I'd like to introduce you to Louie. This handsome boy has had quite the journey so far and we don't even know all of it. With the help of his new mama, I'd like to tell you the parts of his story that we do know.
Last year, 3-year-old Louie found himself in a high-kill shelter in North Carolina and needed to get out of there quickly. A wonderful Nova Scotian named Jeni saw his post online and knew she needed to save him. She and two friends got the money together and brought him to NS. They got him vetted and Jeni fostered him for a little while until she found a home for him. Unfortunately, Louie and the other dog in that home didn't get along very well, so Tori from Good Bones Dog Rescue offered to take him in. He was placed with another amazing foster mum. She prefers to stay anonymous, so I'll call her Anna. Now here's a fun fact about Louie: he's deaf. Anna worked hard with Louie to teach him hand signals instead of word commands. He made amazing progress while he lived with Anna and had a wonderful time with her. She kept diligent logs of their work together, including his strengths and areas for improvement. He loved going to a fenced-in field for his zoomies. Because he's deaf, he doesn't have good recall. If he can't see you, you can't call him back. And with all the exciting smells, he can get distracted easily and forget to check in with his person. So he's always on leash when he's outdoors unless there is a secure fence around the area to keep him safe.
Louie was also reactive around some dogs because of an incident earlier in his life. Another dog was being a bully and taking advantage of his deafness, which caused him to become defensive and reactive. Anna also helped him take great steps towards feeling better around dogs. He stayed with Anna for 6 months without any successful applicants taking him home for good.
In May 2015 Anna asked me if I could do some portraits of Louie to help with his adoption profile. I had photographed another dog she fostered (George - I'll tell you his story one day, too!) and although he'd had trouble finding the right home for months, shortly after he got some new portraits taken, the perfect family found him! Anna asked me if I could make that kind of magic happen for Louie, so I did my best! We met in a little park on a beautiful spring day. Louie and I rolled around together on the grass, I took some portraits to show different sides of him - his sweet, goofy smile, his side profile, his physique from the side, and the sparkle in his eyes. That's always my goal with every image I create: to show the viewer the unique personality of each dog.
I sent the images to Tori at Good Bones Dog Rescue and she updated his adoption profile. Sure enough, a few weeks later I heard the great news from Anna: Louie's adoption was pending! Here's where his new mum, Julie comes in.
Julie told me she had her eye on Louie from the first day he was posted online, back in March. At the time he had separation anxiety so they were only looking at applicants who worked from home, so he wouldn't have to be left alone much. Julie didn't fit the criteria but she kept watching for updates. By the time I did his portraits in May, his anxiety was much more manageable and his profile was updated to say that other applicants would now be considered who didn't work from home. Julie called right away and asked to meet him. She had a great meeting with Tori, her references were approved, and she was told she could attend his next obedience class and meet him there. But since Louie knew lots of people in the class, he was excited to see all his friends and wasn't very interested in meeting Julie that day. Oh well. But her application was approved and she was in the middle of moving to a bigger home with a fenced-in yard! She decided to wait until they were all settled in the new place before bringing him home.
So in the meantime they had playdates! Julie said it felt a bit like dating - she was on her best behaviour and so excited to see him each time. She would meet up with Anna and Louie at a fenced-in ball field and let him run around off-leash. Then at the end they would leash him up and walk him back home together. This turned out to be a great transition period for everyone. Julie and Louie got to bond slowly and become great friends, and Anna got to see that Louie was going to the perfect home with someone who understood his needs. They had the opportunity to talk all about Louie and his progress, and Anna was able to give Julie some great advice for caring for Louie. She told me the slow transition made it easier to say goodbye when the time came for him to go to his new home.
Julie was so excited to bring Louie home, that she unpacked and set up the new house in only 2 days! She was more excited about Louie than the new home! And Louie truly is home now. Julie and her fella, Dave, still talk to Louie like we all talk to our pups, even though Louie can't hear them. But they're sure he can sense the emotion and connection they have with him when they're speaking. Sometimes if they leave the room and Louie doesn't see, he'll let out a little bark when he realizes they're gone... as if to holler, "Where are you?". He's a big cuddler and also loves to be the little spoon. After every meal he climbs up on the couch for a cuddle and drapes his 90-lb body over his people. He often naps with his dad, who also gives him the best head rubs!
Twice a week he gets to go Dogrunnin' and he is overjoyed to see those friends in the driveway. He also loves blueberries with his food, but if given them alone, he thinks they're little toy balls and will just play with them! Julie says he's spoiled and very loved because they want to keep him around as long as possible.
Louie is getting his Happily Ever After.