No one would have known about Hugo (now "Jones") had a Harbor Animal Shelter volunteer not noticed him. He had tucked himself way in the back of the kennel in the Isolation area. It was dark inside his cubby and all the volunteer could see were his eyes. There was something about Hugo that made her stop for him, but he was too terrified to come out of the kennel. So she went in and managed to get him out from the cubby where he was hiding. The minute she saw his legs her heart shattered into pieces. She knew there was little hope that Hugo would get out of the shelter alive... But giving up without giving him a chance was not an option. He deserved a chance and the volunteers made sure of it. Hugo came into the spotlight when Melody Harper, made a touching video of him (https://vimeo.com/luckiestdogalive/jones) in hopes that a rescue will save him.
By the time the world learned about Hugo, he had less than 48 hours to live. He had already been at the shelter for two weeks. No one came to the shelter to claim him and there were no rescue interests. The odds were not in his favor. Everything about him made him the least likely adopted or rescued dogs at the shelter. He is a black dog, a Mastiff/pit mix, and his legs required medical attention. But despite the insurmountable obstacles before him, the volunteers believed in something more... A miracle.
Hugo' video reached Sasha Rose of Love Leo Rescue, who is an experienced pitbull rescuer in Los Angeles. She has a soft spot for black dogs, especially pits because they are most overlooked. After seeing his story, her heartstring was tugged and pulled in all directions. He had less than 48 hours to live and she had to act fast. It's do or he dies.
On May 21, 2013, Sasha rescued Hugo from the Harbor Animal Shelter. It was the beginning of a new life for him, and he was given a new name, "Jones". Little did anyone know at that time, more challenges were ahead. After consulting with four veterinarians, it was determined that the deformity in Jones' legs was the result of two broken ankles that were never treated. As a result, his growth plates developed unevenly. And because Jones was only 10 months-old at the time and was still growing, the deformity would worsen and if left untreated and he would be crippled within a few months. The only treatment option to correct the deformity was surgery, and the cost was approximately $6,000.
Raising $6,000 was not an easy feat, but it had to be done. Through the help of social media, generous support poured in from everywhere. People responded to Jones' story and they wanted to help. And within days, Sasha was able to raise enough for Jone's surgery. One month after being rescued, Jones had surgery on both of his front legs, performed by one of the finest surgeons- Dr. Oldes. The surgery was a success and he was well on his way to recovery. Soon, walking and running will be pain free.
I first met Jones in July, a month after he had surgery. His legs were wrapped in bandages and he was unable to walk or stand for too long. He was shy and uncertain of of the world around him and of strangers. But he was very attached to his foster mom who had been caring for him since his surgery. He would not let her out of his sight; when she took a step he would take a step, he made sure that she is always near.
I saw Jones again last weekend, and this time he seems like a different dog. For one, his legs are no longer in bandages and he is able to walk around pain free. He is still a little shy, but he is more confident and comfortable with the world around him. He loves being around other dogs and spends most of his time hanging out with this foster brother and sister. He is becoming more playful each day, and gaining confidence.
It has been a long journey from the day Jones was found hiding underneath a car in Watts, then picked up by Animal Control and brought the Harbor Animal Shelter in San Pedro. After he was rescued, he went through extensive orthopedic surgery then followed by 8 weeks of recovery. Through it all Jones showed the world how gracious he is of everything that everyone has done for him. This has been a story about hope, resilience and perseverance. It's about believing in miracles, and what kindness, compassion and strength can accomplish.
Jones, the puppy with the sad eyes that captivated so many, is ready for another chapter in life. He is now searching for his forever family, his forever home. Please contact Sasha Rose at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world around us was still asleep when Rosa and I got on the road at 4am headed to Haleakala. I'm not used to getting up early since I'm a nocturnal creature. But I couldn't pass up the chance to watch the sun come up at Haleakla and photograph it.
Although I've always loved photography, I shot in "auto" for a long time. I knew nothing about camera settings, rule of thirds, golden hours... But if I ever had to pinpoint what made me become serious about photography, I would say it's nature photography. I wanted to take better photos on my travels, to capture what I saw and experienced... Photography became an extension of me and what I see.
I was awstruck by the beauty and magnificence of Haleakala. And the rest of Maui, of course. I did the best I could to capture the breathtaking sceneries that surrounded me. By no means would I call myself a nature photographer, but photographing nature feels familiar to me. Like visiting an old friend...
From the first time I brought her out of the kennel for a walk, I knew that she was a special girl. At the shelter she was known as "Kimmie". I had been watching her for a while but wasn't able to get to her because I was busy working with several other dogs. But when I was able to take on another, she picked me. Yes, she picked me by barking at me when I walked by her kennel. Her loud bark stopped me on my tracks and I looked at her and said, "oh, you need a walk, don't you?!" She came to me without hesitation and off we went.
She was so gentle and sweet, and we shared a nice walk around the block by the shelter. I remember exclaiming to another volunteer about just how amazing she was and we absolutely had to find home or rescue for her! Kimmie met a lot of friends at the shelter, both two-legged and four-legged ones. She's also our trusted working dog because she's great with other dogs. And we couldn't love her more.
The clock was ticking and I was getting worried... Because after much effort, we still weren't able to find a home or rescue for her. It just happened that around that time, my cousin Rosa had been thinking about adopting a dog. I thought they would be perfect for each other. So, I persuaded Rosa into fostering Kimmie (Rosa might use a different word than "persuade", but hey this is my side of the story and I'm sticking with it!).
Exactly two years ago today, Rosa brought her home and named her "Kaya", which means, "Home". As much as I'd like to say "they lived happily ever after", that was not the case. There were lots of ups and downs; some rough patches, some smooth rides, then only to hit a bump again... They figured things out as they go, and finally they settled into each other's routines.
Just last month, Rosa and Kaya traveled across the Pacific and made the beautiful island of Maui their home. I had the opportunity to visit them last week and I had the most amazing time exploring the island with Kaya. I loved having her as our travel companion, she was a constant and one of the many highlights of my trip. It brought me so much joy watching her hop onto the backseat of the car every morning with excitement and anticipation. I loved seeing her smile and her ears flopping in the air as she puts her face out the window. She too, enjoyed the scenery, one sniff of the air at a time. I got to be there as she swam in the ocean for the first time, and saw just how proud she was of her accomplishment (so were Rosa and I), and how much confidence she gained.
Animals are amazing in so many ways and the relationships we have with them are two way streets. We were exploring Honomanu Bay when Kaya was let off leash for the first time, she proceed to follow Rosa every step of the way. But then something else happened as we crossed the water and onto the rocks, Kaya stayed close to Rosa, tending to her, never letting Rosa out of her sight. Talk about devotion and loyalty these animals bestow upon us... I was deeply moved. I knew with every bone in my body, Kaya is home.
So there she is, a dog rescued from a city shelter in Chatsworth, California now living on Maui, with her favorite person in the whole wide world, her mom Rosa.
She was smiling as a volunteer wheeled her down the hallway on a cart; she was too weak to walk, and was in pain because her emaciated body was covered in foxtails and lesions from the foxtails embedded underneath her skin. She looked at me with her beautiful piercing blue eyes that were filled with hope and her smile got even bigger when I began to pet her. What an incredibly amazing soul she is; so resilient, so beautiful and so hopeful...
She didn't have a name and wouldn't have gotten one until her stray hold period was up. But she almost didn't get that chance... After volunteers spent over 14 hours removing the foxtails out of her body, we were given two hours to get her out of the shelter before she's euthanized.
All we needed was a miracle. And I'm blessed to know a few people who can make miracles happen as easily as making a cappuccino. So within an hour I got the answer I desperately wanted to hear: "Aussie" will be safe. The amazing Chela Landau (Founder of Starfish Animal Rescue) was on her way to pick up Aussie. Aussie will stay with her until she's strong enough to go to the Aussie Rescue of Southern California in Santa Barbara.
"Aussie" is the sweetest and most appreciative dog that we have ever known. She leans into you when you pet her, she gazes into your eyes with eyes that shines with appreciation and love. She suffered years of neglect and yet she refuses to let that define her; she knows that life is supposed to be more and she is going to find out just how much more.
A lot more. Many many more. A ton more.
She left for Santa Barbara last Friday and she's now in good hands (Aussie Rescue of Southern California). While she has some health challenges to manage; diabetes and cataracts, she continues to thrive. A new chapter is just beginning, so many more wonderful things are to come.
Misty. She's now known as Misty, the beautiful Aussie Shepherd who touched many hearts.
A few weeks ago, Take Me Home Rescue ("TMH") saved a sweet male Boxer name Simba from the West Valley Animal Shelter. I'm beyond happy and thankful to the fabulous people at TMH for giving this awesome boy the chance he so much deserves! As it turns out, Simba has some issues with his eyes :( But no worries, TMH is giving him the best medical care possible. For those of you who many not be familiar with rescues, TMH is truly one of the best, most responsible rescues out there. They save unwanted, homeless dogs from kill shelters and bad situations, provide them with the best care until they're placed in good homes. Simba is a very lucky boy!
Simba is currently living with his foster parents and foster brother that is an exact replica of him (Simba thinks he's an "imposter", lol!). Oh, the latest I heard is that Simba is a "Trojan" fan! ("GASP!"-reaction from the Bruins fans!)
Here's Simba with his handsome self:
Here are a few wonderful dogs I met at the Take Me Home adoption event at Abbot Kinney: