Last weekend while our foster Stevie Wonder was busy powerwashing the deck with her dad, I snuck away to Providence, RI, to visit my good friend Handsome Dan and his lovely family.
When Handsome Dan was picked to be in American Dog Magazine, his momma kindly invited me to come up for the weekend and photograph Dan, his parents, and their pit bull rescue for the article. Since Dan is rather shy and I had met and photographed him before, his mom thought her coy darling might be more comfortable with me than a stranger with giant photo gear. And since we had been planning a visit for months anyway, American Dog gave us the perfect excuse.
For those of you who don’t already know Handsome Dan, he is one of the Vicktory dogs — the 22 dogs seized from football star Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation that was deemed too emotionally traumatized to go into a regular rescue or foster home. These 22 dogs went to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary where they received boundless love and intensive rehabilitation. Some of the dogs — like Dan — have been eventually released to foster and adoption, while others are still at Best Friends.
American Dog will be featuring a piece about the beautiful rescue operation that Dan’s family runs, specializing in fostering and rehabilitating pit bull dogs seized from fighting operations or extreme cruelty cases. Dan’s mom is a savvy and experienced trainer, Dan’s dad runs a daily park trips program to socialize and exercise the dogs, and baby sister Josephine helps fosters get adopted by showing the world how good they are with children.
One of the most interesting parts of the trip was getting to meet all of Dan’s former foster siblings: Gozer, a handsome fawn boy who suffered from behavioral issues at a young age, Betsy, an oversized beauty who had been confined for a long time in a cage so small that her entire paws were stained and infected from urine, Maddy, a tiny, adorable puppy who was scheduled to be euthanized while still a tiny baby, and Kermit, a still-adoptable energizer bunny seized from the recent large-scale dog fighting bust in Philadelphia. They all came to have their photo taken with Dan and his parents!
Something I notice right away every time I watch Heather and Mark interact with the animals is the amount of calm tenderness that they have to offer. Dogs — especially young ones who have never had a real home — can have a lot of frenetic energy, but Heather and Mark have a gift for calming them and helping them to really shine. Just look at the love in their interactions with their fosters and their own Dan:
Look for Dan in the next issue of American Dog magazine. If you live in Southern New England and are interested in adopting Kermit-the-dog, check here for more info.