Jackie (aka Billy the Kid) and his brother Jesse at Animal Rescue New Orleans, 2007
In 2007 my sister and I took a trip to Animal Rescue New Orleans to do some volunteer work. We spent a week there, walking dogs, cleaning kennels and photographing the pets and people of the shelter. It wasn’t until after I returned home and let it all sink in that I realized I could not stop thinking about Jackie. My husband and I decided to adopt him. He and his brother Jesse, along with another brother named James had been found living under an abandoned house in the lower ninth ward in late 2005, just months after Hurricane Katrina. A volunteer, Lise, who was taking care of some stray cats in that neighborhood began to watch these dogs and tried to catch them. After almost a year of sitting on the front porch of the house, talking to these dogs and offering them part of her lunch was she finally able to trap them in a mock dog house, laced with food. She was not able to catch the mother who has had more than one litter since this event. The three brothers were taken to the shelter and because they were feral, they were extremely afraid of humans and just about everything else. ARNO kept working with these boys to socialize them and hopefully prepare them for a forever home. James unfortunately died from heart worm but Billy the Kid and Jessie were free from the dreadful disease.
I met them after they spent a year in the shelter. My sister and I would walk them together, although Billy mostly would belly crawl on the ground he was so afraid. So, a couple of months after I returned home, Ray and I decided to adopt Billy. I had not had a dog for many years and Ray had never had a dog. We thought one would be more than enough, especially as Billy was a deficit dog. After a year of having Billy, now named Jackie, we felt he was a bit lonely. Jesse was still at the shelter as feral dogs are extremely hard to find homes for. Yes, we adopted Jesse! The two boys knew each other immediately upon meeting up again in Boulder, CO. They have grown, prospered emotionally and although they are still easily startled, have become confident, playful and loving members of our family.
This started my love of dogs like you wouldn’t believe, which in turn created a love for photographing shelter pets. I’ve been back to ARNO several times and currently photograph dogs at Longmont Humane Society in Colorado on a weekly basis.
original post 2010