water, so that no one starves. Baxter, on the other hand, is new and is therefore sure that we have forgotten, are currently in the process of forgetting, and/or will forget sometime in the future that he needs food. In any case, he makes it his aim to ensure that we understand that breakfast and dinner are necessary to his existence and that he would be really grateful if it was served quickly and efficiently. Thus, every feeding session begins the same way…
The troops gather in the kitchen as I get their bowls ready and prepare their food. Baxter is front and centre, but that is Lady Jane in the bottom left. She is no fool – she knows it is breakfast and she has no intention of missing out. However, she will will watch while Baxter goes into full i-am-so-starving mode.
As I am not getting it nearly quickly enough, Baxter climbs up for a better look. I think he is trying to figure out what he can do to help me, as i am quite obviously having trouble dishing it out in a timely manner.
Yes, that is his left paw resting easily on the knob of our top drawer. He can actually reach our counter top while keeping his back paws firmly planted on the ground – he is that tall!
And finally, when breakfast is served, the clouds part, the sun appears, and angels can be heard singing. All is good and wonderful and right in the world. Until supper time when we do it all over again.
This is a blog circle which means that a worldwide collection of pet photographers have all interpreted this same theme. To see the next photographer’s images, please check out Tracy Sutherland Photography in Squamish, BC, Canada. From there, you can follow the circle all the way around until you end up back here!
This week’s theme was to show all about sleeping and how our pets’ have their spots and routines. Well, Lady Jane LOVES our bed and she spends a great deal of time on it. This week, I wasn’t feeling that well and so I spent a morning resting in bed (Lady Jane thought that that was the best thing in the world…a bed buddy) and I thought that I would document how she sleeps. After all, it is the same routine at night and the light was so much better in the morning!
First of all, when it is time to go to bed, Lady Jane will call us. She comes into whatever room we are in and meows plaintively. If we get up, she will run to the bedroom, hoping we will follow. If we don’t seem to ‘get it’, she will stand in the doorway of the bedroom and let out these long mews until we show up.
When we finally come and get on the bed (she waits and watches to make sure we are really getting into bed), she will hop up and settle down.
Now, bear in mind that these images were taken with one hand at fairly close range. Why? Well, Lady Jane not only sleeps on the bed, she sleeps on…me. Yes, that fuzzy flesh-coloured thing at the bottom of the image is my left hand and arm and you can just about see how she has her arm curled around mine. The lovely pillow she is leaning on? Yes, that’s me too. My legs, to be exact. She will stay in this position for hours, changing only to lay her head down and go to sleep in earnest.
Now, what if I move my arm? Well then, I get this wistful look, as in, “momma…why can’t we just hold hands…?”
So, that is little Lady Jane’s nighttime routine. She doesn’t sleep there all night. She will eventually make it to her stool which is beside the bed – but she is certainly has more of a need to be close to us since her brother, Ripley, passed away.
Now, let’s see what other bedtime routines are like. To begin with, please head on over to the super-talented San Diego Pet Photographer, Westway Studio…let’s see what Terran came up with this week!
The 13 Project is a the mastermind project of Serena Faber Nelson of the blog Pretty Fluffy. A huge animal welfare advocate, Serena encouraged everyone to make a list of 13 acts of kindness that each of us can perform in behalf of shelter/rescue animals – one for each of the (almost) 13 weeks left in 2012 . These acts do not have to be huge goals, but should be reasonable and achievable…and your list does not even have to have 13 items. The idea is to show that even small acts of kindness can add up to big help for those animals in need.
Developing the Posh Pets’ list involved a lot of brainstorming! But, I think that the our list is totally do-able and will keep me focussed for the rest of the year. So, here is our list..
- Volunteer weekly at Toronto Animal Services (North) to take flattering images of their current adoptables. I have been doing this for almost a year now, and I can honestly say that this is one of the highlights of my week. I love meeting the new furry faces, spending some time with them and then watching as they find their forever homes!
- Blog and post the adoptables’ images on the Posh Pets’ Facebook page on a weekly basis. There are many wonderful fellow volunteers at TAS and together we work to share the stories and images of these lovely adoptables to a wide audience and help these animals in need. One volunteer has a very active page that shares these furry faces far and wide!
- Pin the adoptables on Pinterest to reach a wider/different audience. I have not done this regularly in the past, but now it will be done each week.
- Donate my extra towels, bedding and sheets. Over the years, we have gathered quite a collection…most of which are not regularly used. These are going to be given to our local shelter.
- Research a Canadian rescue/animal welfare group and commit to a small monthly donation. I, like a lot of others, fall into the trap of thinking that if we do not have much to give, then it is hardly worth it to make the donation. But, many small amounts can go a long way to helping animals in need.
- Network with other local photographers to find a photographer for Toronto Animal Service’s other location. This has already been done!
- Offer to donate photography and adoption story to a not-for-profit organization’s calendar which will be sold to help shelter animals. This means reaching out to those who have adopted from a shelter.
- Posh Pets is a member of a wonderful organization called HeARTs Speak who unite animal artists in helping animals in need. There is strength in numbers, so I will introduce HeARTs Speak to 3 other pet photographers/artists in the hopes that it will encourage them to join and volunteer their time helping shelter animals.
- Write a Posh Pets blog post about the joys of adopting. Our cat, Lady Jane, is proof-positive of that fact.
- Educate others on the responsibility to spay and neuter their pets. We simply would not have an over-population problem if responsible pet ownership existed.
- Seriously consider adopting or fostering a shelter animal. This is a hard one for me as we lost our dear Ripley (who came from the Toronto Humane Society some 16+ years ago) last June. It has been hard for me to even think of another family member as it seemed like a “replacement” for our Ripley. I’ve come to realize that Ripley will never be replaced and that we, and our 15.5 year old kitty Lady Jane, just needed time to grieve. Of course, we will need to be thoughtful about introducing a new family member to Lady Jane, but I think that maybe, just maybe, we are ready to welcome a new furry face into our lives.
- Share the idea the 13 Project with other like-minded people and businesses.
So, that is our list…what is on yours?
This week’s theme was “rescue” and we were free to interpret that in any way we felt. As many already know, this was an especially emotional week for the Posh Pets family as we said good-bye to Ripley, our 17.5 year old orange tabby. For those who follow this blog, you have ‘met’ Ripley many times as he was often the subject of my camera as we worked through our weekly challenges. To suddenly not have him around anymore is a huge shock, but my husband, Lady Jane (our other cat) and I are learning a new routine and slowly getting past the initial heartbreak.
I’ve spent some time this week going through old photos of Ripley. As you can imagine, I started photographing him almost immediately from the day he came home and into our lives. Going through these images has been wonderful. We have laughed and we have cried, but they have brought back such wonderful memories that I am so glad I spent the money I did on film. (As a side point, I have also been astounded at how horrible a photographer I was 16+ years ago!) In doing so however, I came across two images that made me gasp just a little, for I had forgotten about them.
They were taken in December 2009 and January 2010 (my metadata tells me so) as I was starting to toss an idea around that I wanted to photograph pets exclusively. I remember thinking that that was probably not possible, but that there was no harm in dreaming. And playing in photoshop. And so, without any intention of ever showing this to the world, I pretended that I had a gallery show, complete with fine art prints, and came up with this:
Looking at them now, I do not think that either of these two photographs are particularly any good. My style has developed since then and has actually changed quite a bit. But what does startle me are the two little words below my Karen Weiler Photography business name. Posh Pets.
Those two words were the beginning of a little idea that I never dreamed would become the reality of Posh Pets Photography today. Looking at them now, I laugh as I know that the name came to me quite by accident as I was simply playing around.
More importantly though, these two documents are evidence of how integral both Ripley and Lady Jane were to the start of Posh Pets (even if I did not realize it then) and how much of what I do today is because of them. I volunteer once a week to photograph shelter animals because I know what joy and happiness giving a homeless animal a home can bring. Ripley and Lady Jane have taught me personally how much these little creatures give and how little they ask for in return. And I offer custom photography sessions for pets because I know that there are families everywhere who treasure their pets like a member of their family. And because, when these lovely souls eventually leave us, we want images to hold on to.
So, yes, Ripley and Lady Jane both originally came to us from shelters and therefore fit the classic definition of a rescue. But the paw prints they have left in my life and the huge influence they have had on my work has shaped me. They made me realize what it was I wanted to do. I may have ‘rescued’ them from a shelter many years ago, but they have spent the many years since that day taking care of me…
PS: Forgive me for not taking a new image this week…this is a story I wanted to tell.
Who else was rescued this week? Next in our blog ring is Unleashed! Pet Portraits in Victoria, British Columbia. Let’s go visit her!
Welcome to 2012 – a brand new year and a new start to Project 52! For this week, we were asked to introduce you to our pets. Unfortunately, not all was well in the Posh Pets’ household this week. I would love to explain, but I promised Ripley, our 17-year old orange tabby that he could tell it from his perspective. Hang on to your seats. And read this out loud with a slight British accent – that is exactly how Ripley speaks.
“Last Friday, I awoke to a day that I thought would be like any other. We had snow – which was new for this season, but we do get that every year. Other than that, I woke up my mom at the appointed time to ask her to feed me. She is good about that and ensures that my sister and myself always have what we need in the morning. As we padded our way to the kitchen to open the fridge door (which I always peer into to determine what today’s menu will be like), I noticed that something was amiss. My sister, who prides herself it seems, on a ghastly display of manners by bounding ahead of me and trying to shove her face into my food bowl, was following behind. (Please note that word, “behind” – it becomes important). This was highly unusual, for in my 16 years of residence – 15 of which were with Lady Jane – she rarely follows me.
Anyway, I had my breakfast, but Lady Jane seemed uninterested. Highly unusual. It was then that I heard my mom making a phone call and I knew, instinctively by how she addressed them, that this was no ordinary phone call at 7:30 a.m. in the morning. One of those terrible creatures humanity calls “vets” had been called. Given that we had just attended that sordid place in July (yes, I do keep track of these things), I could not believe my ears. I was sure that my attempts at behaviour modification had worked, for in July, I had thrown up all over the vet clinic’s lobby which prompted everyone, including staff, to great action of cleaning me, my carrier, the room…and the year previously, I had pee’d on my vet as a signal of my displeasure with where she stuck THAT. But I digress…
Soon after, I heard the familiar rattle of the cat carrier being dragged out of the closet. It was then that I noticed that the bedroom door was closed and I was IN the bedroom. The cat carrier was OUT there, but I was IN here. Safely esconsed in my room. I listened and then I heard it. Lady Jane’s furitive cries as she was being placed in the carrier. The bedroom door opened and suddenly my mom was explaining to me that she had to take Lady Jane to the vet, but that she would be home soon. I was relieved. Mostly because it appears that my previous behaviour has frightened or disgusted those vets enough to not ever want to see me again. Hopefully both.
I obviously have no first-hand knowledge of what went on in that place, but as I understand it, Lady Jane developed a condition that involved her…ahem…bottom region (see my reference above to “behind”). Essentially, she was unable to use the litter box as we felines have done for years. Rather than ensuring that she drank enough water (as I always do) to counteract the problem, she resorted to licking herself…down there. However, she was not content to merely clean herself. No, she licked herself to the point that she was red, raw and sore. That will only get you a trip to the vet and this time it is your own fault, in my opinion.
Anyway, mom and Lady Jane returned and I was none the worse for wear, lounging about on the couch upon their arrival. The carrier was opened and I came over to hear what tribulations she might have endured during her trip away. I had planned to give her a good sniff to ensure she was clean, but I was stopped dead in my tracks.
It. Was. Horrific.
For there was Lady Jane alright, but what had they put around her head? A satellite dish, perhaps? No, for we have never had any need of such entertainment in our house and this particular dish was turquoise. If Lady Jane was channelling some kind of Elizabethan collar style…well, this was not working for her. She looked depressed and miserable. I no doubt looked astounded and aghast. (Later when I heard my mom recounting the situation to my dad, she said my look was “priceless”. I like the sound of that.)
What ensued was 5 days of some ancient rituals involving water, epsom salts, zinc oxide cream (I have since been made aware of the fact that they regularly put this on human babies as well to counteract something called diaper rash) and syringes of sticky, orange-flavoured lactulose. All the while, wearing this ridiculous cone-shaped contraption. To her credit, Lady Jane bore it all remarkably well. I tried the best I could to support her by giving her gentle kisses on her head which is not like me, but when one of your own is so publically humiliated, you must help them to survive.
So, there you have it. I was in no condition to have my portrait taken this week and neither was Lady Jane. But to give you an idea of how incredibly horrible this all was, look below. If you are faint of heart, please avert your eyes.”
For those left wondering, Lady Jane seems to have recovered from her ordeal and all systems are working as they should. The cone of shame has been removed and she has spent quite a bit of time sleeping. Which is when I captured this portrait of her. It really displays what she is like – a lovely, contented kitty. As for Ripley…he has had a hard week. Enjoy!
Now, in order to meet all the pets of the other members of the Project 52 circle, please check out fellow Canadian pet photographer Cynthia Wood.